Thoughts on R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Cam Reddish in the Duke-Virginia Game

February 10, 2019

by Alan Lu

I decided to take the time to watch R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Duke take on Virginia in an ACC basketball game that was played on February 9th.  It was a very competitive game that was played between two highly ranked teams, but Duke was able to jump on Virginia early, and they held on to get a double-digit win over their opponent due to excellent shooting and strong all-around play.  Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared in this game, as well as how their skills may translate to the NBA.

Duke’s 6-7 freshman swingman, R.J. Barrett put forth a terrific performance in his team’s win over Virginia.  He did an excellent job of shooting and scoring the basketball, especially early on, as he made a plethora of threes while also excelling at attacking the basket to get scores and assists to help his team on offense.  Plus, he also rebounded the ball well, and also was able to make some defensive plays when he was out on the court.

Barrett did a great job of knocking down threes to space the floor for his team.  He often would make open, spot-up three-pointers off the catch, and he also made one from the corner late in the game.  Plus, he also excelled at scoring on hustle plays, as he would run the floor to get scores in transition, and on one play, he was able to throw down a thunderous dunk on the break.  In addition, he also scored on a quick put back after getting an offensive board.  He struggled more to score on half-court drives though, and he had trouble looking to do so as opponents would force him to go to his right.  But when he was successful, he would draw fouls upon his defenders.

However, he was quite turnover prone in this game, though.  For the positives, he did a good job of kicking the ball out to shooters off the dribble to set up scores for his teammates, and he also was able to find a roll man to set up a scoring chance another time, but he would tend to try to do too much off the dribble at times, and he can tend to make careless mistakes on offense.  On one drive, he ended up getting tied up once, and had a ball poked away another time.  He also committed an offensive foul after trying to establish post position off the ball once, and he also threw a pass that sailed out of bounds on a separate occurrence.

Also, Barrett did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was quite active at crashing the glass, and he was able to haul in plenty of boards on both ends of the floor.  Defensively, he looked to be about average.  Barrett was able to catch a tipped pass to get a steal, and he also would contest threes to force misses.  On one such play, he made a good decision to not bite on a ball fake, and aptly contested the outside shot to get his opponent to miss it, but sometimes, he would give up too much space to his man to allow opponents to score on jumpers, and there was one play where he did not even rotate back or contest the shot.  He also got beat off the dribble once, and ended up fouling his man on a drive to the hoop.  In general, R.J. Barrett played very well, as he really excelled as a shooter and scorer to help get his team a double-digit victory over Virginia.  He really helped himself by having a strong showing here, and he could be a good candidate to be the top pick for the upcoming draft, as he has the ability to end up being a multi-All-Star in the NBA.

Duke’s freshman forward, Zion Williamson had a good showing in his team’s win over Virginia.  He played well in virtually all facets of the game.  Though he did struggle with some turnovers to start the second half, he played well down the stretch to help his team secure the victory.  Williamson did a very good job of attacking the basket to garner scores.  He would often score on drives in transition as well as in the post.  He managed to throw down a powerful dunk on the break, and he also threw down a ferocious slam after being left open around the hoop another time.  Also, he was able to draw free throws on a reverse layup after getting the ball in the post on a separate play.

He also shot the ball well, and he was able to make a spot-up three off the catch.  Williamson also was able to score on a strong, patient drive to the hoop once while getting an extra free throw, but sometimes he would miss on half-court drives, as he would occasionally not always have his balance or struggle to score in traffic in this game.

Also, Williamson displayed fairly average playmaking skills in this game.  For the positives, he did a good job of finding open shooters, as he can pass out of double teams in the post and kick it out to them off the dribble, but sometimes, he would try to do too much, as he would attempt to barrel into traffic which would cause him to lose the ball off of drives, and he also would sometimes have the ball taken away.  He also threw a hard pass that his teammate dropped, and he also traveled another time when passing out of the post.  Plus, he also was able to haul in multiple boards on both ends of the floor.  Though Williamson did not grab many rebounds overall, he would leap up to get offensive boards to help his team on the glass.

He also played terrific defense.  He would often run down loose balls to get steals, and he also intercepted a pass to prevent an opponent from getting the ball on a cut.  Also, Williamson did an outstanding job of blocking shots, as he was able to swat a shot inside the paint, as well as on a couple of threes, including one where he swatted it ferociously out of bounds.  He did a very good job of contesting threes as well as shots in general to force opponents to miss a wealth of shots.  In summary, Zion Williamson played well in his team’s win over Virginia, and he was able to help out in many different areas of the game.  He has had an excellent freshman season, and he is a very athletic, dynamic player that could likely be the top pick of the upcoming draft, as he could end up being a perennial All-Star in the NBA.

Duke’s 6-7 freshman swingman, Cam Reddish also had a strong showing in his team’s win over Virginia.  He did a great job of shooting and scoring the basketball, and he also made some very solid defensive plays when he was on the court.  Reddish did a great job of knocking down spot-up threes to space the floor for his team on offense.  He would often take advantage whenever opponents would give him the space to shoot, and he even made a bank three from well beyond the arc.  He also ran the floor to score off the glass in transition, and he has very good athleticism and scoring touch to get scores on the break.

