By Lute Olson, Arizona

One 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 one opinion.

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 your disposal.

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.

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