Welcome to A10 Talk’s Top Pre-Season Top 25 Player Countdown for the 2016-17 season. Each day, we’ll be publishing a new article counting down our best 25 players for the coming season. Today, we feature #10 Peyton Aldridge of Davidson.
What He’s Done
Peyton Aldridge had a fantastic freshman campaign in 2014-15. He filled a need for Davidson – scoring production from the 4, solid defense, and being able to stretch the floor and hit threes. However Aldridge’s freshman campaign couldn’t even hold a candle to the effective, efficient, and exciting season that he had as a sophomore. There was no “sophomore slump” for Aldridge. His two previous seasons combined with his potential as a focal point of the Davidson offense make Peyton Aldridge the #10 player in our preseason countdown.
Just from a basic perspective, Peyton Aldridge’s statistics last season were impressive: 15.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 34.6 minutes per game. This, however, doesn’t even factor in his efficiency ratings on both sides of the ball; along with his consistent three point shooting (36.8% on the year). The point is, Davidson is much better with Aldridge on the floor: his positioning in both Bob McKillop’s offensive and defensive schemes is excellent, and in general helps everyone around him with smart decisions and near perfect execution.
Last season Peyton Aldridge eviscerated the Richmond Spiders, both home and away. After dropping a road contest to St. Louis, Davidson was reeling a bit coming into a big road game against Richmond. So what did Peyton Aldridge decide to do? Just drop a casual career high 34 points on 11-15 shooting. The Wildcats would go on to win by 8. In this game, Aldridge was so devastatingly destructive in the paint and in transition that all Richmond could seemingly do was foul him or give up a basket – Peyton was 11 of 13 from the line that day. On the return trip to Belk Arena, Peyton would go for 24 on 9 of 13 shooting in another Wildcats win. Peyton Aldridge can do more than just score against Richmond as well – with a potential position change, he’s prepared to make even more of an offensive impact this season.
What He’ll Do
Davidson has had a very guard-heavy lineup over the last two seasons, but that is figured to change – which might alter Aldridge’s role in this Davidson team. Due to the addition of Will Magarity, the great play of Nate Ekwu in the second half of last season, the senior presence of Andrew McAuliffe, and hopefully the return of Dusan Kovacevic, there seems to be a bit of a log jam at the forward positions for Davidson. This is why Peyton Aldridge will see more time at the 3 this season, which puts him into more of a wing/small forward type position than one where he will play in the post with his back to the basket. Of course, Davidson coach Bob McKillop will rotate the lineup and play guys in many different positions, so Aldridge will see some time in the post, especially when Davidson “goes small”.
So what is Peyton Aldridge going to do in a more perimeter role? He’s going to shoot more threes and try to get to the free throw line more often – two areas that he has excelled in. The three-point prowess was discussed above, but his improvement from the charity stripe over the past two years is quite remarkable. As a freshman, Aldridge shot under 70% (69.8%) from the line, on an average of 1.7 attempts per game. As a sophomore, those numbers took a considerable hike: 84.7% on 3.8 attempts per game.
This season Peyton Aldridge is going to thrive in his more perimeter-oriented role because it gives him more chances to display his offensive skillset, while still giving him the freedom to bang bodies underneath and take advantage of his considerable size. With Jack Gibbs still running the show at point guard, Peyton can just let their chemistry continue to build and build, hopefully en route to an even more successful season that his previous two.
Previously: #11 Jordan Price