2021 Draft Watch: Analyzing Jalen Suggs and Kerwin Walton

August 20th, 2020

by Alan Lu

Gonzaga’s incoming freshman guard, Jalen Suggs is projected to be a potential lottery pick for the 2021 draft, so I decided to set out to watch him play in a high school basketball game for Minnehaha Academy against Hopkins High School that took place on December 17th, as I was able to see this with thanks to YouTube via CCX Media.  It was a hard-fought battle that went all the way into overtime, but Hopkins High was able to edge out Minnehaha to get the win.  Suggs played really well, as he scored a whopping 41 points in this game, and he showed off strong all-around skills in his team’s tough loss to Hopkins.  Here are my thoughts on how Suggs played, as well as how his game may stack up in the NBA.

Gonzaga’s incoming 6-4 freshman guard, Jalen Suggs is a very talented, skilled all-around player that has strong scoring and defensive skills, and he projects to be a likely lottery pick for the 2021 NBA Draft.
(Photo:
Cheryl A. Myers/SportsEngine, via Minnesota Sports Fan)

Jalen Suggs is a very athletic, skilled basketball player that has a strong all-around game, as he can consistently make solid plays to help his team on both ends of the floor.  He played really well against Hopkins High, as he was consistently the best player on the court in his team’s tough loss to them.

Suggs did a very good job of scoring on strong drives to the basket.  He has a good first step to get to the rim, and he excelled at scoring on acrobatic layups around the basket.  He also excelled at tacking on the contact to draw extra free throws after scoring off the dribble, and he showed a penchant for drawing fouls to get to the free throw line.  He also has a quick crossover move, and he accelerates well as he has a second gear that enables him to finish through contact, and he was also able to score on a thunderous dunk midway through this game.

He also would score on strong put backs, and he has good strength, leaping ability, and athleticism to get numerous scores after leaping up to get offensive rebounds.  He also managed to throw down a thunderous tip slam to help his team on offense.

Plus, Suggs also showed a decent ability to knock down jumpers to provide floor spacing for his team.  He showed a knack for making pull-up threes from beyond the arc, and he also was able to get an extra free throw after making one late in the second half.  He also was able to make a deep three off the catch early on.  Sometimes, he can be streaky with his jump shot though, and he also can be prone to taking questionable shots, as he hoisted up a contested shot from very far away that missed in an attempt to win the game, and he could’ve looked to take a better shot towards the end of regulation.

He also displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  Suggs handled the ball quite a bit, and he can throw very good outlet passes to set up scoring chances for his teammates on the break.  He also will sometimes read the floor well by finding the open man to get his teammates the basketball.  However, Suggs was also quite turnover prone.  He would tend to throw inaccurate passes that would get intercepted, and he also threw a pass that sailed out of bounds.  He also can sometimes be careless with the basketball, as he can be prone to losing the ball at times to commit turnovers.

Suggs also did a great job of rebounding the basketball.  He would aggressively leap up to get offensive boards, and he has strong hands that enable him to come away with many defensive rebounds, and he would tend to push the ball up the court afterwards.

Also, Suggs played very good defense.  He is a stellar help defender that did a terrific job of collecting steals and blocks, and he is a rangy defender that can cover a lot of ground.  He is very quick to the ball, and he would tip and intercept passes, and run in to pounce on loose balls to help his team get steals and deflections.  He also has very good leaping ability, quickness, and timing, and he would often rotate to block shots, as he would usually direct balls to his teammates to help his team get possession of the basketball.  He also leapt up high to break up a pass on the break, and he also managed to contest a corner three to force a miss.  He has quick feet to defend both out on the perimeter and in the paint, and his ability to defend made it very difficult for his opponents to get their shots or passes through.  However, he had a tendency to commit touch fouls, as he can be prone to using his hands too much when guarding opponents or when trying to go for a steal, and he also was called for a blocking foul when defending in the post.  Other times, he can occasionally struggle to stay in front of his man off the dribble, which can lead his team to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Suggs had a tremendous showing in this game, and he is a very good prospect that could project to be one of the best players in the 2021 draft class.  He is a solid all-around player that may have All-Star potential, and he is a talented player that can do a little bit of everything.  The one concern is that he is a bit on the small side to play out on the wing, and he may commit too many turnovers to be a full-time point guard, but his strong ability to score, rebound, and defend, combined with having good physical tools makes him an elite talent.  Suggs could likely go very high in the 2021 draft, and he could end up being a solid player similar to Indiana Pacers’ guard, Victor Oladipo in the NBA.

