Analyzing Immanuel Quickley, Nick Richards, and Skylar Mays

February 19th, 2020

By Alan Lu

Yesterday, I decided to take the time to watch Kentucky play against LSU in an SEC college basketball game that featured numerous prospects that could potentially get selected in the first round of the 2020 draft. Not only did I want to see another game from Tyrese Maxey and Ashton Hagans, but it was provided an opportunity to see Trendon Watford play. It was a very competitive game in which Kentucky was able to edge out LSU to get the win, as their strong guard and post play helped them get the victory, but they also struggled against LSU’s press defense down the stretch, in which they committed several turnovers that allowed LSU to almost rally back. Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared, as well as how their games may translate to the NBA.

Kentucky's sophomore point guard, Immanuel Quickley played very well in his team's win over LSU. (Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.)
Kentucky’s sophomore point guard, Immanuel Quickley played very well in his team’s win over LSU. (Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.)

Kentucky’s sophomore point guard, Immanuel Quickley had a stellar showing in his team’s win over LSU. Though he doesn’t have nearly as much draft stock as the other guards on his team, he played the best amongst them in this game, as he played a solid all-around game to help get his team the victory.

Quickley did a good job of knocking down jumpers to provide floor spacing for his team on offense. He excelled at making open corner threes off the catch, and he showed a knack for making long-range jumpers in spot-up situations.

He also showed a good ability to get scores off the dribble. Quickley would quickly drive the ball to the rim to get scores, as he can do so using either hand, and he can score on speedy layups or floaters. He also would drive hard to the basket to get to the free throw line. Occasionally he would miss floaters, but generally he excelled at darting his way to the hoop to help his team get buckets.

Also, he displayed good playmaking skills. Quickley is an unselfish player that will make the extra pass to keep the ball moving, as he would find open shooters to set up scores, and he also found a cutter from the post while facing heavy ball pressure to notch an assist due to possessing solid court vision. He did have a ball taken away from him that led to one turnover, but generally Quickley excelled as a facilitator when he was on the court.

He also would go in to collect rebounds, as he would get defensive boards to help his team on the glass.

Quickley also played fairly good defense. He is a speedy, rangy defender that showed a penchant for intercepting passes to get steals, and he also ran in to poke a ball away from behind to collect another. He also would contest threes to force misses, and he also successfully drew a charge when defending a drive another time due to good positioning. Occasionally though, he would struggle to defend opponents off the dribble, which would lead him to allow scores, and he also committed a foul off the ball once due to over-aggressiveness.

Overall, Immanuel Quickley put forth a very good performance in his team’s win over LSU. He has made significant strides to improve his overall game this year, but for whatever reason, it hasn’t really translated to boost his draft stock just yet. It should, as he’s played very well this season. He is a smart, skilled combo guard that can make shots, facilitate, and defend, and he can play either backcourt position on the floor. Strangely, he hasn’t drawn much draft buzz this year, but Quickley is an athletic, skilled playmaker that would be a good find for an NBA team whenever he decides to enter the draft, as he could end up thriving as a role player in the association.

Kentucky's junior center, Nick Richards had a tremendous showing in his team's victory over LSU. (Photo by: Bill Feig/The Associated Press.)
Kentucky’s junior center, Nick Richards had a tremendous showing in his team’s victory over LSU. (Photo by: Bill Feig/AP, via Lex 18.)

Kentucky’s 6-11 junior center, Nick Richards played very well in his team’s win over LSU. He excelled as a scorer in the post, and he also played very good defense, as he blocked a plethora of shots to help his team protect the paint.

Richards did a very good job of scoring in the post. He would frequently get deep position on the block, as he would score on jump hooks, and he also would often barrel his way to get to the free throw line. Smaller defenders really struggled to guard him, as Richards’ size, strength, mobility, and shooting touch were too much for them, as they would often foul him.

