Thoughts on Ignas Brazdeikis, Charles Matthews, and Romeo Langford

January 28, 2019

by Alan Lu

Recently, I took the opportunity to watch Michigan play against Indiana in a Big Ten conference basketball game that featured numerous prospects that could end up being selected in the first round of the upcoming draft.  It was a fairly lopsided affair from the get-go, as Michigan pounced on them early, Romeo Langford ended up in quick foul trouble, and the Wolverines never looked back after that as they cruised to an easy win over the Hoosiers.  Many of Michigan’s players played well, while Romeo Langford had sort of a rough night in his team’s loss.  Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared, as well as how their games may translate to the NBA.

Michigan’s 6-7 freshman forward, Ignas Brazdeikis had a solid showing in his team’s win over Indiana.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, and he primarily excelled as a shooter and scorer when he was on the court.  He did a very good job of knocking down threes to space the floor for his team on offense.  Brazdeikis excelled at making quick, open spot-up threes off the catch, and he even ran off of a screen to knock one down early on in this contest.

He also showed a knack for scoring on smooth drives to the basket.  Brazdeikis is a crafty scorer that can finish plays with either hand, and he also scored on a switch of hands, reverse layup once.  Another time, he was able to score on an aggressive right-handed drive to the hoop, while also drawing an additional free throw on the play.

Also, he displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  Though he looked to score quite often, Brazdeikis will sometimes swing the ball to open shooters to set up scoring chances for them.  But every once in a while, he may have trouble protecting the basketball, as he can get it poked away on occasion, which led him to almost commit a couple of turnovers.  He also did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  Brazdeikis would tend to leap up to haul in defensive boards to help his team on the glass, but there was one play where he was called for committing a loose ball foul when going for an offensive board once.

Defensively, he looked to be fairly average at best.  Brazdeikis was able to contest a long two to force a miss, and he also managed to tie up an opponent on a drive to force a jump ball another time.  On a separate play, he was able to force a miss when defending a drive in transition.  However, there were a couple of plays where he got beat off the dribble, and ended up fouling, and another time, he kept backpedaling and allowed the score as he struggled to stay in front of his man to contest the shot.  On a separate instance, he was caught on a screen and was unable to get out on a shooter, as his team allowed a three-point score on that occasion.

In general, Ignas Brazdeikis played well in his team’s victory on this day.  He is a tall shooter that can score the basketball in a variety of ways, and he is a smart player that has a knack for making sound plays when he is in the game.  Right now, he may project to go in the late first to the second round range, as his ability to knock down shots could allow him to be a solid complementary player in the NBA.

Michigan’s 6-6 senior swingman, Charles Matthews also put forth a good performance to help get his team a double-digit victory over Indiana.  He was able to show off some shooting skills, and he also rebounded and defended very well when he was on the court.  Matthews did an adequate job of knocking down jumpers to space the floor for his team.   He was able to make a three both off the catch and dribble, and he also knocked down a pull-up long two after dribbling off of a screen.  But he also was streaky with his shot, as he would also miss spot-up threes on occasion.  He also showed the ability to draw fouls when driving the ball to the basket, and he also drew free throws on a fadeaway jumper in the post, but he also would miss shots due to rushing his shots.

He also displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  When he was on the floor, he showed a solid ability to kick the ball out to shooters off the dribble to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  But he also was turnover prone in this game.  He would be careless in handling the basketball, as he ended up losing the ball on a couple of occasions, and he also was called for traveling when shuffling his feet on a drive another time.  Also, Matthews did a great job of rebounding the basketball.  He would consistently leap up to haul in defensive boards, as he would crash the glass often get his team rebounds. 

In addition, he also played very good defense.  Matthews is a smart, disciplined defender that has very good agility, footwork, and instincts.  He did a good job of contesting drives, and he would not bite on Langford’s attempts to draw fouls on him, and Matthews would stay in front of him and be well-positioned to successfully challenge his shots to force misses.  Matthews also excelled at contesting threes to get his opponents to miss shots.  Also, he was able to poke a ball away to help his team force a turnover, and he also managed to deflect a pass another time.  A couple of times, he was called for reach-in fouls, but overall, he had a strong game defensively, as he was able to shut down Langford on this day.

In summary, Charles Matthews quietly had a good game, as he rebounded and defended very well, and he was able to make some key shots during the middle of this game to help his team run away with the victory.  He will still need to improve his jump shot, but he is a smart, athletic swingman that could end up being a solid defender at the next level, and he could be a good pick for a team in the second round range for the upcoming draft.

Indiana’s 6-6 freshman swingman Romeo Langford did not have a great game, and he had a terrible first half, as he was plagued with foul trouble, which mostly prevented from getting into any sort of rhythm on offense when he was on the floor.  He really struggled with his jump shot, as he would tend to miss on pull-up jumpers, and he had trouble scoring on half-court drives due to the strong defensive play of Charles Matthews.  Langford would often try to draw fouls on his defender, but his defender did the smart thing by avoiding Langford whenever he would try to lean in, which would lead Langford to take an off-balanced leaner that would miss.

On the other hand, Langford did show a solid ability to get scores on aggressive drives to the hoop in transition when he had the chance to do so, and he would go hard to the rim and use pivot and spin moves to garner scores.  On one such occasion, he was able to draw an additional free throw after scoring on a fast break drive to the basket.

Also, he showed off decent low post scoring skills.  Langford was able to barrel in to draw free throws after looking to score from the block once, but he missed another time after attempting to score on a leaner on a separate play.  Langford displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  He looked to score quite often, but he can find the open man to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  But he did throw one pass that ended up getting deflected, and his lone turnover was when he was called for traveling violation when looking to create something off the dribble.

