Evaluating Admiral Schofield, Grant Williams, and Rui Hachimura

December 12, 2018

by Alan Lu

Recently, I took the time to watch Tennessee take on Gonzaga in an early season college basketball game, as the two teams squared off in the Air Force Reserve Jerry Colangelo Classic.  It was a hard fought match in which Tennessee pulled off the upset win over then number one seeded Gonzaga, and it was largely due to the strong play of 6-5 senior guard Admiral Schofield, and 6-7 junior big man Grant Williams.  Schofield shot the ball really well and made a clutch three to get his team the go-ahead basket and victory.  Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared on this day, as well as how their skills may translate to the NBA.

Tennessee’s 6-5 senior guard, Admiral Schofield had a very good showing as he really excelled as a shooter and scorer to help lift his team to a narrow victory over Gonzaga.  It was clear from the get go, that the opposing team really couldn’t guard him, nor were they strategically prepared to defend him.  Schofield did a great job of knocking down jumpers to space the floor for his team.  He has a lot of range on his shot, and he will take advantage whenever opponents give him the space to shoot by making a plethora of jump shots.  Schofield can make threes off the catch, dribble, and he can run off screens to do so.  He made a bank pull-up three late in the game, as well as an open three off of a pick and pop play to put his team over the top for good, and both outside shots that he drained were from NBA range.   Plus, he also did a good job of making mid-range jumpers.

He also showed a very good ability to score in the post.  Schofield has tremendous strength, especially for a player his size, and he was able to get deep position both times to score when he would look to do so from the block.  He was able to bully Norvell to score on a strong jump hook early on, and Schofield excelled at outmuscled opponents down low to score around the basket.  In addition, he exhibited a fairly average ability to score on drives to the basket.  Schofield used a jab step to drive hard to the rim once, and he was able to draw a non-shooting foul that time.  But on another occasion after driving from the high post, he ended up missing due to rushing his move to the hoop.

He also was able to dribble in from the high post to score on a jump hook after grabbing an offensive rebound once.  However, Schofield tended to miss put backs after grabbing offensive rebounds, as he would not always look to finish plays under control, which can lead him to missing shots around the basket in traffic.  Also, he displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  Schofield tended to look to score quite often, but he was able to show that he can find the open man to set up scoring chances for his teammates, and he also managed to throw a quick entry pass to notch an assist.  However, sometimes he can struggle to protect the basketball, as he can be prone to losing the ball off the dribble or to getting it poked away to commit the occasional turnover.

Schofield also did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He would often leap up to get boards on both ends of the floor, and he can get up really high to come down with some of them.  He particularly excelled at crashing the glass to get offensive boards.  However, there was one play where he leaked out too early, as his team did not block out an opponent, and that resulted an opponent scoring on a put back jam.

Plus, he also played decent defense.  Schofield is an active, aggressive defender that can help his team get steals, as he was able to dive on the ground to jump on a loose ball once, and he also poked a ball to a teammate to help his team force another turnover.  Schofield also is a smart position defender, as he was able to successfully draw a charge when defending a high post drive.  Later in this contest, he was able to stay with the opposing ball handler and then contested the shot to force an opponent to miss on a pull-up three.  However, he can struggle to guard quicker players off the dribble, as he may lack elite lateral quickness.  Sometimes, he may get beat off the dribble, which can cause him to commit fouls and allow scores.

In general, Admiral Schofield put forth a very good performance to help lift his team to a win over Gonzaga.  He played well in virtually all facets of the game, and he also is a vocal leader that made clutch plays down the stretch.  Schofield is a smart, skilled player that shoots the ball well, and he has a knack for making sound plays on both ends of the floor.   Though he may not possess elite foot speed, Schofield’s skill set and basketball IQ could allow him to thrive at the next level, and he could be a good value pick for a team in the late first to the early second round range of the upcoming draft.

