Evaluating Keita Bates-Diop in the Ohio State-Michigan State Game

January 25, 2018

by Alan Lu

I took the time to watch Ohio State’s redshirt junior forward, Keita Bates-Diop play against Michigan State in a Big Ten match that was played on January 7th, and I was able to see this game, with thanks to YouTube via NCAA Live.   Recently, Bates-Diop has seen his draft stock significantly, to the point where some are even considering him to be a potential first round pick for the 2018 NBA Draft.  In this game, Bates-Diop had a terrific showing as he ended up scoring 32 points to lead Ohio State to an upset win over their conference rival.  Here are my thoughts on how he played in this game, as well as how he may rate as a prospect for the NBA, as well as how others fared in this game.

Ohio State’s 6-7 redshirt junior forward, Keita Bates-Diop played really well in this game, as he was able to lead his team to a double-digit victory over Michigan State.  He excelled at scoring the basketball in a variety of ways, and he also rebounded and defended well when he was on the court.  Bates-Diop did a great job of knocking down jumpers to space the floor for his team.  He especially showed a knack for making mid-range shots, as he can make them off the catch or dribble, and he can use ball-handling moves to create separation between himself and his defender.  He also was able to make a quick mid-range jumper off the catch after running off of a curl, as he moves fairly well off the ball on offense.

Also, he showed a good ability to make open, spot-up threes off the catch, as he was able to make one off of a pick and pop play.  Bates-Diop did not take three-point shots often, but he excelled at making them when he would elect to hoist them up.  Plus, Bates-Diop is a good low post scorer.  He was able to make a quick turnaround jumper, as he possesses good footwork, strength, and shooting touch to do so.  On another play, he was able to back his man down, as he managed to draw free throws on a left handed, running jump hook.

He also did a fairly good job of scoring on hustle plays.  Bates-Diop managed to score off of a backdoor cut after running off of a screen, as he also drew an extra free throw on that play.  Also, he would run the floor to get scoring opportunities on the break, as he was able to throw down a dunk in transition.  But sometimes, he would miss on drives in traffic, as well as off of a tip in, as he is not an elite athlete, and he can struggle to finish plays when they are tightly contested.  He struggled to consistently score on drives to the hoop, but Bates-Diop was able to score on a nifty floater that banked in late in the game.

Also, he displayed decent playmaking skills.  Bates-Diop did not look to pass too often, but he can kick the ball out to shooters off the dribble, and he also can throw long, accurate outlet passes.  He also was able to set an on-ball screen that helped set up a score for a shooter.  Plus, he also managed to bring the ball up off of a defensive board, though no one pressured him on that particular play, but he did commit one turnover,  as he stepped out of bounds on a baseline drive, as the officials waved off a basket that he would have scored on a reverse layup.

Plus, Bates-Diop showed an adequate ability to rebound the basketball.  He would leap up to haul in numerous defensive boards, and he even was able to tip a ball to himself once, but there were a few times where he would be unable to get rebounds in his area, and he also committed an over the back foul once when going for a defensive rebound on one play.

He also showcased adequate defensive skills.  Bates-Diop did a great job of collecting steals, as he excelled at poking balls away from opponents to do so.  He roamed to jar balls loose from an opposing low post player twice, and he also stripped an opponent on a drive in transition another time due to possessing good hands, awareness, and instincts to do so.  Plus, he managed to block a shot off of a drive after defending out on the perimeter, as he was able to stay with his man to force the miss.  He would also force some misses when opponents would look to score in the post, as well as on drives.

However, Bates-Diop struggled to consistently defend drives, as he would struggle to move his feet on occasion.  He would tend to get beat off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Sometimes, he would do a poor job of denying his man the ball, as he tried to front his man in the post, but he ended up allowing a catch and dunk once.  Another time, he was late to rotate to his man, as he ended up giving up a three-point basket to his opponent in transition.

In general, Keita Bates-Diop put forth an excellent performance, as he was able to lead his team to a stunning, double-digit victory over Michigan State.  He excelled as a shooter and scorer when he was on the floor, and he also helped out on the boards, as well as on the defensive end.  He could project to be a similar player to current Brooklyn Nets’ forward, DeMarre Carroll at the next level, and Bates-Diop could end up being a good find for an NBA team in the late first to the second round range of the upcoming draft.

Other Notes:

Michigan State’s 6-11 freshman big man, Jaren Jackson Jr. turned in an uneven performance as he fouled out and did not rebound the ball well, but he did show of good scoring skills, and he was also actively defensively when he was on the court.  Jackson did a good job of scoring in the post, as well as on drives to the hoop.  He managed to catch an entry pass, and he was able to score on an emphatic dunk around the basket.  On another play, Jackson was able to score effortlessly on a running jump hook.  Plus, he can score on quick, strong drives to the rim.  But sometimes, he can struggle to finish plays in traffic, as he had his shot blocked once after using a spin move on a drive.

