Assessing V.J. Beachem, Caleb Swanigan, Bonzie Colson, and Others

December 23, 2016

By Alan Lu

I decided to take the time to watch a recently played college basketball game that featured a handful of draft prospects via WatchESPN.  On December 17th, Notre Dame and Purdue squared off against each other, as Notre Dame’s forwards V.J. Beachem and Bonzie Colson played against Purdue’s sophomore center Caleb Swanigan.  Here is how they fared on that day, and here are my observations as the other players that caught my eye.

Notre Dame’s 6-8 senior forward, V.J. Beachem put forth an uneven showing, as he had his highs and lows in an 86-81 loss to Purdue.  He started strong in the first half, as he showed off versatile scoring skills early on.  But later, he had some trouble with turnovers, and he tended to be too passive on offense as the game wore on.

Beachem did a very good job of knocking down threes off the catch.  He has great size to shoot over most defenders, and he can easily make outside shots when he is given the space to shoot them on the floor.  He excelled as a spot up shooter, as he can make threes off of kick outs, but he did not get the same open looks in the second half.  He struggled to consistently score on drives to the basket, but he did a good job of scoring off the dribble in the first half.  Beachem was able to make a left-handed runner, and towards the end of the first half, he drove in from the baseline as he really elevated to score on a thunderous dunk.

But Beachem struggled to score off the dribble in the second half, especially when he was pressured.  He once committed a traveling violation when attempting a fadeaway jumper off the dribble, as he may not be an elite ball handler.  He generally had trouble getting past his man consistently, as he would throw up misses in traffic.  He generally showed below average playmaking skills.  For the positives, Beachem was able to throw an accurate entry pass to a teammate to set up a score, and he will also set screens for his teammates on offense.

However, sometimes he may not always be the most focused player on offense.  On one play, a ball went through his hands when he tried to catch a ball out on the perimeter, which lead to a turnover.  Beachem also picked up a loose ball, but his foot ended up in the backcourt, which led to an over and back violation.  On top of that, he didn’t really work to get open in the second half.  In this game, he showed a decent ability to rebound the basketball.  Beachem was active at crashing the defensive glass, and he was able to haul in his fair share of boards on that end of the floor.

However, he appeared to do a below average job defensively, as he had some lapses on this side of the ball.  For the positives, Beachem jumped a pass to quickly deflect a ball out of bounds once to show his instincts when he is engaged defensively.  Also, he was able to contest a jumper to force a miss.

He can also struggle to defend when the other team is out in transition.  Sometimes, he may not always run back on defense, or he may run away from the opposing driver rather than choosing to stay in to contest the shot, which can lead to other teams to score on fast breaks.  Also, he can occasionally be late to rotate on shooters to allow opponents to score on jumpers.

Right now, V.J. Beachem looks to be a second round prospect for the upcoming draft.  He is a very good shooter that may have a decent ability to score off the dribble, and he has the size and athleticism to excel at the NBA level.  But he will need to improve his playmaking and defensive skills.  If things break his way, Beachem could end up being a solid role player in the association.

Purdue’s 6-9 sophomore big man, Caleb Swanigan had a terrific game as he led his team to a narrow victory over Notre Dame.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, as he showed range and solid low post scoring skills.  Plus, not only did he also rebound well, but he also did an unusually great job of blocking shots to help his team on defense.

Swanigan showed off very good low post scoring skills.  He is a powerful inside scorer that can obtain deep position as he will back his man far into the paint, and he can score on a series of drop steps and jump hooks.  Plus, he also has a very good shooting touch, as he can also score on a fadeaway jumper.  But he may not always get much lift on his shot, as he can struggle to finish in traffic at times.

He also excelled as a scorer on the move against Notre Dame.  Swanigan showed off good mobility and athleticism, as he was able to throw down emphatic dunks on rolls to the rim as well as in transition.  Plus, he also was able to sneak past a defender to score on a backdoor cut, as he also drew an extra free throw on the play.

Also, he showed off a fairly good ability to knock down jumpers.  Swanigan was able to make an open three off the catch as he made himself open by fading back to the top of the key to get the basketball.  He didn’t consistently make mid-range shots, but he did make one against Notre Dame.

But he may only have showed average playmaking skills at best.  For the positives, Swanigan would set good screens for his teammates, as he would free up shooters to help set up scores every once in a while.  He also showed a willingness to pass from the post to shooters, as he would then get the ball back on a re-post.  He also showed a tendency to commit careless turnovers on occasion.

Plus, he also showed a good ability to rebound the basketball.  Swanigan generally was quite active in collecting defensive boards, and he would also tip a ball to a teammate to help his team garner more of them.  At times, he would be out of position which would lead him to commit an over the back foul or to allow put back scores on occasion.

Swanigan also showed off good defensive skills.  He did an unusually great job of blocking shots in this game, as he would show off nice length, quickness, and timing to do so.  He would generally leap up to block shots ferociously to prevent opponents from scoring on drives, and he also made a nice late game block on a three-point shot.  Plus, he also showed a very good ability to defend the post.  Swanigan is very strong, and he does not give up much ground, as he would generally force misses down low.  But sometimes, he can get beat on drop step moves to allow scores.

He showed a decent ability to defend drives.  Swanigan’s shot blocking prowess against Notre Dame, as well as his length and timing generally made it difficult for Notre Dame to consistently score on him, especially late in the game.  But sometimes, he would get beat off the dribble to allow scores, as he would at times struggle to move his feet to ably contest the shot at times.  He also showed a decent ability to contest jumpers, as he would force misses when he would play up on the shooters to put himself in position to challenge those shots.  But sometimes, he would lose his focus to allow his man to score around the basket.

In general, Caleb Swanigan played very well to lead his team to a win over Notre Dame.  He generally had a solid all-around performance, and he has a wide array of skills that could potentially enable him to be a first round pick in 2017.

