2023 Draft Watch: Observing Jarace Walker and Keyonte George in the IMG Academy-La Lumiere Game
September 2nd, 2022
By Alan Lu
J.J. Starling is a highly ranked recruit that will be playing basketball at Notre Dame, and he has drawn some draft buzz early on this year. I decided to watch him play in a March 31st game for La Lumiere against IMG Academy, and I was able to do so with thanks to YouTube via The DraftMatic. IMG Academy had strong performances from Jarace Walker and Keyonte George in their victory over La Lumiere, while Starling’s performance was rather lackluster on this day. Here are my thoughts on how they fared, as well as how they may stack up as prospects for the NBA.
Jarace Walker put forth a tremendous performance to help lead his team to a win over La Lumiere. He is a very athletic combo guard that can do a little bit of everything on the court, and he is a high-flyer that was able to make an impressive number of plays down the stretch.
Walker showed a solid ability to score off the dribble. He prefers driving to his left, but he has a very good first step to the hoop, and he was able to score on a thunderous dunk as well as on a layup after using a pump fake. He also thrived at scoring on hustle plays. He showed a knack for scoring on quick drives in transition, and he has very good balance, body control, and finishing ability to regularly score in the paint. He was able to score on quick floaters, and he also threw down a powerful jam another time.
He also was able to make an open three-point shot from way out. Walker also has good strength, as well as solid footwork and shooting touch that enables him to score from the block. While he struggled to consistently score on post plays, he was able to score on a strong, step-through move as well as on a couple of fadeaway jumpers. On the downside, he had some trouble consistently scoring on fadeaway jumpers.
Also, Walker showcased satisfactory playmaking skills. He is an unselfish player that would throw accurate interior passes to find teammates on the move to notch assists. He also excelled at making passes on the break, and he also can pass off the dribble as well as out of the post. He also set an on-ball screen that helped his teammate get an open jump shot. Sometimes though, he would throw hasty passes that would get intercepted.
Plus, he also showed a solid ability to rebound the basketball. He would tend to leap up to get defensive boards, and he would sometimes push the ball quickly up the floor afterwards. He also played good defense. Walker did a great job of blocking shots to help his team protect the paint. He also would get his hands on passes to help his team get numerous steals. He also showed a knack for contesting shots out on the perimeter and in the paint to force misses. On the downside, sometimes he would be late on his rotations and give up too much space to his opponents, which occasionally lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.
In general, Jarace Walker is a very athletic forward that had a strong all-around game to help get his team the victory. He is a very talented prospect that could make an immediate impact at Houston this year, and he could end up being selected in the lottery of the 2023 draft.
Baylor’s incoming freshman guard, Keyonte George also had a strong showing to help get his team a win over La Lumiere. He is an agile, skilled combo guard that can score the basketball in a variety of ways, and he also was able to make some very good plays defensively in this game.
He had a terrific, all-around game offensively. He showed a knack for making pull-up threes, and he also ran off of a ball screen to make an open, spot-up three-pointer. He doesn’t have blinding speed, but he did a good job of leveraging the threat of his jump shot to score on strong drives to the hoop. He also was able to run off of a curl cut to score on a layup, and he also excelled at scoring on fast breaks.
He also showed off decent playmaking skills. He generally did a good job of throwing interior passes to find open teammates on the move, and he also showed that he can make accurate passes off the dribble. On one play though, he threw a hasty pass that got dropped by a teammate and went out of bounds.
Also, George did a great job of grabbing rebounds. He would leap up to haul in numerous boards on both ends of the floor. Plus, he also played adequate defense in this game. He did a good job of getting his hands on passes to help his team get steals, and he also hustled back to make a chase down block on the break. Sometimes though, he would be late to react or to pick up a man, which would lead him to give up three-point baskets. Other times, he would over-compensate and play too aggressively, which would lead him to pick up fouls on the defensive end.
In summary, Keyonte George played very well in this game, and he put forth a strong performance that showed why people feel that he could be a lottery pick in 2023. He showed a diverse skill set in his team’s win over La Lumiere. He will still need to tighten up his handles and show that he can reliably run the point, but his ability to make shots and defend could enable him to be a likely first round pick in the 2023 draft.
