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Northwestern Basketball Player Capsules: Sanjay Lumpkin

The college basketball season is a dark place. From April to November, teams across the country revert into a hoops hibernation, shielded from media spotlight and mostly unavailable to the public eye in the same way as, say, football players are during spring practice. Things ramp up again over the summer, and a recent NCAA rule pushing the start of official practice back two weeks ensures teams will begin formal preseason preparations even earlier this season.

Those extra two weeks are a welcome development, but the college basketball season remains a distant entity, microscopically positioned in the most forward-looking reaches of our winter sports imaginations. We’re here to help you bridge the gap with some refresher-type player capsules. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be rolling out quick little offseason snapshots of each player, how they performed last season and what you can probably expect as the Wildcats prepare for new coach Chris Collins’ first season. So if you’re ever missing basketball, if you find yourself pining for what’s to come on the hardwood this winter, you have brief individual player breakdowns to hold you over.

There is a lot of time to fill during a college hoops offseason, and convenient exercises like these can expedite the process.


Sanjay Lumpkin

Past history

The early feedback from practices and the few games Lumpkin did play in last season were no doubt positive. His length and versatility were welcome assets on the perimeter, inexperienced and relatively unschooled in the Princeton offense though Lumpkin was, and it was beginning to feel like, after playing just four games and 26 total minutes, he had a chance to grow into a valuable reserve piece in a larger workload.

Then Lumpkin sat out the remainder of the season, reset his eligibility clock and that was that. Now Lumpkin has four more years ahead of him, a clean bill of health and a season of practice work under his belt to help make year two on campus even more successful right off the bat.

Where he fits

There won’t be much room for Lumpkin to assert his starting credentials in the backcourt next season; Dave Sobolewski and JerShon Cobb will likely start in whatever traditional two-guard set-up Chris Collins decides to employ, with Drew Crawford manning the small forward spot, which means Lumpkin is all but guaranteed to come off the bench this fall.

He could play his way into a starter’s spot – Lumpkin most definitely has the game, the size and, relevant or no, Bil Carmody’s high praise from last season. Players with Lumpkin’ bodily dimensions (6’6’’, 195 pounds) don’t typically wield truly guard-oriented skill sets, and that unique perimeter functionality will find use in the Wildcats’ various lineups. 

What to expect 

Trying to project anything beyond productive bench play in small sample sizes, particularly early in the season, is probably stretching the truth, because while Lumpkin has every conceivable tool – size, length, basketball IQ, 12 months of practice experience – required to blossom right away in his redshirt freshman seasons, his insertion into a may not be quite as easy as sticking a really talented young dude eager to break off the redshirt training wheels.

College basketball is an unpredictable thing, and maybe the switch to a new coaching regime stalls, or refocuses Lumpkin’s development into something entirely different. Probably not – ok, definitely not – but you get the point: don’t expect anything groundbreaking out of an outwardly promising but unproven redshirt freshman. It’s not really fair, or reasonble, or even close to wise college hoops lineup discernment.