Observing Tyus Battle and Justin Jackson in the Syracuse-Maryland Game

November 27, 2017

By Alan Lu

Recently, I decided to take the time to watch a game that was played between Syracuse and Maryland in this year’s Ben Ten/ACC Challenge, as this featured a couple of potential first round prospects in Maryland’s sophomore forward, Justin Jackson, as well as Syracuse’s sophomore swingman, Tyus Battle.  It was a close game that went down all the way to the wire, but in the end, Syracuse won by a narrow margin.  Here are my thoughts on how Battle and Jackson played, as well as how various players fared on this day.

Syracuse’s sophomore swingman, Tyus Battle had a solid game in his team’s win over Maryland.  He excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor, and he did a very good job of making shots and getting stops in this contest.  Battle showed a fairly good ability to garner scores off the dribble.  He is a strong, physical player that can bull his way to the hoop, and he can also score on floaters over defenders.  He has the acceleration to get all the way to the hoop, and he also has good body control and shooting touch to consistently score when he is in the paint.

Plus, he did a decent job of knocking down jumpers when he was on the floor.  Battle knocked down a couple of open threes off the catch, as he was able to take advantage of defenders leaving him open quite often.  However, Battle struggled to consistently make pull-up, mid-range jumpers.  He also displayed decent playmaking skills.  Battle would make the extra pass to find the open man, and he would throw good,, accurate passes to his teammates to set up scoring chances for them.  But he did commit a couple of turnovers off the dribble, as he was called for steps once, and he also committed a clear-out foul another time.

Also, Battle played solid defense.  He was able to heap on a loose ball to obtain a steal, and he also blocked a shot off of a drive in transition to get a stop for his team.  He was active as a help defender, and his ability to make plays on the ball helped make things tough for his opponents.  In general, Tyus Battle played quite well, and he ended up scoring 18 points in Syracuse’s win over Maryland.  He excelled as a shooter, scorer, and defender when he was on the floor, and he could be a solid value pick for an NBA team in the late first round portion of the upcoming draft.

Maryland’s Justin Jackson turned in a mixed performance, as he had his good and bad moments throughout this game.  For the positives, he looked to take shots more, and he generally excelled at knocking down jumpers.  Plus, he showed a great willingness to be a ball mover, and he at times did a good job at doing so.  He also would grab some rebounds and also make some solid defensive plays in this game.  On the other hand, he struggled with turnovers, and he also ended up having some trouble with his position defense at times.

Jackson excelled as a shooter when he was on the floor.  He did a good job of knocking down quick three-point shots off the catch, and he would take advantage of defenders leaving him open to do so.  Plus, he also was able to knock down a pull-up mid-range jumper.  He still did not look to go all the way to the hoop when making plays off the dribble though, and he also missed a put back once off of an offensive rebound.

In this game, he showed fairly average playmaking skills.  For the positives, he is a very unselfish player that showed a good ability to throw interior passes, as he was able to notch many assists as a result.  However, he also was quite turnover prone as well, as he would also get his passes intercepted, including one time where he fell down on a drive after drawing inadvertent contact, and he threw an ill-advised pass from the ground that ended up going to the other team.

Plus, he also was able to haul in his fair share of boards on both ends of the floor.  Jackson was quite active on the offensive glass, and he would help his team retain possession of the basketball.  However, there were times where he would forget to block out, as his team would end up allowing put back scores.  Also, there was another play where he committed a foul when going after a defensive rebound.

He also played fairly good defense.  Jackson showed a knack for collecting steals, as he can catch passes that are thrown to him, and he can apply ball pressure to help force turnovers.  Also, he did manage to block a shot inside the paint, though it was directly to his opponent, as the other team later scored on that possession.  However, Jackson struggled to consistently stay in front of his man on drives, as this would lead to his team to allow scores as a result.

In general, Justin Jackson had a significantly better game than how he fared against Butler, but it may still be unclear if he should end up being drafted in the first round of an NBA draft.  In this game, he did show a solid ability to knock down jumpers, he played unselfishly, and he also was active as a help defender.  However, he did not look to create his own shot often, he was also quite turnover prone, and he struggled with his position defense at times as he has trouble guarding quicker players off the dribble.  Though Jackson may be valued by NBA scouts and teams as a first round prospect, he probably should be considered more of a second round prospect as he will need to be a more dynamic player on offense, and he will have to show teams that he can play lock-down defense more on a regular basis.

Other Notes:

Syracuse’s 6-5 junior guard, Frank Howard had a solid game in his team’s win over Maryland.  He played well in just about every facet of the game, except for knocking down jumpers, as Howard nearly had a triple-double in this game.  He did an adequate job of getting scores off the dribble.  Howard is a quick, skilled guard that can get to the hoop, and he can often garner scores and free throws especially when he drives the ball to the hoop in transition.  He also showed the ability to make a pull-up, mid-range jumper.  However, Howard had trouble making threes consistently, as he was inefficient at knocking down shots from downtown.

