Observations on Jarrett Culver, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Lindell Wigginton

March 12, 2019

by Alan Lu

Recently, I decided to watch Jarrett Culver and Texas Tech play against Iowa State in a Big 12 college basketball game that was played on March 9th.  It was another opportunity to see Culver play, as he scored a season-best 31 points, and it also provided an opportunity for me to see Iowa State’s players and team in action.  Some of their players have received some draft buzz, and Talen Horton-Tucker has been rated as a potential first round prospect at the moment by ESPN.  Culver had a very good performance in his team’s win, and here is my breakdown on how he fared that day, as well as how the other prospects played in that contest.

Texas Tech’s 6-5 sophomore guard, Jarrett Culver had a strong showing in his team’s win over Iowa State.  He really excelled as a shooter and scorer on offense, and he also showed off solid playmaking and rebounding skills in this game.  Culver showed a knack for knocking down jumpers to space the floor on offense.  He can make pull-up threes after dribbling off of screens, and he also slipped a screen to make a spot-up three off of a pick and pop play another time.  Culver also can make mid-range jumpers off the catch or dribble, and he also drew free throws on a pull-up jumper from the right elbow. 

Culver also did a very good job of scoring on quick drives to the basket.  He has a good first step to the hoop, and he can finish plays using either hand.  He has a solid spin move that he will use to go left past his man, and he would often get strong scores around the basket.  He also can draw fouls upon his defenders.  He also was able to score on a nifty reverse layup after using a screen to cut to the hoop once.  Also, Culver posted up another time, and he utilized a quick shoulder fake to score on a turnaround, fadeaway jumper.

He also displayed fairly good playmaking skills.  Culver is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he can get his teammates the ball to set up a wealth of scoring chances for them.  He also can use behind the back dribble moves prior to passing the basketball, and he also can pass out of the post as well as off the dribble.  He did commit a couple of turnovers, as there was one occasion where he did not protect the basketball from the opposition, and he also was called for a travel when handing the ball once due to taking too many steps that time.  He also was able to get his fair share of boards when he was on the floor.  Culver would swoop in to get boards on both sides of the ball, and there was one instance where he pushed the ball up the court off of a defensive rebound.

Defensively though, Culver did not seem to have as great of a game as anticipated on that side of the ball.  He tends to gamble quite a bit on this end, and he would tend to bite on pump fakes and cheat too far off his man, which would lead him to commit a foul on a three-point shooter, as well as allow opponents to score on jumpers.  For the positives, Culver was able to rotate on a drive to force a miss, and he also recovered once after biting on a pump fake to force an opponent to miss a three-point shot late in the game.  Adding to that, he also can apply heavy ball pressure when guarding out on the perimeter, as he can make it tough for opponents to drive past him.

In general, Jarrett Culver played very well in his team’s win over Iowa State.  He did a great job of shooting and scoring the basketball, and he would often make tough shots and score on smooth drives to the hoop in doing so.  He also generally passed and handled the ball well.  Right now, he looks to be a lock to be a lottery pick for the upcoming draft, and he could end up being a very good player in the NBA.

Iowa State’s freshman guard, Talen Horton-Tucker had a solid performance in his team’s loss to Texas Tech.  In observing him play, he is a smart, physical basketball player that has a game that may be wise beyond his years, and he also seems to have a rather unconventional playing style.  He is neither a particularly explosive athlete nor very quick, but he has a bag full of tricks that enables him to fool defenders and get scores on offense. 

Horton-Tucker did a very good job of scoring on crafty drives to the basket.  He has a wide array of dribble moves that allow him to sneak past defenders.  He managed to use an overhead ball fake and a crossover as he drove left, and then he used a stutter step prior to scoring on a contested, fadeaway jumper early on.  He also used multiple pump fakes to get multiple defenders in the air, and he was able to patiently score on a tough reverse layup off the glass.  He also has a subtly good first step to the hoop and can draw fouls upon his defenders, but he also had his shots blocked a couple of times as he may struggle at times to score in traffic.

He also managed to score in the post another time.  Horton-Tucker managed to back down a smaller guard due to having good size and strength to do so, and he used an overhead ball fake and a drop step to score on a strong move to the hoop while getting an extra free throw afterwards.  Plus, Horton-Tucker did a very good job of making threes to space the floor for his team.  He was able to use a behind the back crossover move to knock down a pull-up three, and he also patiently made another pull-up three later on in this contest.  Horton-Tucker shot the ball well in this game, and that can be a major asset if he can consistently make three-point shots on offense.

