Quick Thoughts on Zion Williamson, Tacko Fall, and Aubrey Dawkins in the Duke-UCF Game

March 24, 2019

by Alan Lu

Today, I was able to watch the Duke-UCF game, and it was a thriller that went all the way down to the wire.  There were controversial calls, and no-calls, but both teams played well, and unfortunately only one team could win this game.  Duke went on to advance to the Sweet 16, but both teams played well.  Zion Williamson, Tacko Fall, and Aubrey Dawins were the standouts in this contest.  While I will keep this concise this time around, here are my thoughts on how they fared, as well as other things that caught my eye on this day.

Duke’s freshman forward, Zion Williamson quietly had a good game as he helped lead Duke to a one-point win over UCF, even if his game didn’t appear to be pretty.  He did struggle against Tacko Fall at first, but he eventually found his footing.  He made threes, did a good job of scoring on close-range drives to the hoop, and he would especially thrive when Fall was either in foul trouble or not in the game.  He consistently played well in the second half, though.  Williamson consistently made threes, and he also would score on strong drives to the hoop.  He was a handful for opponents in the paint, as he could will his way and draw many free throws once there.  While Williamson didn’t seem to have many, if any eye-popping plays today, which is unusual for him, he still had a solid game, as he quietly managed to score 32 points in his team’s win over UCF.  Right now, Williamson is still the favorite to be the top pick of the 2019 NBA Draft.

UCF’s 7-6 senior center, Tacko Fall had a good game in his team’s loss to Duke.  He played very well early, as he has great size and hands, and he can finish numerous plays in the paint to score on dunks.  He can excel as a low post scorer, especially when he gets deep position, but he tended to struggle more when he would set up further away from the basket.  He did end up in foul trouble, and it led him to play more conservatively on defense, which hurt his ability to contest shots inside. 

Overall, this game helped Fall’s standing as a draft prospect, as he showed he can run with the top players in college, and he showed off solid inside scoring and defensive skills in this game.  He did foul out on a controversial late game call, though.  He also will likely need to fix his free throw shooting motion, as he shoots with his elbows out, and he scrunches his arms in to try to make them, which led to misses at the foul line.  Still, Fall shined with his ability to score and defend in the paint, and he could be a good value pick for a team in the 2nd Round, as he could end up being a solid role player in the NBA.

UCF’s 6-6 junior guard, Aubrey Dawkins is a very good shooter, as he can make many spot-up threes off the catch, and he also can run off screens to knock down shots.  He also can drive to the hoop to score, but he struggled with the press, as he had trouble passing or dribbling when facing heavy ball pressure.  Still, Dawkins was impressive in his ability to make shots in a variety of ways, and he can really shoot the basketball.  He is an athletic, skilled swingman that can put up a lot of points in a hurry, and he could be a sleeper for the 2019 draft, as he may be a solid find for a team in the late first to the second round range.

Other Notes:

Duke’s 6-7 freshman swingman, Cam Reddish shot the ball well, as he made big threes when his team needed him down the stretch, and he proved to be reliable in making big shots in crunch time.  He didn’t take over this game, but he shot the ball well, especially down the stretch, and he is a solid prospect that could be a likely bet to go in the top 5 on draft day.

Duke’s 6-7 freshman forward, R.J. Barrett made a clutch play late in the game, as he grabbed an offensive rebound off of Zion Williamson’s missed free throw, and later scored on a game-winning put back to help his team defeat UCF by 1.  In the game, he had 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists.  

UCF’s senior point guard, B.J. Taylor did a good job of driving to the basket to garner scores, and he also made a couple of threes, but he struggled to make jumpers at times, and he occasionally struggled to find open teammates in games.  He is a fleet-footed point guard that can get to the rim to score the basketball, but he will need to improve his court vision and consistency on the court.  Right now, he may be a good candidate to be invited to the Portsmouth Invitational, and he could end up making an NBA team’s summer league roster this year.

For Tennessee, Admiral Schofield shot the ball well in his team’s overtime win over Iowa, and he did a very good job of knocking down threes to provide ample floor spacing for his team on offense.  Grant Williams also played very well, as he had a strong all-around game, as he had 19 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, and 3 blocks in this contest.  Both players could be good bets to be first round picks for the upcoming draft.