Shooting guard Travis Releford played a key role for the Kansas Jayhawks in their National Championship appearance last season. The fourth best player on the team, the junior notched 46 steals and was eighth in the Big 12 in that category. He may not have received the recognition that Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor, and Jeff Withey received, but he was a crucial piece of the puzzle for the Jayhawks.
Last season, Releford finished with a career high 1.223 points per play, which was the ninth best total in the conference. The previous year, he averaged 1.216 PPP and was tenth in the Big 12.
The shooting guard played in 1,206 minutes in 2011, and he averaged 30.9 minutes per game with 8.5 points per game, 4.2 rebounds per game, and 1.8 assists per game.
The thing is, Releford’s statistics are misleading. His PER was at 15.5 last year, but he was better than “slightly above-average” (as his PER indicates). It’s just that Travis Releford stepped back and let the big three on Kansas do most of the shooting. He had an extremely low usage rate of 13.7%, but his 57.6 TS% proves that he was effective and efficient when shooting.
One of the things that Travis Releford did to improve in the 2011 season was to cut down on his turnovers, and he gifted the ball to the opposition just 11.4% of the time.
Defensively, Releford was about the same, which means that he was great. He allowed just .96 points per possession and stole the ball with ease, and he is one of the better perimeter defenders in the conference. He was 17th in the conference in defensive rating.
Win shares are a great way to evaluate a player’s season, and Travis Releford was 12th in the Big 12 in defensive win shares with 2.1 DWS. He also finished with 1.9 win shares on offense (good for 18th in the Big 12), and his four win shares were good for 16th in the conference.
Travis Releford is a quality passer, a solid rebounder, and he doesn’t turn the ball over. He is an unselfish player who players want to play with, and he’s willing to step back to make his teammates better. Releford isn’t the best shooter in the world, but he takes smart shots and is extremely efficient with those shots. His combination of smart shooting and lack of turnovers makes him one of the ten most efficient players in the Big 12 on a per play basis.
The 6’5″ guard was 18th in the league in true shooting percentage and will improve even more with a larger role next year. Travis Releford also plays great defense, and I can’t wait to see him and Elijah Johnson form a potent backcourt combo as both were worth four wins last season.
Below are some notable games for Travis Releford last season.
1. His 16-11 game to help the Jayhawks defeat the rival Kansas State Wildcats.
2. Releford followed up that double-double by pouring in 28 points on the Oklahoma Sooners.
3. Travis Releford got things rolling in the NCAA tournament after a quiet game in the first round against Detroit by getting into double-digits (ten points) and grabbing six rebounds against Purdue.
4. In the Elite Eight, he put up 11 points against UNC.
5. He played a key role in dismantling the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second half of their Final Four tilt by going 15-6 from the floor.