2021 Draft Watch: Evaluating Cade Cunningham, Jonathan Kuminga, and Scottie Barnes
August 8th, 2020
by Alan Lu
I decided to take the time to watch future Oklahoma State point guard, Cade Cunningham play in a high school basketball game for Montverde Academy against The Patrick School that took place on December 30th, 2019, as I was able to see this with thanks to YouTube via HoopStateNetwork. Cunningham played for a loaded high school basketball team that has a lot of highly ranked players on his team that also included Scottie Barnes and Day’Ron Sharpe, and he squared off against 6-8 forward, Jonathan Kuminga, who may go very high in the 2021 draft. I decided to see both Cunningham and Kuminga play, as they could end up going very high in the next draft, and Montverde Academy blew out The Patrick School by 45. Here are my thoughts on how Cunningham, Kuminga, Barnes, and Sharpe fared, as well as how their games may stack up in the NBA.
Cade Cunningham is an athletic, skilled playmaker whose all-around skills, versatility, and basketball IQ could enable him to potentially be a top pick in the 2021 draft.
He did a very good job of driving hard to the hoop to score the basketball, and he would often do so on fast breaks. He is a fleet-footed player that can push the pace, and he would often score on smooth layups off of straight-line drives in transition. Cunningham also runs the floor well, and he was able to beat his man down court to get scores, and he also scored on an acrobatic, between the legs dunk late in this match. Plus, he also showed a solid ability to score in the half-court. Cunningham has a decent first step off the dribble, and he was able to use a spin move to his right to score late the game. Sometimes though, he can struggle to score in traffic, which can lead him to miss shots when the help arrives.
Plus, he also showed a good ability to score in the post. He was able to back his man down to score on a right-handed jump hook from the left block. Cunningham also showed some range in this game. He was able to make a contested three-point off the dribble, but he did miss a deep three another time.
He also displayed very good playmaking skills. Cunningham is a strong passer on the break, as he sees the floor well, and he can throw a wide variety of passes to rack up assists in transition. He can push the pace and lead the break to find open teammates, and he also throws crisp outlet passes to help start fast break scoring opportunities. He also drove in to throw a nifty, no-look behind the back pass to a trailer in transition to notch an assist because he has very good court vision. He only committed one turnover, as he was called for a charging foul when attempting to score in the post once.
Cunningham also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He was active at crashing the glass to haul in boards on both ends of the floor, and sometimes he would push the ball up the floor to create early offense for his team.
He also played decent defense. He is an aggressive position defender that will actively contest shots, as he would use his length to contest jumpers to force misses, and he also will use his body to hold his ground when defending in the post to help get stops for his team. Sometimes though, he can struggle to defend screens off of pick and rolls, as he can occasionally be too late to recover to his man, and it can also lead him to commit reach-in fouls. Other times, he may be caught ball watching, which can cause him to allow opponents to get scores off of drives.
In general, Cade Cunningham is a very skilled lead guard that has a strong set of all-around skills that could enable him to be the top pick of the 2021 draft next season. He is a player that may have a great deal of upside, and he could end up being a very good player in the NBA.
Jonathan Kuminga is a very athletic, skilled swingman that possesses versatile scoring skills. He reclassified to be in the 2021 draft class, so he could be one of the better prospects in the next draft. He showed an adequate ability to get scores off the dribble. Kuminga showed a good ability to drive to his left, as he can use dribble moves to score on smooth layups, and he also can go right to draw numerous fouls to get to the free throw line. His questionable shot selection was an issue, though. He would overtly try to force the issue, which would lead him to miss plenty of contested shots in traffic, and he also had his shots blocked numerous times.
He also showed an adequate ability to make mid-range jumpers. He was able to drive to his left to make a floater from the mid-range, and he also used a pump fake to draw free throws after hoisting up a pull-up jumper another time. Sometimes though, his tendency to take contested shots can lead him to miss more shots than expected.
He also excelled at knocking down long-range jumpers to provide floor spacing for his team on offense. Kuminga showed the ability to make threes off the catch and dribble, and he can knock down outside shots from well beyond the arc. However, he only did an average job of making his free throws, as he missed more than he should have when he was at the foul line.
Also, Kuminga was fairly turnover prone in this game. For the positives, he can throw accurate passes off the dribble, and he can find teammates on the move to notch assists. Kuminga was able to find a cutter off the dribble to set up a score, and he also found a trailer in transition to collect another dime. However, he tended to commit ball-handling turnovers. He was prone to committing silly traveling calls, as he can sometimes struggle to handle the ball in heavy traffic, and he also had a ball poked away when trying to drive amidst a crowd another time due to over-dribbling. Late in this game, he threw a hard, inaccurate interior pass that ended up sailing out of bounds.