Notre Dame’s 6-5 junior forward Bonzie Colson also had a strong performance in a loss to Purdue.  He generally excelled as an inside scorer and rebounder on the floor, but he also showed off some defensive skills in this game.  Colson showed off decent low post scoring skills, and on the block was where he collected the bulk of his scores.  He would often use strong moves to the hoop, and he would generally score on strong drop step moves, as well as on a jump hook, and on a step through move.  But sometimes, Colson would over-rely on using raw power, as his lack of array of moves also caused him to miss in traffic at times.

He also excelled at scoring on the move.  Colson would throw down dunks on fast breaks as well as off put backs, as he will use off-ball movement to garner scores around the basket.  Plus, he will use his offensive rebounding skills to get second chance points for his team, and he can also score on cuts to the basket.

He also showed a decent ability to score off the dribble as well as to make mid-range jumpers.  Colson showed the ability to drive in from the high post to score in the paint, and he also made a mid-range jumper in this game.  But Colson did not make any threes, as he had trouble making outside shots against Purdue.

But he may need to improve his playmaking skills.  For the positives, Colson was able to throw an outlet pass in transition to set up a score for his team.  But he generally tended to be inaccurate in throwing passes to his teammates.  Also, he was called for a clear out foul in the post, and he also got stripped on a high post drive another time, as these were generally due to having lapses on offense.

Colson also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was quite active on the glass on both ends of the floor, and he also came away with many defensive boards.  He also showed the ability to box out bigger players, though on one possession he did commit a loose ball foul when going after a defensive rebound.

He also showed off adequate defensive skills.  Colson showed a solid ability to collect blocks and steals, as he would swat shots in the paint by using his length, leaping ability, and timing, and he would get hands on passes and find loose balls to obtain steals.  Plus, he also did a decent job of contesting shots to force misses, though sometimes he would give up too much space to allow scores.  However, Colson struggled to defend in the post, as he was matched up against the much bigger Caleb Swanigan.  He tended to be caught out of position generally after trying to front the post, as he would allow a high catch, and for his man to quickly score around the basket.

On another play, he was caught ball watching, as he lost track of a cutter due to a lack of focus on that instance, as he ended up committing a foul to allow a score and an extra free throw.  In general, Bonzie Colson played very well, as he had a double-double in his team’s loss to Purdue.  But in terms of how his skills may translate to the NBA, it may not be certain if they will for sure.  Colson is a very strong, physical player for someone his size, but he plays the game like an undersized power forward.

At the next level, he will face upper echelon athletes and more sophisticated defenses, and he will surely need to be able to improve his jump shot and perimeter skills.  Right now, he may be a second round draft prospect, and he could end up being a useful role player in the association if he works to improve upon his weaknesses.

Purdue’s 6-8 forward Vince Edwards also had a very good showing, as he came off the bench to have a solid all-around game to help his team to defeat Notre Dame.  Edwards generally shot the ball well, as he excelled at knocking down threes from beyond the arc.  He was able to make a spot-up three from NBA distance, and he also made a pull-up three after running off of a screen.

He also showed an adequate ability to score off the dribble.  Edwards was able to drive in from the high post once to score on a turnaround fadeaway jumper.  On another play, he also drew free throws on a quick baseline drive.  He does not have an elite first step to the hoop, but he possesses the body control and shooting touch to make shots off of those types of plays.  Also, Edwards was quite active as a finisher around the hoop, as he often would score on put backs.  He did a great job of crashing the offensive glass, and on one play, he even scored a put back on a reverse layup.

But he struggled to consistently get his shots up in the post.  Edwards did score once on a jump hook, but he tended to move his pivot foot to travel when attempting the post, as he did so on two other occasions.  Generally, Edwards showcased solid playmaking skills.  He showed good patience and court vision, as he would find open shooters, and sometimes he would do so off the dribble.  He tended to make sound decisions on offense, but he did struggle with some turnovers when he would attempt to post up.

In this game, Edwards did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was quite active on the glass, and he really excelled at collecting offensive rebounds, as he would get numerous scores on second chance points.  In addition, he also generally defended well.  Edwards showed off a good ability to get blocks and steals against Notre Dame, as he was able to position himself to block a shot on a drive to a teammate, and he also jumped an entry pass to collect a steal.  But there was one play where he lost track of his man to allow a score on a cut to the hoop.

In summary, Vince Edwards played very well for Purdue, and his impact was noticeable, as he generally made solid plays one after another to help his team on both ends of the floor.  He looks to have a good set of all-around skills, and he could potentially end up being a first round pick in 2017.

Other Notes:

On the other hand, it was not a very good game for Purdue’s 7-1 junior center Isaac Haas.  He often looked to score from the post, and he did have a couple of makes, including a nifty drop step move to score on an emphatic dunk.  But Haas tended to miss on jump hooks, and he would occasionally set up too far away from the basket.  He also was called for traveling a couple of times when attempting to score in the post.  Plus, Haas was called for a couple of fouls defensively, as he would have some trouble moving his feet.

He did not play much in the second half however, and Purdue ended up going on big runs without him to come from behind to win.  In the future, Haas will need to be a more consistent scorer in the low post, and he will need to improve his mobility in order to keep up when the pace gets faster.   Right now, he may be a borderline second round pick for the upcoming draft.

Well, that is all for now.  The Purdue-Notre Dame game was a fascinating one to watch, as the pace started out pretty fast, and mostly stayed that way for much of the contest, except for some moments in the second half.  Both teams excelled at making long-range jumpers, as well as shots in the post.

The best prospects from these teams may end up being role players in the NBA, but even so, it was fun to watch them compete, as these two teams could end up going far in the NCAA Tournament.