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Northwestern men’s basketball player previews: F Pete Nance

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The forward has a different skillset than his father or his older brother. He’ll likely get the chance to prove himself at forward early in the year.

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Who he is:

Freshman; forward; 6-foot-10; 210 pounds; Akron, Ohio; former four-star recruit

2017-2018 review:

Nance committed to Northwestern last June and became the highest-rated recruit in program history (until Robbie Beran came along). He had a successful senior season at Revere High School in Richfield, Ohio, averaging 21 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks per game. He was named the Ohio Division II player of the year as well as a finalist for the Mr. Ohio basketball award. Nance also led his high school team to their first-ever district title before coming to Evanston in June.

Strengths:

Nance is an abundantly talented player given his height. He can obviously play above the rim, but he’s very comfortable with the ball in his hands and he’s shown the ability to shoot off the dribble and create his own shot. Nance obviously comes from a great basketball lineage (both his father and his older brother played or play in the NBA), but he told InsideNU he feels he can shoot the ball better than Larry Nance or Larry Nance Jr., even if he can’t jump quite as high.

Nance’s handle probably isn’t tight enough for him to bring the ball up the court yet, but his ability to shoot out to the perimeter and face up defenders can add an important element to NU’s offense. He knows how to pass, too. Check out some of the dimes he drops in this highlight video from the summer.

Weaknesses:

It’s hard to diagnose significant weaknesses in the absence of any observed data, but I worry a bit about Nance’s frame. His listing of 210 pounds might be generous, and it’s foreseeable that Nance could struggle to physically match older, stronger Big Ten fours. He might need some time to grow into his body and adjust to the speed of the game before his skillset can blossom.

Expectations:

The center position is set for Northwestern with Dererk Pardon and Barret Benson. However, the other big man spot is pretty much wide open after Aaron Falzon struggled last year and Gavin Skelly graduated. If healthy, Falzon will presumably get the first crack at the position, but don’t be surprised if 6-foot-7 wings Vic Law and A.J. Turner play the small-ball four as well. A trio of Falzon, Law, and Turner may make early minutes for Nance hard to find. Still, with so many new faces this year, Chris Collins is going to throw a lot at the wall and see what sticks.

“Honestly, I’m just looking to affect the game really just wherever coach needs me,” Nance told InsideNU. “I’m just saying I’m just happy to be out there playing.”

If Nance’s unique abilities translate to the college level early on, he could be a rotation mainstay and a difference-maker as a freshman.