Analyzing Josh Hart, Justin Patton, Kris Jenkins, and Others

January 16, 2017

By Alan Lu

I decided that it was time to watch the defending NCAA champions, the Villanova Wildcats play.  It has been rather tough to get a hold of them on live television, as they are not often on ESPN, and when they are, they end up playing in time slots that conflict with my schedule.

But thanks to YouTube via sportsvids, I was able to see Villanova play in a December 31st game against Creighton.  This was especially interesting as it was a chance to see two of the top teams match up against each other, and it was an opportunity to see how Villanova’s prospects would fare in a hostile environment on the road.  Here are my thoughts on how various prospects performed on that particular day.

Villanova’s 6-5 senior guard, Josh Hart put forth a good showing as he helped lead his team to a double-digit win over Creighton.  Though he did commit an uncharacteristically large number of turnovers, Hart did show off a solid set of all-around skills in the victory for his team.  Hart generally excelled at attacking the basket to garner scores.  He is a very good scorer off the dribble, and he has the footwork, agility, and shooting touch to score numerous times off of pivoted, turnaround jumpers.  Plus, he can drive the ball to the hoop to score in transition.  Also, Hart will make quick, backdoor cuts to the hoop, as he can quickly score off of them.

He also showed an adequate ability to make jumpers.  Hart was able to make one three off the catch.  He did miss a couple of others, but generally he showed the ability to stretch the floor, as he was able to keep his defenders honest.  Hart however, showcased perhaps average playmaking skills at best in this game.  For the positives, he would make quick passes to open shooters to set up an abundance of scores.  However, Hart had a tendency to get the ball knocked away when driving to the hoop in traffic.   But other times, he threw inaccurate passes, which led to additional turnovers.

In this game, he rebounded the ball very well.  Hart was especially active at crashing the glass, as he was able to haul in numerous boards on both ends of the floor, and he scored on a put back in the middle of the game.  Hart also would push the pace off of defensive rebounds at times, and he also would come away with key boards.

Hart also displayed adequate defensive skills.  He did a great job of quickly jumping passes to collect steals, and he would turn them into scoring chances for his team on fast breaks.  Plus, Hart would play passing lanes, and he also showed a good ability to deflect passes.

However, he did commit some touch fouls, as he fouled a three-point shooter early on to allow a score and an extra free throw, as he was initially late to rotate when he was caught a switch, and tried to rotate too fast when defending the jumper.  Another time he lost track of a cutter, but recovered just in time to foul him rather than give up the bucket on the play.  Plus, Hart also had some trouble defending drives, which led to allowing a couple of scores.

In general, Josh Hart put forth good performance, as he was able to contribute in many ways to help his team get the victory over their rival, Creighton.  He did struggle with some turnovers and he also had some lapses defensively, but Hart generally excelled as a scorer and rebounder in this game.  Hart has been having a terrific season this year, and he looks to be a strong candidate to be selected in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft.

Creighton’s 6-11 freshman center, Justin Patton had a very good game in a loss to Villanova.  He showed strong inside scoring skills, elite athletic abilities, and he also excelled as a shot blocker and interior defender when he was on the floor.  Patton excelled as a finisher around the basket.  He does a great job of moving off the ball to garner scores in the paint.  He threw down dunks off of rolls to the rim as well as in transition, and Patton is a high motor player that runs the floor well.  Plus, he also was able to draw a foul on a put back off of an offensive rebound.

Additionally, he also showed good low post scoring skills.  Patton has a nifty turnaround move that he can use to score on jump hooks and drop steps, and he also can use a step-through move to garner scores on the block.  But sometimes, he may be prone to taking contested shots in traffic on occasion, which can lead to misses.

Also, Patton showed decent playmaking skills in this game.  He showed the ability to pass from the post to find open shooters, and he also was able to hit a cutter from the post as well.  Patton is a good post passer that can set up scores for his teammates.  But he did commit a charging foul off of a drive once, even though the call could have gone either way.  Also, he threw an errant crosscourt pass another time that sailed out of bounds.  He also displayed a good ability to rebound the basketball.  Patton hauled in numerous boards on both ends of the floor, and he would also help find ways to help his team retain possession of the ball on offense.

