2021 Draft Watch: Assessing J.T. Thor and Josh Primo
September 22nd, 2020
By Alan Lu
Recently, I decided to take the time to watch Alabama’s incoming 6-5 freshman swingman Josh Primo play in a high school basketball game. He is currently considered to be a first-round prospect for the 2021 draft by ESPN, so I decided to assess his skills to see where he is at as a player. It was hard to find a full-game film of him playing in a high school basketball game, so I saw him and J.T. Thor play for Huntington Prep against Lincoln Prep in a match that took place on November 23rd, 2018, as I saw this with thanks to YouTube via SUVtv. Of the two, I felt Thor had the much better game, and he played very well to help get Huntington Prep the win on this day. Here are my thoughts on how those two fared, as well as how they currently stack up as prospects for the NBA.
Auburn’s incoming 6-8 freshman forward, J.T. Thor played very well to help lead Huntington Prep to a narrow win over Lincoln Prep, and he really excelled as a shooter, scorer, and defender in this game. Thor is a solid shooter that can effectively knock down quick, spot-up threes off the catch to space the floor for his team on offense. He also was able to run off of a ball screen to make one early on, and he would tend to knock down three-point shots whenever he would have ample time and space to get his shot off.
He also generally excelled at scoring on hustle plays. Thor was able to slip a screen to score on a roll to the rim, and he also ran the floor and caught a long outlet pass to score on the break. However, sometimes he would miss shots around the basket in traffic, but there were plays where he would take on the contact but miss, as he would not get foul calls on those plays.
He also showed a decent ability to score off the dribble. Thor would drive aggressively to the hoop to get scores and free throws, and he excels at going to his right to do so. He didn’t often look to score on half-court drives, but he was quite effective when he would take the ball to the rim.
Plus, Thor also showed that he can score in the post. Thor was able to get the ball inside, and he scored on a quick, mid-range turnaround jumper from the baseline. However, he missed on a quick mid-range jumper from the baseline another time, but he generally excelled at making shots from all over the floor.
Thor displayed fairly average playmaking skills in this game. On one good play, he was able to throw a quick pass to a cutter due to possessing the court sense to find him on the move. He also would sometimes bring the ball up, and he would move the basketball to find the open man. However, he received a low, inaccurate pass from a teammate that led him to step out of bounds once. He also threw a weak pass as a ball slipped out of his hands that got intercepted by a defender another time. Although he didn’t grab many rebounds in this match, Thor was quite active at crashing the offensive glass, and he can come down with strong offensive boards in traffic.
In addition, Thor played above average defense. He is quite adept at collecting steals, as he possesses solid length and timing, and active hands to get them. He poked a ball to a teammate after defending in the high post to get one steal, and he also tipped a pass in the backcourt to himself to collect another. He also was able to poke another ball away from an opponent another time, and he also has solid agility and positioning to defend ball handlers out on the perimeter, as he was able to force a miss and get another opponent to step out of bounds. However, sometimes he would struggle to stay in front of his man when defending out there, which would lead his team to commit fouls and allow scores. Another time, he gave up a bit too much space to a shooter, which led him to allow his man to score on a three-point shot.
In general, J.T. Thor is an athletic, energetic combo forward that has a variety of skills that could allow him to thrive as a role player in the NBA. He is an underrated prospect that can shoot and score the basketball, and he could project well into a 3 and D role at that level. Right now, he may project to go in the late first to the second round range for the 2021 draft, and he will likely be a solid player at Auburn for the 2020-21 season.
Josh Primo is an athletic, skilled swingman that can score the basketball in a variety of ways, and he can provide instant offense in games. He also has decent court vision that allows him to notch assists, and he also is an active defender that can make numerous plays on the ball.
Primo was able to score a lot early, as he ran the floor hard to make a quick, corner three on the break, and he also scored on a layup in transition, as well as off of a tip-in early in this game. However, he tended to miss quick, spot-up threes from beyond the arc, and he also missed on a rushed, speedy drive in transition another time. He was able to make a quick hard cut to the hoop off the ball later on, but his teammate was called for committing a 5 second violation instead.
