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Northwestern Basketball Season in Review Roundtable: How high is Bryant McIntosh's ceiling?

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The point guard had a nice freshman season. Does he still have a lot of room for growth?

Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Over the next two weeks, beginning Monday, March 23, we'll be holding an extended Inside NU roundtable to rehash and analyze Northwestern men's basketball's 2014/15 season. We'll pose one question every day -- some general, some more specific; some looking back, some looking ahead -- and a group of our writers will respond. Additionally, over the coming days, we'll have separate articles breaking down some of the topics in more depth.

Yesterday, we answered the key defensive question for Northwestern: zone or man? Today, we go back to a player-specific discussion:

After an impressive freshman season, how high is Bryant McIntosh's ceiling?

Ben Goren: Bryant McIntosh is the most Indiana player I've ever seen at Northwestern. Everything about him is Hoosier. From his free throw shooting (85%), to that floater, to him slapping the floor on defense (or is that more Duke?), McIntosh bleeds Indiana. McIntosh is kind of a weird player. He's not super quick, yet he can attack off the bounce. His jumper looks a little funky, yet he shot 36 percent from three, including a ridiculous 62 percent from the left corner.

It's hard to find a good parallel for him when you look at the best point guards in the Big Ten. He's never going to be as dangerous a finisher as Melo Trimble, he's never going to be as quick as Yogi Ferrell, and he's never going to be a human highlight reel like D'Angelo Russell was this year. To me, the best parallel to what I think McIntosh will be is this year's iteration of Travis Trice. Trice averaged 15 points and 5 assists this year and was a danger to pull up from just about anywhere. Where players get noticeably better during college is on their ability to catch and shoot. Think back to Craig Moore at Northwestern. By the time he left, he could come sprinting off a screen but still get his feet set before delivering the shot.

If Northwestern can bring along another point guard and move McIntosh off ball every once and a while, I think he could become a really great scorer. He's certainly as college ready as any freshman since Drew Crawford. I'm loading up on B-Mac stock. Though to be fair, I also loaded up on Davide Curletti stock. Anyone interested in that? Hello?

Daniel Rapaport: I think what surprised Northwestern fans most about McIntosh this season was just how college-ready his game was. While many in the know predicted that McIntosh would start from day one, most predicted that Vic Law would be the freshman to have the biggest impact this season. It became clear really after the scrimmage against McKendree that McIntosh was the more polished player, and a really strong start to the season swelled his expectations to the point where many forecasted greatness in McIntosh's near future. But then, college basketball happened, and McIntosh struggled as the Big Ten season wore on. So, what's fair to expect of the soon-to-be sophomore point guard?

McIntosh was heavily relied upon to be the primary ball-handler in this offense--when he left the floor, the offense was visibly less fluid, and Tre Demps' limited playmaking ability forced McIntosh to play on the ball virtually every possession. Like Ben, I think McIntosh is a versatile scorer and could see that area of his game blossom with a bit more off-the-ball play, though I don't see that happening next season, when the guard rotation will be virtually the same as this past season's. McIntosh lacks the elite athleticism that you often see in players with "high ceilings," and he shot the three-pointer relatively well this year, so the biggest room for improvement in his game appears to be in shot selection--44 percent of his shots came from midrange--and in late-game situations. Far too often last year did McIntosh play a fantastic 38 minutes only to do his best in the last two minutes to remind us that he was, indeed, a freshman and was going to make freshman mistakes. These, of course, should subside with experience.

I don't think McIntosh has the NBA ceiling that D'Angelo Russell and Melo Trimble do--he's just not explosive enough--but he's a heady player who will figure out how to get the most out of his game. These type of players tend to excel in college, and I think McIntosh's Big Ten ceiling is that of an all-conference player. Let's remember that, by definition, players don't always reach their ceilings (ahem, Greg Oden and Anthony Bennett). It's a best-case scenario for their development. But there's no reason BMac can't blossom into one of the Big Ten's best guards.

David Gernon: McIntosh can certainly be the player this program builds around, and the one who could lead them to their first ever NCAA tournament bid. He is a versatile scorer and an intelligent player who has demonstrated leadership qualities from day one that make him a fan favorite and someone the coaches can trust. While he struggled at times defensively during the season and sometimes disappeared on offense, that's to be expected from a true freshman playing in the Big Ten. He will have to work hard to avoid the usual sophomore slump, especially playing alongside a ball-dominant player like Tre Demps, but he has proved he can make adjustments and compete at a Big Ten level. While he may never be a star in the NBA due to his lack of other-worldly quickness, that doesn't mean he can't develop into one of the premier guards in the Big Ten.

Zach Pereles: Bryant McIntosh is a smart point guard who will never overwhelm you with his athleticism or defensive prowess. He's a great guy for this program, however, because he can score some and, unlike a lot of point guards we see in today's game, can stroke it from three. He's a true gamer-- a high IQ guy that will make tons of savvy plays as he matures and grows. Although not overwhelmingly quick, he can get into the paint and usually get a shot off. He's a good distributor and if the guys around him-- namely Vic Law and Scottie Lindsey-- continue to develop, his assist numbers should be solid. If I had to name one guy off the top of my head, I would say Jon Scheyer from Duke. Scheyer was a bigger guy, but he, like McIntosh wasn't blindingly quick or supremely athletic. Rather, he was a good shooter from the outside who finished with a variety of floaters and layups in the lane. His highlight tape is McIntosh-esque. Plus, compare the freshman year numbers.

Scheyer:

PPG

RPG

APG

FG%

FT%

3FG%

12.2

3.3

1.8

39.8

84.6

36.3

McIntosh:

PPG

RPG

APG

FG%

FT%

3FG%

11.4

2.5

4.7

42.1

85.3

36.4

McIntosh will likely always have the edge over Scheyer, who played more as a shooting guard, in assists, but there are more similarities. They both wore number 30! They were both coached (in some capacity) by Chris Collins! They both made All-Freshman teams! They're both from the midwest! They're basically the same! Scheyer averaged nearly 19 per game by his senior year. I'm not saying McIntosh will be quite that good, but I think he could get up near 17 by the time he's a senior, and I think they have similar games. That would be B-Mac's ceiling.