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Northwestern basketball player previews: F Aaron Falzon

What can we expect from the sharpshooter after he missed all of last season?

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Purdue Trevor Ruszkowski-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. Next up is Aaron Falzon, who is back after missing last season and looking to slide into the starting lineup.

Who he is:

Redshirt sophomore; forward; 6-foot-8, 225 pounds, Newton, Massachusetts

The stats (2015-16):

8.4 points per game; 24.6 minutes; 3.4 rebounds; 0.9 assists; .383/.354/.717 shooting

Strengths:

Let’s get one thing straight right away: Aaron Falzon may well have changed a lot since we last saw him play meaningful minutes 20 months ago. Keep that in mind when reading this preview, because all we have to go off of is his 2015-16 true freshman season. Anways, let’s get into it. First and foremost, Falzon is a three-point shooter. He has a natural, pure stroke with a quick release that makes him lethal as a catch-and-shoot stretch four. That skill can be utilized in the half court, with Falzon being freed by off-ball screens, but is especially dangerous in transition and off of offensive rebounds. As a freshman, 78 percent of his field goal attempts came from beyond the arc. Just 1 of his 63 makes from deep was unassisted. Falzon also doesn’t turn the ball over (mainly because he isn’t asked to do much playmaking) and showed some solid rebounding ability in his first season.

Weaknesses:

Falzon, who many project to slide into the fifth starting spot vacated by Sanjay Lumpkin, has several areas of his game that will need to improve to take his overall ability to the next level. He’ll be a drop-off from Lumpkin defensively, but the question is just how big that drop-off will be. He struggled on that end of the floor at times as a freshman; there are a few examples in this film breakdown, which you should definitely read. I’ll be curious to see how much strength Falzon has added. According to the official rosters, he went from 213 pounds in ‘15-’16 to 225 this year. If he has bulked up a bit, that could help with defense and on the glass. Falzon could also stand to improve his passing, his finishing in the paint, and his free throw percentage (71).

Expectations:

Falzon is one of this season’s bigger unknowns. Will he be just a three-point specialist like he was two seasons ago? Or will the former four-star recruit become a more dynamic all-around player in his redshirt sophomore season? We saw Vic Law make a serious jump after missing a year; why can’t Falzon do the same? He probably makes the most sense to start alongside the four captains, as his ability to space the floor will provide plenty of room for Dererk Pardon in the paint and Bryant McIntosh taking it to the hoop. We know Falzon can shoot, but it’s his defense that will likely determine whether or not he’s a major contributor this season.