Star rating: 3
Who is he?
Nathan Taphorn is the lone player on the roster form Bill Carmody's last recruiting class (the other recruit from that year, Jaren Sina, was released from his LOI after Carmody's firing and is now a Seton Hall Pirate), and his skill set caters more to Bill Carmody's Princeton offense than the one Northwestern will be running this year. A product of Pekin, Ill., Taphorn drew attention from college coaches because of his excellent shooting ability and his good size. But while he's decently mobile despite his big frame, Taphorn has proven to be somewhat one dimensional, grabbing only 1 rebound in 11 minutes of action last year despite a solid 6-foot-7 frame. Interestingly enough, Taphorn is an excellent golfer, having earned all-conference honors in high school and was a state-finalist (sorry, I couldn't resist the golf plug.)
It seems noteworthy that Taphorn was listed at 180 pounds in high school and is currently listed at 215, so either Northwestern is measuring their players soaking wet or Taphorn's been putting in some hours at the gym. Let's hope- and I honestly believe-it's that latter.
What are his expectations this year?
Eeeeek, this is a tough one to predict. Every offense needs shooters, so there's always room for a player like Taphorn will likely compete with fellow sharpshooting freshman Scottie Lindsey for minutes. His shooting left a lot to be desired last year (27.8% from three on 54 attempts), but he's taller and more physically mature than Lindsey will be.
All indications point to Taphorn being a fringe guy- the type of player who will get an opportunity to show what he's worth, but if he doesn't prove that he is indeed worth something to this team, don't be surprised to see him firmly planted on the bench for much longer periods than he wants. It's in Taphorn's best interest to attack the boards aggressively early and often this season- that way, he can show Collins that he provides added value than just a spot up shooter and potentially earn himself some minutes at the stretch-4 position.