Even with football season in full swing, men’s basketball is set to start its season in just over one week. 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, center Ryan Young and forward Miller Kopp. Up next is junior forward Pete Nance.
Who he is
Junior; forward; 6-foot-10; 225 pounds; Akron, Ohio; former four-star recruit; brother of Cleveland Cavalier Larry Nance Jr. and son of three-time NBA All-Star Larry Nance, Sr.
20.9 minutes per game; 6.1 points; 1.2 assists; 4.2 rebounds; .388 FG%; .288 3P%; .617 FT%
Nance followed up a freshman year, one in which he only saw 14 minutes per game and was dominated by mononucleosis more than anything else, with a sophomore campaign that saw nearly all of his stats increase. He was the fifth highest scorer for the ‘Cats last season, averaging 8.5 points per game with a bump in playing time.
While his defense improved statistically from his freshman year, he struggled to defend against some of the bigger forwards in the Big Ten.
While Nance didn’t fare well against some of the bigger forwards last season, such as Michigan State’s Xavier Tillman, his defensive versatility is a plus. Nance can defend various positions on the floor, with his main weakness coming against those larger than him. There’s speculation the ‘Cats may use him as a small-ball center, so there’s a chance he has evolved to be able to cover some of the conference’s big men.
On top of his defense, Nance is a decent enough shooter for his size. Last season, he shot 40% from the field as well as 29.7% from beyond the arc. His free throw percentage, while still just 68% last year, improved drastically from his freshman year, when it was a disappointing 42%. Overall, he’s shown an exciting scoring ability but has not been able to translate it into consistency.
Ironically, one of Nance’s biggest weaknesses in his strength. As previously mentioned, Nance wasn’t strong enough to match up against the likes of Tillman defensively.
On the offensive side of the ball, Nance struggles from time to time in the post. Additionally, his shot selection was questionable at points last season, often taking low-percentage pull-up jumpers. In general, while his shooting stats were solid, they have room to grow with better shot selection.
Dribbling isn’t a trait that big men typically have, and Nance is no exception to that. He can get caught out if pressured with the ball, and his ball-handling must improve if he wants to take the next step.
Coming into his Northwestern career, Nance had extremely high expectations placed on him. He was one of the highest-rated recruits in Northwestern history and, of course, was hyped up a bit due to his bloodline. After a freshman campaign that never got going for several factors, Nance failed to make a significant leap in his second year. He will be expected to take the next step as a junior, even with freshman seven-footer Matt Nicholson coming into the fold. Center Jared Jones transferred out during the offseason, meaning Nance will need to improve his play defensively in he wants to keep pace with some of the best bigs in the country.