Today, we conclude our 2019-2020 men’s basketball preview with none other than junior forward Jordan Nwora. A season ago, Nwora made one of the best year-to-year jumps in productivity that we’ve ever seen from a Louisville Cardinal. He established himself among the elite players in the entire ACC.
With another offseason to improve, Nwora figures to vault himself into the conversation among the elite players in the country. The expectations surrounding this Louisville team are based off many things. Make no mistake though, Jordan Nwora’s return to school is the biggest reason why.
Hometown: Buffalo, NY / Vermont Academy (VT)
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Nwora came to Louisville as a consensus top 100 player in the class of 2017. As a freshman, Nwora struggled tremendously to even get on the court. After scoring in double figures five out of the first seven games, he saw a significant drop in playing time. Nwora played in only 28 games as a freshman. He had seven DNP’s, and scored 0 points in another nine games with limited playing time. All things considered, it was fairly impressive that he even managed to average 5.7 points and 2.4 rebounds. It was an odd year for sure. Despite impressing when he got his chances, Nwora failed to earn consistent opportunity under interim head coach David Padgett.
Ahead of his sophomore season, Nwora was tabbed as a breakout candidate in the ACC. He was an intriguing player who was almost guaranteed to be given a large role on his team. Jordan open the year scoring 20 points in three out of the first four games and would not slow down from there. He went on to average 17.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 34 games. He scored in double figures all but three times and scored over 20 points in 13 different games. It was one of the most noticeable leaps taken by any player nationally. Nwora earned the ACC’s most improved player award and was selected as third-team all conference.
Jordan Nwora opted to test the NBA waters initially, but an injury-riddled draft process held him back and he could not get the guarantees he may have been looking for. Nwora was one of the last few players to announce his intentions, choosing to return to school on the night of the deadline.
— Jordan Nwora (@JordanNwora) May 30, 2019
Nwora enters his junior season with no shortage of preseason accolades. He was selected as the ACC preseason player of the year along with first team all-conference preseason. He is the only one of two all-ACC players out of the 15 to return to school this season, (John Mooney, Notre Dame). In addition to the the preseason ACC awards, he has been recognized as a preseason All-American by just about any national media outlet that has put together a list. Louisville is ranked 5th by the Associated Press, and Nwora’s return is the biggest reason behind the high ranking.
Nwora had the third highest jump in scoring nationally last year with an increase of 11.3 points per game. It’s unrealistic to expect a jump like that again, but there is plenty of room for improvement beyond his scoring average.
He scored in double figures 31 times last season, but there was definitely stretches where he was slumping and it held back the team. He was almost always shooting more than 10 shots a game, and he shot four or more threes in 31 games, Based on his volume it was inevitable that he would get his points no matter how efficient he was. Even despite a few spans of inefficiency, he still shot 50.8 percent from the field, 37.4 from three and 76.5 from the line.
Expect his scoring numbers to be similar to last year. The team is much deeper. Fresh Kimble will be much more scoring-oriented as a point guard, other returning players should make a jump in shot attempts and the freshman class has some scorers, none more impressive than Samuell Williamson. He led a team last year that simply did not have many players capable of consistently creating their own shots. Louisville is expected to be a much better team. Nwora will still be the guy, but their won’t be nearly as much pressure on him to produce.
Aside from scoring, Nwora still needs to improve in a couple more areas. His defense was likely the main thing holding him back from being a sure fire first round pick last year. He’s slow footed and really struggled to defend in Chris Mack’s pack line system. He doesn’t need to be an elite two way guy given his offensive ability, but some improvement on the defensive end is necessary if Nwora wants to be considered one of the elite national players and a potential high draft pick.
His decision making also needs to improve, and the expectation is that it will alongside a more balanced roster. Nwora was thrust into a high usage role last season after being a five point per game bench player a year earlier. It was no secret that he was the Cards’ best player. With hopefully a little less usage and some more help this season, his decision making should naturally improve.
Coach Mack has lauded him as a coachable player. With another offseason to work under this staff he can make a jump as an all around player. He’s already an elite scorer and an above average rebounder. If he can make those progressions elsewhere, he’s absolutely a guy who has the opportunity to rise up draft boards.
You have a good idea of what you’re going to get from Jordan Nwora on a nightly basis. He’s going to be Louisville’s best player and will almost surely be its leading scorer. If he is as good as last season, the Cards have every reason to consider themselves among the nation’s elite. If he can be better, the team’s ceiling is that much higher.