Tennessee’s 6-7 junior forward, Grant Williams played fairly well in his team’s win over Gonzaga.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, he passed and rebounded the ball well, and he also was able to make some solid defensive plays in this game.  Williams shot the ball well, as he can stretch the floor due to his floor-spacing capabilities.  He was able to knock down open three, and he also showed a knack for scoring on quick, turnaround mid-range jumpers.  Sometimes he would miss shots due to rushing, but generally he was able to take advantage of opponents that would give him too much space to shoot the basketball.

He also showed off adequate low post scoring skills.  He was able to score off of a strong drop step move off the glass after turning in to do so, and Williams also managed to score on a turnaround jump hook while getting an extra free throw.  He can score on jump hooks using either hand, but sometimes he may miss on turnaround jumpers as he can set up too far away on occasion when looking to post up.  He also attempted to score on a put back, but had his shot blocked that time.

Williams also displayed solid playmaking skills.  He is an unselfish, patient player that sees the floor well due to possessing very good court vision.  Williams can pass out of double teams to find the open man, and he also throws solid interior passes to rack up assists in games.  He can kick it out to shooters off the dribble or pass from the post, and he also can handle the basketball.  However, his lone turnover was when he was called for setting a moving screen on offense.  He also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  Williams would frequently leap up to haul in boards on both ends of the floor.  On one play, he also managed to box out an opponent to establish the inside position, and he was able to draw a foul when going up for a defensive board.

Defensively, he looked to be fairly average.  For the positives, Williams was active as a help defender, and he also did a good job of drawing charges to prevent opponents from scoring on drives to the hoop.  He was able to rotate to make an impressive block on a dunk attempt, and Williams also poked a ball off of an opponent when defending a baseline drive to help his team get a steal.  He also will rotate to contest shots on drives, as he can use his length and timing to force some misses.

However, he does not possess elite lateral quickness, and he can get beat on moves to the hoop, particularly off the dribble, which would cause his team to commit fouls and allow scores.  He also tended to sag too far off his man to allow opponents to score on jumpers.  He also didn’t show much resistance when defending in the post once to allow his man to score inside.  Later on, he committed a foul when defending turnaround, fadeaway jumper in the post.

In summary, Grant Williams had a good showing, as he helped his team in many different ways to get them the win over Gonzaga.  There’s no doubt that he is a very good player at the collegiate level.  However, how well his game may translate to the NBA may be unclear.  Though he is a good passer and can knock down a three, Williams is an undersized big man that does not possess elite mobility, and he tended to struggle to guard quicker players.  On the other hand, he is a smart, skilled player that generally would make the right basketball play.  Right now, he may be a second round prospect for the upcoming draft.  He will need to continue to expand his game on offense and improve his position defense, but Williams could potentially end up thriving as a role player in the NBA in the mold of a DeMarre Carroll type.

For Gonzaga’s 6-8 junior forward Rui Hachimura, had some good moments, but overall he did not play too well.  Though he still was able to score the basketball, his inability to pass or defend in this game against Tennessee really hindered him.  He still showed off a variety of scoring skills and helped grab some rebounds, but he struggled with turnovers, and did not play very good defense in his team’s loss to Tennessee.

Hachimura did a pretty good job of scoring in the post.  He would get deep position on the block, and he would outmuscle his opponents to score around the basket.  He did miss one shot awkwardly though, but that was because he rushed the shot, causing it to miss on the lower part of the backboard.  He also showed an adequate ability to score on aggressive drives to the hoop.  Hachimura has a fairly good first step to the hoop, and he showed a knack for getting to the free throw line, as he can use either hand to get past his man.  However, he did have a shot blocked once off of a quick drive as an opponent made a good play at the rim.