Patton also showcased good defensive skills.  He did a great job of blocking shots, as he has elite length, athleticism, and instincts to do so when defending the post as well as drives.   Plus, Patton did a fairly good job of defending the post, as he can force opponents to travel or miss their shots.  Also, he showed an adequate ability to defend drives, but sometimes he can give up too much space to allow scores.

In summary, Justin Patton put forth a great performance as he made numerous plays throughout the game to keep his team in the contest for most of the way.  Patton could project to be a solid rim protector in the NBA as he has great size and elite physical tools to work with.  With his skill set, he could end up being a mid to late first round pick, as he could end up being a very good player in the association.

6-6 senior forward Kris Jenkins had a solid game in a win for Villanova over Creighton.  He played very well on both ends of the floor, and he made big shots to help lead his team to victory.  Jenkins did a very good job of making jumpers to space the floor for his team.  He showed off a solid ability to make spot up threes off the catch, as he has great range on his shot to do so.  Also, Jenkins was able to knock down a pull-up three.  But he really put his basketball savvy on display by using a pump fake to draw the defender in the air, and he was able to draw three free throws on that particular play.

Plus, he showed a very good ability to score off the dribble.  Jenkins is a deceptively quick forward that will pick and choose his spots to score on drives.  He was able to drive on the baseline to score on an up and under move.  Another time, he was able to score on a finger roll.  He also displayed good playmaking skills.  Jenkins made good interior passes to set up scores for his team, and he also made good passes throughout the game.  There was one time where he almost lost the ball on a drive, but Jenkins did a great job of taking care of the basketball against Creighton, as he did not turn the ball over once.

He did not rebound the ball well in this game, however.  Jenkins did collect a couple of defensive boards, as he showed the ability to leap up to do so once.  But he did commit a foul when going after a defensive rebound on another time.  He almost collected an offensive rebound off his own miss from beyond the arc, but he was unable to chase it down to do so.

Jenkins also showcased very good defensive skills.  He was able to block a shot in the post, as he demonstrated nice quickness and timing to prevent an opponent from scoring around the basket.  He also would contest long-range jumpers as well as shots in the post to force misses, and he would play passing lanes to deflect passes.  But he did get beat once on a drive, which led his team to allow a score.

In general, Kris Jenkins put forth a solid showing, as he played well in virtually every facet of the game to help lead his team to a double-digit victory.  He is a smart, skilled basketball player that can contribute in a variety of ways.  With his skill set, he could be a solid second round pick for an NBA team in 2017.

6-2 sophomore point guard Jalen Brunson had a terrific game in the win over Creighton.  He made his presence felt early and often as he made numerous pull-up threes from beyond the arc, he made key buckets off the dribble, and he also made timely passes and got key stops to lead his team to a double-digit victory.

Brunson shot the ball extremely well in this game.  He made a slew of quick pull-up threes, as he can use a crossover to create separation, and he also can use screens to do so.   Plus, he did a great job of knocking down pull-up, mid-range jumpers, as he showed a solid ability to do so when he was both open and guarded on those plays.  He also did a good job of scoring off the dribble.  Brunson excelled at scoring on half-court drives as well as in transition, as he has the speed to split double teams off of pick and rolls, and he has the shooting touch and body control to finish plays around the basket.

He also displayed very good playmaking skills.  Brunson showed great patience and vision, as he would patiently probe the defenses to find cutters and shooters to string together assists for his team.  However, Brunson also committed several turnovers off the dribble, as he was called for a couple of traveling violations due to steps.  Another time, he committed a charging foul by colliding into an opponent on a drive to the hoop.  Also, Brunson displayed a good ability to rebound the basketball.  He was able to haul in plenty of boards when he was on the floor, as he was able to help out on the glass for his team in this game.

He also displayed adequate defensive skills.  Brunson showed good anticipation skills, as he was able to jump a pass to get a clutch steal late in the game.  Also, he was able to draw a charge on an opponent on a separate possession.  But Brunson had some trouble defending drives as he would be caught out of position at times, and he also was late to contest a three to allow a score another time.