Though he looked to shoot a lot in this game, Primo did show decent playmaking skills on offense. He can quickly throw solid long passes, as he can find teammates off the dribble and in transition, and Primo throws nice touch passes that can set up scores for them. However, there was another play where he attempted to drive to the paint, but he traveled due to having lost his footing as he dragged his foot while attempting a kickout pass, which led him to commit a turnover.
He didn’t grab many rebounds in this contest, but Primo was able to chase down a defensive board to get one, as he then pushed the ball up the floor afterwards. However, he was called for committing a foul as he held an opponent on another rebounding attempt another time.
Also, Primo displayed fairly good defensive skills. He is an active help defender that can get steals and blocks to help his team get stops in games. He managed to tip an entry pass to help his teammate get a steal, and Primo also defended a quick drive and stayed with his man to block a shot off the glass due to possessing solid athleticism and timing. Plus, he also managed to race in to jump on a loose ball that a teammate deflected to him to help his team get another steal. Also, he was able to get into his opponent’s body when contesting a floater to force a miss. However, there was one play where he was caught ball watching, as he was late to rotate, and ended up allowing his man to score on a three-point shot.
In summary, Josh Primo is an athletic, skilled swingman that can score and defend when he is out on the floor, but he will need to make more jumpers consistently in order to be a more effective offensive player in games. He is a talented guard that will be a player to watch at Alabama for the upcoming college basketball season, and he is a second round prospect that could project to be a 3 and D type of role player similar to former Houston Rockets’ guard, Von Wafer in the NBA.
Duke’s incoming 6-8 freshman forward, Jaemyn Brakefield played fairly well for Huntington Prep to help get his team the win in this game. He did a good job of scoring and rebounding the basketball, and he is an athletic scorer that also showed off some solid defensive skills when he was on the court.
He excelled as a scorer in the post in this game. Brakefield is a strong finisher around the basket, as he would run the floor to score on fast breaks, and he also would score on cuts and put backs. He managed to score on a turnaround, sweeping put back as well as on a tip slam another time. Plus, he would go up strong to draw free throws when he would get the ball inside. He did have a shot blocked on an aggressive drive once, but generally Brakefield did a very good job of scoring in the post as well as on off-ball motion plays.
Brakefield struggled to consistently knock down threes in this game. He did make a quick deep three off the catch, and he showed that he can ably make spot-up threes when he has ample space to get his shot off, but he was unable to score on pull-up jumpers from beyond the arc on other plays.
However, he was quite turnover prone on offense. For the positives, Brakefield is a tall combo forward that likes to handle the basketball, and he can find teammates off the dribble to set up scoring chances for them. However, he would throw inaccurate passes that would go astray, and he would also commit careless ball-handling turnovers. He was called for committing an over and back violation, and he also committed a charging foul when trying to kick the ball out off of a drive. He also had a ball knocked away from him when going up for a put back, as he was unable to protect the basketball that time.
Plus, he did a good job of rebounding the basketball. Brakefield leapt up to haul in numerous boards on both ends of the floor, and he would sometimes bring the ball up after getting defensive rebounds. However, sometimes he would not box his man out, and he would end up getting outmuscled by his opponents to allow them to score on put backs.
He also played decent defense in this game. Brakefield rotated to block a shot off the glass to a teammate due to possessing solid athleticism, length, and timing, and he also would altered another shot to force a miss another time. He also managed to deflect a pass to nearly get a steal, and he would contest jumpers to force misses. However, he had trouble defending in the post, as he would get outmuscled, and it would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores. Other times, he would be late on his rotations, as he wouldn’t be in position to effectively challenge shots. Late in this game, he got beat off the dribble, as he allowed a pass that set up a dunk later on.
Overall, Jaemyn Brakefield is an athletic, combo forward that could make an immediate impact in college basketball for Duke. He does a good job of finishing plays around the basket, and he also has solid rebounding and defensive skills. He will need to improve his jump shot and cut down on the number of turnovers he commits on offense, but he could be a second round prospect that could project to be an effective role player in the NBA sometime down the road.
