Dererk Pardon established himself as a Northwestern basketball legend on March 1st , 2017.
Yet, his legacy with the program goes well beyond that play. Over the course of his career, Pardon has grown from a low three-star recruit to the focal point of Northwestern’s offense and often the best player on the floor at a given moment. Entering the season, it was certain that Pardon would be playing a huge role on both sides of the court, and, as expected, he excelled in both situations. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to overcome the struggles of his teammates. On the whole, Northwestern lacked the offensive firepower to consistently generate wins, and Pardon’s senior season became a series of struggles that he could do nothing about.
The following numbers are taken from KenPom.com
Pardon’s ORtg of 117.9 and his eFG% of 58.1% highlight his effectiveness on that end of the floor. Further, the senior drew plenty of fouls around the rim, placing a premium on his free throw shooting. The Cleveland native was able to improve his numbers from the charity stripe in his final season, nearly reaching 70 percent. That improvement made him an even more potent threat with the ball in his hands.
Not only was Pardon an effective scorer, but he was a solid rebounder. He averaged nearly eight total boards per game (about three of them on the offensive end), giving the Wildcats some potentially crucial extra possessions. The success on the glass speaks to the well-rounded nature of the big man’s game.
Pardon’s efficiency can be highlighted with a look at his shooting at the rim. 60 percent of his shots were taken at the rim, and he converted on 69 percent of them. That conversion rate, as well as his 45 percent clip on two-point jumpers, was good for best on the team. He tried to expand his game and incorporate looks from beyond the arc, but wasn’t very effective in doing so. Pardon only made 18.5 percent of his three-point attempts, and teams were almost always willing to give him that shot.
Northwestern’s most reliable player on the offensive end, and often on the defensive end, was Pardon. Chris Collins could always count on him to stay out of foul trouble and provide the team with significant high-effort and high-impact minutes. When everyone was healthy, Pardon was the Wildcats’ second-most used player, an impressive feat for a big man.
Pardon was also Northwestern’s go-to offensive outlet. When in doubt, the Wildcats’ best option was to feed him and hope he could go to work. If they had relied on that way of thinking more often, it might have resulted in more wins. Overall, Pardon was always one of the most energetic players on the court, and had the best year of any Wildcat.
There were times when Pardon lacked patience and struggled with decision-making when given the ball. When faced with double teams, he struggled to find the open man quickly. This allowed defenses to double him in the post without fear of him quickly feeding a shooter on the perimeter. Additionally, Pardon attempted 28 three-point shots despite an abysmal rate of conversion on them. Teams gave him that shot for a reason, and were licking their chops every time he lined up a triple.
Pardon will be able to find a professional role, it’s just a matter of where. It’s doubtful that the big man will be drafted, but he could be picked up for the summer league. After that, he’ll likely either play in the G-league or be signed abroad. It’ll certainly be fun to see how Pardon’s career unfolds.
The Bottom Line
Pardon is probably the second-best Northwestern center ever, and is certainly in the top five Wildcats of all time. The big man had his share of iconic moments in a purple uniform (though none came close to matching the one at the top of this article), and will be remembered with nothing but fondness by the Northwestern faithful for his heart and work ethic. His exemplary career may not have ended the way he hoped, but Dererk Pardon has cemented his status as a Northwestern legend in the eyes of every Wildcats fan out there.