Troy Daniels ranks seventh nationally in 3-pointers per game (3.67) this season.

Troy Daniels ranks seventh nationally in 3-pointers per game (3.67) this season.

Shaka Smart once joked that he had given Troy Daniels a “neon green” light to fire away from beyond the 3-point arc. Smart’s confidence in his sharpshooter has paid off, and now Daniels has VCU opponents seeing red.

Daniels, a senior from Roanoke, has taken his neon-green endorsement to heart this season, knocking down 3-pointers at an arresting, not to mention historic, rate. Through VCU’s first 21 games, Daniels ranks fifth nationally with 77 three-pointers (77-of-188), and seventh in treys per game (3.7). If you thought Daniels couldn’t top his performance from last season, when he set a school record with 94 threes, boy, were you off the mark.

On Jan. 2, during a 109-58 rout of East Tennessee State, Daniels connected on a staggering 11-of-20 from beyond the arc and finished with a career-high 33 points. With each successful shot, Daniels’ confidence seemed to grow. By the end of the game, Daniels was taking, and hitting, 3-pointers from nearly 30 feet.

Daniels was just five days removed from a Dec. 29 contest against Fairleigh Dickinson, when he set a school record with nine 3-pointers. Prior to this season, a VCU player had knocked down eight 3-pointers in a game once ever. Daniels has done so three times already this season.

During one six-game stretch this season, Daniels buried 41-of-80 (.513) from 3-point range. Daniels rate of 3.67 triples per game this season is on pace to break Kenny Harris’ VCU mark of 3.33, set in 1993-94.

With more than a third of the season to play, Daniels is already knocking on the door of the VCU and Atlantic 10 Conference record books. If he stays healthy, he’s essentially a shoo-in to once again set the Rams’ single-season record for treys and will likely become the first Ram to top 100. On Jan. 19 against Duquesne, he became just the fourth Ram to top 200 in his career. He is 204-of-530 (.385) from deep in four seasons. Daniels made just 33 three-pointers his first two seasons, but has quickly made up for lost time. Although he’s bombing away, he still has quite a bit of work to do to catch B.A. Walker (269) atop the VCU career 3-pointers list. Then again, he hit 19 three-pointers in one two-game stretch this year, so nothing is out of reach.

For years, Smart had been telling anyone who would listen that Daniels was the best shooter he’d ever coached. Last season, he started to turn people into believers when he knocked down 38 percent of his treys and averaged a personal-best 10.0 points per game. But Daniels has found another gear this season. After countless late-night shooting sessions and hours of film study, he’s broken into the upper echelon of the nation’s best shooters.

“I’m happy for Troy,” Smart said recently. “He’s a guy that’s put a lot of extra work in, a lot of extra hours where it was just him and a manager in the gym and it’s paying off for him.”

Division I: 3-pointers per game
1-Travis Bader, Oakland, 4.30
2-Parker Smith, North Florida, 4.00
3-Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss, 3.89
4-Sean Armand, Iona, 3.81
4-Omar Strong, Texas Southern, 3.81
6-Ryan Sypkens, UC Davis, 3.74
7-Troy Daniels, VCU, 3.67

VCU: Single-Season 3-Pointers
1-Troy Daniels, 94 (2011-12)
2-B.A. Walker, 92 (2006-07)
3-Kenny Harris, 90 (1993-94)
4-Bradford Burgess, 81 (2011-12)
5-Jamal Shuler, 78 (2007-08)
5-Brandon Rozzell, 78 (2010-11)
7-Troy Daniels, 77 (2012-13)

VCU Career 3-pointers
1-B.A. Walker, 269 (2003-07)
2-Bradford Burgess, 231 (2008-12)
3-Joey Rodriguez, 211 (2007-11)
4-Troy Daniels, 204 (2009- )

A-10: Single-Season 3-pointers
1-Pat Carroll (SJU), 135 (2004-05)
2-Leemire Goldwire (CHA), 128 (2007-08)
3-Darnell Harris (LAS), 123 (2007-08)