He also showed a good ability to make jumpers, as he managed to score on a quick three-point shot in transition.  Jackson shot the ball well, and he as able to effectively space the floor for his team when he was on the floor.  Also, he showed off good playmaking skills.  Jackson would make good passes from the post, and he also set a solid on-ball screen to help set up a score for a shooter.  He also was able to quickly bring the ball up to show off his ball handling capabilities, but he did end up getting called for committing an offensive foul once, as he did so while jostling for position when posting up off the ball.

However, he did not do a great job of rebounding the basketball.  Jackson was able to haul in a couple of defensive boards, but he did not seem to grab enough rebounds in this game.  Also, there was one play where he did not properly block out, as he ended up allowing a put back score to the opposition in the first half.

He also displayed fairly average defensive skills in this game.  For the positives, Jackson was able to make a nice chase down block on a drive after defending his man out on the perimeter due to possessing very good length, athleticism, and timing to do so.  Also, Jackson was able to poke a ball away on a fast break drive to get a steal, and he would contest jumpers to force misses.

On the other hand, he had some lapses defensively.  Sometimes he would over-help in the paint and be late on his rotations, which would cause him to allow opponents to score on jumpers.  He also will need to add strength, as he got backed down quite far when defending in the post, and he ended up committing a foul that time.  On another play, he bit on a pump fake to commit a foul in transition.

In summary, Jaren Jackson Jr. didn’t have his best game, but he did make some good plays on both ends of the floor.  He is a very athletic big man that may possess a lot of upside as a prospect for the NBA, and he is a lottery level talent that could end up being a solid player at the next level if things pan out for him.

Ohio State’s 6-4 senior swingman, Jae’Sean Tate played very well, as he excelled as an inside scorer, facilitator, and defender when he was on the court.  He did a great job of getting scores in the post, as he was very effective at scoring from the low block.  Tate can score and get free throws after pivoting to use step-through moves, and he also can score on turnaround jumpers as well as off of drop step moves.

Tate also did a good job of scoring on drives to the hoop, as he can get to the free throw line often on strong, aggressive moves to the basket.  He also excelled as a cutter off of off-ball motion plays.  However, Tate missed both of his threes when he would take them from beyond the arc.  He also showed off adequate playmaking skills.  He did a good job of passing and handling the basketball as he was able to get several assists, and Tate was able to kick the ball out to a shooter to set up a score on the break once.

While he did not get many boards in this game, Tate was able to come away with several defensive rebounds, and he was able to get one amidst a crowd.

Also, Tate played solid defense.  He would rotate to block and alter shots on drives to force misses, and he also would poke balls away to get steals for his team.  Plus, he would contest jumpers to force his opponents to miss plenty of shots.  But every once in a while, he would struggle to stay in front of his man, which would cause him to give up too much space, as this led him to allow opponents to score on a couple of jumpers.

In general, Jae’Sean Tate played very well, and he had a strong showing in his team’s win over Michigan State.  Though he may be undersized to play out on the wing, and he will need to significantly improve his jump shot, but he is a skilled basketball player that could end up faring well in the G-League or overseas, as he may have the skills to carve out a solid career in professional basketball.

This was not a great game for Michigan State’s 6-8 sophomore swingman Miles Bridges, as he struggled to consistently be an effective player on offense, and he had some focus issues defensively, as he did not play nearly as well as he could have in his team’s loss to Ohio State.  For the positives, he showed a decent ability to get scores off the dribble.  Bridges is a fast player that has a good first step, and he can score on strong, aggressive moves to the hoop, as he can make shots when he plays under control, but sometimes, he would play too wildly, as he would miss tough shots in traffic.  On these types of plays, he would pick up his dribble too early, as he would end up taking difficult shots that would be tightly contested.

He did not shoot the ball well in this game, but Bridges was able to make some three-point shots late in this contest.  He was able to effectively utilize a jab step move to make a three once, and he also made an open three off the catch.  However, Bridges tended to miss threes both off the catch and dribble, as he had trouble getting into rhythm often against Ohio State.  He struggled to score on mid-range shots, but he was able to make a mid-range shot from the baseline once, as he turned to face up from the high post.  Bridges also ran off of a curl cut, but he missed wildly on a short drive to the rim, as he attempted a switch of hands layup around the basket.

