Assessing Jarrett Culver, Kevin Porter, and Bennie Boatwright

November 21, 2018

by Alan Lu

Recently, I decided to take the time to watch Texas Tech play against USC in the Hall of Fame Classic.  It was an opportunity to watch several prospects that could be in the 2019 NBA Draft such as Jarrett Culver, Kevin Porter, and Bennie Boatwright.  After USC got off to a fast start, Texas Tech continually made solid plays in the second half to get the win, and they were bolstered by strong performances from Jarrett Culver, Matt Mooney, and Tariq Owens.  Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared, as well as how their games may translate to the NBA.

Texas Tech’s 6-5 sophomore guard, Jarrett Culver had a good showing as he played well in virtually all facets of the game to help lead his team to a double-digit victory over USC.  After initially getting off to a rather slow start due to having some trouble with turnovers, Culver really hit his stride in the second half, as he knocked down a variety of shots, moved the ball and rebounded well, and excelled as a help defender on the court.

Culver did a very good job of scoring on aggressive drives to the basket.  He is a crafty player that changes speeds well and has a solid pump fake move, and he would tend to score on smooth drives off the glass.  Though he favors going to his right, he can score with either hand, and he also showed a knack for drawing free throws as he can draw plenty of fouls when operating in traffic.  He also showed a decent ability to knock down jumpers to space the floor for his team.  Culver was able to make a spot-up three off the catch.  However, Culver struggled to score on pull-up jumpers, as he struggled more to shoot off the dribble when he would be further away from the paint.

Also, he displayed adequate playmaking skills.  Culver is an unselfish player that can excel as a facilitator when he plays patiently, and he tended to throw solid, crisp interior passes that would set up scores for his teammates around the basket.  He is a good lob thrower as he can get his teammates alley-oops, and he also will hit cutters.  Culver does a good job of finding the open man, as he can throw accurate passes on the move.

However, he was also quite turnover prone in this game.  Sometimes, Culver can tend to be a ball stopper on offense, and he would occasionally have the ball poked away from him.  Other times, he would commit turnovers due to carelessness, as he would make dribbling mistakes such as dribbling off his own foot or get called for carrying.  He also once picked up his dribble too early after receiving the ball on the baseline, and he ended up traveling after being double-teamed.  Other times, he may throw hasty passes that as a couple of his passes ended up being intercepted.

Plus, he also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He tended to leap up to get defensive boards for his team, and sometimes he would bring the ball up the floor, but sometimes he would fail to secure the basketball, as he would lose the ball out of bounds every once in a while.  He also played good defense.  Culver did a great job of collecting steals for his team, and he is a rangy defender that can make timely rotations on this end of the floor. He will jump passes to force turnovers, and he also will jump on loose balls to get additional steals as well.  Also, he can poke balls away to make it difficult on opposing ball handlers, and he will also actively contest shots off the dribble to force misses.

However, he can tend to play too far off his man, as he may be prone to over-helping in the paint, and sometimes he can be late on his rotations, which can lead him to allow opponents to score on jumpers.  Other times, he may struggle to stay with his man on drives, which can cause him to commit fouls and allow scores.  In general, Jarrett Culver put forth a solid performance in his team’s win over USC.  He excelled as a shooter and scorer on offense, and he also did a good job of rebounding and defending when he was on the floor.  He is a skilled basketball player that can help his team in many different ways, and he could be a likely mid first round pick in 2019.

USC’s 6-5 freshman guard, Kevin Porter had an up and down game as he played fairly well early on, and then struggled considerably in the second half in his team’s loss to Texas Tech.  Porter did a decent job of scoring on aggressive drives to the hoop on fast breaks.  When he was able to score the basketball off the dribble, he showed good balance, and strength, and body control as he can finish plays in traffic, and he also can get extra free throws for his team afterwards.  But sometimes, he would miss shots around the basket due to rushing, as he can play too wildly on occasion.

However, he struggled to knock down jumpers in this game.  He can make spot-up threes off the catch, but he tended to have trouble in trying to score on pull-up jumpers, as he often would miss when he would attempt to shoot jumpers off the dribble.  Every once in a while, he would take contested, off-balanced shots, as his shot selection was suspect at times in this game.  Also, he displayed decent playmaking skills when he was on the floor.  Porter is an unselfish player that will swing the ball to open shooters to set up scores for his teammates, and he also can drop it off to a teammate when driving to the hoop.  He also handles the ball fairly well, and he can use quick crossovers when the basketball is in his hands.  However, sometimes Porter may have some trouble protecting the ball, as he can get it knocked away by defenders, as it happened on a couple of occasions where he almost committed turnovers.  Also, he can be prone to throwing loopy passes in traffic, as he had a couple of them get intercepted by the opposition.

