Evaluating Jonathan Isaac, V.J. Beachem, and Others

January 19, 2017

By Alan Lu

Two of the top teams in the country squared off in an ACC conference matchup, as Florida State and Notre Dame went head to head against each other.  This game presented an opportunity to also see some of the top prospects, as well as to get another glimpse at likely lottery pick Jonathan Isaac to see him play once again.  Here are my thoughts on how he and other prospects fared on this day.

Florida State’s 6-11 freshman forward Jonathan Isaac played very well as he helped lead his team to get a narrow win over Notre Dame.  He excelled as a shooter, was active as a finisher around the basket, rebounded the ball well, and was terrific defensively in the victory for his team.  Isaac did a very good job of shooting the basketball to space the floor for his team.  He really excelled at knocking down spot up threes off the catch as well as mid-range jumpers.  He can run quickly to spots to get open, and he also can make shots off the dribble.

Plus, he also excelled at scoring on the move.  Isaac was able to make a solid cut to the hoop to garner a score and an extra free throw on one possession.  Also, he was able to get a couple scores off of offensive rebounds, which included a put back dunk.  Also, Isaac was able to get free throws on a fast break drive, though he did miss once earlier.

However, he had some trouble creating his own shot at times.  Isaac especially struggled to protect the basketball, as he tended to get the ball poked away from him off the dribble to commit turnovers.  On the plus side, he did play within the team system, and he showed a decent ability to find open shooters against Notre Dame.  Also, Isaac rebounded the ball very well in this game.  He hauled in many boards on both ends of the floor, and he was able to capitalize on offensive rebounds by quickly scoring off of them, as he has the length, quickness, and instincts to do so.

Isaac also played terrific defense against Notre Dame.  He did a tremendous job of blocking shots, as he showed off excellent length, athleticism, and timing to do so.  He swatted numerous shots on drives, including one dunk attempt, and he made two key blocks on the final play to seal the victory for his team.

Plus, he also showed a solid ability to collect steals.  Isaac is a rangy defender that can cover a lot of ground, as he was able to intercept a pass on one possession, and he was able to back tap an opposing driver on another.  Also, he was able to use his length to defend the post to force a miss on a separate possession.

In general, Jonathan Isaac put forth a strong showing to lead his team to a three-point victory over Notre Dame.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, rebounded the ball well, and he also played magnificent defense, as he scored 23 points, and collected 10 rebounds and 7 blocks on this day.  With his skill set, he looks to be a solid candidate to be a top 5 pick, as he could potentially end up being a multi-All-Star in the NBA.

Notre Dame’s 6-8 senior forward V.J. Beachem also put forth a good showing in a loss to Florida State.  He had his ups and downs at times, but he made big shots to keep his team in the game, and he also showed off solid scoring skills.  Beachem did a great job of making threes from beyond the arc.  He would roll to open spots to get the ball, and he excelled at knocking down outside shots off the catch.  Plus, he also was able to use a step back move to make a pull up three after initially running off of a screen to get the basketball.

Plus, he also showed a good ability to score on the move.  Beachem made a nice backdoor cut to the hoop in the second half of the game, and he was able to get the ball as he promptly leapt up to throw down a thunderous dunk to score around the basket.  However, he had trouble finishing plays in traffic, and he in particular struggled to score off the dribble.  Beachem had his shots blocked numerous times around the basket, and he also would miss shots off the dribble.

As a playmaker, he appeared to be about average.  He generally made solid passes as he showed the ability to throw crisp, accurate outlet passes, and he also would find open shooters to set up scores for his team.  However, he also tended to commit turnovers as he had trouble protecting the basketball, especially when he would attempt to make plays off the dribble.  He did not collect many rebounds in this game, but he did haul in boards on both ends of the floor.  Defensively, he was not very noticeable on that side of the ball, and he did not collect a steal or block in this game.

In this game, V.J. Beachem had a fairly good performance against Florida State, as he excelled at making threes, and he was able to throw down a nice dunk off of a backdoor cut late in the game.  But he also struggled to make plays off the dribble, had trouble scoring in traffic, and he also did not rebound the ball particularly well.  Still, he was able to make numerous shots down the stretch for Notre Dame, and he is a second round prospect that could end up being a solid role player in the NBA.

Notre Dame’s 6-5 junior swingman, Bonzie Colson put forth a decent game in a loss to Florida State.  He generally showed some inside scoring and defensive skills, and he also passed and rebounded the ball well.  But he was also not assertive enough in looking to make plays offensively, and he did not consistently make shots for his team.  Colson did a very good job of getting scores off the dribble.  He has a fairly good first step to the hoop, and he has a nifty pump fake move that he can use to draw fouls on defenders.  Plus, he also was able to make a baseline floater.

He also showed a decent ability to finish plays around the basket.  Colson was able to score once on a cut in traffic, and he also was able to get another score on a broken play.  But sometimes, he also struggled to finish plays in traffic, as he also had his shot blocked once around the hoop.  Plus, he also showed off decent low post scoring skills.  Colson used a drop step move to draw a foul on a defender once, but he missed in traffic after setting up in the post after getting an offensive rebound for his team.  However, he did not take many, if any jumpers from the field, and he did not attempt one three from beyond the arc.

Also, he showed off fairly good playmaking skills.  He showed off solid passing skills, as he had a knack for hitting cutters to rack up assists.  Colson generally threw solid interior passes, and he also would set screens for his teammates.  But he did commit a traveling violation on a drive to the hoop once to commit his lone turnover.  He also rebounded the ball very well.  He hauled in numerous boards on both ends of the floor, and he was especially active at crashing the defensive glass.