He also did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  Langford was able to haul in plenty of boards on both ends of the floor.  However, he may need to improve his defense.  He had trouble defending his man off the dribble, as he ended up getting beat to allow a score, and he also committed a blocking foul another time to give up the basket and an additional free throw on a separate play.  He also committed a foul when guarding his man in the post as he fouled him on a fadeaway jumper.

Overall, Romeo Langford struggled in this game, and it was largely due to the bad start he was off to due to being in constant foul trouble in the first half.  He was held scoreless in that time span, and he committed three fouls in the first twenty minutes of the game.  Langford played better after that, but by then, his team was very far away from the lead, and he still didn’t shoot the ball that well overall. 

Langford is a talented swingman that excels as a slasher on offense, but he at times he can be too reliant on scoring and draw free throws on drives to the rim, and he will need to improve his jump shot and defense.  Right now, he may be a borderline candidate to go in the lottery, as he could still end up being a good player in the association, but he will need to work on improving in the finer points of the game.

Also, Michigan’s 6-4 sophomore guard, Jordan Poole had a decent game in his team’s win over Indiana.  Though he was inconsistent in making shots overall, he played stellar defense to help his team get a double-digit victory over their conference opponent.  He did a good job of knocking down threes, as he was able to make a corner three, and he also used a step back move to make a pull-up three-pointer from beyond the arc.  However, he did not take many shots overall, and missed both of his shots from inside the arc.  He did show the ability to make passes off the dribble, but he also committed a couple of turnovers due to carelessness.  He lost the handle once when dribbling the ball, and he also was called for a push off to commit an offensive foul another time.

Poole played very good defense.  He is an athletic, rangy guard that can make numerous plays on and off the ball.  He was able to recover on a drive to make a terrific chase down block on his opponent, and he also intercepted a pass to get a steal.  He also ran in to poke a ball away to get a quick steal, and he also was able to defend in the post and out on the three-point line to force misses.  On the other hand, he had a tendency to commit reach-in fouls at times due to over-aggressiveness.  Overall, Jordan Poole did not have his best game, but he still was able to make some solid plays when he was on the floor.  He is an athletic, combo guard that can shoot and defend, and he could be a potential second round pick, as he could end up being a 3 and D type of player at the next level.

Others:

Indiana’s 6-8 senior forward, Juwan Morgan hauled in a double-double in his team’s loss to Michigan.  He did a good job of scoring in the post, as he can score on jump hooks and turnaround jumpers, and he also excelled at scoring on half-court drives in this game.  He also managed to score on a tip-in, and Morgan also rebounded the ball well.

Defensively, he made some good plays, but he will still need to improve noticeably as a position defender.  He was active as a help defender, as he would intercept passes to get steals, and he also blocked an opponent’s floater to protect the rim, but Morgan often struggled on screen defense, as he had trouble defending opponents on rolls to the rim.  He also would get beat off the dribble, which would cause him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Other times, he would over-help in the paint, and sag too far off his man, which would cause him to allow opponents to score on jumpers.

Overall, Morgan is an old school, throwback type of player that can score in the post and rebound, but he will need to improve his jump shot and position defense to improve his odds to make it and succeed in the NBA.  Right now, he may be a long shot to be drafted.  He lacks elite physical tools, ideal skills to play out on the perimeter, or the ideal size to play inside at the next level, but he is a competitive player that will compete, and he could be a likely bet to make an NBA team’s summer league roster this year.

Michigan’s 6-0 junior point guard, Zavier Simpson played well in his team’s win over Indiana.  He excelled at scoring on drives to the basket, and he excelled as a distributor on offense.  He did a great job of finding teammates off the dribble and on rolls to the rim, and Simpson also excelled at collecting defensive rebounds.  He did not make any of his threes however, and had a tendency to commit touch fouls, though.  Right now, Simpson is a smart, game manager that can reliably run the point at the collegiate level, and he could end up making an NBA team’s summer league roster sometime in the future.

7-1 junior center, Jon Teske had an up and down game for Michigan.  He was inconsistent in making outside shots, as he did throw up a couple of airballs from beyond the arc, but he also made an open spot-up three off of a pick and pop play.  Also, he was able to make an open mid-range shot off another pick and pop play, and Teske showed a good proficiency for making jump shots by finding ways to get open after setting screens for his teammates.

Teske also excelled at scoring on rolls to the rim, and he was able to throw down a powerful dunk after diving to the basket to get the ball to score in the paint.  Also, he managed to score on a tip-in after leaping up to get an offensive board.  Defensively, he looked to be fairly average.  He was able to block a shot off of a drive, and he also jumped an entry pass to get a steal, and Teske is an active help defender that can make plays in the paint.  However, he tended to commit fouls as he would aggressively try to contest shots in the paint, and he also ended up getting backed down another time to allow a score in the post.

Overall, Teske is an athletic, energetic center that has potential to excel as a stretch big and rim protector at the next level.  He will need to continue to hone his overall game, but if he can continue to develop as an overall player, he could end up being a potential second round pick due to possessing an intriguing skill set that could allow him to thrive as a role player in the NBA.

Indiana’s 6-4 sophomore guard, Aljami Durham had some good moments in the first half in his team’s lopsided loss to Michigan.  He is an athletic combo guard that will take the ball hard to the basket, and he showed a knack for drawing hoards of fouls when looking to score on quick, strong drives to the hoop.  On the other hand, he had trouble scoring on jumpers, and he will need to be a more consistent scorer in games.  But with his skill set, he could be a player to watch in the future if he can make those improvements as an overall player.