2021 Draft Watch: Observing Evan Mobley and Julian Strawther

September 16th, 2020

By Alan Lu

I decided to take the time to watch USC’s 6-11 incoming freshman big man, Evan Mobley play for Rancho Christian in a high school basketball game against Liberty High that took place on December 14th, 2019, as I was able to see this with thanks to YouTube via NorCal SportsTV.  Evan Mobley is a talented prospect that is considered to be a potential top 3 pick for the 2021 draft, so I decided to watch him play once again to further assess his skills.  Here are my thoughts on how he fared, as well as how his game may translate to the NBA.

USC’s incoming 6-11 freshman center, Evan Mobley is a tremendously athletic big man whose strong defensive skills and ability to make plays above the rim could enable him to be a likely top 5 pick in the 2021 draft.
David Canales/Valley News)

Evan Mobley is a tremendous defender that can really make solid plays on that end of the floor on a consistent basis.  He is an excellent shot blocker that possesses very good athleticism, length, and timing, and he would often swat shots in the paint, as he would sometimes direct those balls to his teammates.  He also has a very good motor, and he was able to run back hard on defense to block a shot off of a drive in transition to a teammate.  Plus, he will also get his hands on passes to get steals and deflections, and he also can defend out on the perimeter, as he will use his length to contest and alter shots, and he is a rangy defender that can stay with perimeter players, as he was able to swat a shot off of a floater another time.  Also, he showed a good ability to hold his ground when defending in the post, as he was able to force a miss.

He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  Mobley ran in to score on a tip-in, and he also was able to score and draw free throws off of put backs and cuts to the hoop.  Plus, he also is a fairly good scorer off the dribble, even though he doesn’t look to score nearly enough.  He can drive to the hoop using either hand, and he will score on thunderous, two-handed dunks.  He handles the ball well for a player his size, even though he doesn’t possess a great first step off the dribble.  However, he did miss on a quick, switch of hands layup when taking the ball to the rim once.

Mobley also showed a solid ability to score in the post.  He can get the ball deep into the paint, and he can score on powerful, two-handed jams at the rim.  Plus, his size, mobility, and scoring touch around the basket allow him to draw numerous fouls upon his defenders.  Though he didn’t look to call for the ball nearly enough, he is a very efficient scorer that showed a strong ability to finish plays around the basket.

Plus, he also displayed decent playmaking skills.  Mobley is a very unselfish player that will make the extra pass to keep the ball moving, and he will often look to find open shooters to set up scores for them.  He can pass off the dribble as well as in the post, and he also can set solid, on-ball screens to help his teammates get open looks to score on drives to the rim.  Though he can handle the basketball, he will sometimes try to handle the ball too much, as he may overdribble or hold the ball too low, as he had several balls poked away from him that led him to commit turnovers.

Also, Mobley rebounded the ball well in this game.  He was quite active at crashing the glass, and he can get tough boards in traffic on both ends of the floor.  Though he has a rather thin build for a player his size, he will fight to get rebounds to help his team on the glass.

In general, Evan Mobley is a very good prospect, and he is a versatile big man that may have the ability to play all three front-court positions on the basketball court.  He is a terrific defender that can aptly defend both out on the perimeter and in the post, and he also is a solid inside scorer that can finish numerous plays above the rim.  He also has solid court sense that allows him to rack up plenty of assists on offense.  He will need to extend his shooting range and tighten up his handles moving forward.  Even still, he is a very talented player that could project to be one of the best in the 2021 draft class, and he could end up being a very good player in the NBA.

I also managed to take the time to watch Gonzaga’s incoming freshman players that participated in this game, as they had a couple of recruits that played for both of these teams in Liberty High’s 6-7 forward, Julian Strawther and in Rancho Christian’s 6-3 guard, Dominick Harris.  Strawther is a ball-dominant scorer that showed that he can score the basketball with ease, and Harris is an athletic, combo guard that can make energetic, hustle plays to give his team a boost.

Julian Strawther really excelled at attacking the basket to score the basketball, and part of this was because he went up against significantly smaller players throughout the game.  He frequently scored and drew free throws on drives and in the post, and he also showed a knack for scoring on quick backdoor cuts.  He can use either hand to get effortless scores off the dribble, and he also has good body control that allows him to score on acrobatic, reverse layups.  Plus, he would often score on right-handed jump hooks in the post, as he would score easily over smaller defenders.  However, sometimes he would try to force up tough shots on aggressive drives in transition, which would lead to misses.

