Analyzing Chuma Okeke, Coby White, and Bryce Brown on Day 2 of the Sweet 16

March 29, 2019

by Alan Lu

I tuned in to watch Auburn play against North Carolina in a Sweet 16 basketball game.  They played a very competitive first half, but then Auburn dominated in the second half, as they were able to get a double-digit victory.  Chuma Okeke was the standout performer in this contest, and had a strong all-around game.  Here are my thoughts on how he played, as well as how other prospects fared on this day.

Auburn’s 6-8 sophomore forward, Chuma Okeke played very well in his team’s win over North Carolina, as he excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor.  Okeke did a very good job of scoring on drives as well as in the post.  He can finish plays using either hand, and he also has a spin move that he can use to get past his man.  He also showed a knack for scoring on turnaround jumpers.  Also, he did a great job of knocking down spot-up threes, and he also managed to score on hustle plays.  He also displayed fairly good playmaking skills.  Okeke is an unselfish player that will make the extra pass, and he would tend to throw crisp, accurate passes to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  He did end up losing the basketball off of one drive, but generally Okeke did a good job of passing and handling the basketball.

Plus, he also did a great job of rebounding the basketball.  Okeke did a terrific job of grabbing offensive rebounds as he would often outwork his opponents on the glass, and he also was able to score off of put backs to provide his team with second chance points.  Also, Okeke played very good defense.  He has very good hands and instincts, and he would often poke balls away to get steals for his team.  He also managed to block a dunk attempt due to possessing very good athleticism, leaping ability, and timing to do so.  He also managed to contest a three to force a miss.  In general, Chuma Okeke had a very good showing in his team’s win against North Carolina, as he played well in all facets of the game.  He did end up injuring his knee on an unfortunate play late in this contest, but hopefully it will not be too serious, and that he will make a full and speedy recovery.

North Carolina’s 6-5 freshman point guard, Coby White had an up and down game in his team’s loss to Auburn.  At first, he was playing well in the first half, as he was scoring and drawing free throws on speedy drives to the hoop.  However, later in the game, he struggled to knock down jumpers and started to play too fast and out of control, as he would commit turnovers, and he also had some defensive woes in this contest.

He did a good job of scoring on quick drives to the basket, as he has very good speed and quickness to score in the half-court as well as on the break, but sometimes, he can miss shots wildly around the basket, and he also struggled to make jumpers from outside of the paint area.  Coby White also tended to play too carelessly at times, as he would be prone to losing the basketball and getting it poked away by defenders.  Defensively, he looked to be about average.  For the positives, he can get his hands on passes to get steals, and he also contested a deep three to force a miss.  However, he had trouble defending opponents off of drives, as he would either get beat to allow scores, or he would backpedal too far to give his man too much space to shoot off the dribble.

Overall, Coby White had his highs and lows in his team’s loss to Auburn.  He is a fast player that can create shots for himself and others off the dribble, but he will need to learn to play more under control. He also did not shoot the ball well, and he struggled with his position defense in this game.  Still, he is a talented player that could project to be taken high by an NBA team in the upcoming draft, and he could end up being a mid first round pick on draft day.

Auburn’s senior guard, Bryce Brown quietly had a good game in his team’s win over North Carolina.  He played especially well down the stretch, as he scored 9 of his 12 points in the last 2 minutes, and 14 seconds of this contest, and he also played solid defense as well.  Brown showed off versatile scoring skills, as he was able to make a corner three, drew 3 free throws on another three-point attempt, and he also scored on an emphatic dunk off of a drive in transition.  He also played good defense, as he was able to poke balls away to get steals, and he also raced to get a loose ball to help his team come up with another one.  Also, Brown showed the willingness to move the basketball, and he was able to get a couple of assists.  Overall, Bryce Brown had a fairly good showing in this game, and he is an athletic combo guard that could be a potential second round pick in the upcoming draft.

North Carolina’s 6-6 freshman swingman, Nassir Little did not have a very good game in his team’s loss to Auburn, which was disappointing.  He struggled to knock down jumpers, and he had a couple of shots blocked when looking to take the ball to the basket.  He did manage to score on a strong drive in transition while getting an extra free throw once, and he also barreled in from the post to get a strong score another time.  However, Little also was turnover prone.  He nearly lost the ball on a drive once as he stumbled while handling the basketball, and then he collided into a defender to commit a charging foul, as he played too wildly and out of control that time.  On a separate play, he received a ball on a cut, but he ended up getting the basketball poked off of him to commit another turnover.

He also rebounded the ball well, as he would tend to leap up to get boards on both ends of the floor due to possessing good athleticism, motor, and instincts to haul them in.  Little also played above average defense.  He was able to get his hands on a pass to help his team get a steal, but he had some trouble getting stops despite challenging shots in the post as well as out on the three-point line.

Overall, Nassir Little did not play well, as he did not have a great game on offense, but he showed a good ability to get rebounds, and he also demonstrated that he can score in transition as well as in the post. Little will need to significantly improve his jump shot, as well as show he can consistently get scores in the half-court.  Right now, he may not be as polished of a prospect as anticipated, but if an NBA team can be patient to work with him, he could end up paying dividends for them in the future.  If so, he could end up being a worthwhile pick for them in the late first to the second round range of the upcoming draft.

