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Northwestern basketball player previews: G/F Anthony Gaines

Northwestern's lone true freshman looks ready to contribute from the get-go.

nusports.com

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. Next up is Anthony Gaines, the only true freshman on Northwestern's roster.

Who he is

Freshman; guard/forward; 6-foot-4; 2-5 pounds, Kingston, New York

Strengths

Gaines brings a different element than Northwestern's other guards. Though just a freshman, Gaines is built, and looks to have a body ready compete in the Big Ten. He appears to be stout defensively, and contributes on the glass, which should help him get on the floor in smaller lineups.

"I think I can affect this team with energy, defensively, rebounding, things like that," Gaines said. "Driving, kicking. I don't look to do anything specific, whatever the coaches need me to do I'll do."

In last week's intrasquad scrimmage, Gaines was aggressive getting to the hoop, and showed the ability to finish through contact and draw fouls. Though a little out of control at times, he was tough to contain when he got going with a head of speed, and flashed a nice behind-the-back dribble several times. He'll be a solid slasher for Chris Collins to deploy.

Weaknesses

Asked what part of his game needed the most work, Gaines's answer was brief.

"Shooting," he said. "Everyone's just as fast, just as strong, if not stronger. I have to be able to create that space to make those drives easier."

He made his only triple in the scrimmage, but he admitted that his jump-shooting will need to improve if he wants to see significant minutes this season. Because he can defend well, he would be an ideal piece at the end of games if his shooting can improve throughout his debut season. That's something that usually comes with time, but he just needs to shoot it at a respectable clip to get on the floor, given his skill set in other areas.

Because he's just a freshman, he'll make mistakes, like any freshman does. There'll be some turnovers, bad shots and things of that nature, but that isn't necessarily a major worry for somebody as young as Gaines.

Expectations

Projecting a freshman's performance is difficult, but Gaines looks like he'll be part of the regular rotation. It'd be reasonable to think he can be the second or third player off the bench. His ability to defend should allow him to spell Scottie Lindsey or Vic Law Jr. for stretches, and he could be a nice fit alongside the offensively minded Isiah Brown as part of a second unit. The bottom line is that Gaines is an exciting athlete with room to grow. He'll play a role this season.

Previous player previews

Barret Benson

Jordan Ash

Gavin Skelly