In his first season with the Northwestern University men’s basketball team, after transferring in from William & Mary, Chase Audige ’17 immediately stepped into a key role for the Wildcats. The sophomore led the team in points per game (12.3) and steals per game (1.5), was second in blocks per game (0.4) and assists per game (1.8), and fourth in rebounds per game (3.7).
The Northwestern athletic blog Inside NU graded the former Bear on his first season in Evanston, IL.
Northwestern Men’s Basketball 2020-2021 Player Reviews: Chase Audige
The transition to Big Ten basketball was no problem for NU’s leading scorer.
After losing their last star transfer Pat Spencer to graduation, Wildcat fans were eager to see what the newcomer from William & Mary could do. After sitting out last season, Audige came into 2020-2021 ready to make an impact, and he did exactly that.
From his first game in the nonconference all the way through the Big Ten Tournament, Audige was one of the brightest spots on the team and a player that Chris Collins’ squad relied on to score points.
However, during Northwestern’s 13-game losing streak, he showed he has plenty of room for improvement in the coming years.
At first glance, it appears that Audige does just about everything on the court. He’s a jack of all trades, master of none. Having put up an impressive rookie season at William & Mary, the Wildcat fanbase knew it was getting an athletic player who could defend, but the main concern was how he could take his scoring abilities and transition them into the brutal Big Ten. However, he quickly showed that he would be incredibly valuable on both ends of the court.
The 6-foot-4 guard from Coram, NY, shot the ball a respectable 40% from the field and 34% from three to finish averaging 12.6 points per game. He also added 3.5 rebounds a game — good for fourth on the team — and his 44 assists on the season were the team’s second-best. He is capable of doing just about everything on the court, and with a usage rate of 27%, a lot of the offense runs through him. If Audige can continue his consistent play and somehow bolster those numbers, he has the opportunity to be remembered by Northwestern fans for many years to come.
Audige’s 277 field goal attempts were tied for the most with junior Miller Kopp, and those shots were scattered all around the court: 22% at the rim, 43% from behind the arc, and 33% from midrange.
For someone as athletic and long as Audige, it’s a bit surprising not to see him go to the rim more, especially knowing how good he is around the basket. However, he proved he can shoot. While he’s eighth on NU’s roster in three-point percentage, no one shot more threes than him. Out of the three players who attempted over 100 threes on the team (Audige, Kopp, Buie), Audige trails only Buie in three-point percentage.
With only 9.4% of two-point jumpers being assisted, his capability to create his own shot served him well. Especially when his team needed it, he was able to create his own shots down the stretch on many occasions, proving he was a reliable offensive leader.
Dynamic on Both Ends
Audige shows that he can get it done on both ends of the court. He backed his defensive reputation coming into Evanston with his 34 steals in just 23 games, averaging 1.5 per game which is good for third in the Big Ten. But it was his seamless ability to score the ball in the Big Ten that surprised most.
He wasted no time introducing himself, as he averaged 15.5 points in his first four games. In addition to a smattering of other numerically impressive games, the highlight of Audige’s season came against the Big Ten Tournament’s runner-up and top-10 team Ohio State, against whom he put up 25 points. One month later, he scored 22 against the Big Ten Champions and No. 2 team in the country, Illinois. He can run with the best and score against the best.
In many crucial scenarios, Northwestern relied on Audige to be the go-to guy. As Buie struggled offensively at times, Audige held more of a playmaking role. His versatility on offense and defensive prowess made him the complete package at many times down the stretch, most notably against Indiana with a couple of huge baskets in the second half.
The Bottom Line
Audige was certainly a bright spot during a challenging season for Collins’ squad. He was a significant contributor on both offensive and defensive ends and brought crucial energy as one of the most reliable players on both ends of the court. However, moving forward, Audige needs to be more consistent, especially in the first half of games. If he can find that consistency, resolve his self-inflicted problems and continue to play such aggressive basketball, he will officially take over the star role on Northwestern’s roster for the next two seasons.