2021 Draft Watch: Analyzing Josh Christopher and Sharife Cooper

September 3rd, 2020

By Alan Lu

Recently, I took the time to watch Mayfair High School’s 6-4, Arizona-State bound guard Josh Christopher play in a high school basketball game against McEachern that took place on November 29th, 2019, as I was able to see this with thanks to YouTube via SUVtv.  Josh Christopher is a very athletic combo guard that has been projected to be a potential first round pick in the 2021 draft, so I decided to see him play to assess his strengths and weaknesses.  There were also several other talented players that participated in this game, so I decided to assess their skills as well.  Here are my thoughts on how Christopher and some of the other players fared in this game, as well as how their skills may translate to the NBA.

Arizona State’s incoming 6-4 freshman guard, Josh Christopher is a very athletic, skilled scorer that can put the ball in the hoop, and he could be a first round pick in 2021.
(Photo:
Libby Cline-Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

Josh Christopher is a very athletic combo guard that will hoist up many shots to score the basketball.  He took many shots in this game, and he was able to put up points in volume.  Sometimes, he would tend to settle for questionable shots that would lead to a bunch of misses, but he also made a number of highlight-reel worthy plays that suggest that he may also have a great deal of upside.

Christopher will aggressively drive up the court to score on quick drives in transition.  He has a good set of dribble moves, as he can use Euro-step moves, behind the back crossovers, and ball fakes to get scores at the rim, and he will tend to go to his left to do so.  He also has very good foot speed and athleticism, as he can score on powerful dunks on the break.  Plus, he also will absorb contact to draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line.  Sometimes though, he will rush his shots and go too fast and out of control, which can lead to misses, and he also threw up some off-balanced floaters that missed badly.

He also will actively crash the offensive glass, as he was able to score on an acrobatic tip-in after leaping up to get an offensive rebound.  However, Christopher struggled more to score consistently on mid-range jumpers or on half-court drives.  He can sometimes use solid dribble moves that can enable him to get open to score on pull-up jumpers from the mid-range, but all too often, he would dribble around and then chuck up contested shots that would lead to misses.  He also had a tendency to miss on fadeaway jumpers off the dribble, and he will sometimes try to rush his shots too often in an attempt to score the basketball.

Also, Christopher flashed an adequate ability to knock down three-point shots on offense.  He was able to make a couple of corner threes, and he can make tough, pull-up threes over smaller defenders, as he can effortlessly use a step-back move to drain long-range jumpers over them.  However, he also hoisted up many threes in this game, and he would all too often miss on spot-up threes that he would hoist up from beyond the arc.  Sometimes, he would try to lean in and flail when shooting the basketball, which would lead to some very bad misses, as he would try in vain to go for foul calls rather than try to make the shot.

He also displayed average at best playmaking skills.  Christopher looked to score early and often, and he would rarely look to pass the basketball, and there would be numerous possessions where he would grab a rebound or get the ball from the inbounds passer, and immediately look to score without thinking to pass.  But when he would look to pass, and he showed that he can kick balls to shooters off the dribble to set up scoring chances for them, and he also can throw a long outlet pass to find the open man.  However, he had a tendency to get the ball poked away when handling the basketball, and he would sometimes over-dribble, as there were numerous times where he would almost turn the ball over.  He did have a ball poked away that led to one turnover.  He also was called for a traveling violation when trying to score another time, but he would’ve scored on a fadeaway jumper if the referee had decided not to make that call.

Plus, Christopher did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He would leap up to haul in numerous boards on both ends of the floor, and he would tend to push the ball up the court after getting defensive rebounds for his team.

He also played fairly good defense.  Christopher is a very athletic, rangy defender that can cover a lot of ground, which can enable him to get plenty of steals and blocks in games.  He would leap up high to block a wealth of shots around the basket, as he also would direct balls to his teammates.  He was also able to rotate to poke a ball away from an opponent to get a steal, and he also ran very far to intercept an inaccurate pass to get a steal another time.  He also excelled at deflecting passes, and he was able to jump on a loose ball after his teammate poked a ball away to force a turnover on a separate defensive possession.

Sometimes though, his tendency to try to make big plays can lead him to be out of position.  On one play, he poked a ball that went right back to an opponent, and he ended up being out of position, which led his team to allow a drive and dish that set up a score for an opponent around the basket.  He also tended to commit touch fouls and drives and on shots around the basket, and he also bit on a pump fake to allow a score on a put back another time.  Also, there was another play where he got beat off the dribble to allow a score to an opponent.