Howard also displayed solid playmaking skills.  He would throw crisp, accurate passes to his teammates to set up scoring chances in a variety of ways, and he can throw lobs as well as kick it out to them off the dribble to get assists.  But he was a bit turnover prone, and on one play, he threw a weakly thrown bounce pass once that ended up being intercepted.

He played terrific defense in this game.  Howard came away with seven steals, as he would frequently intercept passes and rip balls away to force many turnovers throughout this contest.  He also would stay in front of his man due to possessing solid athleticism and lateral quickness, as his ability to force turnovers was quite impressive.  Also, he was able to help out on the boards when he was on the floor.

In general, Frank Howard may be a sleeper for either the upcoming NBA draft or in the future, as he is an athletic, skilled combo guard that can really pass and get steals for his team.  He will need to improve his jump shot, but he could be a potential first round pick if he can keep playing well as the season progresses.

Maryland’s 6-7 sophomore point guard, Kevin Huerter played really well in a loss to Syracuse, as he really excelled at knocking down threes, as he can do so both off the catch and dribble, and he can make shots from really far out.  Plus, he possesses good court vision, as he can make an assortment of passes to set up scoring chance for his team.

He also possesses good leaping skills as well as a very good motor, as he generally played good defense in this game.  Huerter managed to swat a shot on the break out of bounds, and he also leapt up to knock a ball away from an opponent on a drive to force another turnover, but sometimes, he would get his passes intercepted on offense, and he also had some trouble defending opponents on drives to the hoop, as he does not possess elite lateral quickness.  In general, Kevin Huerter had a very good game, as he scored 23 points, and he made 7 three-pointers against Syracuse.  As he may possess solid offensive skills, he could be a sleeper that may be a good find for an NBA team when he decides to enter the NBA draft.

Maryland’s 6-10 freshman center, Bruno Fernando also had a solid game in a loss to Syracuse.  At various times of this game, the Terrapins would move the ball well, and Fernando would get the ball around the hoop, to get scores and free throws for his team.   He also runs the floor well, as he is a very athletic big man that possesses a solid motor, and he managed to throw down some powerful, vicious dunks, as he would attack the rim with great authority.  Plus, he was quite active on the offensive glass, and he would score and get free throws on put backs.

Also, he played adequate defense.  He is a very good help defender that can really elevate to block shots to protect the paint, and he also managed to break up a lob pass to get a steal for his team.  But sometimes he can be too aggressive, which can lead him to commit fouls.  Another time, he fell asleep when defending in the paint, as he allowed an opponent to catch a lob past him, which led his team to give up the basket.  Bruno Fernando is an intriguing prospect, as he could project to be a highly energetic, rim protector at the next level.  If he continues to play well, he could end up being a potential first round pick in the mold of a Festus Ezeli type in the NBA.

Syracuse’s 6-8 freshman forward, O’Shae Brissett had a good game in his team’s win over Maryland.  He generally excelled at scoring on quick, strong drives to the basket, and he also often scored on put backs off of offensive rebounds.  He did a great job of rebounding the basketball, and he is an athletic hybrid forward that can play multiple positions.  He did struggle with his jump shot though as he missed all of his three-point shots, and he had some misses on fast breaks.  He will need to improve his jump shot and show that he can be a plus-level playmaker and defender at the next level, but he could be a player to keep an eye on in the future.

This was not a good game for Maryland’s sophomore guard, Anthony Cowan.  If his strong performance against Butler was a statement game, then his play against Syracuse looked to have been nearly the exact opposite of that.  He struggled to knock down jumpers consistently, but he did show an adequate ability to score on drives to the basket.  Cowan did display some good facilitation skills at times, as he would kick it out to shooters and hit cutters to set up scores for his teammates.  However, he did also throw an inaccurate pass that was intercepted, and he also would commit careless turnovers when handling the basketball.

Also, he did not fare very well defensively, as his small stature made it difficult for him to successfully challenge shots, and he also ended up getting beat off the dribble, which would cause him to commit fouls and allow scores as a result.  Cowan’s strong performance against Butler showed that he has the potential to be an NBA player, but his lackluster play against Syracuse may suggest that he may still have ways to go before that can become likely.  He will need to be a more consistent playmaker when he is on the court, and if he can do so, he could end up being an effective role player in the association.

Maryland’s 7-1 senior center, Michal Cekovsky was able to score on a jump hook in the post after using a drop step move early in the game, and he showed a fairly good ability to score in the paint when he would elect to take shots.   However, Cekovsky did not have much of an impact on this game overall, and after making some good plays early on, he kind of faded into the background, as he was basically a non-factor down the stretch.

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