Nazeer Bostick’s role in bringing his high-school teammates Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens along with him to Penn State was expected to be his contribution to the team for the 2016-17 season. However, the true freshman quickly showed his coaches why he earned the nickname “Horse” for his work ethic and ability to carry the team, and after sitting out the first two games of the year, Bostick earned his first minutes in the team’s win over Grand Canyon University.
His usage remained limited, but his role and impact steadily increased during conference play. Just as he was beginning to establish himself as a valuable role player on the defensive end, a hand-injury sustained in practice prematurely ended Bostick’s first season at Penn State.
TO %: 29.8
Only thing keeping this from an F is that there were zero expectations for Bostick to produce offensively going into the season. Earning his way onto the court thanks to his defensive abilities and overall hustle, Bostick struggled with the ball in his hands turning it over on 29.8% of possessions. This is more troublesome than his lack of scoring, which is less detrimental than his tendency to give the ball away.
Nazeer was most effective when driving to the hoop, as opposed to relying on his jump-shot. Although we’re dealing with a limited sample (Bostick only attempted 29 shots from the field), it’s safe to say the best way for Bostick to get involved offensively is through his teammates - at least until he is able to slow things down and play within his means. Shooting 0-9 from 3pt-range and 5-5 from the charity stripe simply tells us it’s too soon to draw grand conclusions about Bostick based on his first year. If he can improve to the point where he’s not a liability on offense, his ability to impact the game on the other end of the court will make him a valuable contributor.
After seeing Bostick’s tenacity and relentless #attitude on the court, it was no surprise that the coaches felt forced to play him this year instead of letting him mature. Bostick’s propensity for mental mistakes suggests that he might have benefited from some more time to adjust to the D-I game, but the team needed him. Over time he proved to be a valuable asset on the defensive end. Bostick finished second on the team (behind Josh Reaves) in Steal%, and was third (behind Julian Moore and Mike Watkins) in Block%. When on the court, Nazeer was always involved, and provided a few key plays in the upset win over Maryland.
Prior to his injury, Bostick had strung together three consecutive games with over 10 minutes of playing time. It’s unclear what his impact might have been, but unquestionably he was a missed presence in the final six games of the season. Next to Reaves, Nazeer Bostick is the team’s best on-ball defender and will be an asset coming off the bench next year.
I struggled with grading Bostick’s overall performance for the year. Having little to no expectations for him coming into the year, I think it’s unfair to grade based solely on his numbers. The valuable contributions on the defensive end and his energy on the court showed us that Bostick has the potential to be a quality role player as early as next season. Which he will have to be. As the roster currently stands, I expect Bostick to be either first or second off the bench. That doesn’t scare me as much as it should, and I credit his performance during a shortened freshman year.
Offseason To-Do List
1) Slow Down (aka limit turnovers) - While Bostick did an excellent job of forcing turnovers, he also had a habit of giving the ball right back. Often trying to push the ball up-court too quickly in transition, Bostick would follow-up his best plays with mental errors that cost the team. I’m hopeful that this can be chalked up to the growing-pains of adjusting to D-I college hoops.
2) Hit the weight-room - They call him Horse for a reason, but scrappiness will only get you so far in the Big Ten. Bulking up should allow Bostick to match-up better should he be forced to guard forwards in the paint, and help him play through contact on the offensive end, leading us to:
3) Let the game come to him on offense - Much of what I love about Nazeer on defense is what hurts him on offense. On the defensive side, Bostick is everywhere, always looking to make an impact - never waiting for the game to come to him. This mentality is a handicap on offense where Bostick would be better served by playing through his teammates, and showing some patience. Unless it’s in transition, or with an open driving lane, I’d like to see Bostick defer to others on offense until the game naturally opens up for him. Let’s hope that happens sooner rather than later, as Penn State will need someone off the bench to provide some scoring.