He also displayed solid playmaking skills.  Reddish excelled at throwing passes off the dribble, and he has good court vision as he can spot open teammates quickly on the floor.  Reddish also played good defense.  He showed a knack for getting steals and blocks in this game, as he would poke balls away to force turnovers, and he would make swift rotations to swat shots off of drives due to possessing tremendous length, athleticism, and instincts to do so.  He also would contest threes to force misses.  But sometimes he would be caught ball watching, which would lead him to being late on his rotations, and he also committed fouls on drives as he would sometimes struggle to guard his opponents off the dribble.

Overall, Cam Reddish played very well, as he played well in virtually all facets of the game to help lead his team to a double-digit victory.  He is a very athletic, skilled basketball player that can help his team in many different ways, and he is a strong candidate to be a top 5 pick, as he could end up being a very good player in the NBA.

Virginia’s 6-5 junior guard, Ty Jerome had a solid showing in his team’s loss to Duke.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, as well as strong playmaking and defensive skills when he was on the court.  He did a good job of scoring on tough floaters off of drives, as well as making threes, as he can do so off the catch or dribble.  Jerome also possesses good patience, ball handling skills, and court vision, as he can aptly find teammates on the move to set up scores for them.  But sometimes, he can struggle to protect the basketball, which can lead him to commit some turnovers.

Also, he played very good defense.  Jerome showed a great ability to poke balls away to get steals, he also tied up an opponent on a drive, and he also found a loose ball to collect another one for his team.  He showed a knack for jumping on loose balls and for poking balls away to help his team force turnovers.  Overall, Ty Jerome put forth a quality performance in his team’s loss, as he played well in many different areas of the game.  He made good decisions on both ends of the floor, and he also showed very good playmaking and defensive skills.  He is a smart, skilled player that can play either backcourt position, and he may project to be a potential first round pick, as he could end up being a good role player in the NBA.

Duke’s freshman point guard, Tre Jones played well in his team’s victory over Virginia.  Jones did a good job of scoring on quick drives to the hoop, and he can split double teams to score on floaters.  He also was able to make a corner three, and he also played very unselfishly, as he can make a variety of passes to set up scores for his teammates. He also was turnover prone in this game, as he also committed some careless mistakes on offense at times.

Plus, he also rebounded the ball very well and excelled at collecting steals.  He is a tenacious defender that would poke balls away, tip passes, and heap on loose balls to help his team force turnovers.  Overall, Tre Jones had a solid showing in his team’s win, and he could end up being a good value pick for a team in the mid to late first round range in the upcoming draft.

Other Notes:

Virginia’s 6-2 junior guard, Kyle Guy quietly played well in his team’s loss to Duke.  He would make tough shots off the dribble, and he also showed a knack for making pull-up threes.  Plus, he also scored on a floater off of a cut.  Plus, he showed off solid passing skills, ash e can find roll men and can kick the ball out to shooters to notch assists.  However, he struggled defensively, as he would sometimes give up too much space to his opponents or foul his opponents on that end of the floor.

Overall, he is a skilled combo guard that can knock down plenty of shots when he is on the floor.  He does not play the point and NBA teams may have concerns about whether he can do so at the next level, but he showed good playmaking skills in this game, and he may have the skills to find his way onto an NBA team’s roster as a Chris Quinn type of player at the next level.

De’Andre Hunter had an up and down game in his team’s loss to Duke.  In this game, he showed a knack for making mid-range jumpers, especially off the dribble.  He also drew free throws on an aggressive drive to the rim, and he even ran off the ball to score on a quick spot-up three.  However, Hunter struggled to consistently make threes, as he had trouble consistently spacing the floor for his team from beyond the arc.  He also was a bit turnover prone, as he had a tendency to throw inaccurate passes, and he also had a ball poked away after getting an offensive board to commit a turnover.  Hunter did not grab many rebounds, but he was able to haul in boards on both ends of the floor.

Defensively, he looked to be about average.  He generally did a good job of defending drives, as he was able to block a shot and force a miss once when doing so, but he also committed a foul another time after struggling to guard his man on a separate play.  He also had a tendency to sag too far in the paint, as he would allow opponents to score on open threes.

Overall, De’Andre Hunter showed a good ability to make mid-range jumpers, and he also can actively contest shots off of drives, but he struggled to consistently make threes, and ended up committing some turnovers.  Right now, he may be a late first to an early second round sort of prospect, but in a favorable scenario, he could succeed at the next level as a DeMarre Carroll type of player in the NBA.

Marques Bolden did not play very much, but he was able to seal his man in the post to score on a layup, and he also blocked a shot on the defensive end.  He also drew free throws after making a couple of hustle plays on offense.  Defensively though, he had a tendency to commit fouls due to over-aggressiveness, and he also gave up too much space, which allowed an opponent to score on a three-point shot.  In this game, he tended to struggle more when guarding opponents out on the perimeter.  Right now, he may be a borderline second round pick, and in a favorable scenario, he could end up being an end of the rotation type of player in the NBA.

Other Notes, Part II:

Hofstra’s 6-2 senior guard, Justin Wright-Foreman scored 48 points in a win over William & Mary, as he made 7 threes, and scored all these points in 24 field goals.  Props to Wright-Foreman, as he is a quick, shifty playmaker that looks to be a strong candidate to be invited to the Portsmouth Invitational this year, and he could be a candidate to make an NBA team’s roster for next season.