AMERICA'S BEST SHOOTER
By Lute Olson, Arizona
of the great things about sports is the debates
and discussions, which produce varying points of
view. Points and counterpoints are what drive the
discussion. Such is a healthy debate. But when you
remove one from the equation; it simply becomes
Throughout the course of the season I have heard
many express opinions as to who is the best
shooter in America. Unfortunately very few, if
any, of these monologues have included the name of
Salim Stoudamire. Frankly, any discussion on this
topic must include Salim’s name.
Numbers do not always reveal the entire story, but
in this case the numbers are difficult to ignore.
Heading into the weekend, Salim leads the nation
in 3-point accuracy, converting 56% of his
attempts. There are five players that have
actually made a few more three-point baskets, but
only Marist’s Will Whittington is shooting at
least 50% from beyond the arc.
Overall Salim is shooting 54% from the field. In
the Pac-10 he is converting 55%, which is good
enough for fourth best in the conference. And that
includes all shots taken.
Those numbers make a compelling argument. More
evidence of his great shooting ability can be
observed by watching our team play. Ironically,
perhaps this is where the argument for Salim is
difficult to make.
Half of the nation doesn’t get an opportunity to
see Salim play on a regular basis. It is
understandable that many in the east would be
sleeping when our games are tipping off. However
it is hard to understand how you can make an
argument without having all the information at
The many analysts and journalists do have the
information available, but it’s easy to dismiss it
because their audience doesn’t have the same point
of reference. So many people rely on the media to
inform them on the talented players on the West
Coast. And since most are fast asleep, they easily
buy into the point that a player in the east is
the best in America.
Salim has worked very hard, through the course of
his career, to improve his overall play. In the
past he was often quick to shoot, which resulted
in many poor shots. This season you could count
all of his poor shot selections on one hand. There
have not been many. His understanding and
recognition has become exceedingly better with
each passing year.
In addition to improving his overall game, Salim
has come of age as a person and a leader. In many
respects he has been a challenge. He has always
had great ability, but understanding the game is
more than just ability has taken time. But that is
part of the maturing process that every player in
America goes through. His difficulties have been
well documented, but his progress and development
have not been highlighted. I suppose without an
element of controversy there is no story.
Salim is not the only player that I believe has
not received nearly the credit that he deserves.
The Pac-10 conference has an abundance of talented
players that many people in the east have never
heard of. But such has always been the case, given
the time difference.
The intent of an argument or a discussion is to
take a position. Therefore I would not
characterize printed and spoken words, regarding
the best shooter in College Basketball, to be
either an argument or discussion because there is
no mention of Salim Stoudamire.
Any such discussions must include his name.
NOTE: This column also appears on Lute Olson's official website,
CoachLuteOlson.com, which is maintained by