North Carolina’s incoming freshman guard, Kerwin Walton (on the right) could make an immediate impact right away in college basketball for the 2020-21 season.
(Photo:
Cheryl A. Myers/SportsEngine, via The Star Tribune)

North Carolina’s 6-4 incoming freshman guard, Kerwin Walton also played very well to help lead Hopkins High to an overtime win over Minnehaha Academy.  He is a skilled, athletic combo guard that possesses versatile scoring skills, and he is a savvy player that can make sound plays on both ends of the court.  He had a relatively slow start in the first half, but he played really well as the game wore on to help his team get the victory.

Walton did a very good job of knocking down jumpers to space the floor for his team on offense.  He can make threes off the catch or dribble, and he can effortlessly make dribble moves to knock down pull-up jumpers.  He also was able to draw free throws after pulling up to take a mid-range shot.  Sometimes though, he can be a bit streaky with his shot, and he also missed a couple of mid-range jumpers, as he can be prone to taking contested shots at times.

He also showed a very good ability to score on quick drives to the basket.  Walton showed a knack for scoring on floaters, and he also was able to split a double team to score on a quick floater late in this match.  He also showed a penchant for drawing fouls upon his defenders.  Plus, he also managed to use a quick, behind the back crossover move to score on a thunderous dunk off the dribble.  He also scored off of a backdoor cut in this game, as he showed that he will also move off the ball to score on off-ball motion plays.

He also displayed fairly average playmaking skills in this game.  Walton is a good ball handler that will limit turnovers to a minimum, and he can find teammates on the break to set up scoring chances for them.  He was able to throw a nice lob pass to notch an assist in transition.  Sometimes though, he can tend to over-dribble, which can cause him to lose the ball or get it poked away by his opponents.

Plus, Walton did a terrific job of rebounding the basketball.  He did an excellent job of grabbing defensive boards, and he would sometimes push the ball up the court afterwards.

He also  played fairly good defense.  He is an active help defender that would get his hands on passes and jump on loose balls to get numerous steals and deflections, and he possesses good length, anticipation skills, and basketball IQ to make numerous plays defensively.  However, he would sometimes commit unnecessary fouls due to over-aggressiveness.

In summary, Walton is a very skilled playmaker that possesses solid all-around skills, and he may be an underrated prospect that could be due for a good freshman season at North Carolina.  His versatility, scoring ability, and athleticism could allow him to be an impact player right away, and he could project to be a solid role player similar to current Minnesota Timberwolves’ guard, Malik Beasley in the association.

Other Notes:

Minnehaha Academy’s 6-6 high school sophomore forward, Prince Aligbe had a fairly good game in his team’s loss to Hopkins High.  He is an efficient inside scorer that showed off solid passing skills, and he also excelled at hauling in rebounds to help his team on the glass.

He did a very good job of scoring on hustle plays.  Aligbe would tend to score in transition, and he also was able to score on a put back.  He also ran the floor to score on a powerful dunk once.  However, sometimes he can struggle to finish plays around the basket, and he can especially struggle to score in traffic.  He also can score off the dribble.  Aligbe received the ball in the high post early on, and he was able to drive in and use an overhead ball fake to score on an up and under move around the basket.  However, he didn’t look to take jumpers outside of the paint area, and he will likely need to extend his shooting range moving forward.

Plus, Aligbe also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  He is an unselfish player that can throw crisp, interior passes to set up numerous scores for his teammates, and he will sometimes make very good reads to rack up assists in games.  However, he also can tend to throw hasty passes, and he also threw numerous other passes that ended up getting intercepted by his opponents.

