The college basketball offseason is a dark place. From April to November, teams across the country revert into a quasi-hoops hibernation, shielded from the 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 earlier than ever this season.
Those extra two weeks are a welcome development, but the start of 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 reasonably 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 help expedite the long respite.
Height/Weight: 6'2'', 200 pounds
Stats to know (from 2012-13 unless indicated otherwise)
3pt %: 0.340
Offensive Rating: 94.3
Effective Field Goal %: 45.3
Usage Rate: 24.3
% Shots: 30.1
A redshirted 2011-12 season put Demps on track to enter 2012-13 as an energetic low-minutes scorer off the bench. Injuries – and a prohibitive inability to effectively score – made Demps’ volume scoring a more important asset than anyone would have ever thought possible in just his first full season.
His game, particularly on the defensive end, still had some rough edges to sand off – all too often you’d see Demps short-circuit possessions by jacking up early jump shots or embarking on impetuous drives towards the rim, and his spatial awareness and harried on-ball defending was a constant thorn in the Wildcats’ already withered perimeter line of defense. It was one year, Demps had his share of problems and it’s hard to imagine he won’t grow in his second full season.
Where he fits
If Northwestern can avoid another batch of crippling injuries, there will be an overload of backcourt bodies, which is an overwhelmingly positive thing for competition and fresh rotations, but could cut into Demps’ minutes this season. Dave Sobolewski is locked in at point guard and JerShon Cobb, one year removed from an academic suspension, is Northwestern’s best individual defender with a well-rounded offensive game to boot.
In a two-guard starting lineup, presuming Drew Crawford starts at small forward, that would leave Demps out of the first unit. Coach Chris Collins could opt to employ a four-out configuration where Demps spaces the floor with his streaky scoring, playing alongside Sobolewski and Cobb (or Kale Abrahamson or Sanjay Lumpkin or whoever), but Demps stands to get most of his minutes off the bench as a quick-strike offensive jolt of energy. His explosive off-dribble creation and shooting range can not only spark offensive spurts, but fundamentally recalibrate an opposing team’s defensive priorities.
What to Expect
Last season’s occasionally-frustrating offensive production – wherein Demps managed under eight points per game while commanding 30.1 percent of available shots (among the top-100 highest rates in the country) – won’t be tolerated, or even required, with so many other capable scorers on the floor around him. Demps was forcing shots last season almost out of necessity; injuries left the Wildcats without most of their scoring punch, and Demps was simply taking advantage of the situational offensive leeway at his disposal.
This season Demps’ offensive output will be more contained, controlled. If it isn’t, if Demps’ usage and shot rates even come close to last season’s high totals, Crawford and Cobb aren’t scoring enough. Demps will be useful as an off-the-bench sparkplug, someone who can carry the offense in short bursts. His penetration and outside shooting will be an incredibly useful asset if/when Crawford and Cobb can’t carry the load, or if an opposing defense locks down the Wildcats’ primary scoring threats. Demps can just as easily break a game open as shoot the Wildcats out of contention. More of the former is what Demps, and the Wildcats, should rightfully aim for this season.