Nunn. Too Pleased. September 17, 2012
Yep, couldn’t Check The Tape last night. I’ll do it tonight. Usually, it’s unavoidable. I wake up on Sunday morning with so many questions that by the time my wife goes to bed, I’m pouring over the tape. Not yesterday. Yesterday, I was so giddy over the Kendrick Nunn commitment that I’m spent the day trying to come up with nicknames. The best I had so far: Nunn The Wiser. It’s a work in progress.
Did we just turn a corner? Because it feels like we just turned a corner. I’m saving the full “weeeee’re baaaaaack” for when a certain top-30 guard (or two) joins this class. But today, it feels like we turned a corner. John Groce’s first big name recruit is from Simeon. You couldn’t script it any better. OK, fine, you could script it with that Simeon recruit being Jabari Parker. But given that Parker is a lock for one-and-done and John Groce is trying to rebuild a program, the Nunn script is just about perfect.
This, of course, has me immediately thinking through future lineups. I always forget how every-other-class we are until I go through this exercise. We had one recruit in 2008 (Stan Simpson), and he left. We had three in the 2010 class (Jereme, Meyers, and Crandall), and all three of them are now gone, leaving only the redshirted Joe Bertrand in that class. And then in 2012, zero recruits, leaving only the redshirted Devin Langford in that class. Which means we can sign five recruits in November, but then only one in the 2014 class. And then six open scholarships for 2015, but only one for 2016. We really need to get out of this rut.
But enough about that. How does Nunn fit? Well, perfectly. When you look over the roster after DJ/BP3/Tyler leave, you really don’t see a pure 2-guard. Abrams is a point guard who leans combo, JoeBert is a slasher with an undeveloped outside shot, transfer Rayvonte Rice is a 247 pound bulldog wing, Devin Langford is (reportedly) a wing with a decent handle, and 2013 commit Malcolm Hill is more of a wing guard. On that roster, the most likely spot-up shooter is probably Myke Henry, and he might spend a lot of time at the 4. So we really need a pure 2. Hey look, Kendrick Nunn!
That’s why this verbal is so huge. With DJ graduating, there really isn’t a go-to shooter. If this offense is going to be heavy on the drive-and-kick, we needed someone to kick to. Hey look, sweet shooting lefty Kendrick Nunn! I can already hear the anticipation in Assembly Hall when the ball is kicked to Nunn and 15,000 people collectively lean forward waiting to explode.
But Nunn isn’t just a shooter. He has a few YouTube highlights out there that will open your eyes, especially one (that I can’t find right now) where he does the whole “alley-oop is thrown behind him so he reaches back with one hand to grab it and throw it down” thing. Yes, that’s a thing. And he can do it. And he will do it, in a game. In Assembly Hall. And the players won’t get benched for trying the alley-oop. And when Nunn rises to shoot a three our head coach won’t yell “NO!” mid-shot. And we might get out and run with the ball. And we won’t go into the prevent offense with six minutes to go. And we won’t score 48 points against St. Bonaventure and call it a great performance. And I really need to let some things go.
OK, so every time someone commits, I play the “where do they fit in with future lineups?” game. Let’s do that with Nunn. And even though it’s tempting, I won’t play the “our four-guard freshman lineup of Jackson-Nunn-XRM-Hill plus Nnanna Egwu will be so hard to guard” game just yet. I’m just going through Nunn’s career pretending the 2013 class is only Hill-Morgan-Nunn.
His freshman year, there’s a great chance for minutes at the two. Especially if nobody can prove that they’re a spot-up shooter. He might not start – I could see a starting lineup of maybe Abrams-Rice-Bertrand-Henry-Egwu if Henry can learn to guard the four, which would make Nunn maybe the 6th man. I’m just not sure where Devin Langford fits just yet, so for now I’ll say the freshmen guards (Nunn and Hill) are the first two off the bench with Mike Shaw being the first big off the bench.
After that, 2014-15 gets very interesting. We only lose one player after 2013-14 (JoeBert), and that team will have all of this Senior experience (Abrams, Rice, Henry, Egwu, maybe Shaw and Djimde) and all of this sophomore talent (Nunn and Hill, promised-myself-I-wouldn’t-do-it but maybe Jackson and Rathan-Mayes as well). My guess would be that Nunn is starting at that point (maybe Abrams-Nunn-Rice-Henry-Egwu) with Hill pushing Rice for minutes. Hmmm… I’m making a fairly large assumption that Myke Henry can play the four. That feels like an entire post once basketball season gets rolling.
Once those seniors are gone, this lineup will be dominated by whoever the point guard is (please oh please, Demetrius), plus Nunn and Hill. And there’s a decent chance this lineup will be dominated by that trio before the 2011 class is gone. That’s the storyline that’s setting up here: after DJ/BP3/Tyler graduate, this team is basically 2011 class + 2013 class. Will Groce favor the experienced-at-that-point upperclassmen or the recruited-for-his-system underclassmen? If he can blend it all together, we might be back.
And if he can get Demetrius Jackson, we’re all the way back.