Kaylon vs. Ray Jr. – who is the better player?

Two Aprils ago, in the midst of the spring signing day, a well-known, top-25 national recruit by the name of Ray McCallum Jr. committed to the University of Detroit Mercy to play for the Detroit Titans and their coach, Ray McCallum Sr.

Ray Jr. fills up the basket through volume shooting.

It didn’t take long for the Titans’ new recruit to get tons of accolades thrown on him.  Pundits across the nation were throwing out predictions that Ray Jr. was the second coming for the Titans.  All predicted he would win Newcomer of the Year and place himself on the All-Horizon League team.  Many predicted he would go so far as to be Player of the Year and depart for the NBA after one season.  He didn’t go quite that far, mainly because national analysts probably thought of the talent in the Summit League and not the Horizon League.

But he was definitely effective.  Surrounded by a talented supporting cast that included future pro Eli Holman, volume shooter Chase Simon and a bevy of role players, Ray Jr. scored 13.5 points per game, 4.9 assists per game, 4.7 rebounds per game, and 2.6 turnovers per game.  McCallum’s freshman year was a boon for the Titans in a year where the team itself didn’t do particularly well despite the stacked roster of talent.  Ray Jr. won Newcomer of the Year, made the All-Conference team and headed into a sophomore season looking like he wouldn’t need to wait longer for the Player of the Year trophy.

Meanwhile, over in Milwaukee, the Panthers accepted a National Letter of Intent from a point guard of their own.  The commitment of Kaylon Williams was significant to the Panthers because of his position – not since Chris Hill graduated in 2006 did Rob Jeter have a true point guard running his program – but otherwise didn’t register much of a blip on the national radar outside of Evansville, Indiana, where fans of the Aces noticed that both Williams and James Haarsma, former Aces, were joining the same team.

Kaylon Williams has proven, unequivocally, that he is superior to Ray McCallum Jr. at playing the point for a winning program.

Williams didn’t get anywhere near the publicity of McCallum Jr. despite the fact that as a freshman at Evansville, he led the Missouri Valley Conference in assists.  Panther fans like myself hammered that point home when propping up that year’s recruiting class, but people were still clamoring for the Titans point guard to make waves.

The year that Kaylon Williams had wasn’t quite the statistical juggernaut of Ray Jr. – he only averaged 8.2 points per game and averaged 3.2 turnovers per game, both worse than Ray Jr. – but he still outpaced the Titan in assists (54. apg) and rebounds (5.6 rpg).  The assists number for Williams was the best in the conference and his rebounding numbers ranked tenth overall in the Horizon despite his 6’3”, 185 lb. frame.

Quietly, Williams had a junior season that was every bit as astounding as McCallum’s freshman season.  He tallied a triple-double against Butler in a 24-point victory and his 178 assists on the season was the second-best number in school history.

After the year was over, Williams made the All-Newcomer team but didn’t receive much more in the way of accolades from the Horizon League.

By now, the tumultuous off-season for both players – Kaylon’s personal and Ray’s team – is tired news for fans of Horizon League programs.  Kaylon Williams’ DUI arrest on the night of his grandfather’s funeral was a low point in a remarkable young man’s life, and Ray McCallum Jr.’s teammates made poor decisions to put his team’s season at risk.

Neither team has been without losses – the Panthers have been missing Tony Meier all season with a leg injury and Lonnie Boga to a shoulder injury, and the Titans have been missing Holman from his “leave of absence” as well as Chris Blake and Brandon Romain to academic suspensions, not to mention Nick Minnerath’s season-ending injury – but where one player has seen his numbers go down in 2011-12, the other has established himself as the Horizon League’s premier point guard.

Williams, to me, is the better point guard, and right now he's the better PLAYER as well.

I have put together Williams and McCallum Jr. in a head-to-head statistical comparison in a table for your perusal.  There are a couple changes to the usual numbers – I replaced Field Goal percentage with Efficient Field Goal Percentage (one of the Four Factors of winning and a better tell, as three-pointers are worth 1.5 times regular field goals) as well as added the Clutch Plus/Minus that I’ll explain in a second – but largely these numbers are the ones you’ll find in the box score.

The Clutch Plus/Minus rating is the same as normal Plus/Minus except that it only is counted when the score is within 5 points in the final 5 minutes of the game and overtime.

Without further ado, your comparison:

Compare Kaylon Williams Ray McCallum Jr.
Points per game 10.6 13.1
Assists per game 6 3.1
Rebounds per game 5.2 4.4
Steals per game 1.4 1.6
Turnovers per game 4.2 3
Assist/Turnover Ratio 1.4 1.0
Efficient FG% 53.5 46.8
Offensive Rating 94.7 99.5
Free Throw % 57.1 77.3
Clutch Plus/Minus 4 -5

Now, I want to let the readers know that this is not a statement on who will be the better player over the course of their career; I think Ray Jr. is headed to the NBA and Williams is headed overseas.  Instead, this is a comparison of who is the better player today.

I think I’ve made my point clear.