Analyzing Edmond Sumner, Jaron Blossomgame, and Others in the Xavier-Clemson Game

November 19, 2016

by Alan Lu

The game between Clemson and Xavier featured two prospects that are being considered to be potential first round prospects for the 2017 NBA Draft in Jaron Blossomgame and Edmond Sumner.  It was an opportunity to watch both of them play, as well as to see if there were other prospects that draft analysts had perhaps been sleeping on.  Without further ado, here are my observations on various prospects in this game.

Xavier’s sophomore guard Edmond Summer had a solid all-around game in a win for Xavier against Clemson.  He was able to contribute in many ways for his team, as he played well on both ends of the floor.  Sumner showed a strong ability to attack the basket.  He did a good job of getting scores off the dribble, as he has very good speed and agility to get to the hoop quickly.   He also can really accelerate to throw down a thunderous baseline dunk.

On the other hand, sometimes he can miss too wildly around the basket as he can play too out of control at times.  Plus, he also moves well off the ball.  Sumner was able to score on a cut to the basket, as he was able to also take on the contact to draw an additional free throw for his team, but he did not look to take many jump shots.  He rarely elected to take a jumper when he was on the floor, and he missed his only three-point attempt when he hoisted one up.

He also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  Sumner played very unselfishly, and when he would play with patience, he would show good court vision.  He would often find open shooters, as he would also do so off the dribble.  But sometimes, he would throw inaccurate passes that would lead him to commit turnovers.   Another time, he tried dribbling out of traffic, but ended up losing control of the ball out of bounds on a separate instance.

Generally, he did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He showed good leaping and anticipation skills in order to get numerous defensive boards in this game.  Also, Sumner showcased solid defensive skills.  He did a good job of getting his hands in passing lanes, as he was able to help his team get a couple of steals.  Plus, he also displayed great athleticism by making a ferocious shot block from the blindside on a drive.  He also did a fairly good job of moving his feet and contesting shots to force misses, but sometimes he would have lapses defensively that would lead to his team allowing scores.

In general, Edmond Sumner looks to be a fairly solid prospect that has a great deal of upside.  He will need to improve his jump shot, but he could be a solid contributor in all of the other facets of the game.  Right now, he may project to be a late first to early second round pick, but there is no doubt that he could be a potential lottery pick if he continues to improve down the road.

For Clemson’s 6-7 senior combination forward, Jaron Blossomgame, he put forth an uneven performance that may have been considered slightly disappointing.  He had a terrible first half, but he played much better in the second half to keep his team in the game.

Blossomgame was at his best when he would move off the ball to garner scores.   He was able to throw down numerous thunderous dunks off of cuts, as he would make sharp cuts to the rim to get to the basket.  He was able to score on an alley-oop as well as a reverse dunk, but sometimes he would stand around too much and not take advantage of when his opponents would lose their focus.  He mainly excelled as a finisher around the basket.  On one play, he caught the ball inside, and he was able to score on a reverse layup.  He also ran the floor to draw free throws after getting the ball on the break.

While he did not post up much, he did show good strength, as he was able to back his man down and draw a foul on one possession.  But Blossomgame struggled to consistently create his own shot in the half court.  While he was able to draw several free throws, he had trouble creating separation as he lacked an elite first step off the dribble, which usually lead to tough misses in traffic.

He also struggled to knock down jump shots.  He showed a significant reluctance to take outside shots early in the game, and only seemed willing to hoist them up when he was absolutely wide open.  Blossomgame did make one open three in the corner, but he had trouble getting his jump shot to fall consistently.

Blossomgame displayed fairly good playmaking skills.  He played unselfishly, as he would generally find the open man, and he also was able to hit a cutter from the post.  But he did struggle to protect the basketball off of one drive, which lead him to lose the ball to commit one turnover.

