Observations from the First Combine Scrimmage Game

May 17, 2019

By Alan Lu

Recently, I managed to watch the first combine scrimmage game that took place on May 16th.  It was a fast and frenetically paced match in which there were missed shots and turnovers abound, but the standout performers appeared to be Luka Samanic, Kris Wilkes, and Simi Shittu in this game, with several other players also having played well on this day.  Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared, as Team 2 Gray ended up getting a double-digit victory over Team 1 White.  Also, for those that are interested in the box score of this game, here is the link.

Union Olimpia’s 6-10 Croatian forward, Luka Samanic played very well to help lead Team 2 to a double-digit victory.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, and he did a great job of shooting and scoring the basketball.  He also handled the ball well, especially for a player his size, and he also excelled as a rebounder and defender in this game.  Samanic did a very good job of scoring on quick drives to the basket.  He has a solid first step to the hoop, and he is an agile, fleet footed big man that can routinely get past his man off the dribble to garner scores and free throws.  He also showed a knack for scoring in the post, and on one play, he was able to use a quick spin move to score off the glass. 

Plus, he also managed to score on put backs after getting offensive rebounds.  Samanic also shot the ball well, as he was able to make an open spot-up three off the catch to show his range, though he did miss on two other attempts from beyond the arc.  However, he was fairly turnover prone on offense.  Samanic was able to find a cutter from the post to set up a scoring chance for his teammate once, but he tended to be inaccurate on his passes, which would lead him to commit turnovers.

He also rebounded the ball well, as he would chase down balls to get multiple boards on both ends of the floor.  Samanic also played adequate defense in this game.  He was able to poke a ball off of an opponent to help force a turnover, he blocked a shot, and he also deflected a pass out of bounds.  Plus, he also would contest jumpers to force opponents to miss on long two-point shots.  But he also can struggle to defend in the paint at times.  On one play, he gave up deep position when defending in the post before fouling an opponent.  On another, he helped off his man to rotate on a drive, but it led his team to allow a score on a cut to the hoop.

In general, Luka Samanic had a strong showing to help Team 2 get the win over Team 1.  He’s an agile, fleet-footed big man that can get numerous scores off the dribble, he also can score in the post, and he also can knock down shots from beyond the arc.  He has a lot of skills that can prove to be useful on offense, and he is an intriguing prospect that could end up being a good find for an NBA team in the late first round of the upcoming draft.

UCLA’s sophomore forward, Kris Wilkes showed off solid offensive skills, as he made shots in a variety of ways, and he also passed the ball well.  He also helped out on the boards and on the defensive end, as he generally had a good all-around game for Team 1.  Wilkes did very good job of knocking down threes to space the floor for his team.  He was able to make a pull-up three off the dribble, and he also ran off of a curl to make an open spot-up three while drawing an extra free throw on a separate play.

He also showed a good ability to score off of drives as well as in transition, and he was able to run the floor to score on a high-flying dunk in transition.  He also showed a knack for drawing fouls on his defenders after taking the ball to the rim. Wilkes was also able to draw free throws after attempting a turnaround jumper in the post.  He didn’t miss often, but sometimes he would miss shots off the dribble, as he can struggle to make shots on occasion when he would not get foul calls.

He also displayed solid playmaking skills.  Wilkes threw good interior passes, and he also tended to pass well off the dribble due to possessing good court vision.   He did have one of his passes picked off, but generally Wilkes was adept at making acrobatic passes off the dribble to set up scoring chances for his teammates. 

He also was able to get his fair share of boards in this game.  Wilkes was able to run down a ball to get a defensive board due to possessing a good motor.  He also managed to get another after an opponent tried to save a ball.  However, he was called for committing a foul on a put back once, which led his team to allow a score and an extra free throw to the opposition.  Wilkes also played good defense, as he was able to get his hands on a pass to obtain a steal, and he also jumped on a loose ball to help his team collect another.

In summary, Kris Wilkes had a very good showing as he especially played well on offense, and he is an athletic forward that can shoot and score the basketball.  He is a versatile player that can help his team in many different ways, and he could end up going in the late first to the second round range of the upcoming draft.

Vanderbilt’s 6-10 freshman big man, Simi Shittu quietly played well to help Team 2 get the victory, as he was able to put forth a solid all-around performance in this game.  Shittu excelled as a scorer in the post as well as off hustle plays.  He was able to catch an entry pass to score on a turnaround layup, and he also would score on powerful dunks in transition.  He also excelled at scoring on strong put backs after grabbing offensive rebounds.  But sometimes he would miss open layups and dunks as he would not always play under control, and he also had a shot blocked after attempting a turnaround jumper in the post another time. 

Also, Shittu displayed adequate playmaking skills.  He is a patient player that sees the floor well, and he was able to find a cutter from the post to notch an assist, but he also committed a couple of turnovers, as he threw a bad pass once, and he also had a ball poked away when posting up on a separate offensive possession.  Shittu rebounded the ball well, as he would leap up to get boards to help his team on both ends of the floor.  He also defended fairly well, as he was able to poke a ball off of an opponent in the post to force a turnover, and he also contested a long two to force a miss.

