One of the keys to Fran McCaffery’s recruiting class in 2017 is Jack Nunge. The Indiana product who has also lived for a time in the state of Iowa, committed to the Hawkeyes in the fall and recently has shown an improved game.
At the FORUM Tip-Off Classic, Nunge and his Castle teammates routed Mt. Vernon, and Nunge had a big showing. Nunge recorded a double-double with 23 points and 13 rebounds.
The most impressive thing for Nunge was the 13 rebounds. At nearly 6-foot-10 and 210 pounds, Nunge has always been someone who despite his size didn’t rebound like many wanted. Now Mt. Vernon didn’t have anybody who could really challenge Nunge in terms of pure size, but the fact that he attacked the glass showed big growth from him.
What might have played into it is that Nunge looked noticeably stronger. While he still has plenty of room to fill out, and there is no doubt that McCaffery and his staff want him to continue to add weight, the improvements he has made are noticeable, and that seemed to give him more confidence on the glass.
With the added strength and long arms, Nunge can now be someone who is at least a reliable in area rebounder. He still might struggle to get the ball out of his area, but the improvement to be reliable in this area was good to see.
Also Nunge showed a bit more of a desire to go inside. Most of his damage as a younger prospect was done on the outside as a pick and pop player. While the outside shot remains a huge part of his game, Nunge did go inside more and showed that his good shooting touch translates with hooks and not just jump shots.
If there is an area where Nunge has to continue to improve it would be in ball screens and defense in general. Nunge isn’t a great athlete laterally, and that can be exposed in ball screen situations. He has to work on being smarter in how to defend screens, and also do a better job of recovering to his man.
Overall it was a good showing for Nunge. He answered one of the biggest questions, which was his ability to rebound, and showed that he is making the necessary strides. There are still things to work on, but Nunge appears to be going in the right direction as a prospect, and could find his way into the rotation early on in his career.