2021 Draft Watch: Analyzing J.T. Thor, Clifford Omoruyi, and C.J. Wilcher

September 17th, 2020

By Alan Lu

Recently, I decided to take the time to watch Auburn’s 6-8 incoming freshman forward J.T. Thor play for Norcross High in a high school basketball game against Roselle Catholic in the Cancer Research Classic that took place on January 4th, as I was able to see this with thanks to YouTube via NorcrossHoops.  Thor is an athletic, energetic combo forward that has been getting some draft buzz as a prospect for 2021, and he made a number of highlight-reel worthy plays in this game.  But instead though, it was Roselle Catholic’s sterling duo in Rutgers-bound big man Clifford Omoruyi and Xavier-bound sharpshooting wingman C.J. Wilcher that stood out by putting forth impressive, strong performances to lead their team to a double-digit victory over Norcross.  Here are my thoughts on how the three players fared, as well as where they games may stack up as prospects for the NBA.

Auburn’s incoming 6-8 freshman forward, J.T. Thor is a very athletic. high-motor player that can make a lot of solid hustle plays on both ends of the floor, and he could be a potential first round prospect for the 2021 draft.
(Photo:
Bob Chadwick/NorcrossPics.com, via USA Today)

J.T. Thor is an athletic, energetic combo forward that can make solid hustle plays to help his team on both ends of the floor.  He is a good athlete that may possess considerable upside, and he projects to be a player that could do a little bit of everything at the collegiate level.

Thor would often look to score on hustle plays.  He runs the floor well, as he can score in transition, off cuts, and put backs.  He ran the floor to score on a layup, and he also ran in to score on a thunderous tip slam off of an offensive rebound.  Sometimes though, he can tend to force up difficult shots around the basket, which can lead to misses. 

He also showed an adequate ability to score off the dribble.  Thor drove in from the high post to his left to score on a graceful layup, and he can take the ball hard to the rim to draw plenty of fouls upon his defenders.  However, he had some trouble scoring on floaters in this game.  He also tried to score on a contested turnaround jumper in the post, but he was unsuccessful that time, as he had trouble getting deep position on the block.

Early on in this match, Thor was able to utilize a quick jab step to knock down a smooth, mid-range jumper from just outside the left elbow.  However, he wasn’t able to consistently make his mid-range shots as the game progressed, and he also missed on a corner three from beyond the arc.

Plus, Thor also displayed decent playmaking skills.  He is an unselfish player that can handle the ball, and he would look to find the open man to set up scores for his teammates.  He can throw accurate passes off the dribble, and he would throw long outlet passes to set up scoring chances for his teammates on the break.  Sometimes though, he would rush to try to make plays, and he threw an inaccurate pass that sailed out of bounds midway through this match.

Also, he did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  Thor would often leap up to haul in plenty of boards on both ends of the floor, and he has long arms that can help him get some impressive boards when he is on the floor.  He also would sometimes look to bring the ball up, and he also was able to tip a couple of balls to help his team get extra rebounds.

Also, Thor played decent defense in this game.  He is a long, rangy defender that can make numerous plays on the ball.  He was able to rotate to block a shot off of a drive to himself due to possessing good length, athleticism, and timing.  Thor also intercepted pass that was thrown right to him to get a steal.  He would actively look to play passing lanes and contest jump shots, and he showed off fairly solid footwork to defend opponents out on the perimeter.  However, he would tend to be too late in getting back on defense, and his at times lackadaisical approach on that end would lead his team to allow scores on fast breaks.  He also would sometimes not take good angles when defending screens, as he would give up too much space to allow shooters to score on three-point shots.  Other times, he would try to gamble for steals, but would sometimes miss and end up getting beat off the dribble and on cuts to the basket.

In general, J.T. Thor is an intriguing prospect that may possess plenty of upside as a prospect for the NBA.  He will still need to refine his offensive skills, and he will especially need to improve his jump shot, but if he can improve his face-up game and be a more focused defender in games; that could help him go a long way.  Right now, his length, athleticism, and versatility could enable him to succeed at Auburn and in the NBA.  In a favorable scenario, if things break his way, he could end up being a solid role player similar to Brooklyn Nets’ veteran forward, Wilson Chandler in the league.