Overall, Simi Shittu is an athletic big man that runs the floor well and has a solid motor, and he also can finish numerous plays above the rim to get scores for his team.  He is also a good passer for his size, and his court vision can allow him to get assists.  Though he is not really a shot blocker and will still need to improve his face-up game, Shittu is a high-motor player that could end up being a good value pick for a team in the second round of this year’s draft.

Kansas’ 6-5 freshman guard, Quentin Grimes also put forth a good performance in this game, as his solid all-around play helped Team 2 get the victory.  He showed significantly more rebounding and defensive skills than he seemed to have in college, as he displayed much more of a commitment in those categories in this contest.  Grimes did an adequate job of knocking down jumpers, and he was able to make an open corner three to help space the floor for his team on offense.  He also showed an adequate ability to score on drives to the basket, and on one play after hauling in an offensive rebound, Grimes drove in to score on an acrobatic layup while getting an extra free throw afterwards.    But sometimes, he can miss shots wildly around the basket, and he also can struggle to score in traffic on occasion, as he had a couple of his shots blocked when taking to the rim.

Grimes also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  He is an unselfish player that sees the floor well, and he also tended to throw accurate long passes, as he can notch assists in transition.  He did commit a couple of turnovers though, as he stepped out of bounds once, and he also threw an inaccurate, interior pass that sailed out of bounds another time.  He also rebounded the ball fairly well.  Grimes was quite active on the glass in this game, and he would run in to get boards on both ends of the floor, as he would hustle to help his team get rebounds.   He also played adequate defense, as he also excelled at picking up steals, as he would make it difficult for his opponents to pass or handle the basketball.  Grimes was able to run in to intercept a pass quickly after smartly playing the passing lane that time, and he also would poke balls away to get steals.  But sometimes he would foul opponents out on the perimeter due to over-aggressiveness, and there was one play where a fouled a three-point shooter, which caused his team to allow a score and an extra free throw that time.

Overall, Grimes played fairly well in this game, and he showed a much better motor in this particular contest than he seemed to exhibit the entire season, as he was far more active on the glass and on the defensive end in this match.  Grimes continues to be one of the most enigmatic and hard to project prospects in this draft, but he had a solid showing in this game.  He’s shown flashes of his potential at times, as he played very well early in the season at the Champions Classic by making 6 threes in a win over Michigan State, but then went on to have a rather lackluster and disappointing freshman campaign. 

So far, Grimes is having a solid combine, as he showed off good all-around skills to help Team 2 in this game.  It’s rather odd, as he consistently played well in high-school showcase games prior to arriving at Kansas, and he’s played well in the first combine scrimmage game, so it’s a wonder if he may have been restricted and shackled by his role at Kansas this past year.  If so, Grimes could be an intriguing candidate for teams to look at in the mid to late second round range, as he could project into being an athletic shooter that could potentially thrive as a role player in the NBA.

Miami’s 6-10 big man, Dewan Hernandez had a fairly solid showing, as he excelled as a scorer on offense to help Team 2 get the victory over Team 1.  Hernandez excelled as a scorer in transition as he runs the floor well and has good hands to catch long passes, and he was able to score on a couple of dunks on fast breaks.  He also managed to go coast to cost to score on a drive in transition.  Hernandez also was able to throw down a dunk to score on a cut to the hoop, and he also used a quick rip move to score from the post another time.  But he would also struggle to score on half-court drives, and he also missed on a long two-point shot from the corner on a separate possession.

Hernandez also was able to get his fair share of rebounds, as he was fairly active on the glass, and he also handles the ball well, as he was able to push the pace off of a defensive board to score on a fast break.  He played adequate defense.  Hernandez was able to jump on a loose ball to help his team get a steal, and he also contested a three to force a miss.  His lone foul came when he was defending a turnaround jumper in the post.

Overall, Dewan Hernandez played fairly well to help Team 2 get the win in this game, and he is an athletic big man that showed a good ability to score on hustle plays, as he runs the floor well and is also a solid ball handler.  He has been able to continue his strong play by excelling as an inside scorer in this contest after having a solid G-League Elite Camp showing, and Hernandez is an athletic, energetic big man that could be a potential second round pick in the upcoming draft.

Yale’s 6-6 junior swingman, Miye Oni played fairly well, as he made some solid plays to help Team 1 in this game.  He shot the ball well, as he was able to run off of a curl to make a pull-up three, and he also made an open corner three off the catch.  He also showed the ability to score on fast breaks, as he was able to score on a drive in transition while getting an extra free throw.  Plus, he also played good defense, as he was able to recover to block a shot off of a drive out of bounds, and he also managed to deflect a pass.  Overall, Oni is an athletic, skilled swingman that could project well into a 3 and D role at the NBA level, and he could be a good value pick for a team in the mid to late second round range of the upcoming draft.

Florida State’s 6-6 senior guard, Terance Mann quietly played well in this game, as he was efficient in making shots, and he also passed the ball well to help Team 2 on offense.  Mann made a corner three, and he also was able to score on a dunk off of a cut to the basket.  He also showed a decent ability to score on drives to the basket.  Mann also passed the ball well, as he would throw sharp interior passes to set up plenty of scoring chances for his teammates, but sometimes he would struggle to protect the basketball, which would lead him to commit turnovers.

