Trey Alexander to have larger playmaking role for Creighton in 2023-24
McDermott: “I think one of the areas he’s probably made the biggest jump in—his ability to make plays for others.”
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The addition of Utah State transfer Steven Ashworth was just one piece of Creighton’s plan to replace the production lost by Ryan Nembhard’s departure.
The Bluejays will also rely on Trey Alexander to take on an increased playmaking role this season.
“It’s really happened organically, which is what I’ve been pleased with,” McDermott told 6 News at Big East Media Day. “I haven’t really had to stick my nose in there—I just kind of let those guys handle it on the fly and they’ve done a really good job of sharing that responsibility. I think as a result, they play off each other extremely well.”
Creighton brought in Ashworth 11 days after Nembhard entered the transfer portal. By all accounts, the 23-year-old has been a perfect fit with the Bluejays returning cast.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with what Steven has brought to the table,” McDermott said. “How well he’s fit in—it’s really been a seamless transition. And Trey deserves some of that credit too, because Trey’s made it easy for him to fit in.”
Alexander was third on the Bluejays in assists per game (2.6) last season, behind Nembhard (4.8) Baylor Scheierman (3.3). With 182 career assists over two seasons, the junior guard already possessed the skillset to create shots, but McDermott said Alexander took a significant leap as a playmaker this summer.
“While Steven’s creating some opportunities for Trey, Trey has done a great job of creating opportunities for his teammates with his ability to see the floor,” he said. “I think one of the areas he’s probably made the biggest jump in—his ability to make plays for others. So I’m looking forward to seeing that all on display when we get started.”
Alexander tested the NBA Draft waters before returning to Creighton in May. During the draft process, he was told to showcase more of his passing abilities this winter.
“Mostly just making reads, me having the ball in my hands more,” Alexander said of the feedback he received. “Especially with Steven being able to play off the ball, I think that’s something that scouts want to see a lot more of. They want to see me be able to make reads at the point guard position and that’s something that I’ve been working on all offseason. I think it’s just going to show this season.”
Ashworth was the leader in scoring (16.2), assists (4.5) and steals (1.2) on an Aggies team that won 26 games and made the NCAA Tournament. The 23-year-old’s resume certainly indicates he is capable of being the primary ballhandler for a team with Final Four aspirations, but Alexander indicates those duties will come by committee.
“I think it’s going to be more positionless,” he said. “I think that it’s going to be some plays Steven brings the ball up, whoever gets the rebound or whoever gets outlets first is going to have the ball in their hands to start the possession, because we know both spots from the one and two.”
Creighton’s top shot-creators are also their most dangerous shot-makers from the perimeter. Ashworth ranked ninth in the nation with 111 three-pointers made last season, while Alexander led the Bluejays with a 41% clip from beyond the arc. Scheierman also turned in a team-high 87 three-pointers made. Alexander believes this will help everyone shine.
“I think he fits right in with the Creighton playstyle,” Alexander said of Ashworth. “I think that for him to come here and accept his role from day one and be that leadership guy, be that guy that teaches the young guys, keeps us on track and keeps us level-headed out there. I think that it worked out for us in both favors. I think that Steven is going to showcase that he can do what he did at Utah State at a higher level. I think it’s going to work out for everybody in this case.”
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