North Carolina’s senior forward, Cameron Johnson had a fairly good game in his team’s loss to Auburn.  Though he struggled to make threes consistently, he was able to draw numerous free throws, was able to get plenty of scores off the dribble, and he also made some solid plays defensively.  Johnson was able to get a couple of scores off the dribble, as he was able to score in transition, as well as on a pull-up, mid-range jumper. However, he also had a tendency to get his shots blocked off of half-court drives.  He showed an adequate ability to rebound the basketball.  Also, Johnson defended well, as he would get his hands on passes and find loose balls to get steals, and he also managed to block a shot off of a drive.  Adding to that, he also did a good job of contesting shots to force misses.  Overall, Johnson struggled to make shots from the field, but he was able to draw free throws, and he also made good defensive plays when he was on the court.  Right now, he may project into a 3 and D type of role for the next level, and he could end up being a second round pick in the upcoming draft.

North Carolina’s senior forward, Luke Maye had his ups and downs, but he was able to show off a variety of skills in his team’s loss to Auburn.  He excelled at scoring off of drives as well as on put backs, and he also can knock down jumpers.  However, he struggled to consistently make three-pointers, and he also had some trouble scoring in the post.  He also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  He generally threw solid passes to help set up scores for his teammates, and he can pass out of the post to get assists.  However, he also was a bit turnover prone, and on one play, he was called for a traveling violation when looking to create off the dribble.

Also, he did an adequate job of rebounding the basketball.  Maye was able to get multiple boards on both ends of the floor, but he also was called for committing an over the back foul when going for an offensive board once.  He also played adequate defense.  He was able to get his hands on a pass to get a steal, and he also rotated to contest a shot off of a drive to force a miss.  However, there was one play where he gave up a bit too much space to his man, which led his opponent to score on a corner three.

In summary, Luke Maye was able to make some good plays in this game, even if he had a fairly average showing overall.  He is a smart, skilled player that can contribute in a variety of ways, he possesses just average at best physical tools and shooting ability from the perimeter.  If he can improve his jump shot and show that he can guard upper echelon players, he could end up being an effective role player in the NBA.  Right now, he may be a borderline second round candidate for the upcoming draft.

Other Notes:

Auburn’s junior point guard, Jared Harper also had an adequate showing in this game, as he was able to score on quick drives to the hoop, and he also threw plenty of good passes to rack up assists.  He struggled with his jump shot, but he did a very good job of distributing the basketball, and he showed off sound decision-making skills with his ability to run the point in this game.

Also for Auburn, forwards Malik Dunbar and Danjel Purifoy both shot the ball very well, as they excelled at knocking down three-point shots off the catch to bolster their offense and to propel their team to a double-digit victory over North Carolina.

North Carolina’s 6-4 senior guard, Kenny Williams had an up and down game in his team’s loss to Auburn.  He played well early on, as he did a good job of knocking down spot-up threes and mid-range jumpers.  He also was able to stay with his man on a drive, and he managed to alter a shot to force a shot clock violation.  However, Williams also tended to commit turnovers, as he would get his passes intercepted, and he also had a ball poked off of him.  On defense, he tended to cheat too much off his man, which would lead his team to allow opponents to score on open threes.  Overall, Williams had his highs and lows in this game, but overall, he has been a good role player for North Carolina throughout his collegiate career, and he could be an adequate candidate for the Portsmouth Invitational this year.

Auburn’s 6-7 junior forward, Anfernee McLemore didn’t really stand out in this game, but he was able to make a deep three, and he also played good defense.  He was able to successfully draw a charge when defending a drive, and he also contested a shot in the post to force a miss.  He’s an athletic combo forward that has drawn some draft buzz over the years, and he could end up being a potential second round pick whenever he decides to enter the NBA draft.

Auburn’s 6-11 junior center, Austin Wiley was able to make some good plays in this game, even though he did not play many minutes overall.  He can draw free throws on strong moves to the basket, and he also rebounded the ball well.  He also was able to swat a shot off of a drive in transition, but he also can be foul prone when looking to contest shots in the paint.  Right now, he may be a borderline second round candidate at the moment, as he could project into backup center role at the next level.

Auburn’s 6-8 senior forward, Horace Spencer quietly had a good game in his team’s win over North Carolina.  He is a good athlete that defends well, and he was able to block numerous shots in the paint to help his team force misses.  He also managed to poke a ball away to get a steal.  While he didn’t take many shots, he was able to score a layup in transition, and he also did a good job of scoring in the post.  Throughout the season, he’s been a limited use, defensive specialist.  Spencer will likely need to improve his jump shot and playmaking skills, but his ability to guard players could help him make an NBA team’s summer league roster.

Auburn’s 6-0 junior point guard, J’Von McCormick did a very good job of scoring on quick drives to the basket, and he also passed the ball well.  Also, he played good defense, as he intercepted a pass to get a steal.  He is a fleet-footed playmaker that can score and distribute the basketball, and he could be a prospect to keep an eye on in the future.

Other Notes, Part II:

I saw a little bit of the Michigan State-LSU game, but not nearly enough to make any major or definitive assessments on these prospects in this specific contest, as I tuned out to watch the Auburn-North Carolina game instead.  From what I saw, and from looking at the box score, Michigan State jumped on LSU early, and I was certain that the Spartans would get the win and they did.  Anyways, here are some thoughts. 

Tremont Waters did a good job of scoring the basketball and played pesky defense, but did not get enough assists in this game.  Cassius Winston excelled as a shooter and facilitator in this game.   Aaron Henry and Gabe Brown were the unsung heroes of this contest, both of them knocked down plenty of jumpers to space the floor, and Henry also passed the ball well.  Naz Reid did not shoot the ball nearly enough, as his team should’ve looked to involve him far more on offense, but he may have struggled to defend in the post in this game.   All in all, Michigan State played well as they won by double digits, and they will square off against Duke in the Elite Eight.