Evaluating Jarrett Culver, Brandon Clarke, and Rui Hachimura

March 31, 2019

by Alan Lu

Recently, I took the opportunity to watch Jarrett Culver and Texas Tech play against Gonzaga in an Elite Eight basketball game.  Though both teams struggled to make jump shots and with turnovers at times, it was a competitive contest that went down to the wire, but Texas Tech was able to edge out Gonzaga due to receiving clutch performances from Culver and other role players on his team.  Here are my thoughts on how he fared, as well as how other various players may rate currently as prospects for the NBA.

Texas Tech’s 6-5 sophomore guard, Jarrett Culver did not have a great game as he struggled to consistently knock down shots and was turnover prone, but he was able to show a decent ability to score off the dribble and draw free throws on strong drives to the hoop, and he also was able to score on hustle plays.  Culver managed to score on a put back off of his own miss, and he also drew free throws off of a strong dunk attempt while getting the ball on a cut to the hoop.

But while Culver was able to knock down a couple of pull-up jumpers, and on one play, he used a step back move to make a pull-up three, he tended to miss his jump shots throughout the basketball game.  He did make an open three in transition, but Culver generally struggled to score on jump shots, and sometimes he would struggle to score in traffic when he wouldn’t get foul calls.  On the plus side, he did a very good job of making his free throws when he was at the foul line.

Culver also displayed decent playmaking skills.  He was able to throw some solid interior passes to set up scoring chances for his teammates, and he also can kick balls out to shooters, as he is a good passer when he plays under control.  However, he also was inaccurate on some of his passes, as one sailed out of bounds, and he had another that was intercepted.  He also played too fast and out of control at times, as he ended up colliding into an opponent to commit a charging foul off of a drive to the basket.

He also showed an adequate ability to rebound the basketball, and Culver was able to get multiple boards on both ends of the floor.  He also played good defense.  Culver was able to poke balls away and jump on loose balls to get steals, and he also would move his feet to defend opponents off the dribble, as he would contest shots to force misses, and he also forced an opponent to travel another time.  But there was one play where he was unable to ably contest a taller player’s shot, which led him to allow his man to score on a mid-range jumper once.  He also ended up committing a foul on a high post drive another time.

Overall, Jarrett Culver had his highs and lows in this game against Gonzaga, and while he did not shoot the ball well overall, he made enough plays and shots down the stretch to help his team get the victory.  He has been struggling with his jump shot recently, but Culver is an athletic, skilled swingman that can really get to the basket, he generally defends well, and he can make jumpers in volume when he’s knocking down outside shots.  Right now, he may end up being a lottery pick in the upcoming draft, and if he can get his jump shot to where it was before, he could end up being a solid player in the NBA.

Gonzaga’s 6-8 junior forward, Brandon Clarke had a fairly good showing in his team’s loss to Texas Tech.  He excelled at getting scores in the paint, and he also rebounded and defended well.  He did commit a handful of turnovers on offense, but aside from that, he was able to make an impact on both ends of the floor against Texas Tech.  He did a good job of getting scores in the post as well as off of drives to the basket, and he would take advantage of getting open looks around the hoop to garner scores.  Clarke also is a very good finisher at the rim, and he was able to score on a thunderous dunk once.  But sometimes, he can miss shots wildly around the hoop, as he may not always have his balance.   He also did not take a jump shot away from the paint.

However, he was quite turnover prone on offense.  For the positives, Clarke can throw accurate interior passes, and he also can pass out of the post as well as off the dribble to set up scores for his teammates.  However, he tended to commit turnovers off the dribble, as he would be called for traveling violations to not displaying great footwork, and he also threw a couple of inaccurate passes that went astray.  He also had a ball poked away that led to another turnover early in this game.

Clarke also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He leapt up to haul in numerous boards on both ends of the floor, and he also was able to score on a put back off of an offensive rebound once.  Also, Clarke played very good defense.  He did a great job of rotating to block shots from behind to protect the paint, as he did so due to possessing very good athleticism, leaping ability, and timing.  He also managed to get his hands on a pass to get a steal, and he also was able to contest a floater to force a miss.

In summary, Brandon Clarke put forth a fairly good performance in this game, as he was efficient at getting scores around the basket, and he also rebounded and defended well.  He will need to improve his jump shot, as he will need to extend his shooting range, and he will have to cut down on the number of turnovers committed in games.  But right now, he may project to be a very good defensive specialist in the NBA, and he could end up being selected by a team in the mid to late first round range of the upcoming draft.