Middle Tennessee State’s soon-to-be sophomore forward, Elias King played at Mississippi State this past season, and he played for Lincoln Prep in this game. King is an athletic, skilled scorer that can make shots in a variety of ways, and his offensive skills helped him keep the game close for the duration of this match.
King is a solid shooter that was able to make quick, spot-up threes off the catch to provide floor spacing for his team on offense. He generally excelled at making threes from beyond the arc, but he missed on a pull-up three after using a pump fake earlier on that play.
He also did a good job of scoring off of drives and in transition. King would run the floor to get the ball on the break, and he was able to throw down a couple of thunderous dunks. He also managed to score on a quick drive to the hoop, and he would barrel his way to the basket to get free throws. However, sometimes he would miss floaters in traffic, as he would not always have his shooting touch when looking to score on the move.
However, he will need to improve his playmaking skills. King didn’t look to pass the ball that much, but he showed that he can throw entry passes to his teammates. In this game though, he tended to make too many careless mistakes that would lead him to turn the ball over. He would throw telegraphed passes that would get deflected and intercepted. He also didn’t catch a long outlet pass cleanly, as he dropped the ball and stepped out of bounds once. On a separate play, he stepped out of bounds on a baseline drive another time. He didn’t grab many rebounds, but King was able to get a pair of defensive boards in this game. On another play though, he was called for a reach-in foul when an opponent attempted to score on a put back.
However, he will need to improve his defense. On one good play, he was able to contest a three-point to force a miss, and he has solid length to guard opponents out on the perimeter. However, he tended to struggle to stay in front of opposing ball handlers when guarding them off the dribble, which would cause him to commit fouls and allow scores. Other times, he would not be focused on the defensive end, and he would give up too much space or leak out too early, which would lead him to being out of position defensively.
Overall, Elias King is an athletic swingman that can shoot and score the basketball, but he will need to improve in the other facets of his game. He could provide Middle Tennessee State with instant offense, and if he plays well there, he could be a prospect to keep tabs on in the future.
Cowley College’s soon-to-be sophomore, 6-6 forward Dalen Ridgnal played really well for Lincoln Prep in his team’s loss to Huntington Prep in this game. He is an athletic, energetic player that excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor, and he seemed to have the best game amongst players on his team, as he may be a vastly underrated prospect that could be a prospect to watch in the future.
He did a great job of making shots efficiently throughout this game. Ridgnal made a couple of quick, open threes off the catch, and he also knocked down a mid-range jumper from the baseline. Plus, he also excelled as a finisher around the basket. He scored on an athletic tip-in after getting an offensive rebound, and he also threw down a powerful dunk to score another time. Ridgnal excelled at spotting up to knock down jumpers, and he did a very good job of scoring around the basket to help his team on offense.
Also, Ridgnal displayed fairly good playmaking skills. He would quickly swing the ball to shooters to notch assists, and he also threw a long outlet pass to find a teammate on the break to set up another score. He did a good job of throwing entry passes to get the ball to his teammates in the post. However, there was one play where he telegraphed a pass that ended up getting intercepted by a defender.
Plus, he also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. Ridgnal would run in and leap up to haul in numerous boards on both sides of the ball, and he also managed to push the pace after getting one defensive board midway through this match.
Adding to that, Ridgnal played decent defense. He is an athletic, rangy defender that can make high-motor plays to help his team get stops on this end of the floor. He would rotate to block shots around the basket to his teammates due to possessing solid athleticism, length, and timing to do so. He also managed to get his hands on a pass to help his team get a steal, and he would actively contest jump shots to force misses. However, sometimes he would bite on pump fakes or leak out too early, which lead him to being out of position when defending opponents off the dribble. Sometimes though, he had some trouble staying in front of his man when defending drives or in the post, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.
Overall, Dalen Ridgnal is an athletic, high-motor swingman that played a solid all-around game in his team’s loss to Huntington Prep on this day. He was a vastly underrated and under-recruited prospect that flew under the radar, and he has the skills to be a versatile role player in the NBA. He will likely need to find a solid college basketball team in the NCAA when he finishes playing in junior college to help attract the attention of NBA teams and scouts, but if he can continue to play well and with persistence, he could develop to be a solid role player similar to Portland Trail Blazers’ rookie forward, Wenyen Gabriel in the association.