Richards also had a knack for scoring on hustle plays. He scored on a high-flying tip slam after leaping up to get an offensive rebound, and he also scored on a quick cut to the hoop another time. He also rolled to the rim to catch a lob pass, which enabled him to score on a nice alley-oop dunk. Richards also did take a couple of mid-range jumpers, but he was unable to make them when he would hoist up shots from outside of the paint area.

He wasn’t entirely too noticeable as a playmaker, but he sometimes may not look to pass enough. On one play, he was triple-teamed in the post, and he had the ball poked out of bounds as he didn’t look to pass in time, but he was lucky in not turning the ball over that time. His lone turnover came when he was called for setting a moving screen that led him to commit an offensive foul and a turnover that time.

He also showed a decent ability to rebound the basketball. Richards would actively crash the glass to get his team offensive boards, but sometimes he would miss out on boards in his area, which would allow his opponents to get offensive rebounds instead.

Also, Richards played good defense in this game. He did a terrific job of blocking shots to help his team protect the paint due to possessing very good length, athleticism, and timing to do so. He also managed to deflect a pass to nearly get a steal, and he also did a tremendous job of drawing charges to get stops for his team.   However, he also tended to commit fouls when defending opponents off the dribble, as he can sometimes be late on his rotations. He also sagged too far off of a shooter once, which led him to allow his man to score on a three-point shot.

In all, Nick Richards had a solid showing in his team’s win over LSU. He primarily excelled as a low post scorer and interior defender, and he is a long, athletic big man that could be a solid rim protector at the next level. Right now, he could be a good value pick for a team in the second round range, but it’s uncertain if he’ll go higher as the NBA is moving rapidly and closer to a potentially center-less world, especially since we’re in an age where the Houston Rockets are playing P.J. Tucker at center and have still been winning games. Other teams may look towards playing a traditional center, and as long as rim-running big men are needed in the NBA, Richards could develop into being a solid role player at the next level.

LSU's senior point guard, Skylar Mays played fairly well, as he excelled at scoring the basketball in his team's loss to Kentucky. (Photo: Josh Auzenne/WAFB-TV)
LSU’s senior point guard, Skylar Mays played fairly well, as he excelled at scoring the basketball in his team’s loss to Kentucky. (Photo: Josh Auzenne/WAFB-TV)

LSU’s senior point guard, Skylar Mays played fairly well in his team’s loss to Kentucky. He excelled as a scorer off the dribble, and he showed that he can score the basketball when he was on the floor.

Mays would tend to score on quick drives to the basket. He can quickly get to the rim using either hand, and he generally would score efficiently, but he did have a couple of his shots blocked at times, and he can sometimes struggle to score in traffic.

He also showed an adequate ability to knock down jumpers in this game. Mays was able to use a step back move to score on a pull-up mid-range shot from the right elbow. He also made a quick corner three, but Mays had trouble making three-point shots consistently from beyond the arc.

He also was a bit turnover prone on offense. For the positives, Mays can throw solid interior passes, and he was able to find a cutter to set up a score for a teammate. However, he also tended to commit offensive fouls off the dribble, as he can sometimes have trouble creating separation between himself and his defender.

He also was active at crashing the boards, as he would run in to get defensive rebounds, and sometimes he would push the ball up the floor afterwards. Defensively, he didn’t look to be too noticeable, but he would sometimes struggle to guard opponents off the dribble, which would lead him to commit reach-in fouls.

Overall, Mays did a good job of driving the ball to the basket to get scores, but he seemed to struggle in the other elements of the game. He didn’t get enough assists, committed a slew of turnovers, and he also struggled with his on-ball defense. Right now, he may be a borderline second round candidate, but he will need to improve his playmaking skills and be a more consistent player in games to increase his odds to make it to and succeed in the NBA.

Kentucky’s sophomore point guard, Ashton Hagans quietly had a solid showing in his team’s victory over LSU. He shot the ball very well, and he played a solid all-around game to help get his team the win.