Aligbe also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was very active at crashing the glass, and he would leap up to get plenty of boards on both ends of the floor.  He also was able to push the ball up the court off of a defensive board late in this game, and he showed that he can handle the ball in the open court.

Also, he played solid defense in this game.  He was able to tip a pass to a teammate to help his team get a steal, and he also poked a ball away to nearly get another.  Aligbe will play passing lanes and jump on loose balls to help get steals and deflections.  He also would use his length to contest threes and shots off the dribble to force misses.  Sometimes though, he would struggle to defend opponents off the dribble, which would cause him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Another time, he was caught ball watching as he was late to get back to his man, which caused him to allow an opponent to score on a corner three.

Overall, Prince Aligbe is a strong, athletic forward that possesses the ability to excel on both ends of the floor at higher levels.  He will need to significantly improve his jump shot and extend his shooting range, and he will have to be a more disciplined defender on a consistent basis.  Still, he is a talented combination forward that may possess considerable upside as a prospect for the NBA, and he could be a player to watch in the future.

Hopkins High’s 6-9 high school sophomore forward, Elvis Nnaji made some impressive plays early on, and he is a very athletic, energetic player that could project to be a defensive specialist in the NBA.  He is a solid defender that can cover a lot of ground, and he would run in to quickly intercept passes to get steals due to possessing very good length, athleticism, and instincts.  He also would actively contest threes and shots in the paint to force misses.  However, he also would tend to pick up quick fouls, which would cause him to get into foul trouble, which would prevent him from staying on the floor for long stretches.

Early on, he ran the floor and caught a lob pass to score on an emphatic alley-oop dunk to help give his team a boost.  However, Nnaji had trouble consistently finishing plays around the basket later on, as he especially struggled to score in the post, and he will need to add strength and work on finishing plays in traffic, as he had trouble finishing through contact in this game.

He also was quite turnover prone on offense.  On one good play, he was able to pass out of the post to find an open shooter once.  However, he had a tendency to drop catchable passes, and he also would throw errant passes that would go astray.  He also had a ball poked away off of a defensive rebound late in this game, as he ended up losing that ball to an opponent.

Nnaji did a very good job of rebounding the basketball, and he showed a willingness to get tough boards amidst crowds, as he would leap up to haul in plenty of boards to help his team on the glass. Overall, Elvis Nnaji is a very athletic forward that has the tools to project into a defensive specialist role at higher levels, and he is a very good athlete that at times looked to be the best athlete on the floor.  Right now though, he may be far away from being able to make an impact in either college basketball or the NBA.  He is not an especially polished player, as he had trouble finishing plays consistently around the basket, and he also didn’t seem to possess much of a face-up game, either.  His inability to score combined with his penchant for committing turnovers could be problematic when facing tougher competition, as he will need to significantly improve on offense.  If he does work hard to improve his overall game, in a favorable scenario, he could project to be a defensive specialist in the NBA, as his ability to defend could potentially allow him to thrive as an effective role player at higher levels of basketball.

Hopkins High’s 6-4 high school junior guard, Jaelen Treml played very well in his team’s overtime win over Minnehaha Academy.  He made numerous strong plays on both ends of the floor, as he shot the ball very well and played terrific defense to help his team get the victory.

Treml did a very good job of knocking down spot-up threes off the catch, and he especially excelled making corner threes from beyond the arc.  He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays, as he was able to score on a put back, and he also would score on drives in transition. He also managed to throw down a thunderous dunk on the break to showcase his solid athletic abilities.  Plus, he also scored on a turnaround jumper off of a cut another time. 

He also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  Treml is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he can throw accurate outlet passes to set up scores for his teammates on the break.  Sometimes though, he can be prone to throwing hasty passes, and he threw one pass that resulted in a turnover late in this contest.

He also was able to help out on the boards, and he would leap up to get boards on both sides of the ball.

