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Let’s enjoy Mike Daum while he’s still here

The Jackrabbit forward has a chance to be one of the game’s all-time great scorers.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Gonzaga vs South Dakota State Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

On a blustery February night in northeast Indiana, Mike Daum set the floor of the Gates Sports Center on fire as he scored bucket after bucket on the Fort Wayne Mastodons. By the time the game was over, Daum had poured in 51 points, which was the highest scoring total in all of college basketball last season.

A scoring outburst like that one was far from an anomaly for Daum last year. His scoring average of 25.1 points per game was good for second in the country, behind Marcus Keene’s 30 per game. He scored at least 30 points 12 times, 20+ points 12 times, and was held to single digits just three times. Night in and night out, Daum was getting buckets.

This year, Daum will once again be in contention for the nation’s leading scorer. If it weren’t for Campbell’s Chris Clemons, Daum would probably be the overwhelming favorite. But as great of accolade as it may seem, Daum should have his sights set higher than just being the country’s leading scorer next year.

No, Mike Daum should aim to be college basketball’s all-time leading scorer.

Right now, Lionel Simmons is college basketball’s all-time leading scorer, coming in at 3,217 points during his time at La Salle. Alphonso Ford (3,165), Doug McDermott (3,150), Keydren Clark (3,058) and Tyler Hansbrough (2,872) round out the top five.

After just two seasons, Daum has scored a total of 1,396 points, including a South Dakota State single season record 878 points last year. Those 1,396 points are more than McDermott (1,382) and Hansbrough (1,286) had at the same point in their careers. It’s not a lock, but it’s definitely possible that Daum can crack the top five by the time he’s done.

But is there a scenario in which Daum leaves college basketball as the all-time leading scorer? It will be difficult, but it’s certainly possible.

Right now, Daum trails Simmons by 1,821 points. That may seem like a daunting number, but given Daum’s track record, it’s not outside the realm of possibility. Remember, Daum only played about 20 minutes per game during his freshman year, but still poured in 518 points (15 PPG) during that time.

So let’s break down the numbers here. Daum needs 1,822 points to become the all-time leading scorer, and he has two seasons to do it. That’s 911 points per year.

In his first two years, Daum has played in 69 total games: 34 his freshman year, 35 his sophomore year. Let’s assume he plays at least that same amount during the next two seasons. In order to reach 3,217 points, Daum would have to average 26.4 points per game, given that he plays in at least 69 games during his junior and senior seasons. Obviously, that number goes up or down depending on South Dakota State’s postseason success.

With that 26.4 average in mind, is it really that farfetched that Daum could continue this torrid pace? As mentioned above, he averaged 25.1 PPG as the focal point of an offense that gives him an eternal green light. There’s many ways that Daum can get to 26. Maybe he hits another free throw throughout the course of the game. Maybe he turns a long two into a three. Maybe he is even more dominant than he already is and bumps his scoring average up to 28 or 29 points per game. These are all realistic options.

This all assumes that Daum stays in school for two more years, which is in the elephant in the room. His gifted scoring abilities make him an intriguing draft prospect, and he’ll be 22 by the time the season starts. It’s no guarantee that Daum plays out his college career as a Jackrabbit.

So, let’s be sure to enjoy Daum while he’s around. Tune in for his games against Fort Wayne, a team that he’s scored 40 points on twice. Stay up an hour later when you see that he has 25 at the half on a Tuesday night. Take the opportunity to watch one of the game’s best scorers, because if he goes down as college basketball’s all-time leading scorer, you’ll wish you had appreciated him while he was still here.