He also was able to get his fair share of boards to help his team on the glass. Kuminga managed to run down a board to get an offensive rebound due to making a good hustle play that time, and he also an leap up high to get several defensive boards, as he will sometimes bring the ball up. He didn’t grab as many boards as he should have in this game, though. There was one play where he committed an over the back foul on a defensive rebounding attempt early on in this contest.
Kuminga also played decent defense in this game. He will use his length to close out on shooters to force misses, and he was able to get back on defense to successfully challenge a mid-range shot on the break once. He also can contest shots in the post as well as off of drives to help his team get some stops. He also almost was able to block a shot, as he rotated to the post to swat the shot off the glass due to possessing good leaping ability, length, and timing, but his teammate committed a blocking foul earlier on the play.
However, sometimes he doesn’t always hustle or may be slow to get back on defense, which can lead his team to allow scores on fast breaks. Another time, he shaded too far to the right and bit on a ball fake, and he ended up getting beat off the dribble, which led his team to allow a pass that set up a dunk inside.
Jonathan Kuminga is a very athletic, versatile scorer that played on a team that was getting walloped by Montverde Academy, which was a high school basketball powerhouse team this season. Kuminga is a shot creator that can get any shot he wants, but sometimes he tries to force the issue too much. He will need to work on his shot selection and cut down on the number of turnovers he commits on offense. At higher levels, he will need to show that he can be paired with other talented players, as his questionable shot selection may make him ill suited to be the primary scorer in the NBA. If he can harness his scoring and defensive skills, he could end up being a very good complementary player similar to current Sacramento Kings’ forward, Harrison Barnes in the association.
Scottie Barnes is an athletic, skilled swingman that can effectively run the point or play off the ball, as he can make solid plays to help his team on both ends of the floor. He did a fairly good job of scoring on strong drives to the basket. Barnes tend to favor going to his right, but he can go to his left when he needs to, and he can use effective dribble moves to get scores at the rim. Plus, he will run the floor to score on fast breaks, and he was able to throw down a couple of rim-rattling dunks in transition.
Sometimes though, he will rush to make plays close to the hoop, which can lead to misses. He missed on a contested jump hook when looking to score from the post, and he also missed on a contested tip slam another time. Barnes didn’t look to take many jumpers away from the paint though, and he ended up missing a three-point shot after using a jab step move to get his shot off.
Plus, Barnes also showed off good playmaking skills. He is a good passer in transition, as he can quickly spot teammates ahead and get the ball to them on the break to set up score for them, and he can also pass off the dribble as well as in the post. He also was able to hit the cutter out of the post to notch an assist early on. However, Barnes can sometimes be careless with the ball, which led him to commit a couple of turnovers. He was called for a carrying violation once. Later in this match, he was trapped, and he dribbled from past mid-court back into the backcourt, which led him to being called for an over-and-back violation. Barnes also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He would chase down balls to get offensive boards, and he also would leap up to get defensive rebounds to help his team.
He also played solid defense in this game. Barnes excelled as a shot blocker, as he would often rotated to swat shots off of drives, and he was able to direct one ball to a teammate emphatically once, as he does a very good job of challenging shots to force misses. He also will play passing lanes and jump on loose balls to help his team get steals and deflections. Barnes has good feet to guard opposing ball handlers out on the perimeter, and he is a rangy defender that can cover a lot of ground on this side of the ball. On the downside, sometimes he may not rotate quickly enough, as he sometimes get beat off the dribble or on cuts to allow scores. On another play, he bit on a pump fake, which led his man to score on a pull-up three another time.
Overall, Scottie Barnes is an athletic point forward that possesses strong defensive skills, but he will need to improve his jump shot and willingness to take jumpers in games. He was the consummate role player for Montverde Academy this year, and that could be his role in the future in the NBA. He is a jack-of-all-trades type of player that could project to be an upper-echelon defender at the NBA level, but he will need to work on his jump shot to expand his game on offense. He is an intriguing prospect that could potentially get picked in the lottery in 2021, and he is a smart, skilled player that may have similar skills to current Chicago Bulls’ forward, Otto Porter in the association.
North Carolina’s 6-9 incoming freshman big man, Day’Ron Sharpe played very well to help lead Montverde Academy to a blow out win over The Patrick School. He is an athletic, energetic player that possesses strong inside scoring and defensive skills, and he could project to be a solid rim protector in the NBA.
Sharpe excelled at scoring on hustle plays. He showed a knack for scoring on strong put backs, as he also scored on a tip-in, and he also scored on a quick cut to the hoop. He will also run the floor to score on fast breaks, and he was able to score on a powerful jam late in this contest.
