Akeem helped lead Wisconsin-Milwaukee to a 20-win season that included wins over Wisconsin and Minnesota. Springs averaged 13.2 points and 5.3 rebounds for the Panthers as a junior.
First off, we’ve talked a lot about Akeem playing shooting guard but keep in mind he is 6-foot-4, 210 pounds and averaged 5.3 rebounds a game last year. This is a player that can definitely find his way to the paint and battle. He was the Wisconsin-Milwaukee second leading rebounder a year ago and grabbed an offensive rebound a game and this was while playing shooting guard for the Panthers.
Springs scored his 13.2 points per game playing 32 minutes a game (started every game) shooting 49 percent from the field on 9-10 shots a game. Spring made 35 percent of his treys (took 3-4 a contest) and shot 71 percent from the foul line (was at the foul line for 3-4 shots a night). Akeem was second on the team in steals, third on the team in assists and second in minutes but fourth on the team in turnovers per game.
How was Springs against high major opponents last year? Scored 21 against Notre Dame, made four foul shots to put Wisconsin away in the final minute, and scored 15 points with seven boards against the Gophers in his future Williams Arena home. Averaged 10.3 points with 4.9 rebounds as a Panther sophomore and had 7.7 points per game as a freshman at Northern Illinois during the 2012-13 season.
The Not so Good
Springs was an excellent mid-major shooting guard last year. Honestly when you look at his season numbers there isn’t much to really pinpoint as a struggle. It would be nice to see the 35 percent shooting at the arc and 71 percent foul shooting go up but the numbers are still solid. You would also like to see a few more assists and less turnovers but the numbers from less year were still solid. The number one hope is that Akeem can bring those mid-major numbers to the high major level.
There was a stretch late in the year where Akeem missed 21 straight threes over six games and the Gophers need more consistent shooting than that. That said Akeem shot well in the last three games and was really strong at the arc in non-confernece play and middle of the year.
We also can’t forget that as a sophomore he shot 24 of 84 from the arc (28.5 percent) so there is work to be done there to be more consistent.
Focus on 2016-17
This is a player that has a 33 point game on his resume from last January against Youngstown State. The Gophers need a tough guard with a scoring punch who has experience and can compete on both ends. Akeem has proved he can do that at the mid-major level and his play in limited games against major conference teams has been solid. That said Springs has never played on a team that faced high major competition game by game for three straight months.
With Nate Mason as a junior, Springs as a senior, and Dupree McBrayer there to back up both spots the Gophers have a three-guard trio to be excited about. Does Springs start? I’m not sure it matters much as all three players will get big minutes but it likely makes the most sense to have Springs start with Mason and then have McBrayer come off the bench to back up both spots as he seems to be the second most capable ball handler on the team at the moment.
Springs can play some three because he is well built, active, he boards, and does a great job scoring around size. He and Amir Coffey are basically wings when they will be on the floor together so either could be called a two or a three. Either way, Springs will board, he will attack and pull or get to the cup, his numbers show that he has mostly been a consistent shooter from the arc, and he’s very active moving off the ball.
The Right State Line
I expect somewhere between 10-12 points per game with about 4-5 rebounds a night shooting around 45-46 percent from the floor, a solid free throw shooting year, and hitting at least a third of his treys made.