He also did an decent job of rebounding the basketball.  Porter would tend to catch rebounds off of his teammate’s tap outs and saves, and he also once brought the ball up off of a defensive board.  However, he was also called for committing an over the back foul once when going for an offensive rebound on one possession.  Defensively, he looked to be fairly average.  While Porter is a solid help defender that can get steals and blocks, he also will need to improve his position, as he can be unfocused when guarding his man.  Porter did a very good job of helping his team get steals, as he excelled at jumping passes, and he also ran in to poke a ball away to force another turnover.  Porter also recovered after biting on a pump fake to swat a pull-up mid-range jump shot due to possessing solid footwork, agility, and timing.

On the downside, he can tend to sag too far in the paint, as he was prone to giving up too much space to his man, which allowed opponents to score on three-point shots.  He also would get beat by opponent’s dribble moves, as he doesn’t always move his feet well laterally or give much effort on the defensive end.  He also can be prone to ball watching, as he lost track of his man on a cut to give up a score around the basket.

In summary, Kevin Porter did not have a great game, but he did have some good moments at times against Texas Tech, but he really struggled in crunch time with the game on the line, and his effort on the defensive end looked to be lackluster at times.  Still, he is an athletic swingman that can put the ball in the hoop, and he could project into being a good player in the NBA if he can put his skills all together.  Right now, he may project to go in the mid to late first round range for the upcoming draft.

USC’s 6-10 senior forward, Bennie Boatwright also had some good moments as he played well in the first half, but late in the contest he struggled to make shots, and he also did not play very good defense against Texas Tech.  He showed an adequate ability to knock down jumpers to space the floor for his team.  Boatwright was adept at making spot-up threes off the catch, and he also made one off of a pick and pop play.  He also can use dribble moves to create separation between himself and his man, as he did so a couple of times to score on pull-up jumpers just inside the arc, and he once made a fadeaway pull-up, mid-range shot from the baseline.  However, he struggled more to score on mid-range shots in this game.

He also can score on hustle plays, and on one play, Boatwright managed to score off of a tip-in after leaping up to get an offensive board.  He also showed a decent ability to get scores on drives to the hoop.  Boatwright used a quick hesitation move to drive baseline, and he was able to score on a running hook, but another time after using a quick crossover to go left, Boatwright ended up airballing a floater.  His playmaking skills looked to be about average.  While Boatwright did not look to pass often, he was able to hit the cutter once as he can throw crisp interior passes, and he also can kick the ball out to shooters off the dribble.  He did commit one turnover, as he threw a hasty interior pass that ended up getting intercepted.

However, he will need to improve his rebounding.  He had trouble getting boards early on, and sometimes he would forget to block out nor leap high enough to get boards, and he didn’t seem to show great rebounding instincts in the first half, but in the second half, he showed a better motor, as he would run in to get boards to help his team on the glass.  He also struggled defensively in this contest.  For the positives, Boatwright played adequate help defense, and he can help his team force turnovers.  He was able to tip an opponent’s pass to a teammate to get a steal, and he also rotated on a drive to poke a ball away to almost get another.  Also, he was able to contest a shot in the post to force a miss, but he also tended to be too undisciplined defensively.

Boatwright tended to bite on pump fakes, which would often cause him to be out of position, and he would commit fouls and allow scores.  He often showed poor timing, and did not show great instincts whenever he would try to block a shot.  He also struggled to move his feet on some plays, as he would get beat on moves, which would prompt him to commit fouls.  Overall, Bennie Boatwright started off playing pretty well. He is a skilled big man that can shoot the basketball, and he has above average athletic gifts.  However, he did not fare nearly as well in the other facets of the game, and he also struggled to make shots late in this contest.  He did not show great instincts defensively, and sometimes it seemed as if he wasn’t giving his best effort, as he seemed sluggish in his movements on the defensive end.  He didn’t seem to possess great rebounding or defensive instincts, and he made too many mental mistakes on defense against Texas Tech.  Right now, he looks to be a borderline second round candidate, but he will need to improve in the finer points of the game in order to improve his odds to succeed in the NBA.