Gonzaga’s 6-8 junior forward, Rui Hachimura had an adequate showing in his team’s loss to Texas Tech.  On one hand, he was able to knock down plenty of mid-range jumpers to get scores, and he excelled at attacking the basket to garner scores.  On the other hand, he would play too wildly at times on offense, as he was too turnover prone, and he occasionally struggled with his position defense.  In this game, Hachimura did a very good job of knocking down mid-range jumpers on offense.  He also would get scores in the post as well as off of drives, as he would often crash his way to the basket to draw plenty of free throws.  He also excelled as a scorer in transition.  However, he missed all of his three-point shots, and sometimes he would try to force the issue too much, which would lead him to miss shots in traffic when he would look to score in the paint.

He also was quite turnover prone in this game.  Hachimura did not look to pass often, and he had a tendency to put on the blinders, which would get him into trouble at times against Texas Tech.  He tended to get the ball poked away, and on one play, he tried to go 1 on 4 on a drive in transition.  He also went in too fast on a high post drive, as he slipped and fell, and lost the ball out of bounds another time.  He had a tendency to stumble and lose the ball off of drives to the basket, and he also committed a charging foul when posting up once due to recklessness.  He was able to get his fair share of boards when he was on the floor.  On one play, Hachimura managed to save a ball to help his team get an offensive board, and he also would leap up to get defensive rebounds.

Defensively, he looked to be above average.  He was able to intercept a pass to get a steal, and he also was able to block a shot.  Hachimura also would contest jumpers to force misses.  However, he tended to bite on pump fakes when defending drives, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  He also had some trouble defending his man on the ball, as he had a tendency to be caught out of position.

Overall, Rui Hachimura was able to barrel his way to the basket to get free throws and scores inside, he also knocked down mid-range jumpers, and he also was active as a help defender.  However, he did not make any threes, struggled with turnovers, as well as with his position defense.  He is an athletic, energetic combo forward that could help his team get scores on offense at the next level, and he could end up being selected by an NBA team in the mid to late first round range on draft day.

Other Notes:

Texas Tech’s 6-10 senior center, Tariq Owens quietly had a good game, as he excelled as a finisher around the basket, and he also made an open three off of a pick and pop play.  He was able to score on a reverse layup as well as on an emphatic dunk, and he also scored on a roll to the rim.  He also was able to get some defensive rebounds, and he also defended well.  Owens was able to swat a three-point shot as he was able to save the ball to a teammate, and he also blocked and altered shots in the paint to help force misses, but sometimes he would be too aggressive when contesting shots, which would lead him to commit fouls.  Overall, Owens played well, as he had a solid performance on both ends of the floor.  He has been instrumental in helping Texas Tech get to the Final Four, and he could end up making an NBA roster as he could project to be a defensive specialist at the next level.

Matt Mooney did a good job of scoring on drives to the basket, and he also defended well, as he was able to poke a ball away to get a steal, and he would contest shots tightly to force misses.  He struggled to knock down jumpers consistently, but overall, Mooney was able to excel as a scorer and defender in this game, and he is a skilled player that could end up making an NBA team’s summer league roster.

Zach Norvell Jr. did not play very well in his team’s loss to Texas Tech.  He struggled to make jumpers consistently, but he was able to make a couple of spot-up threes even when he struggled to knock down long-range jumpers in this game.  He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays, and he also managed to draw free throws on a strong drive to the hoop once. 

He displayed decent playmaking skills, as he can throw accurate passes off the dribble, but there was one play early on where he didn’t spot an open teammate, and he also committed a few turnovers.  Norvell also struggled with his position defense, and he had trouble guarding players off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Overall, Norvell is a talented player that can shoot the basketball, but he will need to be more consistent in games, and he did not excel as a shooter overall in this particular game.  If he does decide to enter the 2019 draft, he could end up being a second round pick on draft day.

Josh Perkins did a good job of knocking down threes off the catch and dribble, and he also managed to get scores on drives to the basket.  However, he tended to struggle on the defensive end, as he would often get beat off the dribble to allow scores.  Other times, he would sag too far off his man, which would allow opponents to score on three-point shots. 

Late in the game, he tried to reach out into the out of bounds area to slap the basketball when defending an inbounds play, as that led him to be called for committing a costly technical foul down the stretch.   Overall, Perkins has been a reliable game manager as he can shoot and pass the basketball, but his average physical tools may limit his upside as a prospect for the next level.  Right now, he may be a borderline second round candidate, and he could end up competing for a backup point guard job at the next level.

Killian Tillie was able to make a corner three, but other than that, he actually was not too noticeable in this game.  He didn’t play or do much, and he was too passive on the offensive end to make any real impact on the outcome of this game.