Dererk Pardon’s senior season didn’t turn out they way he and his teammates wanted it to. In his final season, the team sputtered its way to dismal 13-19 overall record — a bitter ending to what was ultimately an illustrious four-year career for Pardon in Evanston. Without him, things certainly would’ve gone a lot worse for the Wildcats last season.
The 6-foot-8 big man finished 2nd on the team in scoring with a solid 14 points per game and also led the team with 7.8 rebounds per game. Although Pardon hasn’t generated much draft buzz, mainly thanks to him measuring just 6’8”, here is what any inquiring team (domestic, summer league, overseas) needs to know about one of the best big guys in Northwestern basketball history.
The most impressive part of Pardon’s Northwestern career has to be the impact he had for the Wildcats on the boards, especially on the the offensive glass. His 13.0 offensive rebounding percentage in 2018 was good for 51st in the country and 3rd overall in the Big Ten. Pardon averaged over 7.0 total RPG as well as over 3.0 offensive RPG in each of his four seasons except his freshman year, which is pretty damn impressive for a guy who, despite his significant wingspan, was almost always the smaller of the two big men on the court in any given matchup.
Pardon’s consistent ability to finish around the rim and convert his shots also shouldn’t be overlooked. Although his field goal range was pretty much exclusively limited to shots in and around the paint until his senior season, Pardon finished the top ten in two-point percentage within the Big Ten in each of his four years in a purple uniform.
- Defense — Despite his underwhelming size, Pardon remains a solid post and perimeter defender thanks to his 7-foot-3 wingspan. He averaged over a block per game throughout his four-year career.
- Shot Selection — Although he doesn’t quite have the range desired out of many big men in today’s professional game, Pardon knows what he’s capable of and tends to create and take smart shots. He broke the former school record with a .619 field goal percentage during the 2017-18 season and was consistently one of the higher-percentage scorers in the Big Ten from year-to-year.
- Energy — As long as he was healthy (which he usually was), Pardon could always be counted on to crash the boards consistently on both ends of the court.
- Free Throw Shooting — Another area to note is Pardon’s year-to-year improvement at the charity stripe. The big man’s percentage from the line improved every season, creating a total four-year gain of nearly 16 percentage points.
- Post Awareness — The big man certainly has a arsenal of impressive post moves, but suffered from a tendency to put his head down on his dribble when going into them. Pardon wasn’t particularly skilled at passing out from the post, either, making him susceptible to double teams. He averaged over a turnover per game throughout his career, high for a center.
- Size — It’s obviously out of his control, but Pardon’s slightly underwhelming 6-foot-8, 235-pound frame will leave him facing a constant uphill battle as he tries to grab the attention of teams with the hopes of making a roster.
- Range — After attempting just one three-pointer in his first three seasons in Evanston, Pardon tried to add to the shot to his game last year. It wasn’t pretty. He made just 6-of-28 from beyond the arc. KenPom doesn’t have stats on number of banked threes, but if I had to estimate, at least three of those six career made triples rattled in off the glass. Pardon’s struggle to generate offense outside the paint remains a concern.
Unfortunately, one of Northwestern’s strongest ever post players and the 2017 buzzer-beating hero will not break the Wildcats’ 20-year NBA Draft drought. Pardon definitely has a legitimate shot of making an NBA Summer League roster like former teammates Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey did after going undrafted last year, but the former Wildcat center will likely be headed overseas unless he can find a way onto an NBA G League roster.