Hagans shot the ball well, as he showed an affinity for making open, spot-up jumpers off the catch. He made a couple of three-point shots, and he also made a long two to demonstrate his ability to make jump shots.

He also did a good job of scoring on quick drives to the basket, as he possesses a good first step to the hoop and has the athleticism to elevate to score on dunks. He nearly was able to throw down a dunk as he appeared to get fouled, but it was waved off because his teammate had been called for a moving screen earlier. On the downside, he also had his shot blocked out of bounds once.

Hagans also displayed decent playmaking skills. He was able to use a nice ball fake off of a drive prior to kicking a ball out to a shooter to set up a score, and he showed a penchant for dishing out to shooters on quick drive and kick plays to rack up assists for his team. He also threw a lob pass to set up a score for a teammate in transition. However, he still can be prone to committing a bit many turnovers on offense. He also would sometimes throw hasty passes that would get intercepted, and he also was called for a traveling violation on a drive another time.

He also was able to collect his fair share of rebounds, as he would look to help his team collect some boards.

Hagans played fairly average defense in this game. He is an active help defender that boasts having a strong defensive reputation, and he was able to make a couple of really solid plays on this side of the ball. On one play, he showed very good recovery speed and leaping ability to make a chase down block around the basket, as he sent the shot to a teammate that time. He also deflected a pass out of bounds to nearly get a steal. However, he had a tendency to get beat off the dribble to allow scores, and he also gave up too much space that led an opponent to score on a three-point shot another time.

Overall, Hagans excelled as a shooter, scorer, and facilitator to help get his team the victory over LSU. He has been having a solid sophomore season, and he could potentially end up being a first round pick in the 2020 draft. Right now, he is a skilled playmaker that could thrive as a role player at the next level, as his ability to facilitate and defend combined with having very good athletic gifts could enable him to carve out a lengthy career in the NBA.

Kentucky’s freshman point guard, Tyrese Maxey had an adequate showing in his team’s win over LSU. He seemed to play much better than the box score indicated. He made numerous highlight-reel worthy plays, as he would get acrobatic scores and get solid stops for his team on the defensive end, but he also struggled to make shots consistently, and he also committed his fair share of turnovers when he was on the floor.

Maxey did a decent job of scoring on speedy drives to the basket. He has great foot speed as he can get to the rim consistently, as he would use a quick eurostep move to score on acrobatic layups in traffic, and he also can take on the contact to draw extra free throws afterwards. Sometimes though, he would tend to miss on floaters, and he also would occasionally miss shots due to rushing. While he would move off the ball, he would sometimes hastily put up off-balanced shots that would lead to some tough misses.

He also struggled to consistently knock down jumpers in this game. While he was able to make an open, spot-up three off the catch, Maxey struggled to make outside shots in this game, and he also missed a mid-range shot from the baseline.

Plus, he also displayed decent playmaking skills. Maxey possesses very good speed and ball handling skills which enable him to quickly maneuver around with the ball in his hands, and on one play, he dribbled through three players to get up court. He also would quickly kick balls out to shooters off the dribble to set up scores, and he also threw a nice lob pass to find a roll man to notch another assist due to possessing good court vision. However, he also committed several turnovers due to carelessness. He had a couple of balls poked away that led him to commit turnovers, and he also threw an inaccurate pass another time that sailed out of bounds.

He also showed an adequate ability to rebound the basketball. Maxey would chase down balls to get defensive boards, and he would also sometimes push the ball up the floor off of them.

Maxey also played solid defense. He was able to get back to block a shot off of a drive in transition due to possessing very good athleticism, timing, and instincts to do so. He also cut off penetration on an opponent’s drive in which his man later lost the basketball due to good positioning. Then he also managed to contest a three to force a miss. On the other hand, he also struggled a bit to defend taller players, which would sometimes lead him prone to committing fouls when guarding them off the dribble.