In this game, he was not very active on the boards, as he did not haul in many rebound in this game.  He displayed just average defensive skills.  For the positives, Blossomgame was able to knock a ball off of an opponent’s leg off the dribble to force a turnover.  He also showed good strength to foce a miss when defending in the post, but he seemed to show a below average ability to force misses.  Blossomgame continually kept getting beat on the step back move, as he would allow his opponents to knock down pull-up jumpers and scores off the dribble.  Sometimes, he would be late to contest threes, which would give the opponents enough space to knock them down.

He also ended up committing a couple of reach in fouls as well.  One was to prevent an opponent from getting an easy score on a drive in transition.  But the other was a reach-in foul out on the perimeter, as he appeared to be too eager to go for a steal.

In general, this was not Jaron Blossomgame’s best game, as this was not a good showing for him.   But even so, he did show why he is being considered to be a potential first round pick.  He is a good athlete that plays above the rim, can ably score on cuts, and plays quite unselfishly.

On the other hand, he struggled to create his own shot in the half court, and he also struggled to shoot the ball well or defend in this game.  Still, he will need to improve upon his weaknesses in order to show teams that he would be well worthy of being a first round pick in 2017.

Xavier’s junior swingman, Trevon Bluiett had a fairly good game in a win over Clemson.  The unheralded 6-6 guard scored 21 points, and notched 5 rebounds, and 4 assists to help his team get the victory.

Generally, he was at his best when he would attack the basket.  Bluiett showed very good speed and ball handling skills as he excelled at scoring and drawing free throws when driving to the hoop on the break.   Also, he has a very good step back move that he can use to knock down plenty of mid-range jumpers.

However, he only displayed a mediocre ability to knock down outside shots.  Bluiett did knock down an open three after running quickly off of a screen early in the game, and he did better when he would be open to get the ball off the catch.  But he was inconsistent in knocking down shots from beyond the arc overall.

He displayed fairly good playmaking skills.  Bluiett generally would find open shooters to notch assists.  But he did commit a couple of careless turnovers, as he threw an errant pass on one instance, and had the ball knocked off his own leg when dribbling around another time.  Bluiett showcased solid rebounding skills.  He was quite active on the defensive glass, as he would use his leaping ability, timing, and instincts to haul in plenty of boards to help his team.

In this game, he showed average defensive skills.  On one play, he jumped a pass to almost get a steal, but he committed a foul once after getting backed down in the post by an opponent.  Another time, he ended up committing a foul on a drive.

Overall, Trevon Bluiett had a decent showing to help Xavier get the victory.  On one hand, it will not likely move his draft stock up that much, as he did not make threes efficiently, nor stood out on defense.   But, he did display the ability to knock down pull-up jumpers, and played unselfishly to help his team get the win.  Right now, he projects to be a second round to undrafted prospect, but he could end up being a solid role player in this league whenever he declares for the draft.

Xavier’s 6-5 junior guard, J.P. Macura played extremely well to help his team get the victory.  He scored 28 points, made 6 threes, had 5 assists, and notched 4 rebounds, 3 steals, and 1 block in an 83-77 win for his team.

Macura did an outstanding job of knocking down long range jumpers.  He showcased terrific range, as he made quite a few from well beyond NBA distance.  He showed quite an affinity for launching threes from that range, and since he did a terrific job of making them, he really made things tough for opponents to guard him on the floor.

He also showcased a solid ability to attack the basket to garner scores.  Macura was able to score off of a drive in traffic, and he also used an overhead ball fake to make a long two-pointer.  He also scored on a put back another time, and drew free throws after posting up on a separate occasion.  Also, he played solid defense.  Macura showed a strong ability to rip the ball away from opposing ball handlers to get steals, and he also was able to block a shot in this game.

Right now, he likely projects to be a prospect for 2018.  The knocks on him are that he is only an average athlete, lacks an elite first step off the dribble, and has mainly been a college role player, but Macura played an excellent game against Clemson, and he shot the ball really well.   If he keeps shooting the ball like this, he could end up being an Anthony Morrow-type of player in the NBA.

