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Northwestern men’s basketball player previews 2020-2021: F Miller Kopp

Northwestern’s most consistent player aims to improve on defense.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

It’s that time of year again. Even with football season in full swing, men’s basketball season is right around the corner. To kick off our 2020-2021 coverage of the men’s team, we will preview each player on Northwestern’s roster. We’ve looked at transfer Chase Audige, guard Boo Buie, forward Robbie Beran and center Ryan Young, and next up is junior forward Miller Kopp.

Who he is

Junior; forward/shooting guard; 6-foot-7; 215 pounds; Houston, TX: former four-star recruit

Career Stats

24.2 minutes per game; 8.9 points; 1.2 assists; 2.8 rebounds; .398 FG%; .373 3P%; .851 FT%

2019-20 Review

Miller Kopp followed up a freshman season where he started 19 games with a sophomore campaign that saw him blossom into Northwestern’s best and most consistent player. Kopp led the team in scoring with 13.1 points per game, going an impressive 89.6% at the charity stripe and 39.6% beyond the arc.

However, he left much to be desired on the defense, as he was often a non-factor on that end, averaging a measly 0.5 steals and 0.2 blocks per game.

Strengths

Kopp is the most talented scorer on the team and one of the best pure shooters in the conference. He finished last season third in the Big Ten in three-point shooting and 15th in overall scoring. His 39.6% shooting from beyond the arc followed up a season in which he averaged 31.9%, marking a 7.7% increase.

Importantly, Kopp is consistent. He scored in double figures in 23 of his 31 games last season, and there are few players in the country you’d rather have on the line in a high-pressure situation than him. His 89.6% shooting from the line last season was the best in the Big Ten.

Weaknesses

Although Kopp is an excellent shooter, his inability to drive and create his own shot prevents him from taking over games, especially on the left. According to Hoop-Math.com, only 11.5% of Kopp’s shots came in the paint and his conversion rate on those attempts was 51.3%, eight percentage points lower than the team average. He needs to improve finishing around the basket to become an offensive force as well as become more of a two-handed threat.

Most of his weaknesses come on defense. At 6-foot-7 and 215 pounds, he has the physical build to be a good defender, but he still has a defensive rating that puts him near the bottom of the team with relatively slow feet and below-average defensive instincts. However, it’s not entirely his fault, as Coach Chris Collins needs to reevaluate a poor defensive scheme that finished 12th in the conference in scoring defense last season.

Expectations

Kopp made a significant leap between his freshman and sophomore seasons, and he will continue to grow this year as the best player on Northwestern’s roster. He gained some muscle over the offseason and carries the expectation that he will further improve, helped by better guard play that should result from the addition of Ty Berry. The Houston native will again be a key cog in the offense that’s aiming for more than three Big Ten wins this season.