Also, Horton-Tucker displayed adequate playmaking skills.  He is a patient player that will move the basketball, and he would throw accurate entry passes to set up scores for his teammates.  Though he does not have great foot speed or agility, he also is an adequate ball handler that can get to where he needs to go with the basketball.  Sometimes he can get sloppy while handling the basketball though, which can lead him to commit some turnovers.  He tried to use a behind the back dribble move once, but he ended up clumsily dribbling the ball off his own foot and lost the ball prior to recovering it, only to throw a pass from the ground that got tipped and intercepted later on.  He also was called for a traveling violation on a baseline drive due to taking too many steps.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, Horton-Tucker was able to get a board on each end of the floor, and he was able to bring the ball up after leaping up to get a defensive board once.  He also played adequate defense.  When he is in position, he will use his length and positioning to actively contest jump shots, as he would do so to force misses.  But sometimes he can struggle to guard opponents out on the perimeter.  There was one play where he was late to rotate back to his man, and he allowed an open to score on a three in transition.  Another time, he ended up getting beat off the dribble to allow a score around the basket.

In summary, Talen Horton-Tucker is a savvy combo guard that can score the basketball in a variety of ways, and he also has some playmaking and defensive skills.  He may not be an elite athlete, but he has a good feel for the game, and he can find new inventive ways to his shot off to get buckets.  On the season though, he hasn’t shot the ball quite as well as he did in this match, but it would unlock a new dimension in his game if he does become a very good shooter.  Right now, Talen Horton-Tucker likely projects to be a second round prospect for the 2019 draft.  If he can consistently knock down jumpers, he could end up being a solid role player in the NBA akin to Houston Rockets’ guard, P.J. Tucker in the NBA.

Iowa State’s sophomore guard, Lindell Wigginton also had a very good game in his team’s loss to Texas Tech.  He is an agile playmaker that can make a variety of shots, and he also handles the ball well.  He showed a strong knack for drawing fouls on offense, and he could project to be a microwave type of scorer at the next level.  Wigginton showed a very good ability to make threes to space the floor for his team.  He was able to run off of a screen to drill a quick corner three, and he also made an open corner three another time.  He did a tremendous job of drawing free throws off of three-point attempts, as he would use pump fakes and crossovers to draw his opponents out of position, and they would end up fouling him due to over-aggressiveness. On the downside, Wigginton struggled to consistently make his free throws when he was at the foul line.

He also showed a decent ability to score on strong drives to the hoop.  Wigginton has a fairly good first step off the dribble, and he can draw hoards of fouls upon his defenders.  He also used a pump fake to score on a floater another time while drawing an extra free throw afterwards.  But sometimes he can miss tough shots in traffic, as he can especially struggle when opponents rotate to defend him and when he does not get those foul calls.  Wigginton also was able to get offensive rebounds, but he had trouble finishing those plays in traffic.

He also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  Wigginton is a fairly good ball handler that can quickly get past his man off the dribble, and he also can make an assortment of passes to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  He can throw interior passes, and he also can kick the ball out to shooters.  On one nifty play, he received the ball on a cut and then promptly swung the ball to find an open shooter in the corner to notch an assist.  However, sometimes he may try to go too fast when making moves off the dribble, as he was called for a push off that led him to commit an offensive foul once, and he also had a couple of balls poked away due to overtly trying to force the issue.

Wigginton also did a great job of rebounding the basketball.  He would often leap up to get boards on both ends of the floor due to possessing good athleticism, motor, and instincts, and he was able to chase down his own miss at the free throw line to get an offensive board once.  Defensively though, he may need to improve on this side of the ball.  On one good play, Wigginton showed good footwork while defending a drive, and he forced his opponent to miss a tough fadeaway jumper, as he used his length and timing to do so.  However, he can tend to sag too far in the paint, as he would give his man too much space to shoot, which would cause him to allow three-point baskets to the opposition.  He also was called for a blocking foul when defending an opposing ball handler on a separate defensive possession.

Overall, Lindell Wigginton had a solid showing in his team’s loss to Texas Tech.  He excelled as a shooter, scorer, and rebounder in this game, and he also showed signs that he could also play the point at the next level.  Right now, he may be a second round prospect for the upcoming draft, but he could project to be a solid role player at the next level in the mold of a Roger Mason type in the association.

Iowa State’s 6-6 senior swingman, Marial Shayok had a fairly good performance in his team’s loss in this game.  He shot the ball well early on, and he excelled at making shots from long distances to help his team on offense.  He did struggle with some turnovers and with his position defense, but he generally played well against Texas Tech.

Shayok showed a knack for making pull-up threes, as he can dribble off of screens or up to the three-point line to do so.  He also was able to use a pump fake to get a defender in the air prior to scoring on a pull-up, long two from the baseline.  He also was able to score on a quick right handed drive to the hoop, but he also missed another time, as he can struggle to regularly get past his man, and he can be prone to rushing his shots at times.

