In the months leading up to the 2020-’21 college basketball season, BTPowerhouse will be releasing a new series called the ‘BTPowerhouse 25,’ which features the Top 25 players in the Big Ten as voted by members of the staff. All players set to be on Big Ten rosters for next season were eligible during the staff vote with their top selection receiving 25 points and their 25th and final selection receiving 1 point.
Today's edition will take a brief look at CJ Fredrick of the Iowa Hawkeyes, who came in tied at No. 22 in the rankings. The Hawkeyes enter this year as a top 10 team and Fredrick will be a key piece in determining whether the team lives up to the hype.
'BTPowerhouse 25' - No. 22 CJ Fredrick:
- Eligibility: Redshirt Sophomore
- Career Totals: 25 games, 717 minutes, 256 points, 48 rebounds, 69 assists
- 2019-’20 Averages: 28.7 min, 10.2 pts, 1.9 rebs, 2.8 asts, 0.2 blks, 0.7 stls
- Positional Role: Shooting Guard
While Iowa tailed off a bit at the end of the season, it was still a really nice year for the Hawkeyes. The team finished 20-11 overall and 23rd on KenPom. And one of the biggest surprises was the performance of Fredrick, who earned a starting spot in his first year of play and posted respectable numbers. Fans are hoping he can diversify his game even further this time around.
Fredrick was the epitome of a complimentary piece last season. He had one of the lowest usage rates of anyone on Iowa’s roster, but kept defenses honest with his superb outside shooting. He made 46.1 percent of his attempts from three-point range, which ranked seventh nationally. Obviously, those kind of shooting numbers are going to turn heads. Fredrick also did a good job of avoiding fouls and other mistakes.
The biggest thing to stress about Fredrick is his efficiency. He averaged 10.2 points on 7.2 field goal attempts and finished with a 122.2 offensive rating as a result. It’s not easy to be productive on that few attempts, but Fredrick was last season. And it’s a great skill to have on a team with a superstar like Luka Garza. It lets Garza be Garza.
-Areas for Improvement
Being a complimentary piece isn’t anything to be ashamed about. Most players find it hard enough to even earn playing time at the Big Ten level. But that’s what Fredrick was last season. And it’s how he can improve most as a player. He needs to go from an afterthought in Iowa’s lineup to a player that can create for himself more consistently. Such will pay dividends this year and beyond, especially once Garza graduates.
The biggest area that stands out are Fredrick’s interior game. Again, he played in his role last season, but this is the spot where he can elevate his game. Fredrick wasn’t terrible inside, he just wasn’t great. The majority of his attempts last year came from outside the arc and when he did get inside, he only made 45.7 percent of attempts in league play. That’s a clear spot where he can elevate. He could also take some steps forward defensively.
With so much returning firepower elsewhere on the roster, it’s hard to see Fredrick having any type of major jump this season. Unless he improves by leaps and bounds, he’s going to be an afterthought behind Garza. And generally speaking, that’s fine. Garza could very well be the best player in the country this season. There’s nothing wrong with being second (or even third) fiddle behind that.
However, it seems reasonable to think Fredrick will modestly improve on the defensive side of the floor and get more consistent inside the arc. And if he can do that, it could mean huge things for the Hawkeyes this season. The number one thing the team needs to improve is its defense. Look for the team to put quite an emphasis there.