The San Diego native Matt Shrigley redshirted his first year on campus, and in 2014 made a solid contribution for a freshman. The high point of Shrigley's freshman year came against Utah State at home, where the sharp-shooter scored a team-high 15 points, including three 3-pointers in the first half. He also was a big contributor in the epic second-half comeback against New Mexico to win the conference.
Highlights of Shrigley's big game against Utah State:
Besides that, however, Shrigley was a bit inconsistent. It seemed that he never gained full confidence in his shot, and when he was not hitting from long range, he did not stay in the game very long. If he was making his deep shots, Fisher sometimes seemed to prefer him in the game over J.J. O'Brien or Winston Shepard, as the team was desperate for a solid shooter -- just look at this number: the team's 3-point percentage was 35.8 percent, good for 110th in the country.
Even though he's known for his shooting, Shrigley brings more to the table than just 3-pointers. He is an exceptional athlete. At 6-foot-6, he has a high vertical leap, which allows him to rebound well for his position. On defense, he is not anything spectacular, but he can make an impact due to his size.
One might wonder, then, that if Shrigley was one of the best shooters on the team and was not a liability on defense, why he only saw 15.8 minutes per game last year. Coach Fisher, like always, was all about defense last year. If Shrigley was not hitting his 3-point shots -- or let alone taking them -- Fisher would much rather have Shepard or Dwayne Polee II in for defensive purposes.
With Polee and Shepard returning, both wing spots are filled up for a large amount of the game, leaving those extra bench minutes up for grabs. Alongside Polee and Shepard, players such as Skylar Spencer, Angelo Chol and O'Brien are also guaranteed minutes. But what this team is missing is an athletic 3-point shooter to play the two or three. Polee is really the only three point threat in the expected starting lineup, and based on last year, you can't rely on one player (Xavier Thames) to be your only outside shooter on the court for a full game (before Polee emerged).
Shrigley has two teammates to compete for minutes with this year, both freshman. Trey Kell and Malik Pope are both exceptional outside shooters, who are also athletic. Malik Pope's legs still aren't where coaches want them to be and he may miss the first few weeks of the season. The only way Shrigley can separate himself from these two freshman is pretty simple: knock down open shots. None of these three are going to be asked to do much ball handling (except Kell, on occasion).
Shrigley could be brought off the bench and have a similar role to that of James Rahon on the 2010-2011 Sweet 16 team. Fisher may do what he did last year, bring a few guys off the bench at around the 12-minute mark every game to help pick up the offense. Shrigley, alongside Aqeel Quinn, could be the leaders of this year's bench, and be brought in for their three point abilities. Emphasis on could. Pope and Kell could just as easily fill that role.
The redshirt-sophomore finished last season with a 40 percent 3-point mark, good enough for second on the team behind Xavier Thames. But now, Shrigley is up against much better competition, as the loaded incoming freshman class is looking to make an impact right away. Based on Fisher's past, Shrigley will likely have an initial advantage over the incoming freshman to get minutes, just due to experience. But if Kell or Pope is able to out-shoot Shrigley early in the season, Shrigley could be looking at a long sophomore year on the bench.