Year: RS Junior
Star rating: 3
Who is he?
Though he saw good amounts of playing time during his freshman year, it was in 2013-2014 that Tre Demps emerged into one of Northwestern's key players despite coming off the bench nearly all season. He showed a predilection for the big moment, hitting multiple clutch shots late in close games, highlighted by a memorable second half performance to beat Indiana on at Assembly Hall. Having played point guard during his stellar high school career at Reagan High School in San Antonio, Texas, Demps is a better creator than he's shown in his first two years on campus. A prototypical "instant-offense" sixth man, Demps also possesses a nice ability to create his own shot- a skill that he relied on perhaps too much last year, often times frustrating fans with less than ideal shot selection. But Demps is a fiery competitor with a high basketball IQ, and he was a valuable contributor to an offense that needed every inch of help it could get last year.
Demps is also one of the leaders of this team (he, along with seniors Dave Sobolewski and Jershon Cobb were voted team captains in Februrary) in a year where leadership will be vitally important. Northwestern has a healthy amount of experience, sure, but they'll be relying on heavy contributions from freshman in what has been touted the best basketball conference in the country. Coach Collins speaks very highly of Demps, and while he hopefully won't have to carry as much of the load offensively as he did last year (Collins on last year's offense: "We were going to play through Drew, and we had Demps and Cobb, and those were kind of the three guys"), Demps has proven that he plays his best in big moments- and that's a skill you can't teach.
To learn more about Tre Demps the man, check my feature from a few weeks back.
What are his expectations heading into this year?
One thing's clear: Demps will still play the sixth man role, despite his experience and proven scoring ability. He "loves that role" and has been watching film of guys like Jason Terry all summer to see how he can emulate the way elite sixth man make an immediate impact on a game. His priority will still be to make help out in the scoring department, but Demps has been vocal about trying to become a more complete guard by improving his efficiency, which has lacked in the past. Look for Demps to try and play facilitator a bit more this year, as guys like Demps will be trusted with creating space for the elite athletes that Northwestern all the sudden possesses.
As evidenced by his election to team captain, Demps is a player this team looks up to, and he'll have to lead by example both on and off the court. In an ideal world, that would mean teaching the younger guys how to be gracious winners, but let's be honest here- the Big Ten is loaded this year, and this team will face adversity, whether that's a few losses in a row or injuries or whatever, and players will turn to Demps for guidance, and that doesn't bother Demps one bit.