Mann rebounded the ball very well, as he would hustle to get boards, especially on the offensive end.  He also showed off adequate defensive skills, as he was able to intercept a pass to get a steal, but sometimes he would be called for committing fouls when guarding his opponents.   Overall, Terance Mann is a smart, skilled player that can play numerous positions on the court, and his versatility could help him thrive as a role player in the NBA.

Tulsa’s 6-5 senior swingman, DaQuan Jeffries played fairly well to help Team 2 get the win over Team 1.  He was very efficient in making shots when he was on the floor, and he also played good defense.  Jeffries excelled as a scorer in the post, and he also was able to score on a strong drive to the hoop as well as on a mid-range jumper.  He missed on his lone three-point attempt, but he did a great job of making shots when he would attempt shots inside the arc.

Jeffries also displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  He was able to find a cutter from the post to set up a scoring chance for a teammate, but he also threw an inaccurate pass in transition that sailed out of bounds another time.  He was able to get his fair share of rebounds in this game.  Jeffries also played fairly good defense.  He was active in contesting threes to force misses, and he also poked a ball off of an opponent out of bounds to help force a turnover.  He was a bit foul prone, but he generally did a good job of contesting shots on the defensive end.

Overall, Jeffries quietly had a good game, as he made shots efficiently and he would get strong scores in the post due to possessing good strength, balance, and shooting touch around the basket.  Jeffries had a very good Portsmouth Invitational and G-League Elite Camp, and he is an athletic physical specimen that could project well into a 3 and D role in the NBA.

Isaiah Roby had an adequate showing as he was able to make some solid plays on both ends of the court for Team 1.  He generally excelled at scoring on hustle plays, and he also made an open corner three to help space the floor for his team.  Sometimes, he would miss shots around the basket, and he also had a shot blocked when he tried to post up.  Roby also was turnover prone, as he would sometimes struggle to protect the basketball or to create plays off the dribble. 

Roby also rebounded and defended well, and he is an active help defender that can swat shots due to possessing good length, athleticism, and timing to do so.  But sometimes, he can be out of position when guarding opponents out on the perimeter, which can lead him to commit fouls and allow scores on occasion.  Overall, Roby is an athletic, energetic forward that could project to be a defensive specialist in the NBA, and he could end up being a second round pick in this year’s draft.

Virginia’s junior guard, Kyle Guy had a decent showing, as he was able to score and distribute the basketball to help Team 1 on offense.  He did a good job of knocking down threes, and he also showed the ability to score on drives as well as in transition, but he really struggled to knock down mid-range jumpers in this game.

He generally passed the ball well, as he can find teammates on the move to set up scores for them.  Guy also played adequate defense, as he would play passing lanes to get steals and deflections, but he also was prone to committing reach-in fouls on occasion.  Overall, Guy showed that he can make threes and pass the basketball, but he also struggled to make shots consistently when he was inside the arc.  Still, Guy is a very good shooter that has proven that he can put up points in a hurry, but he will need to continue to show that he can pass and defend upper echelon players.  If he plays well in the combine and in workouts, Guy could end up being a late second round pick in the upcoming draft, as he could end up being a shooting specialist in the NBA.

Brewster Academy’s draft-eligible point guard, Jalen Lecque had his ups and downs in this game, as he made some good plays for Team 1, but he also was quite turnover prone on offense.  Lecque showed a good ability to score on quick drives in transition, and he even threw down an emphatic jam on the break once, but he also struggled more in the half court, and he missed once after using a hesitation move on a left-handed drive to the hoop.  Lecque only took one three-point shot, but he missed after heaving up a deep three from way out in a desperate attempt to tack on more points towards the end of the first half.

As a playmaker, he looked to be about average.  He showed good court vision and patience when he would play under control, and he can throw good passes off the dribble, as he can find teammates on the move, but he also had trouble protecting the basketball as he was prone to getting the ball poked away, and he also stepped out of bounds another time.  In this game, Lecque committed a handful of turnovers, which may not bode well for his chances to succeed at the point in the NBA.

He did rebound and defend well in this game.  Lecque would run in to get defensive rebounds to help his team on the glass.  Lecque is an aggressive help defender that can force opponents to commit plenty of turnovers.  Lecque ran in to poke a ball away to get a steal, and he also jumped a pass to collect another one.  He also managed to get back on defense to block a shot off of a drive in transition to get a stop for his team.  There was one play though where he trailed his man on a cut, and he bit on a pump fake, which led him to commit a foul around the basket.

Overall, Jalen Lecque flashed some intriguing skills in this game, but his play was not very consistent overall.  He showed the ability to score on fast break drives, but Lecque was reluctant to take jumpers, and he committed far too many ball handling turnovers.  On the bright side, Lecque showed off solid rebounding and help defense skills.  Right now, Lecque is an athletic playmaker that could be an intriguing option for NBA teams to consider in the mid to late second round.  He may be far from being a polished player, but if an NBA team will carefully take their time to develop him, Lecque could then end up being a solid role player in the association.