In general, Josh Christopher is a talented prospect that can get any shot he wants, and he is a very athletic combo guard that has the ability to excel on both ends of the floor.  However, he will need to improve his jump shot and shot selection, and he will need to look for his teammates more on offense.  Right now, he may project to go in the late first to the second round draft range in 2021, and while his shot selection may need the most work, he is a talented player that could develop into being a solid role player similar to former Portland Trail Blazers’ guard, Bonzi Wells in the NBA.

Sharife Cooper is a speedy, offensively gifted player that can put up points in a hurry, and he could make an immediate impact right away at Auburn for the 2020-21 season.
(Photo:
Gregory Payan/Associated Press)

McEachern High’s 6-0 Auburn-bound point guard, Sharife Cooper had a solid showing in his team’s win over Mayfair.  Cooper is a speedy, skilled playmaker that can really get to the hoop, he can make shots in a variety of ways to score the basketball, and he is also a good rebounder for a player his size.

Cooper did a good job of scoring on aggressive drives to the hoop.  He can quickly get to the rim, and he can score on tough floaters and layups around the basket.  He has a quick crossover move that he can use to get past his man, and he also will absorb contact to draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line.  He also will use his great speed to score on fast break drives, but sometimes he would be prone to rushing his shots, which would lead to misses.

He also showed a decent ability to score in the post.  Cooper was able to get the ball on the block, and he dribbled quickly to his left to score on a quick layup.  He also managed to score on a put back after getting an offensive board, and he also would go up strong to draw fouls in order to get to the free throw line.  However, late in this game, he had a shot blocked by a taller opponent around the basket.

He also flashed an adequate ability to knock down jumpers in this game.  Cooper was able to make an open three-point shot off the catch, and he also made a pull-up three from way out.  However, he tended to miss on pull-up jumpers from beyond the arc, and he also missed on a mid-range shot from around the right elbow.

Also, Cooper displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  He is a speedy, fleet-footed guard that can quickly get to the hoop, and he handles the ball very well.  However, he looked to score quite often, and he also committed too many turnovers on offense.  He did show that he can find teammates on the break to set up scores for them, and he also can pass out of the post as well as off the dribble.  However, he would sometimes be inaccurate with his passes that would sail out of bounds, and he also would tend to over-dribble into traffic, as he had a couple of balls poked away from him.  He also was called for a traveling violation when handling once due to having taken one too many steps.

Plus, Cooper did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He would frequently haul in boards, as he especially excelled at grabbing defensive rebounds, and he would tend to push the ball up the court to create fast break scoring opportunities for his team afterwards.

He also played decent defense.  Cooper would actively look to contest jump shots to force misses, and he will get into the body of his opponents to make it tough for them to effectively get their shots off.  He also was able to deflect a pass, and he also caught a tipped pass from his teammate to help his team force a turnover.  Plus, he also was able to poke a ball away to nearly get a steal, and he will actively contest shots off the dribble to get stops for his team.  However, sometimes his lack of size would make it difficult for him to contest shots, as taller opponents could shoot over the top of him to score the basketball.  He also would sometimes get beat off the dribble, which would lead his team to commit fouls and allow scores.

In summary, Sharife Cooper is a speedy, skilled playmaker that excelled at attacking the basket and he is a prolific scorer that can put up points in a hurry.  On the other hand, he will need to improve his playmaking skills, as he can sometimes be prone to being too sloppy with the basketball at times, which would lead to more misses and turnovers than he should have had in this game.  He also is a pesky defender that can ably guard his man, but he will need to show that he can guard taller opponents on a consistent basis.   Right now, he may be flying under the radar as a draft prospect, but he has the skills to develop into being a solid role player in the NBA.

Other Notes:

Mayfair’s high school sophomore and Syracuse-bound combo guard, Dior Johnson played fairly well in his team’s loss to McEachern.  Johnson took many shots in this game, but he excelled at attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line to score the basketball, and he also excelled as a rebounder and facilitator in this game.

Johnson showed a solid ability to score on aggressive drives to the basket.  He is a speedy, agile player that can finish plays using either hand, and he also can score on crafty floaters and layups.  He has a quick overhead ball fake that he can use to get past his man, and he also will draw plenty of fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line.  Sometimes though, he would go in too fast and out of control, which would lead to misses.  Sometimes he would miss on off-balanced floaters, and he also had a couple of his shots blocked in this match.

Johnson particularly excelled at hunting for fouls, and he is a foul-drawing expert that showed a penchant for being able to contort his body in such a way that gets him foul calls, which allowed him to get to the free throw line after taking mid-range shots and after going up for a shot after getting an offensive rebound.  On the downside, Johnson struggled to consistently knock down jumpers when he wouldn’t get foul calls.  Though he can use crossover moves to make pull-up jumpers from both the mid-range and from beyond the arc, he tended to miss threes whether if it were off the catch or dribble, and he also would tend to miss on put backs by hastily trying to score immediately in traffic.