Other Notes:

Texas Tech’s 6-10 senior center, Tariq Owens had a strong showing, as he is an athletic, energetic big man that showed off versatile scoring skills, and he also played solid interior defense to help get his team the victory over USC.  Owens did a great job of scoring on hustle plays.  He showed a knack for catching lobs to get scores around the basket, and he can finish numerous plays above the rim.  On one very solid play, Owens was able to score on a thunderous alley-oop dunk after getting a lob pass from Culver.  Owens also had a penchant for scoring on authoritative, two-handed dunks off of cuts, and he also was able to score on a roll to the rim.  Owens runs the floor well, and he has very good hands to catch long passes thrown to him.  Plus, he also shot the ball well, and he was able to make an open spot-up three off the catch to show his floor-spacing abilities.  However, he had trouble scoring in the post, as he had trouble connecting on jump hooks when looking to operate on the block.

He also played solid defense.  Owens did a very good job of rotating to block shots off of drives, and he also managed to deflect a pass out of bounds.  Owens excelled at contesting shots inside the arc, as he has good length and footwork to stay with his man to contest jumpers, but sometimes, he may be prone to gambling for steals, which can cause him to get beat off the dribble, as that can lead his team to allow scores around the basket.  Other times, he may not have his feet fully set when attempting to take a charge.  On a separate play while rotating on a drive to cover for a teammate that got beat on a drive, he attempted to take a charge, but was called for committing a blocking foul, which led his team to give up a score and an extra free throw.

On the downside, he did not grab many rebounds in this game, but he did manage to leap up to get a couple of offensive boards.  But there was one time where he dropped a ball out of bounds when fighting for a loose ball with an opponent.  Another time, he got backed down pretty far when defending in the post, and ended up allowing a put back score.  In summary, Tariq Owens is an athletic, skilled big man that has a very good motor, which allows him to make energetic plays on both ends of the floor, and he also can shoot the basketball, as he has floor spacing capabilities.  He is an intriguing prospect in which although he’s put up fairly pedestrian numbers on the season, his skill set could enable him to potentially make an NBA team’s roster one day.

Texas Tech’s 6-3 senior point guard Matt Mooney played very well in this game, as he showed great poise, and excelled as a shooter, scorer, and facilitator to help get his team the victory on this day.  Though he may only be an average athlete at best, he possesses a very good basketball IQ, and his ability to make plays was able to help Texas Tech on offense time and time again.

Mooney showed a fairly good ability to get scores off the dribble.  He is a crafty player that has a good assortment of dribble moves, and he can maneuver his way in the paint to garner scores.  He can use pivots and ball fakes to create separation between himself and his man, and he was able to score on a wide array of moves around the basket.  Mooney was able to score on a step-through move, as well as on a fadeaway jumper.  He did miss on a couple of floaters, but Mooney’s solid footwork and scoring touch around the basket enabled him to do a good job of scoring on drives to the hoop.

He also did a good job of knocking down jumpers to help his team on offense.  Mooney made both of his spot-up threes off the catch, as he would take advantage whenever opponents would give him the space to shoot the basketball.  He did miss on a couple of pull-up, mid-range jumpers, but Mooney was very effective in taking and making outside shots in this contest.  He also managed to get a score off of a cut, but he missed another time after he waited too long before taking the shot in traffic.

Plus, he also displayed good playmaking skills.  Mooney is a patient player that sees the floor well, and he can weave around past defenders in traffic to get the ball to his teammates.  He throws solid interior passes, and he also can split a double team due to possessing deft ball handling skills and better than advertised agility.  He is a very smart game manager that showed a knack for making solid plays when he was on the floor.  His lone turnover though was when he threw a bad interior pass to a cutter in traffic that ended up getting intercepted.  Mooney also did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He boxed out to leap up to get one defensive board, and he would also leap up to get others.  Plus, he also was able to grab a tough defensive board in traffic once as well.

He also showed decent defensive skills.  He is an active help defender that does an excellent job of playing passing lanes, as he can often jump passes to get steals for his team.  On one occasion, he was fronting a taller player when defending in the post, and he leapt up to intercept an entry pass to obtain a steal.  He also poked a ball away from an opponent to almost force another turnover, and he also was able to contest a three to force a miss another time.  However, Mooney only possesses average size for the point guard position, and he had some trouble contesting outside shots, as opponents could shoot over the top of him to score on jumpers.  Other times, he would get beat on moves as he may struggle to defend drives or cuts on occasion, which would lead his team to allow scores on those junctures.

Overall, Matt Mooney had a very good game, and he is a cerebral playmaker that can help his team in a variety of ways, especially on the offensive end.  He is a crafty player that can make an assortment of shots, and he also tends to make sound decisions when the ball is in his hands.  Right now, he may be a borderline second round candidate, but his skill set could allow him to compete for a backup point guard spot at the NBA level, as he may have the smarts and skills to make an NBA team’s roster in the association.