Men’s Basketball: Trio of freshmen look to make impact


Daily file photo by Tyler Pager

Coach Chris Collins looks out toward the court. Collins’ new group of freshmen is his second recruiting class while at Northwestern.

Benjy Apelbaum, Reporter

Men’s Basketball

Three incoming freshmen are set to make an immediate impact on the men’s basketball team this upcoming season.

A college basketball team’s foundation is built mid-November of the previous year when the early signing period begins for recruits. Last November, coach Chris Collins signed three high school seniors: Aaron Falzon, Jordan Ash and Dererk Pardon. Collins said he is hoping his second recruiting class will follow in the footsteps of the talented quartet of sophomores on the team.

The highest-ranked recruit of the new bunch is Falzon, the soft-spoken stretch four from Newton, Massachusetts.

A notable asset he brings to the team is his three-point shooting, displayed after he went 4-of-5 from deep in an exhibition game against Quincy last Thursday.

“He is as good a catch-and-shoot player coming into college as there is in the country,” Collins said at NU Media Day.

Rare for a shooter of his caliber, Falzon is 6 feett 8 inches and also has the ability to take advantage of matchups against shorter, quicker players often assigned to keep up with him.

“If I get a smaller guy on me, I can take him down low, post him up and use my size as an advantage,” Falzon said.

This combination could lead to Falzon receiving big minutes or possibly earning a starting spot in the lineup. A potential limit to Falzon’s playing time could be difficulties he may face trying to defend against stronger Big Ten power forwards. One of the biggest adjustments all of the freshmen will face will be getting used to the faster and more physical college game.

Joining Falzon in the Cats’ recruiting class is Ash, a local talent from Bolingbrook, Illinois. Ash’s recruiting is part of a broader focus the program has in tapping into the wealth of talent in the Chicago area.

Ash is a combination point and shooting guard who is looking to back up senior Tre Demps and sophomore Bryant McIntosh. However, it appears sophomore Scottie Lindsey may be more likely to occupy this role on the team.

Ash excels on the defensive end of the ball and will look to use his tenacity to bother opposing guards.

“I want to be the guy that can get them off their games, get in their heads and make it difficult for them on the offensive end,” Ash said.

Although his calling card is certainly defense, Ash will also look to put in open shots and has been focusing on improving his ball handling in the offseason.

Rounding out the scholarship players in the class of 2019 is Pardon, a three-star center from Cleveland. It jumps out that Pardon is “only” six feet eight inches, relatively short for the Big Ten where most centers are 6 feet 10 inches and above. However, Collins said Pardon has a tremendous wingspan of 7 feet 3 inches, and is listed at a sturdy 230 pounds. In Pardon’s opinion, his wingspan allows him to compete with opposing centers with more height.

Pardon’s job on the team will be to fill in the gap on the court while the other centers, senior Alex Olah and graduate Joey Van Zegeren, are resting on the bench. He will be asked to use his length to bother opponents on defense, but he is also looking to contribute on offense as well.

“When I came here, I was more defensive-minded,” Pardon said during Media Day. “I’ve been trying to develop my post-game more.”

With both of the other centers on the team in their final year, Pardon may not see much playing time this season, but next year will be particularly important for him when he is expected to be the lone veteran big man on the team.

Another freshman joining the team this year is walk-on forward Charlie Hall, son of actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Communication ‘83).

Each freshman echoed Pardon’s sentiment when he said what he was looking forward to this season.

“Playing with my teammates … it would be good to play against someone other than ourselves for once,” Pardon said.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @benjyapelbaum