Analyzing Justin Wright-Foreman and Vasa Pusica in the CAA Championship Game

March 12, 2019

by Alan Lu

Today, I took the time to watch Hofstra’s senior guard, Justin Wright-Foreman play in the CAA championship game against Northeastern with an automatic bid for the 2019 NCAA Tournament on the line.  Wright-Foreman is an agile scorer that has been getting some draft buzz, most notably from ESPN, but Northeastern jumped on Hofstra early as they shot the ball well and brought tough defense to get the victory.  Here are my thoughts on how Wright-Foreman played, as well as how the other prospects fared in this game.

Hofstra’s senior guard, Justin Wright-Foreman had his ups and downs, as his performance was inconsistent in his team’s loss to Northeastern.  He struggled in the first half due to facing the tough, stringent defense of CAA’s 2018 defensive player of the year Shawn Occeus, but Wright-Foreman was able to get into a rhythm in the second half.  However, he struggled a bit down the stretch and his team also did not get him the basketball nearly as often late in the contest, but overall Wright-Foreman made some good plays despite having a mediocre showing in this game.

Wright-Foreman showed an adequate ability to score on quick, strong drives to the basket.  He is a quick player that can use a variety of dribble moves to get past his man, and he also can use either hand to get scores and free throws.  He has a nifty spin move that allows him to get past opponents to draw free throws, and he also can split double teams.  Wright-Foreman also was able to score on a two-handed dunk on a drive in transition, and he also used an overhead ball fake to score on another fast break, but sometimes he may try to force the issue too much, which can lead him to miss on tough layups in traffic.

However, he struggled often when trying to knock down jumpers against Northeastern, especially when he would take them from long range.  Wright-Foreman did show an adequate ability to make pull-up, mid-range jumpers, though he also had one shot blocked by an opponent.  He did make a couple of pull-up threes, but Wright-Foreman also tended to miss them too often, and he also took an off-balanced spot-up three that missed.  He had trouble making threes consistently, but he did draw three free throws after being fouled on a corner three-point shot attempt once after running off of a screen to get the basketball.

He also will need to improve his playmaking skills.  On one hand, Wright-Foreman handles the ball well, and he can swiftly maneuver around to get his shot off.  However, he is not at all a point guard, and he is a ball dominant player that would soak up volume, and he would look to try to score virtually every time he touched the basketball.  While he did make a few passes that get shooters the basketball, Wright-Foreman did not look to pass nearly enough.  He also lost the basketball carelessly while handling it a couple of times to commit turnovers on offense.

He also seemed to play fairly average defense.  Wright-Foreman’s team played in a zone defense, and in this game, he would tend to be caught out of position or not guarding a man as a result, which would allow his opponents to score on three-point shots.  Wright-Foreman also allowed a score in the post when guarding a much bigger player due to not being tall or strong enough to defend inside, but on the bright side, Wright-Foreman was able to find a loose ball and he also managed to poke a ball away to get steals, and he would also contest threes when in position to force some misses.

In general, Justin Wright-Foreman is a fleet-footed combo guard that can put up points in a hurry, but he struggled to make shots consistently, and he will need to improve his ability to pass and defend on the court.  Right now, he may be a borderline second round candidate for the upcoming draft.  If he ends up in the NBA, he could be a similar player to former Los Angeles Lakers’ guard, Andrew Goudelock in the association.

Northeastern’s 6-5 senior guard, Vasa Pusica had a slow start to this game, but he played well in his team’s win over Hofstra.  He excelled as a shooter and passer, and he also made some solid defensive plays to help get his team a win over Hofstra to get his team to the 2019 NCAA Tournament.  Pusica did a very good job of knocking down threes to space the floor for his team on offense.  He would often be left open as the other team was playing in a zone defense, and Pusica would tend to take advantage of this by making spot-up threes off the catch.  He also can dribble around screens to make pull-up threes.

He didn’t take many shots inside the arc, though.  He missed on a pull-up mid-range jumper, but he did draw a free throw another time after handling the basketball.  While Pusica does not have an elite physical tools or first step off the dribble, he is a savvy player that can find ways to get scores and free throws for his team.  On the downside, Pusica was quite turnover prone on offense.  He turned the ball over quite often early on, as he had a tendency to get his passes picked off by defenders.  While he can throw interior passes when given space to do so, Pusica had trouble throwing passes in tight windows.  He also was called for a traveling violation when posting up another time.

He didn’t grab many rebounds, but he was able to get a couple of defensive boards when he was on the court.  Pusica also played fairly average defense.  He was able to jump on a loose ball to get a steal, and he also will get his hands on balls to make things difficult on his opponents.  He managed to run in to tie up an opposing ball handler once, and he also can deflect passes and poke balls away.  However, he also had a tendency to commit fouls due to over-aggressiveness, and he ran into foul trouble in the first half.  He also didn’t rotate on a drive despite being in the area later on, as his team later allowed the basket.  In summary, Vasa Pusica had a solid showing in his team’s win against Hofstra.  He is a skilled combo guard that can shoot and pass the basketball, and while he has not been drawing much draft buzz, he is a good offensive player that could compete for a roster spot in the NBA.

Other Notes:

Northeastern’s 6-4 junior guard, Shawn Occeus had a fairly good performance, as he played solid defense on Justin Wright-Foreman.  In this game, Occeus managed to intercept passes to get steals, he blocked a long two-point shot to a teammate, and he would often contest shots on drives and threes to force opponents to miss a wealth of shots.  He also showed that he can make spot-up threes, and he also scored on a floater off of a drive, though he struggled to make shots consistently.  Sometimes though, he would look to do too much off the dribble though, which would cause him to commit turnovers, but Occeus also threw some solid interior passes in this game.  Overall, Occeus is an athletic, physical combo guard that defended well, and he could end up being a defensive specialist in the NBA.

Hofstra’s 6-5 junior guard, Eli Pemberton played fairly well in his team’s loss to Northeastern.  He showed a solid ability to score off the dribble, he also can score in the post, and he also scored on a tip-in off of an offensive rebound.  On the downside, he did not make a single three-point shot in this game, and he also had some trouble getting his passes through to his teammates on occasion.

Pemberton played adequate defense, as he is an active help defender that can make plays on the ball.  He would intercept passes to get steals, and on one play, he jumped up to break up a lob pass on the break as he tipped it to a teammate.  He also managed to swat a shot off of a drive due to possessing good athleticism, timing, and instincts.  But he also had trouble guarding opponents in the post, and he also got beat off the dribble when defending in the high post another time to allow a score.  Overall, Eli Pemberton is a skilled combo guard that has flown under the radar all year long, and he could be Hofstra’s best player next year.   He is a player that has a variety of skills that could prove to be useful to an NBA team at the next level, and he could be a potential second round pick in 2020.

Northeastern’s 6-8 sophomore forward, Tomas Murphy excelled as a low post scorer on offense, and he showed off good footwork, strength, and shooting touch when looking to score on the block.  His opponents had trouble guarding him down low, and he could end up being a featured player for his team later on in his collegiate career.

Northeastern’s 6-6 junior swingman, Bolden Brace quietly played well as he nearly had a triple-double in his team’s win in the CAA championship game.  While he did not make a three-point shot, he can score on high post drives, and he also passed and rebounded the ball well.  If he has a strong senior year next year, he could be a player that could perhaps end up getting invited to Portsmouth, as that could be a venue for him to showcase his skills to NBA personnel next season.