Also, he showed off decent playmaking skills.  Bridges would kick the ball out to shooters of the dribble to set up scoring chances for his teammates, and he also threw an entry pass to notch an assist.  He also managed to leap up to save a ball thrown by his teammate from going to the other team, due to possessing great leaping ability as well as a solid motor to do so that time.  But he did commit one turnover, as he tried to go coast to coast on a fast break drive, but Bridges ended up getting the ball poked away from him.

He also did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  Bridges would frequently leap up to haul in defensive boards, as he was quite active at crashing the glass.  However, Bridges did not play very good defense in this game against Ohio State.  For the positives, he would look to contest jumpers, as he was able to force some misses.  He also managed to stay with his man on a drive to force another miss, and he was able to heap on a loose ball to help his team come away with a steal.

On the other hand, he tended to be unfocused defensively, and there were times where he didn’t seem to give enough effort on this end of the floor.  Bridges did not do a good job of denying his man the ball when defending in the post, and he would be late to rotate to his man, and he ended up allowing several scores on the block.  Sometimes, he would not rotate in time or promptly pick up the cutter, as his team would allow scores to opponents on cuts to the basket. 

There was another time where he over-helped on a drive in the paint in transition, as he left his man open and ended up giving up a three-point basket to the opposition.  Another time, Bridges didn’t fight hard enough through a screen, and he allowed an opponent to score on a quick mid-range shot off the catch.

In summary, Miles Bridges did not play very well in his team’s loss to Ohio State.  He started off slowly as he had trouble establishing a rhythm on offense early and often, and he seemed to take his defense with him, as he did not give great effort defensively later on.  He did end up making several shots down the stretch, but that was not enough to get his team the win.

Right now, he looks firmly to be a prospect that will be picked in the mid first round range, as he may even get picked in the late lottery.  But while Bridges may have a lot of skills, there may be some noticeable flaws in his game that could give teams pause before picking him high in the draft.  He will need to play significantly better than how he did on this day, but if he can correct his weaknesses, Bridges could still end up reaching his full potential, as he may potentially have the ability to end up being an effective full-time starter in the NBA if he is able to do so.

Michigan State’s 6-5 sophomore guard, Josh Langford had a fairly good showing in his team’s loss to Ohio State.  Langford excelled at making a variety of jumpers, as he can make spot-up threes, mid-range jumpers off the catch or dribble, and he also can run of screens to knock them down.   He also managed to score on a strong drive to the hoop after splitting a double team, as he was able to draw an extra free throw that time.  He had some trouble consistently scoring on drives when he would take it to the rim, though.

Langford also is an unselfish player that will keep the ball moving.  However, he did commit some turnovers, as he traveled on a drive once, and he also threw an entry pass that ended up getting picked off on a separate play.  However, he did not defend very well in this game.  He tended to be late on his rotations, and he also had a tendency to commit touch fouls.  Langford in particular had trouble defending cutters as well as in the post, but he was able to contest a couple of threes to force some misses.

In general, Josh Langford shot the ball well, and he was able to score the basketball in a variety of ways, but he struggled to do much else when he was on the floor.  Still, he is an athletic swingman that can help his team on offense, and he could end up being a second round pick whenever he decides to enter the NBA draft.

Michigan State’s 6-0 sophomore point guard, Cassius Winston was able to score in a variety of ways, and he was quite effective at distributing the basketball, as he was able to get many assists in this game.  However, he struggled defensively, as he had trouble guarding quicker players on drives, and he would give up too much space, which would cause him to allow threes to his opponents.   Right now, he has been a good college basketball player, but he may not be an especially dynamic playmaker, as he may be a borderline second round candidate whenever he decides to enter the NBA draft.

Ohio State’s 6-2 senior combo guard, Kam Williams shot the ball well in this game, and he also managed to throw down a thunderous dunk off of a cut to the hoop.    He struggled to defend on drives, and he generally had trouble staying in front of his man defensively.  But Kam Williams is an athletic combo guard that could end up playing in the G-League or overseas next year, as his skill set could enable him to carve out a career in professional basketball.

Ohio State’s 6-9 freshman big man, Kaleb Wesson showed an adequate ability to score in the post, as he is an agile player that possesses good footwork, and he also did a good job of passing and rebounding the basketball.  He will need to improve his face-up game and show that he can guard more athletic players defensively, but he could be a prospect to keep an eye on in the future.

Michigan State’s 6-8 sophomore big man, Nick Ward did not play very well, as he did not make a field goal, had a tendency to get the ball poked away when posting up, and he had trouble defending opponents, as he generally struggled to guard more athletic players.  But Ward was able to haul in many rebounds when he was on the floor, and he also poked a ball away from a post player to get a steal once.