J.J. Starling did not play well in his team’s loss to IMG Academy. He is an athletic combo guard that will look to primarily take outside shots, but he really struggled to make them in this game. He didn’t shoot well from the outside at all, but he was a little better at scoring around the basket. Starling thrived at scoring off of quick put backs. He also flashed the ability to score off the dribble when he used a quick jab step to score on a strong, left-handed drive to the hoop. He has good straight-line speed that allows him to quickly get to the rim. However, he doesn’t seem to change directions very much on his drives, and he would often miss shots in traffic.
He also displayed decent playmaking skills. Starling is a fairly unselfish player that would throw timely passes to shooters to notch assists, and he also can make passes off the dribble. While his shot selection was suspect in this game, Starling generally did a good job of taking care of the basketball in this match. On one play though, he dropped a hard to catch pass that went to an opponent instead. Also, he was able to haul in boards on both ends of the floor. On one play though, he dropped a ball when trying to get a defensive board, and he ended fouling an opponent on a put back afterwards.
In addition, he also struggled defensively. On one good play when defending in the post, he was able to poke a ball out of bounds to nearly get a steal. On the downside, he would tend to over-rotate and get beat off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores. Other times, he would play too physically, which would lead him to pick up additional fouls.
Overall, Starling is an athletic, energetic combo guard that has the tools to excel on both ends of the floor, but he will need to polish his skills and improve in all facets of the game. If he can continue to improve, he could end up being a player that could provide scoring punch and some defense similar to Minnesota Timberwolves’ guard, Jaylen Nowell in the NBA.
Kansas State’s 6-8 incoming freshman forward, Taj Manning played well for La Lumiere in their loss to the IMG Academy. He is a versatile scorer that showed a knack for making open, spot-up threes and for scoring on hustle plays, and he also thrived as a rebounder and shot blocker.
He’s not an explosive athlete, but he is a strong, mobile big man that excelled as a shooter and defender, and he also showed the ability to defend both out on the perimeter and in the paint. He looks to be a solid mid-tier prospect that could be a player to watch in a few years.
IMG Academy’s 6-7 forward, Eric Dailey had a fairly solid showing in his team’s win over La Lumiere. He thrived at scoring on hustle plays, and he also defended well when he was on the court. He will need to improve his jump shot, but he is a high-motor player that could be a player to watch in college basketball a few years from now.
Harvard’s 6-8 incoming freshman forward, Chisom Okpara had some standout moments for La Lumiere in this game. He is an athletic, energetic big man that showed off versatile scoring skills, as he was able to score on a strong step-through move out of the post, and he also made an open three from way out. He struggled to score in traffic and his team had some breakdowns defensively, as they struggled to defend on screens, but Okpara could make an immediate impact at Harvard this year.
Miami (Ohio)’s 6-5 incoming freshman guard, Ryan Mabrey played fairly well for La Lumiere in this game. He showed a knack for making open, spot-up threes, and he shot the ball well on offense. He excelled at running off ball screens to make threes and mid-range jumpers. Plus, he also scored on a left-handed drive off of a screen.
He also showed the ability to make drive and kick passes to shooters. On the downside, he didn’t pass the ball quite as well as he could have, as he threw a couple of passes that got picked off. Also, Mabrey did a good job of grabbing offensive rebounds for his team. Defensively though, he struggled in this game. He tended to give up too much space to shooters, and he also had trouble defending opponents in one-on-one situations.
Overall, Ryan Mabrey had a fairly good showing, and he shot the ball very well on offense. On the other hand, he will still need to improve his passing ability and defensive skills. He is a good shooter that excelled at spacing the floor, and he could be a solid player for Miami (Ohio) throughout his collegiate career.
Jett Howard had a quiet, but solid game for the IMG Academy against La Lumiere. He has had some really good games at the high school level, but he took more of a backseat role in this game. He didn’t look to shoot or score very much, but he did show a knack for getting fouled when electing to take shots on offense. Howard also passed the ball well, and he has good court vision that enables him to find teammates in stride to help put them in prime scoring position.
He also showed a solid ability to rebound the basketball. Howard also played very good defense. He did a good job of blocking and challenging shots to force numerous misses, and he especially thrived at contesting outside shots to get stops for his team. On the downside, he would occasionally be late to defend shooters, but he generally did a good job of contesting shots in this game. Overall, Jett Howard is an agile, skilled swingman that plays with a point forward’s mentality, and he showed the willingness to do the little things to help his team get wins. He may not develop into elite scorer at higher levels, but his ability to make team plays could enable him to be a solid role player in the NBA someday.