He also struggled to make three-point shots in this game.  He often would miss threes both off the catch and dribble, but he was able to use a crossover move to make a deep, pull-up three later on.  Still, Strawther will need to improve his ability to make outside shots from long-range moving forward.

Also, he displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  Though he has a heavy, score-first lean, Strawther can sometimes find teammates on the move, as he can find an open teammate ahead on the break and he also can hit the cutter to set up scoring chances for them.  However, he also committed several ball-handling turnovers, as he can struggle to handle the ball in traffic.  A couple of times, he had the ball stolen away after handling the ball under pressure, and he also drove into traffic and then was called for traveling after having lost his balance another time.  On a separate play, he threw a low pass to a teammate that went through his teammate’s legs, as his pass that time resulted in a team turnover.

Plus, he also displayed a decent ability to rebound the basketball.  Strawther didn’t seem to grab many boards right off the bat, but he did show a willingness to crash the glass to get his team rebounds on both sides of the ball.  He also was able to get one offensive rebound, as he scored on a tip-in late in this match.  However, sometimes he would commit over the back fouls when going for rebounds.

He also played fairly good defense in this game.  Strawther is an active help defender that has good length, agility, and instincts to make numerous plays on the ball.  He would run in to quickly jump passes to get steals, and he also ran back to block a shot hard off the glass to a teammate another time.  Plus, he would rotate to contest shots off of drives to force misses, and he also was able to successfully challenge a three-point shot to get another stop for his team.  On the downside, he can gamble too much defensively.  Sometimes he will go for steals or bite on pump fakes, which can lead him to being out of position when guarding his man, which can lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

In summary, Julian Strawther is an athletic, skilled forward that can score the basketball, and he can be relied upon to create his own shot to help get his team points.  On the other hand, he will need to improve his jump shot and playmaking skills, and he will have to work on his three-point shot in order to be a more dynamic offensive player.  All in all, he is a good get by Gonzaga, and Strawther looks to be a solid prospect overall.  If he can continue to hone his game and progress as an overall player, he could quickly ascend up draft boards, as he has the talent to be a first round pick in the NBA sometime in the future.

Other Notes:

Dominick Harris is an athletic, energetic combo guard that can score and defend when he is out on the floor.  He has a quick first step, and he would tend to go to his right to get plenty of scores off the dribble.  He also can take the ball to the rim in the open court, and he is a speedy player that has good body control to regularly score, and he also managed to score on an emphatic dunk in this game.

He also was able to score off of backdoor cuts, and he also threw down an emphatic, two-handed jam late in this game.  Harris also drew free throws off of a tip-in, and he did a good job of moving off the ball to get open shots.  Though he did make a deep three from beyond the arc once, Harris struggled to knock down outside shots, and he struggled to make jumpers from outside of the paint area.

He also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  When he looks for his teammates, Harris showed that he can find teammates ahead on the break to set up scoring chances for them, and he can throw solid passes off the dribble to get them the basketball.  Sometimes though, he would throw inaccurate passes that would lead to turnovers.

Plus, he also showed a solid ability to rebound the basketball.  Harris would chase down numerous balls to help his team get boards on both ends of the floor, and he showed solid athleticism, motor, and instincts to help his team get rebounds.

Defensively, he looked to be fairly average.  For the positives, Harris was able to intercept a pass, and he also jumped on a loose ball to help his team get a steal another time.  Plus, he also will actively contest shots to force misses.  Sometimes though, he would be too aggressive on the defensive end, which would lead him to commit touch fouls, and other times, he can get beat on plays that result in scores for the other team.

Overall, Dominick Harris is an athletic, combo guard that excels at taking the ball to the rim to score the basketball, and he also will score on off-ball motion plays.  However, he will need to improve his jump shot and also look to be more of a facilitator in games.  I do think he has the ability to run the point effectively, and he could provide Gonzaga with some scoring punch and tough defense right away.  If things pan out for him, he could project to be an effective, rotation player at the NBA level some day.

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