With three All-League performers graduating, Faulkner could star at NKU
Trevon Faulkner joined Northern Kentucky’s roster after winning Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball in 2018. Given how unusual it is for a player of that caliber to join.a program that’s so recently removed from Provisional D-I status unless that program has the backing of a billionaire former NBA owner, there might’ve been some expectation for Faulkner to immediately step into a starring role with the Norse.
But a deceptively loaded NKU team was about to win a share of its second straight Horizon League Regular Season Title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Horizon League Player of the Year Drew McDonald stole the show and a number of very talented players had to take a back seat. Faulkner averaged just 4.7 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists as a freshman. Looking back, that wasn’t the indictment of his talent that some might’ve seen at the time. Tyler Sharpe, Dantez Walton and Jalen Tate all had to wait their turn to show their All-League potential while Chris Vogt transferred to Cincinnati where he became a consistent double-digit scorer against tougher competition.
As a sophomore, Faulkner’s numbers jumped dramatically with a bigger role, but so did those of the players around him. Faulkner averaged 11.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game on a team that featured three All-League honorees. While the increase is significant — and I probably would’ve called it a win if wrote an article calling him a breakout candidate a year ago — he was Northern Kentucky’s fourth leading scorer and wasn’t asked to be a focal point of the team on a nightly basis.
Now it seems it’s Faulkner’s turn. He’s the top scorer and second on the team in assists and rebounds among returning players for the Norse this year. While Northern Arizona transfer Carlos Hines looks like he could be an All-League talent in his own right, clearly last year shows that Darrin Horn’s team isn’t capped at a single All-Horizon League honoree. With an even more perimeter-oriented roster than last year, don’t be surprised if Northern Kentucky plays at a tempo that allows several players to post eye-popping numbers.
With that said, Faulkner will need to make some improvements to live up to his All-League potential. In going from a last resort option in the starting lineup as a freshman to a players who was asked to produce as a sophomore, Faulkner’s efficiency suffered. His shooting percentage dropped from 59.1 percent to 43.2 percent, his 3-point percentage from 34.6 percent to 28.6 percent and his assist-to-turnover ratio from 1.22:1 to 0.78:1 between his freshman and sophomore seasons. He’s going to need to turn around these percentages despite facing more attention and more acclaimed defenders this year.
While Faulkner’s play is obviously going to determine a large part of whether he can become an All-League honoree, another consideration is the Horizon League’s additions of two new schools. They bring more competition for All-League honors, but also likely make the 2020 decision to select a Third Team All-Horizon League a permanent one. Last year was the first time in recent memory that the Horizon League selected a Third Team. With 12 teams, 15 All-League honorees make more sense than 10.
Regardless of the additional All-League Team, Faulkner seems like one of the likeliest returning players who didn’t get All-League honors last year to earn them this year. Carlos Hines looks more likely to give Northern Kentucky’s offense both a 1a. and 1b. option than to outright turn Faulkner into a second option. He’ll need to work on his efficiency, but Trevon Faulkner certainly seems like a guy with great potential to earn All-League honors in 2021.
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