In general, Tyrese Maxey is a very athletic combo guard that possesses lottery level talent, and he has a knack for seeming to take over games even when the box score suggests he may not have played as well as he looked. He can score the basketball in a variety of ways, and he also is a solid defender that can make numerous plays on the ball. He will need to improve his jump shot and take better care of the basketball. He is a high upside prospect but he will need to improve on the finer points of the game. Right now, he may likely go in the mid first round range, but Maxey has the talent to end up being a solid player in the NBA.

LSU’s freshman forward, Trendon Watford had an uneven performance overall in this game.  He started off playing well, but he ended up having a lackluster showing in his team’s loss to Kentucky. Though he flashed the ability to score and defend on the court, he did not make enough shots consistently, and he also struggled to guard players out on the perimeter in this game.

Watford showed an adequate ability to score in the post. He was able to get deep position on the block after moving to get the ball down low, and used a power dribble to score on a turnaround jump hook. He missed on a contested leaner another time, but he generally showed off fairly good strength, footwork, and scoring touch to score on the block.

He also flashed the ability to score on hustle plays. Watford managed to score on a layup off of a backdoor cut, and he also drew free throws on a put back after leaping up to get an offensive rebound once. He struggled to score consistently on put backs, as he had trouble making shots in traffic, and he also missed on a right-handed drive in transition another time.

He also struggled to score consistently off the dribble. On one good play, he dribbled around and then pivoted and used an overhead ball fake to draw free throws on a step-through leaner. However, he tended to miss on contested runners and layups around the basket. Though Watford was able to make an open spot-up three off the catch once, he had trouble making long-range shots consistently from beyond the arc.

As a playmaker, Watford looked to be about average. He didn’t seem to make any noteworthy passes, but he showed some ball handling skills when he was on the court. He did commit one turnover, as he dropped an inaccurate high pass that ended up being intercepted by a defender. He also was able to chip in to get his fair share of boards, and Watford especially would crash the glass to get plenty of offensive rebounds for his team.

Defensively, he looked to be about average. Watford is an active help defender that can make plays on the ball, and he can defend well when he is in position to do so. He was able to use his length and anticipation skills to poke a ball off of an opponent to get a steal, and he also intercepted a pass to collect another. He also would actively contest shots inside the paint, and he was able to block a shot out of bounds due to possessing good athleticism, instincts, and timing to do so.

However, he had trouble guarding quicker players off the dribble, as this would lead his team to commit fouls and allow scores. He also would tend to sag too far off his man, as he would give up too much space to shooters, which would cause him to allow his opponents to score on three-point shots.

In summary, Watford did not have his best game, as he especially seemed to falter down the stretch, and he did not play well in the second half in his team’s loss to Kentucky. He will need to improve his outside shot and on-ball defense to increase his odds to make it to and succeed in the NBA. Right now, he may project to go in the mid to late second round range, as a team still may take him based on his projectable upside. He will need to make significant strides to improve his overall game, but in a favorable scenario, perhaps he could end up being an effective role player similar to former veteran forward, Luc Mbah a Moute in the association.

Other Notes:

LSU’s 6-5 junior guard, Charles Manning Jr. played very well off the bench, as he made an immediate impact on both ends of the floor to keep his team in the game.

He really excelled at making quick spot-up threes off the catch, as he would often get the ball on kick out passes to knock down long-range jumpers from beyond the arc. Manning also scored on a strong put back off of an offensive rebound, but he also missed on a left-handed drive in traffic.

He also displayed adequate playmaking skills. He was able to kick a ball out to a shooter off the dribble to set up a score for a teammate, but he also threw a hasty pass that ended up getting picked off another time.

While he didn’t grab many rebounds, he was able to get a couple of boards in this game. Manning also played decent defense when he was on the floor. He is a solid athlete that has good instincts and timing to contest shots, and he was able to rotate to block a shot ferociously from behind to prevent an opponent from scoring on a layup. On a separate play though, he ended up getting beat off the dribble to allow a score.

