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Northwestern basketball player previews: G Jordan Ash

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Ash hasn’t been able to secure a major role thus far, but still has two years to try to do so.

NCAA Basketball: Sacred Heart at Northwestern Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball season is just around the corner. To get ready for the season, we will bring you in-depth player previews for every scholarship member of the 2017-18 Northwestern Wildcats. Today, we’ve got Jordan Ash, a reserve guard still looking to emerge as a major contributor.

Who he is:

Junior; guard; 6-foot-3; 200 pounds; Bolingbrook, IL

The numbers:

3.8 minutes per game (27 games), 0.6 ppg, 5-for-15 from three, 0-for-5 from two, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, 5 steals

2016-17 recap:

With the addition of Isiah Brown to the rotation, Ash played even less last season than he did as a freshman. He hit a pair of threes in the opener against Mississippi Valley State, chimed in with a triple and strong defense in 9 minutes in the Notre Dame game, and played at least 11 minutes in three straight during the non-con slate. Once conference play rolled around, though, Ash hit the 7-minute mark just four times and played a minute or less in 12 of 18.

Strengths:

Ash’s biggest strengths are his athleticism and defense. He brings a more physical presence to perimeter defense than either Brown or Bryant McIntosh, and has the ability to get up and finish above the rim. Ash has shown flashes of a strong three-point stroke, and his overall percentages in that area probably struggle because of the lack of rhythm he’s able to get into in mostly mop-up minutes. Ash is an important player for team chemistry purposes; by all accounts he’s a funny guy and great teammate.

Weaknesses

It’s hard to pick out Ash’s strengths and weaknesses because we just haven’t seen that much of him. From what we have seen, though, he struggles with facilitating and leading the offense, and also creating his own shot. Four of Ash’s five threes last season were assisted. The offense just doesn’t have the same life when he’s leading it. He’d be a more sensible fit at the two, but Chris Collins has rarely used him there.

When asked about what he’s been working on this offseason, Ash said “everything.”

“Going into my third year, I just have to become a better ballplayer,” he said. “Shooting, ballhandling, on the defensive end, just watching a lot of film on stuff I could’ve did better last year.”

Expectations

It might seem like Ash is destined for two more years of a reserve role, but who knows — there’s still time for him to potentially flip the script. Nate Taphorn is gone, opening up some minutes for, ideally, an outside shooter. It will be tough, as freshman Anthony Gaines has impressed and seems like a good candidate to take those minutes. Maybe Ash can beat out Isiah Brown for time as the backup point guard? Once B-Mac is gone, he’ll have Brown and Jordan Lathon to compete with. Expectations are low for Ash in his junior season, so anything he can earn his way onto the court to provide would be a big bonus. Plus, as he tweeted, us writers don’t control anything.

“I got a lot stronger (this offseason), did a lot of work in the weight room,” Ash said. “I think I’m a whole different player this year.”

Previous player previews:

Gavin Skelly