Plus, he also showed a solid ability to score in the post. He was able to post up, and he drove in to score and get an extra free throw due to possessing good strength, quickness, and scoring touch. He also can draw fouls upon his defenders, and he almost scored on a turnaround, fadeaway jumper, except that it was waved due to his man having fouled him earlier. He also was able to drive to his left from the baseline to draw free throws on a dunk attempt. However, Sharpe didn’t look to take jumpers that often away from the paint, and he missed an open corner three once. He also struggled to make his free throws, as he had trouble converting on those opportunities when he was at the foul line.
He displayed fairly average at best playmaking skills in this game. He didn’t look to pass that often, but he was able to find a teammate ahead in transition to notch an assist. Sometimes though, he would throw inaccurate passes that would end up going out of bounds.
He also displayed an adequate ability to rebound the basketball. He would leap up to get multiple boards on both ends of the floor, and he also managed to tip a ball to a teammate and also threw a ball off of an opponent to help his team get defensive rebounds.
Sharpe also played very good defense. He would often rotate to block shots off of drives, as he can direct balls to his teammates after leaping up to swat balls in the air. He does a very good job of contesting and altering shots, and he will also look to actively challenge jumpers to force misses. Plus, he will poke balls away and jump on loose balls to get numerous steals, and he is an active and alert defender that can defend both out on the perimeter as well as in the paint. Sometimes though, he wouldn’t communicate to his teammates on how to defend screens, which would lead his team to foul opponents around the basket. Other times, he would sometimes commit touch fouls due to over-aggressiveness.
In summary, Day’Ron Sharpe is an athletic, energetic big man that could project to be a solid defensive specialist in the NBA. He will need to improve his face-up game and work on his jump shot. He played very well in this game for Montverde Academy, and he could be a player to keep an eye on at North Carolina in 2021. While he may not have much draft buzz right now, he may be a solid long-term prospect, and in a favorable scenario, he could end up developing into being a solid role player similar to current Golden State Warriors’ center, Kevon Looney in the league.
Montverde Academy’s 6-8 high school sophomore forward, Caleb Houstan also showed off impressive skills in his team’s win over The Patrick School. He excelled at knocking down spot-up threes off the catch, and he also ran the floor to score on a thunderous dunk on the break. He also excelled defensively. He rotated to poke a ball away to get a steal, and he also managed to deflect an inbounds pass out of bounds. Plus, he would often contest shots in the paint to force misses. Overall, he is an athletic swingman that can shoot, score, and defend, and he is a high upside prospect that may have All-Star potential, as he could end up being one of the best players to come out of the 2023 draft.
Arkansas’ 6-6 incoming freshman guard, Moses Moody played fairly well for Montverde Academy to lift his team to a win. He primarily excelled as a scorer on fast breaks, and he also showed off solid all-around skills in this game. He ran the floor to score on an emphatic dunk, excelled as a ball mover in transition, and he also drew three free throws on a three-point shot early on. He also was able to help get some rebounds, and he also was active in contesting shots to force misses. Plus, he managed to rotate to tie up an opponent on a drive to get a steal.
Overall, Moody is a skilled, all-around swingman whose versatility allowed him to thrive in a complementary role for his team. He didn’t seem to stand out as much as the other players, but his solid blend of skills, athleticism, and basketball IQ could allow him to excel in college basketball, and he could project to be a 3 and D type of role player if he ends up playing in the NBA.
Montverde Academy’s 6-5, high school sophomore guard, Dariq Whitehead also is another highly ranked player amongst recruiting services. He didn’t play much in this game, but he is a good athlete that passes the ball well, and he can throw accurate passes on the break to notch assists. On one nifty play, he ran the floor, caught a lob pass, and then quickly passed back to a teammate to set up a score in transition.
He showed an adequate ability to score in transition. He was able to score on an acrobatic, reverse layup off of a fast break drive, and he also ran the floor to score on a tomahawk dunk another time. Sometimes, he can be prone to rushing shots which can lead to misses. He also attempted a corner three, but he ended up missing badly that time, as he will likely need to improve his jump shot.
Whitehead also did a good job of rebounding the basketball when he was on the floor. Overall, he is an athletic swingman that may have ways to go before being able reach the NBA, as he will need to improve his jump shot and get more playing time in games, but if things pan out for him, he could project to be an effective role player that could provide some solid playmaking and plus-level defensive skills for an NBA team in the future.
For The Patrick School, their second best player in this game appeared to be 6-9 high school junior big man, Samson Johnson. He is an athletic, energetic player that was able to catch a lob pass to score on an emphatic alley-oop dunk, and he also used a pump fake to make a pull-up three. He also showed decent rebounding skills, and he would actively look to contest shots in the paint.
Johnson is a long, athletic big man that showed off promising skills on both ends of the floor. He didn’t shoot the ball nearly enough in this game, but he could be a good long-term prospect, and he could be a player to watch sometime down the road, as he could project to be a reliable role player at the NBA level if he can continue to progress and develop his overall game.