The Milwaukee Panthers are currently sitting at 9-5 and one win shy of tying last years record of 10-22 under first year Head Coach Bart Lundy. The incredible turnaround from what is being labeled as the most disappointing season in school history has turned the heads of many college basketball experts. Currently as of 1/3/2023, the Milwaukee Panthers are listed in Joe Lunardi’s ESPN Bracketology, Jerry Palms CBS Bracketology, and The Athletics Bracketology. As the years of Patrick Baldwin Sr has dwindled the support of fans, the Panthers have quickly regained traction throughout it’s fanbase. With many new faces on the roster, I have decided to give out individual player grades and a outlook for the rest of the season.
Ahmad Rand: A
Ahmad has shown the Panther fanbase what he is all about which is flashy dunks, and eye opening blocks. If you are at the Panther Arena and are sitting courtside or under the baseline, watch your beer as it might get knocked out from one of his blocks. Ahmad is currently averaging 8.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG, and 2.5 BPG in around 18 MPG. Rand’s 2.5 BPG ranks 13th in the country and is very impressive given he is not above 6’10. Watching him play, he needs to be at around the 25-30 MPG mark. His impact on the team on the defensive end goes a long way with his veteran presence. The team will look to Rand to provide great shot blocking ability. One thing heneeds to work on is his foul trouble. It has happened quite a bit where he will pick up some quick fouls and the Panthers will then look to the bench to replace him. However, Rand is really hard to replace. His presence in the paint is like no other in the Horizon League. The Panthers will look to get his flashy dunks and shot blocking ability into the Big Dance.
BJ Freeman: B+
Freeman has provided most of the scoring for the Panthers as he leads the team at 11.1 PPG. he is a big physical forward who will either attack the paint or have a nice spot up 3 point shot. The main thing with Freeman is he is very turnover heavy and can sometimes turn the ball over in the worst possible way. Freeman is still young and has impressed Panther Fans greatly and he will keep developing and be the Panthers first option to score. The 6’6 forward has the energy that the Panthers need. After he scores you can see he knows he is the best player on the floor and he expresses that. Freeman is a Panther.
Elijah Jamison: B+
Jamison, the true freshman PG out of North Carolina has been quite impressive in the minutes he has logged for the Panthers and his shooting splits show it. In 18.5 MPG, the Freshman Jamison is averaging 58% from the field, and 61% from deep. The crafty guard loves to get to the rim in all ways he can. If he stays all 4 years in Milwaukee, he will be one of the best players to come through this program. The skillset is there and his high school stats show it. He is a PLAYER! A great piece of the bench, Jamison will keep improving and see an increase in minutes throughout the year.
Kentrell Pullian: B+
KP has been nothing but a stud for this Panthers team. His demeanor on the court is like no other. One of the more physical guards in the conference, the D2 transfer has made an impact for the Panthers in the first 13 games of the year. KP had his best game in the Cream City Classic with 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists to lead his team over a very good UC Davis team. KP does a great job at crashing the glass and making noise on defense. With a great three-point shot averaging 40% from 3, the Panthers will look to KP to run the point position the rest of the year.
Keon Edwards: B+
Now this make shock some people as Edwards has only averaged 11.2 MPG and has only averaged 4.4 PPG and 2.2 RPG, however the impacts Keon has made on the court has been very solid. He will provide a spark on the court with his scoring and rebounding presence. Against Iowa State, with little time left in the second half to make a comeback, Edwards hit two big threes to drop the deficit down to a low double digit mark. He has started some games recently but hasn’t got the minutes to back up his play. Panther fans would really like to see what Edwards has if he played around 20 minutes per game and the impact the 6’8 forward can make for the Panthers bringing size and athletic ability to the table. The Nebraska transfer is only a sophomore so he has a ton of room to grow.
Jalen Johnson: B
Johnson has recently surpassed 1,000 career points in his game against Detroit where he hit a crucial shot. The big forward has provided a nice post presence for the panthers and has spaced out the offense for them. When he is in the game, they love to give the ball down low to Johnson drawing defenders down to him and he can hit a guard for three or if they don’t send anyone down, he will take his defender one on one to the rack and hit a nice hook shot. Johnsons skill set in the post is one of the best in the conference and the Alabama A&M transfer has made immediate impact for the Panthers on the court.
Justin Thomas: B
Thomas is infamously known for the shot he hit with time expiring against UC Davis but he has been one of the Panthers most consistent players. The 6-7 guard will bring the ball up and provide another playmaker at point guard for the Panthers. The lanky guard is averaging 7.9 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and 2.9 APG. He will be one of the two keys for the Panthers success in the Horizon League tournament. If he plays at his full potential he is one of the best players in the conference. Thomas’ best game came against SEMO where he had 19 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals to dismantle the Redhawks in their last game in the Cream City Classic.
Markeith Browning: B-
Browning is one of the most athletic players in the entire country. His bounce is like no other but he has to utilize it more. Getting to the rim should be his number one priority although his three point shot has vastly improved to 42%. One of the biggest reasons for the B- grade for the sophomore is his decision making at the wrong time. There have been so many times where he tries to make the flashy play and it results terribly for the Panthers and kills all momentum. Browning cleans that up, he will be an important part to the success of this Panthers team and the fans are excited about Browning’s potential.
Moses Bol: B-
Bol has quietly shown great improvement from last year. The 7’1 Senior has been pretty solid in the games he’s played in so far. Against Purdue, he got the start against National POY front runner Zach Edey and held Edey to 4-13 from the field. Bol will quietly be an important piece to the puzzle if he sees the court because you can’t teach 7’1 in the Horizon League.
Zach Howell: C
The true freshman shooting guard out of Missouri has shown some flashes of being a great shooter. However, the Panthers are waiting for it all to come together. Shooting at 30% from 3, the Panthers need that number to jump up more before he sees the court for extended minutes. However, against Iowa State, he showed great flashes of defense and his ability to score the rock. I am excited about Howell’s potential on this team and look for him to be a key part in hitting some clutch shots down the road for this squad.
Angelo Stuart: C-
Stuart comes as one of the most highly touted recruits the Panthers got this offseason and has disappointed in the first 13 games. The season is nowhere near over, but in order for the Panthers to have success in the Horizon League tournament, Stuart is going to have to shoot the basketball way better. We saw what he can do against the lower end teams like D3 MSOE where he had 24, but the Panthers need him to shoot like that every night. the 6’0 junior will have to improve for the Panthers to have success as his vocal leadership on the court is needed but he can’t play until he’s consistently shooting 40%.
Vincent Miszkiewicz: C-
Miszkiewicz has not played the greatest of basketball for the Panthers in the limited role he has. Watching him play, I would love to see some more aggressiveness in the post and wanting to go one-on-one to the rim. Right now, he is just running around out there. His physical presence and toughness has been great in fighting for rebounds on both the offensive and defensive end for the Panthers.
Vin Baker Jr: D
VBJ has been on this team for awhile but as fans we have not seen any improvement from him. He has not been the greatest defensively and has seen his minutes decrease tremendously. He now needs to be a vocal leader for the bench and embrace his new role on the team.
Rest of Season Outlook:
The Panthers are currently second place in the Horizon League dropping a stinker to Oakland by 20+ points after having three weeks off due to Rhode Island cancelling due to COVID-19. Panther fans better be excited about this team as they have been playing some great and fun basketball. This team will go very far in the postseason if they limit the turnovers and play smart basketball. The pieces are there, now they need to play together and find their identity as a team. They tip off back again against Cleveland State on January 5th.