Shake Milton has chance to become nation’s most beloved player

David Stacy/Icon Sportswire

This talented player might be impossible for fans to shake next basketball season.

And that’s a good thing.

On Thursday, talented SMU guard Shake Milton announced his decision to return to college for another season. A legitimate NBA prospect, Milton’s return quickly re-established the Mustangs as a force to be reckoned with, not only in the American Athletic Conference, but on the national stage to boot.

There are obviously other moving parts that will come into play to determine how good SMU ends up being. Transfers (both in and out of the program), players potentially leaving for professional money, as well as how other teams across the country are put together, will all impact SMU.

However, for Milton, everything is lined up for him to become that rare college basketball superstar. The former 4-star prospect is a gifted player, though a little ball-in-hand heavy at times. The 6-6 guard showed tremendous progress as a guy turning from a relatively limited player into a playmaking dynamo.

He showcased a little bit of it all during the 2016-17 campaign. The improvements he made as a player are clearly evident through the increases to all his counting-stats numbers. After having a solid, but somewhat unspectacular freshman season, Milton finished this season averaging career-bests in all categories — 13.0 points, 4.5 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game. Despite playing more than 35 minutes per game, one of SMU’s primary ball handlers averaged less than two turnovers per outing. Maybe that doesn’t scream “my goodness, that is impressive,” but it should, as it helps to highlight a basketball-IQ rare for a sophomore.

Thing is, he’s not just some cautious, heady player. He’s dynamic. Or, more accurately, he showed flashes of brilliance during the season that lends credence to the idea he can be dynamic.

In nine games, Milton scored 17 points or more. That isn’t an incredibly crazy stat, but for a guy who attempted less than 10 field goals per contest, it makes it easy to assume that experience, coupled with development assumed, will equate to larger — and consistently larger — performances in the future.

Enough of the projection. Let’s get to the superficial: Milton can become a household name because, well, he goes by the moniker Shake Milton.

Shake is not his birth name. For those keeping track at home, he was born Malik, but became Shake at some point, it stuck like gum on a sneaker, and it helps his “brand.”

Wait, there’s more.

Extra eyes should be on the AAC next season with Wichita State joining the league. Three teams likely will be ranked in the preseason Top 25, and the Mustangs will be trotting out a guard who might as well have been crafted by the WWE’s creative team. Everyone’s profile is bigger and badder. It is a perfect storm.

A good team, with a good-to-potentially great player, in a league that is growing, and our potential superstar’s name is Shake Milton?

It might not happen immediately, and a lot of it will come down to his team success as well as his development as a player, but in April 2017, Shake Milton is one of the early front-runners to become the college basketball community’s most beloved player.

Hyperbole this is not. We know how the world works in the social media age. If something, anything, is catchy and good enough, it will be welcomed with arms wide open.

Hell, Scott Stapp would be proud.

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