In this game, Jalen Brunson put forth an excellent showing as he made one big play after another to catapult his team to victory.  He made big shots, timely passes, and come away with a key steal to seal the game for his team.  Brunson showed that he can play very well in big games, and he could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the late first to second round of the upcoming draft.

Creighton’s 5-10 senior point guard Maurice Watson Jr. had an uneven showing, as he had his highs and lows in a loss to Villanova.  He did excel as a playmaker, but he was plagued by foul trouble, and he struggled to consistently make shots throughout the contest.  For the positives, Watson generally showed solid playmaking skills.  He is a speedy point guard that can make a wide assortment of passes to set up a wealth of scores for his team.  He has great speed as well as gifted ball handling skills and court vision, as a blend of these things can enable him to collect many assists when he was on the floor.  But sometimes, he would be careless with the basketball, which also lead him to commit several turnovers in this game.

Watson also showed a good ability to score off the dribble.  He is a quick guard that can use his speed and agility to garner scores on drives to the basket.  However, he struggled to make shots in transition, as he was also prone to rushing his shots at times.   In addition, he had a tough time trying to knock down jumpers against Villanova.

Also, he did not rebound the ball well against Villanova, but he did push the pace off of one defensive rebound.  But he did commit a couple of fouls when pursuing defensive rebounds.  Defensively, he looked to be about average.  He was able to draw a charge, and he showed solid anticipation skills to do so.  But he also gave up too much space when defending a drive to allow a score another time, and he also ended up fouling out of the game.

In general, this was not the best game for Maurice Watson Jr., but he did show some interesting skills even in a loss to Villanova.  He is a smart basketball player that has a high basketball IQ, and he has the speed and court vision to rack up many assists as well as to get numerous scores off the dribble, but he struggled to shoot the basketball and his lack of size could make it harder for him to score in traffic at the next level.  Regardless, Watson is a gifted passer that sees the floor well, and he can really run a basketball team, as that could enable him to make an NBA roster in the future.

Other Notes:

6-7 sophomore swingman Mikal Bridges did not particularly have a great game in a win for Villanova over Creighton, but he did show some skills.  He showed the ability to score off the dribble, and he is a fairly good passer that will look for his teammates.   Plus, Bridges is a very athletic player that can collect rebounds and steals, and he will contest shots to force misses.

However, he struggled to make jumpers, and he did not look for his own shot often on offense.  He did once make a hasty crosscourt pass that led to a shot clock violation.  Also on defense, he tended to commit touch fouls on drives to the hoop, as he would tend to be out of position to commit fouls and allow scores to the opposition.  Right now, Bridges may be an interesting prospect, but he may need more seasoning in order to develop as an overall player.  He will need to improve offensively, but he does have great athletic tools, as he could project into being a defensive specialist in the NBA.

Creighton’s junior combo guard Marcus Foster had a decent game in a loss to Villanova.  He did a great job of scoring off the dribble and making mid-range jumpers, and he is a good athlete that can ably create his own shot.  But he struggled to make threes consistently, and he also ended up committing some touch fouls on drives to the basket.   Right now, he may be a borderline second round candidate that may project to be a microwave type of scorer at the next level.

Crehgton’s 6-8 senior forward Cole Huff showed off versatile scoring skills, and he also passed the ball well in a loss to Villanova.  He excelled as a three-point shooter off the catch, and he can make outside shots even when he is tightly guarded.  Huff also was able to score off the dribble, and he also made a turnaround jumper when he was in the post.

Huff also threw a solid interior pass to collect an assist, and he also was able to reach in to get a steal off of a drive.  However, Huff did not rebound the ball well, and he ended up committing a couple of touch fouls in this game.   In general, Huff is an athletic, skilled offensive player that could project to be a shooting specialist in the NBA.

To sum it all up, this was a very competitive basketball game between Villanova and Creighton, as both teams were fighting very hard to win this match.  Creighton appeared to have the upper hand early, but Villanova made big plays later on, as well as down the stretch to get the win.  On this day, Jalen Brunson, Justin Patton, Kris Jenkins, and Josh Hart were the standouts here, as they appeared to perform the best in this contest.   This was a very entertaining game to watch, as it featured two of the best teams in college basketball that have top prospects for the 2017 NBA Draft.