Observing Trae Young, Chimezie Metu, and Elijah Stewart in the Oklahoma-USC Game

December 8, 2017

By Alan Lu

Today, I decided to tune in to watch Trae Young and Oklahoma take on the USC Trojans.  Trae Young is a very skilled point guard that has been getting a lot of draft buzz lately due to his strong play at the PK80 Classic as well as throughout this season, and he has been mentioned as a first round prospect for 2018.  USC also had numerous prospects that played in this game, and this one came down to the very last shot, but Oklahoma managed to squeak out a two-point victory on the road.  Trae Young played really well, as he managed to score 29 points and dish out 9 assists in a win for his team.  Here are my thoughts on how he performed, as well as how other various prospects fared on this day.

Trae Young showed a solid ability to garner scores off the dribble.  He is a quick, shifty guard that can score on numerous floaters, and he can use a wide array of ball handling moves to get his shots off.  He also is a very good shooter that can make pull-up threes effortlessly, and he is adept at knocking down difficult shots, though he can tend to take too many of them, which can hurt his shooting percentages.  Plus, Young also showed a knack for making threes off curls, and he has both a very quick release as well as a lot of range that can enable him to excel as a shooter from all over the floor.

He also displayed solid playmaking skills.  Young has very good court sense, and he can quickly find his teammates in stride to notch many assists for his team.  He’ll push the ball and find open shooters out on the break, and he also can throw accurate lobs to set up alley-oop dunks for his teammates.  He also is an agile playmaker that can split a double team off of a drive, as he threw a nifty pass to a cutter that almost led to a score, but it was waved off as the shot clock expired in his teammate’s hands before he was able to throw down the dunk.  But sometimes, Young can play too wildly, as he may throw an inaccurate pass or get called for steps on a drive every once in a while, which can lead to a few turnovers.

In this game, Young did not grab many rebounds, but he did manage to leap up to get one defensive board.  Defensively, Young looked to be about average.  He was able to collect a steal, and he also managed to contest a mid-range shot to force a miss, but he did have some lapses on occasion, as he got beat off of a drive that led his teammate to commit a foul around the basket once, and he also allowed an opponent to score on a three-point shot another time.

In general, Trae Young played very well, as he is a very skilled basketball player that can really help his team on offense.  He can score the ball early and often, and he also is a sound playmaker that tends to make good reads when he is on the floor.  He does have a tendency to rush up shots at times, but he will make a good portion of them even despite that.  Sometimes he may play too fast, but Young generally showed a knack for making solid plays on the court.  With his skill set, Young could be a solid pick for a team in the mid first round range of the upcoming draft.

USC’s junior big man, Chimezie Metu put forth a decent showing in his team’s loss to Oklahoma.  Despite the turnovers and fouls, Metu was able to impact the game in many different ways, and he also made some good passes that went unaccounted for.  Metu showed a strong ability to finish plays around the basket.  He would throw down emphatic dunks to get scores at the rim, and he also managed to draw free throws on a dunk attempt off of a roll to the hoop.

Plus, he also showed off adequate low post scoring skills.  Metu showed the ability to score on hook shots, as he can make a sweeping hook shot, or score after using a pivot move.  Metu is an agile big man that possesses good footwork when he is looking to score from the block.  But sometimes, he may not always display great shooting touch when looking to take shots in the post, which can result in misses.

He also showed a decent ability to score on drives to the hoop.  On one play, Metu managed to use a quick jab step prior to scoring on a high post drive.  He did miss an off-balanced fadeaway jumper another time after initially trying to go all the way to the hoop.  Metu also missed a face-up mid-range shot, and in this game, pretty much all of his scores were around the basket.

However, Metu displayed below average playmaking skills in this game.  For the positives, he did play unselfishly, and he was able to find open shooters, and throw crisp passes from the post to set up numerous scoring chances for his teammates.  But he did commit many turnovers when he was on the floor.  A couple of his passes ended up being intercepted, while one sailed out of bounds.  Another time, he was called for an offensive foul when posting up, and he also was called for setting a moving screen once.  A combination of all of these turnovers really hurt his ability to consistently make plays on offense against Oklahoma.

Metu did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He hauled in many defensive boards, as he would tend to leap up to do so, and he also managed to run down another ball to help his team collect rebounds.  He also seemed to play very good defense.  Metu was able to block numerous shots, as he can swat shots to prevent opponents from scoring on drives and put backs.  Plus, he also excelled at deflecting passes, and he can contest outside shots as well as shots in the post to force misses.  There was perhaps only one bad play though, as his team ended up allowing the opposition to score on a put back, as he gave up too much ground to his opponent prior to contesting the shot.

In this game, Chimezie Metu had a fairly good game, as he is a very athletic big man that can project into being a shot blocking, rim protector at the next level.  He will likely need to continue to improve his skill set offensively, as he will have to continue to refine his jump shot, and cut down on the number of turnovers he commits in games, but with his skill set, he could be a good value pick for an NBA team in the late first round range on draft day.

USC’s senior swingman, Elijah Stewart played very well as he had a solid showing in this game against Oklahoma.  He excelled at making plays on both ends of the court, and he was able to excel as both as a shooter and as a shot blocker when he was on the floor.  Stewart did a great job of knocking down threes from beyond the arc.  Stewart excelled at making spot-up threes off the catch, and he also made one after running off of a curl to hoist up a shot in the corner.  Plus, he also was able to make a pull-up three, and in this game, he did a terrific job of knocking down jumpers to space the floor for his team.