Rutgers’ incoming center, Clifford Omoruyi is a very good defensive player that excels at blocking shots, and his strong interior play could have his new team poised to have another solid season in college basketball.
(Photo:
Scott Faytok/For NJ Advance Media, via nj.com)

Rutgers’ 6-10 incoming freshman center, Clifford Omoruyi played very well for Roselle Catholic to help lead his team to a solid victory over Norcross High.  Omoruyi is an athletic, high-motor big man that played tremendously on the defensive end, and he made strong plays on both ends of the floor to help get his team the win.

Clifford Omoruyi played tremendous defense.  He is a terrific shot blocker that provided an intimidating interior presence for his team, and he would often swat shots off of drives to protect the paint.  He possesses solid length, athleticism, and instincts, and he has the footwork to defend out on the perimeter as well as in the post.  He also would actively contest and alter shots off of cuts and in the post to force misses, and he has good strength to defend when he is on the block.  Plus, he would use his length to contest jumpers to force a handful of misses.  Sometimes though, he would sag too far off of shooters, which would allow them to score on jump shots.  Other times, he would be late on his rotations when defending in transition, which would cause him to commit fouls and allow scores every once in a while.

He also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  Omoruyi would leap up aggressively to get tough boards on both sides of the ball, and he excelled at collecting rebounds to help his team on the glass.  Sometimes though, he would forget to block out, which would lead his team to allow put back scores.

Omoruyi also can score on hustle plays.  He ran in to score on a tip-in after leaping up to get an offensive rebound, and he would often draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line.  He caught a lob pass to draw free throws on a dunk attempt, also would get to the foul line often after making strong moves to try to score on put backs, and he did a very good job of making his free throws when he was there.  Sometimes though, he would rush his shots around the basket, which would lead to misses.

He also displayed adequate low post scoring skills.  Omoruyi was able to back his man down and he used a quick shoulder fake to score on a turnaround, jump hook once.  However, sometimes he may not always seal his man or get great position down low, and he ended up missing on a turnaround jumper late in this game.

He also displayed adequate playmaking skills on offense.  Omoruyi is a good screen setter, as he would set firm screens to help get his teammates open jump shots.  He also managed to save a loose ball when hustling to get it, as he managed to pass it to a cutter to set up a scoring chance for him.  However, sometimes he can be careless with the basketball, and on one play, he threw a hasty pass off of an offensive rebound that ended up getting intercepted by a defender.

In summary, Clifford Omoruyi is an athletic, high-motor big man that has strong defensive skills, and defense could be the calling card for him in the NBA.  He excelled as the defensive anchor for his team in this game, and he is an outstanding shot blocker that can anchor his team’s defense.  He is an underrated prospect that could end up being a steal for a team in the NBA, and he may have the skills to end up being solid role player in the association.

Xavier’s incoming 6-5 freshman guard, C.J. Wilcher is a sharpshooter whose solid ability to shoot and score the basketball could him to make an immediate impact right away in college basketball.
(Photo:
Scott Faytok/For NJ Advance Media, via nj.com)

Xavier’s 6-5 incoming freshman swingman, C.J. Wilcher had a stellar showing to lead Roselle Catholic to a double-digit win over Norcross High.  He is a crafty, skilled basketball player that can really shoot and score the basketball, and he played very well on both ends of the floor in this game.

He is a very good shooter that excelled at knocking down three-point shots to provide floor spacing for his team on offense.  Wilcher would often run off ball screens to make quick, open threes off the catch, and he also can make corner threes off the dribble.  He has a quick release that enables him to easily get his shot off, and he also has a lot of range, as he can make threes from way out.

Plus, Wilcher also can take the ball to the basket to score inside.  He was able to score on a strong baseline drive to the hoop, and he also ran the floor to get the ball to score powerfully around the basket another time.  Also, he has solid strength and shooting touch that allows him to score in the post.  Wilcher was able to score on a quick, turnaround jumper, but sometimes he would tend to take tough shots in traffic that would lead to misses.

Also, he displayed decent playmaking skills.  Wilcher is an unselfish player that can throw accurate passes off the dribble, and he would look to find the open man to set up scores for them.  He is an unselfish player that will make the extra pass, and he has solid court sense that aptly allows him to find open teammates.  However, sometimes he can be prone to throwing hasty passes, and he threw a long bounce pass that ended up getting intercepted midway through this match.

Also, he was able to collect his fair share of defensive boards to help his team collect rebounds in this game.  He would leap up to get some of them, and sometimes he would bring the ball up off of defensive rebounds afterwards.