Also, Hachimura showed a decent ability to knock down jumpers to space the floor for his team.  He did a pretty good job of knocking down pull-up mid-range jumpers, and he has a nice ball fake that he can use to get a defender in the air.  Also, he was able to make a quick mid-range shot off of a pick and pop play.  Hachimura also made an open spot-up three, but didn’t look to take threes often, and missed a couple of them down the stretch.  He also was able to score on an emphatic dunk on the break after running the floor to get the basketball.  However, Hachimura sometimes struggled to finish plays inside the paint, as he would tend to get his shots blocked around the basket.

However, Hachimura was quite turnover prone in this game.  He tended to be inaccurate on his passes, and he also struggled to protect the basketball when looking to create plays off the dribble.  Hachimura doesn’t seem to have great court vision, and even had to stop to find the open man down court even when his teammate appeared to be obviously open on a fast break.  He also was called for traveling once when spinning off of a drive.  For the positives, he did threw several good interior passes, and he was able to throw an accurate lob pass to set up an alley-oop dunk for a teammate.

He also showed an adequate ability to rebound the basketball.  Hachimura would tend to leap up to get defensive rebounds, and he would usually push the ball up the floor afterwards.  But sometimes he would not block out his man, as he would allow opponents to grab offensive rebounds.  Late in the game, he committed an over the back foul when going for a defensive board.  Also, he did not play very good defense in this game.  For the positives, Hachimura was able to deflect a couple of passes to almost get steals.  He also was able to contest a shot in the high post and a mid-range jumper to force some misses.

However, Hachimura tended to sag too far off his man, and Gonzaga in general tended to do this far too often, even when Schofield was making every jumper in sight in the second half.  Hachimura would give his man way too much space, as he would tend to allow opponents to score on threes and mid-range jumpers.  He also would commit fouls when defending in the post, as he would sometimes struggle to move his feet.

Overall, this was not one of Rui Hachimura’s better games, as he really struggled with his passing and ball handling abilities, and he did not guard shooters very well. On the other hand, he is an athletic, skilled combo forward that can put the ball in the hoop.   He did not play too well against Tennessee, but he could still end up going in the mid to late first round range, as his scoring ability could help an NBA team in a complementary role in the association.

Gonzaga’s 6-8 junior forward, Brandon Clarke played fairly well in his team’s loss to Tennessee.  Though he didn’t really look to take jumpers or handle the ball too often, Clarke made high-energy plays on both ends of the floor, and he is an excellent roamer that can get highlight reel-worthy blocks and steals on the defensive end of the court.  Clarke did a very good job of scoring on hustle plays.  He would tend to score on put backs off of offensive rebounds to help get his team second chance points.  On one play, he scored on a tip-in while getting an extra free throw, and on another he was able to use a spin move to score on a put back dunk.  Plus, Clarke managed to catch a lob pass after finding himself open around the basket to score on an alley-oop dunk.  In addition, he showed a knack for drawing free throws after running the floor to get open for transition scoring opportunities.

Also, Clarke excelled as a scorer in the post.  He can score on turnaround, fadeaway jumpers, and he also managed to get a score off the glass another time.  However, he also missed on a contested jump hook, and sometimes he may not get deep enough position when setting up on the block.  Plus, he did an adequate job of scoring off the dribble.  Clarke was able to drive to his left to score on a nifty, acrobatic, reverse layup.  He did miss a floater another time, but he showed good speed, ball handling, and body control when he scored on the reverse layup. 

In addition, he was able to use a pivot move to score on a baseline mid-range jumper.  He missed on a pull-up jumper inside the arc, but Clarke can knock down a mid-range shot every once in a while.  He did not look to take any threes in this game, though.  Clarke also showed off fairly average playmaking skills.  Though he looked to score quite often, he was able to pass out to a shooter after grabbing an offensive rebound in the paint to notch an assist.  However, early in the game, he was up court, and caught an under-thrown inbounds pass from Hachimura that landed him to cross the mid-court line into the backcourt, which led to his team to commit an over and back violation.