He also displayed perhaps above average playmaking skills.  Though he primarily looked to score first, Johnson is an athletic playmaker that can throw accurate passes off the dribble as well as from the post, and he can find open teammates on the break to set up scoring chances for them.  He didn’t commit many turnovers, but he did commit one when he was called for a traveling violation off of a drive once.

Also, Johnson did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He would often leap up aggressively to get boards on both sides of the ball, and he can get tough rebounds in traffic.  Sometimes, he would push the ball up the floor after getting defensive rebounds for his team.

However, he will need to improve his defense.  For the positives, he would contest three-point shots to force misses, and he also back-tapped an opposing ball handler off of a drive to nearly get a steal early in this game.  However, he would tend to foul opponents when defending off the dribble, and he would tend to commit reach-in fouls.  He had trouble cutting off penetration when defending drives, and sometimes he would give up too much space to shooters, which would lead his team to allow three-point baskets to their opponents.

Overall, Dior Johnson is an athletic, skilled scorer that excels at taking the ball to the basket to help his team put up points, but he will need to improve his jump shot and defensive skills.  He already may be one of the best prospects in his recruiting class, and if he can continue to work hard and hone his game, he could end up being a potential first round pick sometime in the future.

McEachern’s 6-4, high school junior guard Randy Brady excelled as a spot-up shooter, as he particularly showed a penchant for making open threes off the catch, and he also showed a good ability to score on hustle plays.  He can score on strong drives to the hoop, and he also would tend to draw fouls to get to the free throw line.  However, sometimes he would miss shots around the basket, as he would not always play under control, and he also ended up missing all of the free throws that he took in this game.

In this game, he didn’t seem to make many noteworthy passes, but he will sometimes make the extra pass to keep the ball moving.  Sometimes though, he would be inaccurate with his passes, and he also had a ball poked away out of bounds once, but he also did a good job of not turning the ball over on offense.

He also did a good job of grabbing rebounds to help his team on the glass, and he would often chase down balls to get boards on both sides of the floor.  He also played solid defense in this game.  Brady was able to block a three-point shot to force a miss, and he also can poke balls away to get steals and deflections.  In addition, he also would actively contest jump shots to force numerous misses.  Sometimes though, he would tend to commit touch fouls when defending opponents off the dribble, and sometimes he would struggle to stay in front of his man when defending out on the perimeter.

Overall, Randy Brady is an athletic, physical combo guard that can make solid plays to help his team on both ends of the floor.  He is a good shooter that can knock down threes to provide his team with ample floor spacing on offense, and he is also a good position defender that will actively look to challenge shots to force misses.  He will need to improve his playmaking skills and show that he can guard more athletic players on a consistent basis, but he is a skilled, two-way player that could be a prospect to keep tabs on sometime down the road.

McEachern’s 6-5 high school junior guard, Camron McDowell played in this game, but he didn’t seem to make many noteworthy plays in his team’s win over Mayfair.  He didn’t take many shots, but he is a ball mover that can get assists.  When he does shoot the basketball, he showed that he can score on aggressive drives to the hoop, but it wasn’t often when he would take shots on offense.

He also made a nice chase down block on a drive in transition, and was able to grab his fair share of defensive rebounds.  However, he did not make a three-point shot, and he also committed a handful of turnovers, and he also struggled to defend opponents off the dribble.  McDowell will need to be a more assertive player on offense, and improve his on-ball defense, but he could project to be a role player in college basketball.

McEachern’s 6-5 high school junior swingman, Bobby Moore excelled at scoring on strong drives to the hoop, and he also excelled as an inside scorer to help his team on offense.  He was able to score on an acrobatic, reverse layup after leaping up to get an offensive rebound, and he also scored on an emphatic dunk another time.  He generally made shots efficiently, but he didn’t show much of a jump shot away from the basket, as all of his baskets came from in the paint area.

He also is a fairly good passer that can throw sharp interior passes to find the open man.   He also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball, and he is a strong, physical player that can get tough boards on both ends of the floor.  A couple of times, he would push the ball up the court after leaping up to get defensive rebounds.

Moore also played decent defense in this game.  He was able to dive on the ground to jump on a loose ball to force a tie-up to nearly get a steal, and he would actively contest jump shots to force misses.  However, he also struggled to defend opponents off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores. Overall, Moore is an athletic, energetic swingman that can play tough, physical basketball, and he is a player that plays taller than his listed size.  He can bang in the middle to get points and rebounds, and he also tends to be in the right spots defensively.  He will need to improve his jump shot and extend his shooting range on offense, and he also will need to focus on his on-ball defense.  Still, he is talented enough to play Division I college basketball in the NCAA, and if he works hard on his game, he could perhaps project into a defensive specialist role in the NBA one day.

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