You could say that despite the Memphis Tigers 31-5 record last season, they still had a lot of weaknesses. The most glaring of those was the low-post play and it will only get tougher with their move to the AAC.
Memphis lacked a dominant force in the paint and had all sorts of turmoil. Tarik Black, who transferred to Kansas after the season, walked out of practice early in the season and had a falling out after that. Stan Simpson was, well, Stan Simpson and Ferrakohn Hall rarely saw the court. The best guy the Tigers had was D.J. Stephens, who was just 6-5 and not a true post player.
In between all of those guys was the quiet and smiling Shaq Goodwin.
A four-star prospect from Atlanta, Goodwin had what you would call an up and down season. He posted averages of 7.4 points per game, 4.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.1 steals last season, all around good numbers for a freshman. Those numbers could have been even better had he not gotten into foul trouble with regularity. Despite ranking seventh on the team in minutes played, he was first on the team in fouls with 115, 10 more than the second closest player.
He played very well early on, but as the season progressed he began fouling excessively. Much of it had to do with being over aggressive. A lot of this can be expected for a freshman in Goodwin’s defense. It should be seen as a good thing that he wanted to get in his defender’s face and muscle him up. He just has to learn to play within himself.
He’ll also need to be more consistent on the offensive end. At times, he seemed to disappear; in other instances, he showed flashes of being a dominant force down low. Goodwin slashed 40 pounds during the offseason, which should greatly help him on both ends of the floor. The weight loss allows him to use his God-given basketball frame and athleticism to move more nimbly, better maneuver around defenders and sky higher for rebounds.
A year of experience and a whole offseason of working on his game points towards a breakout season his sophomore year. Goodwin has all the potential to be a dominant low-post scorer and defender. He showed just how good he can be in games like Ohio, where he put up 20 points and nine boards.
Behind senior George Washington transfer David Pellom, Goodwin will have the most experience out of any Tiger big man. Freshmen Austin Nichols and Dominic Woodson both will play key roles down low this season, as could Kuran Iverson and possibly Nick King in some situations. Though all the freshmen have big potential, they are just that, freshman who are inexperienced.
Goodwin is looking at an elevated role this year, and with all the aforementioned factors, his numbers are primed for a big rise. As long as he progresses and plays to his capabilities, Goodwin could post numbers upwards of over 10 PPG and seven to eight boards, possibly even higher.
Goodwin has a way of making you want root for him in any of his endeavors, on and off the court. The future for the 19-year-old kid from Atlanta is bright. Now it’s up to him to go out on the court and live up to what he is capable of being, something you should fully expect him to cash in on.