On the other hand, he was quite turnover prone in this game.  For the positives, Shayok can throw accurate interior passes off the dribble, and he can excel at finding his teammates when he plays patiently.  But sometimes he can tend to try to do too much when looking to create off the dribble, as he committed a couple of charging fouls, and he also had a ball poked away to lose it to an opponent.  He also committed another turnover by throwing a hard pass that his teammate dropped.  Shayok didn’t grab many rebounds, but he was able to leap up to get a defensive board in this game.  But there was one play where he did not box out his man, and he allowed his opponent to grab an offensive rebound, which forced his teammate to commit a foul on a put back.

He also may need to improve defensively as well.  He did have one good play, as he contested a corner three to force a miss.  However, he had trouble staying in front of his man, as he would get beat off the dribble to allow scores.  There was another time where he and a teammate failed to communicate how to defend both opponents when guarding the pick and roll, which allowed the screener to score on a three off of a pick and pop play.

Overall, Marial Shayok played fairly well, as he is an athletic swingman that can knock down shots from beyond the arc.  He will need to improve his ball handling and position defense, and also learn to play more under control.  Right now, he may be a borderline second round prospect for the upcoming draft, and in a favorable scenario, he could perhaps end up being a similar player to New Orleans Pelicans’ forward, Darius Miller in the NBA.

Other Notes:

Texas Tech’s senior center, Tariq Owens quietly had a fairly good showing in his team’s win over Iowa State, as he rebounded and defended well.  He did not look to score often, but he would score on hustle plays, as he had a tendency to score off of put backs, and he also drew free throws after getting the ball on a roll to the rim.  Owens did a very good job of rebounding and defending, but sometimes he would commit fouls when going for offensive boards. 

He also defended fairly well.  Owens would often rotate to block shots off of drives and shots around the rim to protect the paint for his team.  He also managed to contest a pull-up three to force a miss.  Another time, he was defending a drive out on the perimeter, and successfully drew a charge to help his team.  But sometimes he would be late to close out on shooters, which would cause him to allow opponents to score on three-point baskets.  Other times, he would be too aggressive, as he would be out of position, which would cause him to commit fouls and allow scores on drives to the hoop.In summary, Owens quietly had a good game, as he made solid team plays to help get Texas Tech the win.  He will still need to expand his skill set on offense, but his ability to block shots and defend could help him lock down a spot to make an NBA team’s summer league roster, and in a favorable scenario, he could end up being a backup center in the NBA.

Texas Tech’s senior guard, Matt Mooney had an up and down game, but he generally defended well when he was on the court.  He struggled to consistently knock down shots, but he did show that he can score on quick drives, and he also made a quick spot-up three from the corner.  He did struggle to score in traffic in this game, and he had a couple of his shots blocked.   He showed off fairly average playmaking skills.  While he can find a cutter and kick the ball out to shooters to notch several assists, he also was inaccurate on some of his passes, as some of them sailed out of bounds.

He did a very good job of rebounding and defending in this game.  Mooney is a feisty player that will get after it on the glass, and he would hustle to come away with boards, as he especially did a good job of getting defensive rebounds.  He also played fairly good defense.  Mooney has very good hands and instincts, and he would often poke balls away to get steals.  He also would contest threes to force misses.  However, sometimes he would struggle to guard his man on the ball, and he also would be late on his rotations, which would cause him to commit fouls on shooters.  Overall, Mooney did not shoot the ball quite as well as he has on the season, but he made solid plays on the defensive end, and he could end up making an NBA team’s summer league roster this year.

Iowa State’s 6-5 senior guard, Nick Weiler-Babb had an up and down game in his team’s loss to Texas Tech.  On offense, he did not stand out, but he made some strong plays defensively.  He did not look to score often, but he did show a knack for drawing free throws off of put backs after getting offensive rebounds.   He did show some passing skills, but he also had some trouble protecting the basketball at times.  He did a good job of rebounding and defense in this game.  Weiler-Babb would often rotate to block shots off of drives, and he also swatted a shot off of a roll to a teammate.  He also would poke balls away to get steals, and he would contest jump shots to force misses.  But sometimes he would sag too far off his man, which would cause him to allow opponents to score on jumpers.

In summary, Weiler-Babb is an interesting prospect.  He currently does not have much draft buzz, but his ability to distribute the basketball and defend could allow him to make an NBA team’s summer league roster.  He will need to improve his jump shot and shot creation skills, and he is not an overwhelming athlete.  But his ability to pass and defend could help him at the next level, and he could end up being a similar player to Kyle Weaver in the association.