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Northwestern basketball 2017 player reviews: Jordan Ash

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Going into his junior year, the lefty guard has yet to find an opportunity to show what he can really do.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Northwestern Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Exiting his sophomore year at Northwestern, Jordan Ash remains something of an unknown. The 6-foot-3 point guard out of Bolingbrook, IL saw extremely limited playing time this season, even more limited than in his freshman campaign. This can be attributed in part to the ascension of Bryant McIntosh to folk-lore hero and in larger part to the emergence of Isiah Brown, who took on the bulk of back-up point guard responsibilities as a freshman. Ash was Chris Collins’ fourth option at the guard position and really only saw extended run early in the season or when teammates were in foul trouble. There’s no doubt, though, that he’s an athlete who has shown the ability to defend competently at this level.

Stats

Numbers courtesy of kenpom.com

There’s not a ton of value to take away from these statistics, given Ash’s limited opportunities; his minutes dipped from 6.8 per game in his freshman season to just 3.8 per game as a sophomore. His offensive rating plummeted almost thirty points, his effective field goal percentage dropped almost 11 percent and his turnover rate rose nearly five percent. His assist rate also fell. Ash did boost his three point percentage by nearly seven percentage points, but the difference between shooting 4-for-15 and 5-for-15 on threes over the course of a full season is negligible. The sophomore guard didn’t make a two-pointer in the 2017 season and made zero trips to the charity stripe.

Again, the sample size is too small to take much away from this table, but he didn’t get much run in 2016 either and those numbers look substantially better in almost every category.

Shot Distribution

Stats via hoop-math.com

Jordan Ash

FGA TS% eFG% % shots at rim FG% at rim %assisted at rim % shots 2pt J FG% 2pt Jumpers %assisted 2pt J %of shots 3pt 3FG% %assisted 3s FTA/FGA FT%
FGA TS% eFG% % shots at rim FG% at rim %assisted at rim % shots 2pt J FG% 2pt Jumpers %assisted 2pt J %of shots 3pt 3FG% %assisted 3s FTA/FGA FT%
20 0.375 37.50% 15.00% 0.00% --- 10.00% 0.00% --- 75.00% 33.30% 80.00% 0.00% ---

Even in times when Ash’s number was called, he wasn’t generally tasked with leading the offense or dominating the ball. He hasn’t shown an ability to create his own shot — only 15 percent of his field goal attempts in 2017 came at the rim — and, as displayed above, he didn’t convert a single attempt from inside the arc on the season. 75 percent of his looks came from deep, on which he shot 33 percent, but, if extrapolated to a larger sample size, that’s a contribution you’d probably be happy with off the bench if you’re Chris Collins. Four of his five three-point makes were assisted.

The Good

Ash showed a few flashes of offensive and defensive potential in isolated contests this season. He knocked down two of his five three-pointers for the season in Northwestern’s opener against Mississippi Valley State on Nov. 11 and logged three straight games with double-digits in minutes against Wake Forest (1 block), DePaul and New Orleans (2 steals, 2 assists). Once conference play began, though, his playing time diminished.

The Bad

As I’ve mentioned, Ash really didn’t play at all this season and when he did he wasn’t much of a factor. McIntosh had a career year and registered almost 35 minutes per night and with Isiah Brown assuming ball-handling duties behind the junior guard, there wasn’t much room for Ash to assert himself. Also, with talented shooting guard recruit Anthony Gaines on the way, Ash stands to potentially be buried even deeper in the rotation.

Offseason Focus

Ash’s playing time and production both appear to be on the downswing at the moment, but all is not lost for the sophomore guard. Injuries plagued Northwestern this season and they very well could do so again, meaning Ash will have to be ready if he’s called upon to contribute more next year.

If he can continue to build on his progress as an on-ball perimeter defender and refine his three-point shot he’ll certainly have value as a role player for Chris Collins. Ash should focus on becoming a threat off-the-ball offensively as well, given that he’ll likely continue to play behind or alongside McIntosh and Brown, two ball-dominant guards. Remember, the athleticism is certainly there. Ash just needs to become more skilled on both ends if he wants to crack a spot in the rotation.

The Bottom Line

The reality is, Ash was the tenth man on a team that typically only went eight or nine deep this year. His destiny may be as a three-and-D energy guard off the bench, and if he works hard this offseason to develop these two skills, he could be a reliable role player option and veteran presence for Northwestern in the 2017-18 season.

Grade: INC