Overall, Charles Manning Jr. is a good shooter that also can pass the ball and defend, and he could project to be a 3 and D type of player in the NBA. He is a high-motor player that will actively look to challenge shots on the defensive end, and he is a good outside shooter that can make three-points consistently. He may need to spend another year in school to hone his game, but if he can continue to progress as an overall player, he could end up being a second round pick in the 2021 draft.

Kentucky’s redshirt senior forward, Nate Sestina had a solid showing in his team’s win over LSU. He did a great job of making spot-up threes off the catch, and he also excelled at blocking shots in the paint to help his team defensively. He also ran the floor to catch a lob pass to score on a layup on the break. He also showed off adequate passing and screen-setting skills to set up scoring chances for his teammates. However, he also sometimes struggled to score in the post, and he also struggled with the press as he committed two bad passing turnovers late in this game.

Overall, Sestina is a smart, skilled combo forward that can shoot the basketball, and he also is an energetic player that will actively challenge shots to help his team get stops defensively.   He will need to improve his playmaking skills and ability to create his own shot off the dribble, and he will need to show that he can consistently guard upper-echelon players on the defensive end. Right now, Sestina may be a borderline second round candidate, but in a favorable scenario, he could be a floor-spacing big man that could potentially make an NBA team’s roster at the next level.

LSU’s sophomore forward, Emmitt Williams did not play very well in his team’s loss to Kentucky. He struggled to make shots consistently, as he had a couple of shots blocked on put backs, but he did manage to score on a powerful dunk in the post once, and he also would draw free throws on rolls to the rim. Unfortunately, he didn’t look to take jumpers outside of the paint area, so opponents could key in on that he would look to score when he would get close to the basket.

He also tended to commit charging fouls that would lead him to commit offensive fouls and turnovers. Williams did a decent job of rebounding the basketball, as he would leap up to get strong offensive rebounds in traffic, and he also managed to get his own miss to get one due to possessing very good athleticism, motor, and instincts.

Defensively, he looked to be about average. Williams is an active help defender that can make plays on the ball, as he intercepted a long pass to get a steal, and he also rotated to block a shot off of a drive to a teammate another time. He also would contest shots in the post as well as off of a drive to help his team force some misses. Sometimes though, he would be late on his rotations, which would lead him to allow scores. He also struggled a bit to defend in the post, as his lack of size made it tougher to defend taller opponents on the block.

Overall, Emmitt Williams is an athletic, energetic combo forward, but he will need to be a much more skilled player on offense to improve his odds to make it to and succeed in the NBA. He doesn’t have much range on his shot, and he doesn’t seem to pass or handle the ball especially well, as he is quite limited as an offensive player. He will also need to show NBA teams that can comfortably guard opponents out on the perimeter, as his perimeter defense could potentially become his calling card at the next level. He may never develop into being much of an offensive player in the association due to his limited skill set offensively, but Williams’ athleticism and motor could potentially enable him to be a make an NBA team’s roster, as he could end up being a similar player to Quincy Acy in the association.

Kentucky’s sophomore center, E.J. Montgomery was able to make some good plays in this game, though he didn’t really stand out overall. He was efficient as an inside scorer in limited touches on offense. He managed to score on a tip-in off of an offensive rebound, and he also maneuvered around defenders to score on a smooth layup off of a drive to the hoop. Defensively, he looked to be about average. He also managed to block an opponent’s put back attempt due to possessing good length, timing, and athleticism, but he also tended to commit fouls around the basket due to over-aggressiveness. Overall, Montgomery was able to make some good plays in this game, but he didn’t take enough shots or rebound the ball enough, and he just didn’t seem to play enough in this game. Most likely, he will probably need to stay in school to hone his overall game, but Montgomery may have the skills to end up being a second round pick in the 2021 draft.