Northwestern fans have had to miserably watch their football team for the past six weeks, but no worries, because basketball season is right around the corner. The men’s basketball team has a tough road of them in the Big Ten, so it’s time to preview the lineup and ponder about which players will rise to the occasion. Next up is sophomore Julian Roper II, who rose to the occasion last year and made a noticeable impact on the court.
Who is he?
Sophomore; guard; 6-foot-3; 180 pounds; from Detroit, Mich.; ranked No. 24 shooting guard in the country by 247 Sports before attending NU
20.1 minutes per game; 4.0 points per game; 3.4 rebounds; 1.0 assists; 0.9 steals per game; 34.2 FG%, 35.3 3P%, 71.4 FT%.
While he started the season coming off the bench, Roper II became a starter halfway through the 2021-2022 season, and was a constant contributor in Big Ten play, especially on defense. He replaced guard Ty Berry in the starting lineup 16 games into the season, mainly for his defensive prowess. However, he had a shaky offensive campaign.
Roper II had his career high in points (nine) in the ‘Cats’ final game against Iowa, and offense is definitely the top thing he needs to improve on. This game showed what Roper II could be offensively, as he went 3-for-4 from three, setting a career-high in three-pointers as well. As a freshman, he was inconsistent from the field but did see his field goal percentage get better as the season went along.
Roper II was one of the top defensive contributors for Northwestern, and he showed some promise offensively. The hope for him is to become more of a complete player and contribute at both ends of the court during the 2022-23 season.
This has been said many times already, but the obvious strengths for Roper II lie on the defensive side of the ball. Many times, he was tasked with guarding the opposition’s best players, such as Johnny Davis, Keegan Murray and other top-scoring options in the Big Ten. Going into this season, Roper II will probably have that same role, as he is arguably the best defender in Northwestern’s starting five.
He’ll need to provide some help on the rebounding side of the ball. Northwestern is a smaller team this year, barring the large freshman class that has yet to prove itself, especially with the departures of Pete Nance and Ryan Young, and Roper II has shown the athleticism necessary to get up on the boards.
Right now, the biggest weakness with Roper is offensive efficiency. Offensively, he was inconsistent throughout the season and never hit double digits. In some important games, he struggled from the field, such as against Purdue at home, Minnesota away, and Nebraska in the Big Ten tournament.
But, Roper II started to improve late in the season, as he did not post a field goal percentage below .333 after Northwestern’s win vs. Nebraska in Welsh-Ryan Arena. He will really need to step up in order to provide support to Boo Buie and Chase Audige so they don’t have to take on the burden of scoring entirely.
Going into the 2022-2023 season, Roper’s defense is a given. He is expected to be one of the best defensive players on the Wildcats. But, as said before, his season will be dependent on his offense.
Northwestern lost its top scorer in Pete Nance, and they now look for other returners to pick up some of the lost production. With the small ball Northwestern is bound to play this year while waiting for its younger, taller players to mature, Roper II should see more opportunities to score. If he is able to be consistent on this end of the floor, he will morph be a top player for the Wildcats.