He also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  Clarke showed a terrific ability to grab offensive rebounds, and he would often make opponents pay for letting him haul those in by scoring off of put backs afterwards.  But early in the game, he was unable to properly box out his man due to his opponent being a stronger player, and it caused Clarke to allow his opponent to grab an offensive rebound.  Later on, Clarke was called for committing an over the back foul when going for an offensive board.

Also, Clarke played adequate defense.  He did a very good job of blocking shots to help his team protect the paint, and he was able to run in from the blindside to swat a shot to prevent an opponent from scoring on a fast break dunk.  Another time, Clarke was able to swat a put back attempt to a teammate to force a miss.  He did a good job of contesting shots off of put backs to force misses, and Clarke will also play passing lanes, rip balls away, and chase down loose balls to help his team get steals.

However, he had trouble defending opponents in the post.  Clarke would gamble too much for steals, and he would tend to miss while fronting his man, which would cause him to be out of position, leading his team to commit fouls and allow scores.  He also tended to commit reach-in fouls, and he also would let his opponents get deep position on the block.  While he would look to contest jumpers, he would also give his man too much space at times, which would cause him to allow opponents to occasionally score on jump shots.

Overall, Brandon Clarke probably had the best game among all of the Gonzaga prospects that played in this game, and he is an athletic, high-motor combination forward that may project to be a defensive specialist in the NBA.  Right now, he may project to go in the late first to the second round range on draft day.  He will need to improve his jump shot, but his ability to make plays defensively could allow him to find a niche role as an Andre Roberson type of player in the league.

Gonzaga’s 6-5 sophomore guard, Zach Norvell Jr. struggled in his team’s loss to Tennessee.  He was pretty much a non-factor in the first half and while he played better in the second half, he had trouble guarding players all game long.  Norvell showed an adequate ability to get scores off the dribble.  Norvell was able to drive right off of a screen to score quickly off the glass, and he also drove hard to his left to get another strong score due to possessing good speed, strength, and body control.  He did use a nice stutter step another time, but ended up missing on a pull-up mid-range jumper.   Also, he was able to get a scoring opportunity on a fast break drive, but he ended up missing a dunk that time.

He also did a decent job of knocking down threes in this game.  Norvell was able to use a jab step to make a corner three, and he also used ball fakes to knock down two other threes.  He has considerable range on his shot, as he was able to make his second three from pretty far out.  However, he did miss on a couple of open threes, and he also missed on a couple of contested, deep three-point shots as his shot selection wasn’t always great in this contest.  Norvell was too streaky at times, and while he showed he can make threes, he wasn’t able to reliably knock those down in this particular game against Tennessee.

Also, he displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  Norvell looked to score quite often, but he can use a pump fake move to kick the ball out to a shooter.  However, he dribbled off of his own foot to commit a turnover.  Another time, he dribbled too fast off of a screen, as he didn’t allow his teammate to properly set a pick, which resulted in his teammate being called for setting a moving screen.  Norvell didn’t grab many boards in this game, but he was able to push the ball up the floor after leaping up to get one defensive rebound.

However, he just did not play very good defense overall in this game.  For the positives, Norvell was able to run in from the weak side to pick up a loose ball that an opposing ball handler dropped to get a steal early on.  Also, he was able to get into an opponent’s feet when guarding his man on a mid-range shot once to force a miss.  On the other hand, Norvell tended to sag too far his man way too often, which would cause him to allow opponents to score on jumpers.  Sometimes, he would be caught napping, another time, he picked up the wrong man rather then choosing to follow his opponent out to the three-point line, leading to his team to give up a three-point basket.  He also got outmuscled when defending Schofield in the post early on to allow a score around the basket, and he also would commit touch fouls on other occasions.

In summary, Zach Norvell did not have a great game, as he was inefficient in scoring the basketball, did not look to pass very often, and he had too many defensive lapses as he and his entire team just couple not stop Schofield or most of the other three-point shooters in this game.  He will need to improve his position defense, but right now, he may be a solid second round prospect due to his ability to shoot and score the basketball.