In addition, Wilcher played solid defense in this game.  Though he is not an overwhelming athlete, he is a smart player that would play solid angles that would allow him to get numerous stops for his team.  He rotated to block a corner three out of bounds due to possessing solid leaping ability and timing.  He also read the passer’s eyes and ran in to intercept a pass to get a steal due to possessing good anticipation skills and to making a good read that time.  He also will actively pursue the ball, as he was able to deflect a pass, and he also forced a tie-up when going for a rebound another time.  However, every once in a while, he would take a bad angle when defending his man or going around screens, and sometimes he would struggle to stay in front of his man, which would would cause him to allow opponents to score the basketball.

Overall, C.J. Wilcher is a smart, skilled sharpshooter that can really shoot and score the basketball, and he looks to be a very good get for Xavier.  His ability to knock down shots and play without the ball should help the Musketeers, and he looks to have the skills to excel as a 3 and D type of role player similar to former Miami Heat veteran guard, Voshon Lenard in the NBA.

Other Notes:

Florida’s 6-5 incoming freshman swingman, Niels Lane had an uneven performance for Roselle Catholic in his team’s win over Norcross.  He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, and struggled to consistently score off the dribble, but he was able to go coast to coast off of a defensive board to score on a layup off of a drive in transition, and Lane also threw down a powerful two-handed jam after getting the ball around the basket another time. 

Also, he can throw solid passes off the dribble and set good screens to help get his teammates open jump shots in games.  Lane also is an active rebounder that would leap up to get boards on both sides of the ball, and sometimes he would push the ball up the court.  He also is an active defender that would play passing lanes and contest jumpers, and he also drew a charge on a drive.  Sometimes though, he would try to go for steals, but would end up getting beat off the dribble on the defensive end.

Right now, Lane is an athletic, energetic swingman that can finish plays above the rim, and his defense looks to be ahead of his offense right now.  He will need to improve his jump shot significantly, but if so, he could be a prospect to keep an eye on in the future.

Georgia’s 6-8 incoming freshman forward, Josh Taylor had his ups and downs for Norcross in his team’s loss to Roselle Catholic.  He struggled to make shots consistently, but he rebounded the ball well, and was active in getting steals in this game.

Taylor showed the ability to knock down jumpers, as he was able to make a three off of a pick and pop play, and he also made a pull-up jumper from the mid-range.  However, he missed on numerous mid-range shots, and he missed his fair share of open shots from the field.

He did show a solid ability to score off of offensive rebounds, and he was able to score on a high-flying, tip slam once.  Plus, he runs the floor well, and Taylor was able to score on a thunderous, two-handed dunk.  On the downside, Taylor struggled to score off the dribble, cuts, or in the post in this game, as he missed too many shots on offense.  Taylor also showed the ability to find cutters and pass off the dribble, and he also can set good screens.  However, he would also sometimes be prone to committing careless turnovers, and he showed a tendency to occasionally throw up for grabs passes.

He is an active rebounder and defender that would make numerous plays on the ball.  Taylor would use his length and foot speed to play passing lanes to get steals and deflections, and he would actively contest shots to force misses.  Sometimes though, he would not tell his teammates where the screen was coming, as his team would end up allowing opponents to score on three-point shots.  He also had trouble defending in the post, as he would end up committing fouls and allowing scores.

Overall, Taylor is an athletic, energetic combo forward that can score the basketball in a variety of ways, and he definitely displayed his shooting potential as well  as his ability to play above the rim.  On the other hand, he will need to improve his ability to create his own shot off the dribble, and he will need to make more jumpers consistently in games.  If he works hard throughout his collegiate career, he could end up realizing his full potential, as he could project into being an effective rotation player in the NBA someday.

Roselle Catholic’s freshman point guard, Simeon Wilcher played very well in this game.  He shot the ball well, as he excelled at making open threes off the catch, and he also scored on a nifty drive to the hoop by using a spin move to score on a graceful layup.  Plus, he was an effective table setter that would pass the ball often, and he can find cutters and throw solid passes off the dribble to notch assists.  Sometimes though, he would throw hasty passes that would get deflected or intercepted by his opponents.

Simeon Wilcher also did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He also was active in playing passing lanes to get steals and deflections, and he also would contest jumpers to force misses.  However, he had some trouble defending opponents off the dribble and in the post, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Simeon Wilcher is a smart, skilled playmaker that can effectively run the team with the ball in his hands.  Though he didn’t really look to score that often, he made shots efficiently, and he played a smart, sound game on both ends of the floor.  He has the skills to play for a high-major, Division 1 college basketball team in the NBA, and he could be a prospect to watch in the future.

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