He also scored on a thunderous tip dunk as he leapt up to throw one down ferociously after getting a quick offensive board.  Stewart did miss a mid-range shot once, and he had a shot blocked off of a drive, but generally he excelled as a floor spacer on offense.  Stewart also displayed adequate playmaking skills, as he generally threw accurate passes to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  Plus, he managed to haul in multiple boards on both ends of the court.

Also, he played very good defense.  Stewart did a great job of blocking shots, particularly off of drives, and he also swatted a mid-range shot to force a miss.  Stewart excelled at contesting and altering shots around the basket, and he would also successfully challenge jumpers to get his opponents to miss shots.  But every once in a while, he would get beat off the dribble or commit a reach-in foul.

In this game, Elijah Stewart played very well, as his ability to make plays on both ends of the floor really helped his team stay in it all the way until the end.  He is an athletic swingman that can shoot, make energy plays, and block shots defensively, and he could end up being a good value pick for an NBA team in the second round range for 2018.

USC’s 6-0 senior point guard, Jordan McLaughlin played well in his team’s loss to Oklahoma.  He excelled as an offensive player when he was on the court, as he made contested threes to help his team space the floor, and he showed a good ability to score on tough drives to the basket.  He is an agile guard that can maneuver his way in the paint, though sometimes he can miss shots in traffic. 

He also passed the ball well, as he would find shooters and throw dump off passes to notch a wealth of assists, though he also was called for committing charging fouls when attempting to kick the ball out to shooters off of drives.  He appeared to play decent defense, as he managed to jump a pass to get a steal, but he also would occasionally give up too much space, as his team would allow the opposition to score on jumpers.

In this game, Jordan McLaughlin put forth a solid performance as he really excelled as an offensive player when he was on the floor.  Even though he does not possess elite athletic gifts, as he is a smart, skilled point guard that could be a valuable addition to an NBA team’s summer league roster, as he may have what it takes to find his way onto an NBA roster next season.

Oklahoma’s 6-9 senior big man, Khadeem Lattin played very good defense in his team’s win over USC.  He is a long, rangy player that can use his length, athleticism, and timing to swat many shots, and he was particularly adept at swatting shots to prevent opponents from scoring on drives to the basket. 

He did a great job of protecting the paint for his team, and he would swat shots ferociously on multiple occasions.  Also, Lattin would play passing lanes, get his hands on balls, and poke balls away to help his team force turnovers.  However, sometimes he would commit fouls on ball handlers due to over-aggressiveness.  Other times, he would over commit on a play, which would allow his man to get a score around the basket.

Plus, he also managed to catch a lob pass to score on an alley-oop dunk off of a cut.  Lattin excelled as a finisher around the basket, and he also would draw fouls on his opponents.  He did make a jump hook in the post, but he struggled to consistently score from the block, and he had trouble knocking down jumpers against USC.  He also threw a pass that ended up getting picked off, as that was his lone turnover of the game.

In all, Khadeem Lattin had a good showing, as he played really well defensively to help shore up the paint for his team.  He may not be the most skilled offensive player however, and he only seemed to score when he was right around the basket, but still, as he is a very athletic player that that has an innate ability to block shots and protect the paint, he could end up being a potential second round pick in 2018.

USC’s 6-10 junior big man, Bennie Boatwright had an up and down game in his team’s loss to Oklahoma.  He was able to show an adequate ability to face the basket and score, and he did a show a good ability to knock down mid-range jumpers.  He showed a decent ability to score on drives as well as off of put backs.  However, Boatwright had lots of trouble trying to make three-point shots consistently, as he couldn’t really get a feel for his jump shot in this game.

Plus, he also showed average playmaking skills.  Boatwright did play unselfishly, as he would throw entry passes, and find open shooters, and he was able to get numerous assists when he was on the floor.  However, he also committed plenty of turnovers, as he would throw inaccurate passes, show sloppy footwork when looking to drive to the hoop, and he also set a moving screen once.  Boatwright showed a good ability to rebound the basketball.  He would leap up to get numerous boards on both sides of the ball, and he would get tough boards in traffic on occasion.

Defensively, he may have been about average.  Boatwright would block some shots to protect the paint for his team, and he would stay in front of his man on drives as well as in the post to force them to pass up shots or to travel.  However, he would also be late to contest shots, which would lead to his team to allow three-point baskets.  He also was beat off the dribble once, and he also committed a foul on a ball handler when his opponent almost committed an over and back violation.

In general, Bennie Boatwright had his highs and lows in his team’s loss to Oklahoma.  He can make shots both off the catch and dribble, but he will need to be more consistent at making threes as well as finishing plays around the basket.  But he is also an athletic big man that possesses a variety of skills on both ends of the floor, as he could end up being an intriguing option for teams to consider in the second round portion of the NBA draft.

Other Notes:

Oklahoma’s 6-4 junior guard, Christian James shot the ball really well, as he did a great job of making spot-up threes off the catch to excel as a floor spacer in this game.  He also managed to score on an alley-oop dunk after leaping up to get the ball on a cut, and he also scored on a put back.   James is an athletic combo guard that can shoot the basketball and score on off-ball motion plays, and he could be a potential second round pick whenever he declares for the NBA draft.

USC’s 6-11 junior center, Nick Rakocevic had a good game, as he was able to excel at scoring and rebounding the basketball to provide his team with a boost off the bench.  He excelled at scoring on rolls to the rim, and he hauled in many rebounds when he was on the floor.  He really helped his team during the middle of this contest, and he could be a player to keep an eye on in the future.