CHAMPAIGN — Kendrick Nunn’s two-week reign as the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Week came to an end Monday as Indiana’s Troy Williams was honored by the league office. But Williams’ coach, Tom Crean, spoke highly of Illinois’ blossoming freshman, whom he and the Hoosiers will get an up-close look at Thursday during the opening round of the Big Ten tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
“Kendrick Nunn is playing outstanding. For a guy that people at the beginning of the Big Ten season may not have been as locked into, I think you are now, I don’t think there’s any question about that,” Crean said Monday.
Since entering the starting lineup Feb. 9 along with fellow rookie Malcolm Hill in a win at Penn State, Nunn is averaging 12.1 points per game and is shooting 54 percent from the floor, including 53 percent from three-point range. Before entering the starting lineup, Nunn had yet to score in double figures during his career. In his nine games as a starter, he’s scored at least 10 points five times, and the Illini have gone 5-4.
The 6-foot-3 guard from Chicago has impressed Crean. The Hoosiers coach said he sees similarities between Nunn and former Indiana All-American Victor Oladipo, the No. 2 pick in last June’s NBA draft.
“Kendrick’s offense is ahead of where Victor’s was at the same age, no question about it,” Crean said. “Kendrick Nunn, with more minutes, provides a little bit more explosiveness to their game that creates things for other people. The way he plays, he’s a very, very high-energy type of player.”