Also, Treml played very good defense in this game.  He did a tremendous job of picking off passes to collect a plethora of steals, and he also ran in quickly to pick up a loose ball to get another.  He also would contest long-range shots and shots off the dribble to force a wealth of misses.  Sometimes though, he would take bad angles, which would cause him to allow scores around the basket.

Overall, Treml may be an underrated prospect, as he is an athletic, skilled combo guard that may project to be a solid 3 and D type of player at higher levels of basketball.  He has the talent to be a high-major player in college basketball, and if he works hard on his game, he could perhaps end up making his way to the NBA someday.

Hopkins High’s 5-11 high school senior point guard, Cornell Richardson also played very well to get his team a well-earned overtime victory over Minnehaha.  He excelled at getting quick scores off the dribble, as he would score on floaters and get to the free throw line often, and he also made a corner three in this game.  He showed off very good scoring touch when he would look to hoist up shots, and he made shots very efficiently from the field.

He also displayed decent playmaking skills.  Richardson showed a solid ability to pass off the dribble, as he can patiently find open shooters, and he can throw crisp, accurate passes to teammates on the move to notch assists.  However, he did commit a couple of turnovers in this game.  He threw an inaccurate interior pass that was dropped by a teammate and then intercepted.  Late in this contest, he took his eye off the ball on an inbounds play, and he ended up carelessly losing the ball off of himself out of bounds.

Richardson also was able to collect a few defensive boards in this match.  Defensively, he looked to be about average.  He was able to run in to jump on a loose ball to get a steal, and he also poked a ball away another time to nearly get another.  Plus, he also contested a drive to force a miss on a separate play later on.  However, sometimes he would give up too much space to shooters to allow scores to them.  He also had some trouble guarding opponents off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Richardson had a solid showing in his team’s win over Minnehaha.  His strong play was instrumental in leading his team to get a tough overtime victory on that day.  On the other hand, it’s unclear if his game would translate well to the NBA.  He is an undersized playmaker who lacks ideal size or physical tools to play the point at higher levels despite being an above average athlete, and he would likely struggle significantly at the defensive end at higher levels.  Taller players can easily shoot over him, and he would likely be a post-up target when defending in the paint.  He also will need to show that he can be an elite shooter and playmaker when facing against top-notch competition.  If he does end up making his way to the NBA, he could end up being an effective game manager as a backup point guard in the league.

Hopkins High’s 6-3 high school junior guard, Andre Gray had a stellar showing to help lift his team to an overtime victory over Minnehaha.  He excelled as a scorer and defender when he was on the floor, and his strong play was instrumental in helping his team to get the win.

Gray showed off versatile scoring skills, as he was able to dribble up the court to make a pull-up three on the break, and he also can score on strong drives to the hoop.  He was able to score on a thunderous dunk off of a right-handed drive, and he excelled at taking the ball to the rim to get scores and free throws to help his team.  He struggled to consistently knock down jumpers, but his ability to make shots from all over the floor really helped his team on offense.

He also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  He is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he can pass out of the post and off the dribble to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  He didn’t seem to grab many rebounds, but Gray would look to help his team out on the glass.  However, he did commit an over the back foul when going for an offensive board once.

Also, Gray played solid defense in this game.  He is an active, help defender that can get steals and blocks.  He would jump passes to get steals and deflections, and he also blocked a shot off of a put back to a teammate to help his team get possession of the basketball.  However, sometimes he can struggle to guard his man on the ball.  On one play, he shaded too far to his left, as he got beat the other way, which led his team to allow a pass that set up a corner three score.  Another time, he was too aggressive on a close out, and he fouled a shooter on a three-point shot that led his team to allow the score and an extra free throw that time.

Overall, Andre Gray is an athletic, skilled combo guard that can make shots in a variety of ways, and he also has the ability to excel on the defensive end at higher levels of basketball.  He may be an underrated prospect, and his strong defensive skills combined with having good physical tools could allow him to thrive in college basketball.  He will likely need to show that he can consistently knock down jumpers and also run the point, but he is an intriguing prospect that could be worth keeping tabs on in the future.

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