Top Performances in Day 2 of the First Round in the NCAA Tournament

March 17, 2017

By Alan Lu

Here are some of my observations on Day 2 of the 1st Round in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

The South Carolina-Marquette started off being very close, as it was competitive for most of the way.  But then in the 2nd half, South Carolina started making numerous shots and played excellent defense, as they ended cruising to a blowout victory.

South Carolina’s senior guard, Sindarius Thornwell put forth an excellent showing, as he played really well in helping to lead his team to a win over Marquette.  He showed off strong scoring skills, as he did so in a variety of ways.  He did a very good job of scoring off the dribble, as he possesses a good first step, as well as great strength and body control to get numerous buckets around the hoop.  Plus, he also displayed a good ability to score in the low post, as he managed to do so off of a turnaround, jump hook.

He also showed off a very good ability to shot the basketball, as he excelled at knocking down threes and mid-range jumpers off the catch.  Also, Thornwell showed off solid playmaking skills.  He handles the ball very well as he would use some nifty dribble moves, and he would quickly throw interior passes to set up scoring chances.  He would throw crisp, accurate passes, as he showed good court sense when he was on the floor.

Plus, he also displayed a terrific ability to rebound the basketball.  He was very active at crashing the glass, as he would leap up to grab many boards on both ends of the floor.  Thornwell also showcased good defensive skills, as he excelled at blocking shots off of drives due to possessing very good athleticism and timing to do so.

In general, Sindarius Thornwell played really well, as he had a solid all-around game in his team’s double-digit victory in the first round match against Marquette.  He showed off a variety of skills that can help an NBA team in many ways, and he could be a good pick in the late first to the second round range of the upcoming draft.

South Carolina’s sophomore guard, P.J. Dozier also had a terrific showing, as he helped lead his team to a blowout victory over Marquette.  He really excelled at attacking the basket to garner scores, as he really excelled at scoring on drives as well as on the break.  Dozier threw down strong, thunderous dunks in transition, as he possesses very good speed, strength, and acceleration to do so.   Plus, he also showed a good ability to make jumpers, as he made a pull-up three as the shot clock winded down late in the game.

Plus, Dozier showed off solid playmaking skills.  He passed and handled the ball well, and possesses very good court vision, as he made a slew of accurate interior passes to set up plenty of scoring chances for his teammates.  He also defended well, as he used good ball pressure to get some steals and stops when he was on the floor.

In summary, P.J. Dozier played very well in his team’s first round win in the NCAA Tournament.  He is a gifted athlete that showed off solid all-around skills, and he can play numerous positions including the point.  With his skill set, he could be a good pick in the late first to the second round range of the upcoming draft.

Marquette’s senior guard, JaJuan Johnson also put forth a very good showing in his team’s loss to South Carolina.  He showed a strong ability to get scores off the dribble.  He has very good speed, shooting touch, and body control, as he has the ability to get free throws in transition while going coast to coast off of a defensive rebound, and he also managed to score on a tough, reverse layup, while getting an extra free throw.  Plus, he also shot the ball well.  He showed a very good ability to knock down jumpers, as he excelled at making threes when he was on the court.

Also, he showed off good playmaking skills.  He generally threw solid interior passes, as he managed to get a handful of assists for his team.  Also, he managed to help out on the glass, as he was especially active in collecting defensive rebounds.  In this game, JaJuan Johnson played very well, as he showed off solid offensive skills, rebounding abilities, and athleticism in this game.  He has flown under the radar, but he could be a good find for a team in the NBA.

Michigan State and Miami also played in a first round matchup, and while it was expected to be close, it turned out to be a lopsided affair early and throughout the contest in favor of the Spartans.

Michigan State’s 6-8 freshman forward Miles Bridges played really well, as he showed off a solid set of all-around skills to lead his team to a blowout win over Miami.  He excelled at getting numerous scores off the dribble as well as off of hustle plays, and he also did a very good job of making threes from beyond the arc.

Also, he showed off very good playmaking and rebounding skills, and on one play, he showed tremendous hustle and solid basketball IQ by quickly running down an offensive board and passing to a teammate to set up a score.  In general, Miles Bridges had a strong showing, and he looks to be a lock to be a lottery pick in 2017.

Michigan State’s freshman big man, Nick Ward also had a solid showing in his team’s win over Miami.  He showed off solid inside scoring skills, as he made plenty of baskets in the low post, and he would score on hustle plays.  He would run the floor, and he was quite active on the glass, as he would chip in to score on put backs.  He also showed a good ability to block shots in the paint.  Ward played very well, and he could be a sleeper pick to end up in the late first round of the upcoming draft.

Plus, Michigan State’s freshman swingman, Josh Langford also played very well, as he excelled at shooting the basketball to space the floor for his team.  He is a good athlete that can make numerous threes and mid-range jumpers, as he did so against Miami.  He could be a good player to keep an eye on in the future, as he could be a potential first round pick in 2018.

Miami’s freshman combo guard, Bruce Brown also had a good showing in a loss to Michigan State.  He showed off versatile scoring skills when he would elect to take shots, as he threw down a ferocious dunk off of a drive in transition, and he also made a three from beyond the arc.  Plus, he excelled at collecting assists and steals when he was on the floor.  However, he did not shoot the ball enough in this game.  He is an intriguing prospect that could be a potential late first to second round pick for the upcoming draft.

Cincinnati played Kansas State in a first round game of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, and one player that really stood out was Cincinnati Bearcats’ senior point guard, Troy Caupain.

Normally a facilitator in most games, Troy Caupain showed off a strong ability to score the basketball against Kansas State.  He is a smooth scorer off the dribble, as he can score on patient drives and floaters.  Plus, he also excelled at making threes, as he also has a step back move that he can use to knock one down.  In general, he did a terrific job of getting baskets to help his team, as he could be a solid find for an NBA team for next season.

The Wichita State-Dayton game was a back and forth contest, as Wichita State started off having trouble making shots from beyond the arc, and Dayton’s players played very well early on.  But Wichita State ended up making threes in the second half and played solid, stingy defense, as they held on to defeat the Flyers.

Scoochie Smith looked to have the best individual performance among all of the players that played in this game.  Smith showed off solid quickness and ability to score off the dribble, as well as shooting skills as he possesses impressive range.  He managed to make one three from well beyond the arc, and he is a player that can score the basketball.   His team may have been knocked out, but Scoochie played well in his lone game in this tournament, and he could be a solid addition to an NBA’s summer league roster.

Other Notes:

I did not see much of the USC-SMU game, but one player that has been trending upwards due to his strong performance in this contest is SMU’s junior forward, Semi Ojeleye, who managed to get 24 points and 10 rebounds in his team’s loss to the Trojans.

In this game, Semi Ojeleye showed off impressive athleticism, as he scored on a thunderous put back dunk in traffic, and he showed a fairly good ability to make threes.  He also rebounded the ball well, as he was quite active on the glass.  He looked to have the best individual performance of any one player in this game, as he may have really helped his draft stock, as he could be a potential first round pick in 2017.

Overall, Friday presented an interesting, eclectic set of games, as they were much closer and seemingly more riveting than those played on Thursday.  The five best players on this day appeared to be Sindarius Thornwell, P.J. Dozier, Miles Bridges, Troy Caupain, and Semi Ojeleye, in no particular order though, as they put forth strong showings in their teams’ wins, and they will all advance to the second round of this year’s NCAA Tournament.  There were others that played very well, but those five were the ones that stood out to me on this day.