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Northwestern men’s basketball player previews: F Miller Kopp

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The four-star recruit comes to the Evanston out of Houston, Texas.

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Part of a four-man freshmen class, Miller Kopp chose Northwestern over a host of power conference teams. Kopp is ultra-competitive, and should contribute in some fashion this season:

Who he is:

First-year; 6-foot-7; 210 pounds; Houston, Texas

The stats:

Led the Under Armour Association in points per game with 20.2; set records at Houston Christian High School in career points (1,800), season points (810), season 3-point percentage (.440), season free throw percentage (.880), free throws in a game (18), free throws in a season (195) and free throws in a career (405).

Strengths:

Kopp is best known for his outside shooting. His release is smooth and he does a nice job squaring his shoulders and feet on every attempt. Kopp is also adept at reading screens and possesses exceptional footwork. He is able to use this footwork to create space and put himself in the best position to get his shot off coming off screens.

His shooting ability allows him to create opportunities for himself off the dribble. He uses simple jab steps and pump fakes to get defenders off balance in order to get to his spots. Kopp doesn’t have blow by speed, but he uses his body well to either get to the basket or pull up in the midrange.

At 6-foot-7 and 210 pounds, Kopp already has a college ready body. He’s athletic in the open floor, has some bounce, and defenders must always account for him because of his lethal stroke. He can take smaller defenders in the post too.

He is an ultra-competitive, high energy player. He attributes this competitive nature to growing up with three brothers and having a father who played collegiate tennis.

Weaknesses:

Kopp was able to use his large frame to bully players in high school. That won’t always fly in the physical Big Ten, so it will be interesting to see how he adapts his game to the next level.

The biggest question about Miller is his defense. He needs to improve his foot speed and agility in order to guard his position.

Getting quicker will also help him on offense. An extra split-second in his first step would make all the difference in his ability to get that sweet shot off.

Offensively, Kopp led the Under Armour Association in scoring two summers ago at 20.2 points a contest, though he only shot 28 percent from three. This isn’t of huge concern given that percentage came on six attempts per game, but it’s something to note. The mechanics in his shot are good, but the ball still has to go in.

Expectations:

It’s tough to predict what any first year will be able to contribute. There will be growing pains, like there are with any freshman, but Kopp could find a solid role for himself if he is able to defend and knock down threes.

He could turn into a real contributor for the team because of his frame, but nothing can be definitively said until he gets playing experience.

He will most likely find himself as the fourth man off the bench to start the year, but that could very well change if he shows he can make outside shots, which Northwestern needed last season.

Playing time won’t be easy to come by as there are plenty of veterans on the wing, but shooters like Kopp usually manage to carve out roles for themselves.