Plus, he showed off decent defensive skills.  Colson excelled as a low post defender, as he was able to utilize his leaping ability and timing to block a shot, and he would force misses when defending the paint.  However, he was late to contest a mid-range shot to allow a score, and he also committed a foul another time when attempting to defend a lob pass.

In summary, Bonzie Colson showed off a decent set of skills for his team, as he generally would make plays in the paint.  But nothing he did alleviated concerns that NBA scouts and teams have about him as a prospect for the league.  He did not look to take jumpers, and he had some trouble finishing plays over length and athleticism on offense.

He generally plays the game like an undersized power forward, but the issues only may compound if he does not look to expand his game further.  Right now, he is a second round prospect, but he will need to improve his perimeter skills to increase his chances to succeed in the association.

Florida State’s 6-6 sophomore guard Dwayne Bacon did not have a great game, but he did have some good moments against Notre Dame.  In this game, he excelled at scoring on the move, as he threw down a couple of thunderous dunks on the break, as he has very good athletic tools, and he has great hands to catch lob passes from his teammates.  Also, he showed off adequate defensive skills, as he was able to jump passes and heap on loose balls to obtain steals, though he did also commit some fouls on drives.

However, Bacon tended to really force the issue in this game.  Though he was able to make an open three in the corner, he struggled to make shots consistently, especially when he would look to score off the dribble.  He would tend to force up shots in traffic, and he was prone to committing charging fouls on drives to the rim.  On the plus side, he threw solid interior passes to set up some scores for his teammates.

Bacon had his struggles against Notre Dame, as he tended to overtly try to force the issue offense, which generally led to missed shots and turnovers.  But he did show off impressive athleticism by throwing down emphatic dunks on the break, as well as by collecting steals for his team.  Right now, he looks to be a second round prospect, but if he can be more consistently productive in games, that could really help him as an overall player down the road.

Other Notes:

6-4 junior point guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes generally excelled as a scorer off the dribble, as he would make pull-up mid-range jumpers, and he also made a runner in traffic.  Plus, he also was able to score on a fast break drive, as he has good speed and quickness to do so.   He also passed the ball well, and he showed solid anticipation skills on defense, as he was able to jump passes to collect steals.  He did not make a three though, but he still had a fairly solid game in a win for his team.

6-6 senior guard, Steve Vasturia scored 18 points, as he also made four three-pointers for Notre Dame.   He really excelled at making open threes off the catch, and he also excelled at deflecting passes and collecting steals for his team, as he would heap on loose balls to do so.  However, he struggled to score consistently off the dribble, and he also had some turnover trouble, some due to bad passes, and others due to struggling to make plays off the dribble.  Vasturia may at best be a borderline second round candidate for the upcoming draft, but his jump shot may give him a chance to make an NBA roster sometime down the road.

6-9 senior big man, Jarquez Smith played very well in a win for Florida State.  He showed  good inside scoring skills, as he would catch lob passes and score off of them, and he threw down an impressive dunk in transition.  Plus, he excelled as a rebounder and shot blocker, as he possesses great length, athletic ability, and timing to do so.  In this game, he showed that he has what it takes to make an NBA summer league roster, as he may have the skills to potentially latch onto an NBA roster sometime down the road.

6-1 junior point guard Matt Farrell excelled as a shooter, scorer off of cuts, and facilitator for Notre Dame.  He did struggle to score off the dribble consistently, but Farrell was instrumental in making key shots and passes to his teammates to keep his team in the game.  With his skill set, he could be a prospect to watch in 2018.

Florida State’s 6-4 sophomore guard P.J. Savoy played a solid game, as he put forth an especially impressive first half against Notre Dame.  Savoy excelled as a three-point shooter off the catch, and he also even managed to draw three free throws on another play.  He was able to score on a tip in, and he generally rebounded the ball well.

Plus, he was able to block a shot off of a drive.  However, he struggled more with his position defense, as he tended to commit fouls on drives, and he also was late to rotate to allow an open three-point basket to the opposition.   Still, Savoy showed off a wide array of skills, as he may have the skills to excel as a role player in the NBA someday.

6-3 freshman guard Temple Gibbs showed off strong scoring skills for Notre Dame.  He shot the ball very well, as he knocked down threes and mid-range jumpers from the floor.  He excelled as a scorer off the dribble, as he would get buckets and free throws for his team.  He did struggle with some turnovers off the dribble at times, but generally Gibbs is a scorer that could be a player to watch in the future.

6-1 freshman guard C.J. Walker also put forth a solid performance to help lead Florida State to a narrow victory over Notre Dame.  He excelled as a scorer off the dribble, and he also made a key three.  He was instrumental in making critical plays in the second half, as he also could be a player to watch in the future.

7-1 senior center Michael Ojo was not a significant factor offensively, but early on, he did roll hard to the hoop to throw down a powerful dunk around the basket.   Defensively, he was able to block a shot off of a drive, and he would frequently jump passes to deflect balls out of bounds.

Ojo is an athletic, mobile big man that has great strength, and he can make solid plays in the paint on both ends of the floor.  But he struggled with turnovers on this day and he did not rebound the basketball very well against Notre Dame.  While he may be a long shot to be drafted, he does have an intriguing physical profile that could warrant him looks to be selected onto an NBA summer league roster.

In general, this was a very competitive match between Florida State and Notre Dame.  The game started off riddled with turnovers, but then both teams started to find their strides, and ultimately Florida State made enough plays to pull off the win.

The most impressive element of this contest was Jonathan Isaac’s terrific performance, especially in the second half, as he made one play after another to lead his team to victory.  This game was fun to watch, and it was a thriller that came all the way down to the wire.   Thank you, and thanks for reading.