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Dererk Pardon likely to return to the lineup against Minnesota, per source

The athletic big man missed eight games and will be a big boost on both ends.

NCAA BASKETBALL: NOV 16 Northwestern at Butler Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Northwestern sophomore center Dererk Pardon has recovered from his hand injury and is likely to be available for Northwestern’s game against Minnesota on January 5, a source told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

Pardon got hurt in the second half of Northwestern’s (12-3) win over Wake Forest on November 28 and has not played since, missing eight games in a row. The 6-foot-8, 235-pounder out of Cleveland is averaging 6.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game.

In his absence, Northwestern has started true freshman center Barret Benson and used Gavin Skelly off the bench for extended stretches of time. The Wildcats have also used some extreme small-ball lineups with either Sanjay Lumpkin or Nathan Taphorn as the center, on display against Michigan State when both big men were in foul trouble.

Pardon’s return provides an immediate boost for the Wildcats in the post. A lanky, athletic center, Pardon runs the floor well, rebounds the ball on both ends at a high rate and, although not a featured part of the offense shows flashes of his back-to-the-basket acumen.

A healthy Pardon also significantly lengthens the inside rotation for Northwestern. Northwestern can play two bigs at once with Skelly at the power forward position, or they can spread the floor and bring in Taphorn. Benson, who has shown considerable growth, especially on the defensive end, stands to lose some minutes with Pardon’s return.