Clemson’s 6-8 junior forward, Donte Grantham also had a really good game.  He scored 21 points, made 3 threes, notched 4 assists, 4 steals, 3 rebounds, and 1 block in a loss to Xavier.  Grantham showed a very good ability to score off the dribble as well as off cuts.  Grantham has solid speed, body control, and terrific leaping ability that allows him to score on acrobatic layups.  He also was able to score on a strong cut to the hoop.

Plus, he also showed a fairly good outside shot.  He mainly made spot up jumpers from beyond the arc, but he showed solid range by knocking down shots that may be around NBA distance.  He also displayed solid playmaking skills.  Grantham showed off strong passing skills, as he would find open shooters, and also threw a lob pass to a Blossomgame on a backdoor cut to set up an alley-oop dunk.  But he did have one careless turnover, as he lost the ball once off the dribble.

In this game, he did not grab many rebounds, but Grantham was able to get a put back score off of a quick offensive rebound.  Grantham also played terrific defense.  He was able to block a shot on an opponent’s dunk attempt, as he flew in from the blindside to do so.  Plus, he was able to intercept quite a few passes to collect steals.   Grantham is an exceptional athlete, and he is a rangy defender that was able to make big plays defensively to help his team.

In general, Grantham may be a sleeper prospect this year.  He has not been receiving much draft buzz, but he is a very athletic point forward that may have a solid set of all-around skills.  If he continues to play well, he could potentially end up being a late first to second round prospect either in 2017 or next season.

Other Notes:

Clemson’s senior center, Sidy Djitte had a decent game.  He scored 11 points on 5 of 8 shooting, and had 7 rebounds in a loss to Xavier.  He did a very good job of finishing plays in the paint to garner scores.  Djitte excelled at scoring off of offensive rebounds to get buckets at the rim.  Plus, he also used off-ball movement to score rolls to the rim.  Also, Djitte was able to make a long two-point shot to show some range when he was out on the floor.  In addition, he was able to draw free throws after getting deep position when posting up.  However, Djitte showed a tendency to miss free throws, as he may really need to work on his free throw shooting.

Djitte also displayed good playmaking skills.  He showed a solid ability to hit the cutter to notch assists.  He did throw an errant entry pass to commit a turnover, but generally Djitte passed the ball well today, but he only displayed average defensive skills in this game.  For the positives, he would hedge out on a screen, and he was able to draw a charge another time.

However, sometimes, he would not slide his feet, which would allow his opponents to get scores around the basket.  He also did not block a shot in this game, either.  But, his worst play in this game was when he pushed an opponent down after scoring, as he ended up committing a flagrant one foul.  Emotions got the best of him on that play, which allowed Xavier to capitalize on his mistake.

In summary, Djitte may be a long shot to be drafted, but he showed enough skills to maybe get an invite to Portsmouth to show his skills to scouts from all over the world.  He is a mobile center that can finish plays around the basket that passes the ball well, which could allow him to get looks in the late second round portion of the draft.

Former Charleston Southern swingman, Xavier senior Malcolm Bernard had a solid game in a win for his team.  He was able to make an open three off the catch, showed good strength to get numerous scores off the dribble, and would push the ball up the floor off of defensive rebounds.

Former Norfolk State big man, Xavier senior RaShid Gaston did not have much of an impact on the game, but he was able to catch a long outlet pass from Macura to throw down a thunderous dunk in transition.   He also was able to block a shot off of an opponent’s cut to the hoop.  But, Gaston was not very noticeable other times, and did not play very much.  In this game, he struggled to finish plays other times, and also seemed prone to pick up quick fouls.

This game was not the best showing for Gaston, but he did manage to make a couple of solid plays against Clemson.  He also rebounded the ball well, as he collected 6 boards in 15 minutes in this game.

But, despite having a strong junior season for Norfolk State, Gaston has not garnered as extensive playing time for Xavier, as he has been in a rotation with other big men.  It is not certain if he will be invited to Portsmouth at season’s end, but his strong junior season may get him opportunities to play professional basketball after he finishes his collegiate career.