Dayton’s 6-9 redshirt freshman center, Moulaye Sissoko had a fairly good showing for Lincoln Prep in his team’s tough loss to Huntington Prep on this day. He is a strong, physical big man that can score in the post, and he is an interior defender that can help his team protect the paint.
Sissoko did a fairly good job of scoring in the post. He has very good strength to back down his man, and he can use a shoulder fake move to score on turnaround jumpers and jump hooks due to possessing solid footwork, strength, and shooting touch. Sometimes he would miss shots inside, but generally he was effective at scoring when he would get the ball on the block. He also was able to throw down a powerful dunk off of a roll to the rim. He did miss on a mid-range jumper, but Sissoko generally excelled at making shots in the paint.
However, he was quite turnover prone on offense. For the positives, Sissoko would set firm, on-ball screens to help get teammates open shots to set up scoring chances for them, and he is a good screen setter. On the other hand, he would tend to commit ball-handling turnovers, as he sometimes struggle to take care of the basketball. He also threw an ill-advised crosscourt pass that was picked off another time. Also, he did a decent job of rebounding the basketball. Sissoko was fairly active at crashing the glass to get boards, and he would leap up to help his team get plenty of rebounds on both sides of the ball.
Defensively, he looked to be about average. Sissoko is an interior defender that managed to rotate to block a shot off of a drive to a teammate, and he also was able to poke a ball away from an opponent to nearly get a steal another time. He also will use his length to contest jumpers to force misses, and he also managed to draw a charge on a drive, as he will rotate to spots where he can help his team get stops.
However, he’s not very quick, and he tended to struggle to guard quicker players out on the perimeter. He would tend to get beat off the dribble, and he also would be late on his rotations, as this would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores. Sometimes he would over-rotate, as he would be late to get back to his man, which would put his team out of position.
Overall, Moulaye Sissoko is a strong, physical center that has solid low post scoring skills, and he could provide some quality rotation minutes for Dayton for the upcoming college basketball season. He will need to improve his decision-making skills on both ends of the floor and continue to work on his jump shot, but he may be a prospect to keep tabs on in the future.
Michigan State’s 6-3 incoming freshman point guard, A.J. Hoggard had a fairly good showing for Lincoln Prep in his team’s loss to Huntington Prep. He excelled as a shooter and scorer on the floor, and he also rebounded the ball fairly well in this game.
Hoggard is a solid shooter that can make three-point shots both off the catch and dribble. He also did a good job of taking the ball to the rim to score on half-court drives, as he would go to his left to finish plays, and he also managed to score on an acrobatic, reverse layup. Plus, he would take the ball hard to the hoop to draw free throws for his team.
However, he displayed fairly average playmaking skills. For the positives, Hoggard is an unselfish player that can find teammates on the move, and he can throw crisp interior passes to set up scores for them. He also will keep his dribble to set up scores for his teammates around the basket. However, he would tend to commit careless ball-handling turnovers, and he also got tied up on a drive into traffic another time. He also threw an inaccurate, low pass to a post player that led his teammate to step out of bounds on a separate play.
Also, Hoggard did a fairly good job of rebounding the basketball. He would crash the glass to help his team get defensive boards, and sometimes he would push the ball up the court. There was one play though where he committed an over the back foul when going for a defensive board once.
On the downside, he did not defend very well in this game, and he will need to improve his defense. On one good play, he rotated to contest a three to force a miss. On another play, Hoggard ran in to deflect an inbounds pass out of bounds, only to be called for a controversial, reach-in foul instead by the officials. In this game though, he would tend to over-help in the paint, which would cause him to be late to rotate back and allow opponents to score on three-point shots. He also would sometimes get beat off the dribble which would cause his team to allow scores, and he had some trouble staying in front of his man on the defensive end. Overall, A.J. Hoggard is a skilled playmaker that can shoot and score the basketball, but he will need to improve his decision-making ability and defense moving forward. Though he does not possess elite physical tools, he can make shots, and his ability to do so could allow him to project into a backup point guard role at the NBA level if he can continue to develop and progress as an overall player.