Analyzing Jalen Smith, Lamar Stevens, and Mike Watkins

December 10th, 2019

by Alan Lu

Today, I decided to take the time to watch Jalen Smith and the Maryland Terrapins face off against the Penn State Nittany Lions in a Big Ten, in-conference college basketball game.   Even though, Maryland was ranked in the top 5, they were reported to have been the underdogs coming into the match, and sure enough, Penn State was able to take on the early lead and control of the game to get the win over Maryland. Penn State consistently made shots, played stingy defense by forcing their opponents to commit a lot of turnovers, and were able to get the victory. Here are my thoughts on how Jalen Smith, Lamar Stevens, and Mike Watkins played in this game, as well as where they may stack up as prospects for the NBA.

Maryland's sophomore center, Jalen Smith had his ups and downs, but the box score suggests that he may have had a better game than he appeared to have in his team's loss to Penn State.  (Photo: Sarah Sopher/Testudo Times.)
Maryland’s sophomore center, Jalen Smith had his ups and downs, but the box score suggests that he may have had a better game than he appeared to have in his team’s loss to Penn State. (Photo: Sarah Sopher/Testudo Times.)

Maryland’s 6-10 sophomore big man, Jalen Smith had an adequate showing in his team’s loss to Penn State. He didn’t take nearly enough shots on offense, and showed some clumsy ball handling that led him to commit turnovers, but he excelled at making shots when he would hoist them up, and he also played solid defense when he was on the court.

Smith was able to knock down an open corner three-point shot off the catch early on to show off his shooting skills. However, he didn’t take nearly enough shots on offense, as that turned out to be his lone three-point attempt from long range.

He also showed a good ability to score on hustle plays. Smith ran the floor to score on a powerful dunk on the break, and he can draw free throws after getting offensive rebounds for his team. But sometimes, he can be prone to rushing his shots around the basket, which can lead to misses. He also exhibited a decent ability to score in the post. On one play, he showed good strength and agility when using a spin move, as he ended up scoring on a turnaround jump hook.

However, Smith was quite turnover prone on offense. On one good play, he stumbled when handling the ball from the post as he awkwardly threw a shovel pass to a teammate out on the perimeter to set up a score that time. However, he can struggle to handle the ball in traffic. He bobbled a ball in the post, as he ended up getting it stripped away from him, and he also committed an offensive foul when handling the ball on an offensive rebound on a separate occasion.

Also, Smith did a great job of rebounding the basketball. He would often leap up to get numerous boards on both ends of the floor, and he was able to haul in offensive rebounds in traffic with relative ease. But sometimes, he would also commit over the back fouls when going for boards in this game.

Plus, he also played solid defense. Smith did a very good job of blocking shots off of drives to get stops for his team, as he possesses good length, athleticism, and timing to do so. He also managed to intercept a pass intended for a roll man to get a steal. He also excelled at contesting shots in the paint to force misses. Sometimes though, he would struggle to guard his man, as he would sometimes give up too much space to shooters, and other times he would not cut off penetration when opponents would drive to the hoop. Also, he would sometimes over-help in the paint, which would allow his opponents to get scores around the basket.

In summary, Jalen Smith had his ups and downs, but he was able to make some solid plays despite not having done enough in his team’s loss to Penn State. He was not very assertive on offense, and it was frustrating to watch his teammates avoid passing the ball to him routinely throughout this contest. Still, he can flashed the ability to make jumpers off the catch, and he is a solid scorer in catch and finish situations. He will need to improve his ball handling ability and be much more assertive on offense, but he is a talented prospect that could go in the late first to the second round range in 2020, as he could end up being a solid role player similar to current Golden State Warriors’ center, Kevon Looney in the NBA.

Penn State's senior forward, Lamar Stevens showed off versatile scoring skills in his team's win over Maryland.   (Photo: Matthew O'Haren/USA Today Sports via Sports Illustrated.)
Penn State’s senior forward, Lamar Stevens showed off versatile scoring skills in his team’s win over Maryland. (Photo: Matthew O’Haren/USA Today Sports via Sports Illustrated.)

Penn State’s senior forward, Lamar Stevens had a solid showing in his team’s win over Maryland. He showed off versatile scoring skills, and he also passed and rebounded the ball well in this game.

Stevens showed a good ability to knock down jumpers to provide floor spacing for his team. He can use pump fakes and jab steps to make threes and mid-range jumpers, and he excelled at knocking down shots off the catch. He struggled a little more to shoot on the move, but he generally excelled at making outside shots. Plus, he also did a good job of scoring in the post, as he was able to score on a fadeaway jumper as well as on a drop step move another time.

He struggled to consistently score on drives to the basket, though. For the positives, he can draw fouls on aggressive moves to the hoop. Sometimes though, he would struggle to score in traffic, as he would get his shots blocked, and he also would over-dribble, leading him to miss shots wildly in the paint.

Also, he showed off adequate playmaking skills. Stevens is an unselfish player that passes well off the dribble, and he can throw solid dump off passes to set up scoring chances for his teammates. However, he also struggled to handle the basketball at times, especially when facing heavy ball pressure, and he also threw an inaccurate pass that led his teammate to catch the ball out of bounds.

Stevens also did a good job of rebounding the basketball. He would often leap up to haul in defensive boards to help his team on the glass, but there was one play where he didn’t block out, which led his team to allow a put back score.

Defensively, he looked to be perhaps above average. Stevens did a good job of rotating to block shots to help his team protect the paint, and he also managed to swat one shot off of a drive to a teammate once. He also would rotate on drives to force opponents to miss shots. However, sometimes he can struggle to guard opponents out on the perimeter, which would lead him to allow scores.

In summary, Lamar Stevens is an athletic, combination forward that showed off a variety of skills that could prove to be useful at the next level. He can shoot and score the basketball, and he is also an unselfish player that rebounds the ball well. He may need to improve his on-ball defense and ability to score off the dribble, but he is a skilled prospect that could end up being a good find for a team in the second round range on draft day.

Mike Watkins had a terrific game in his team's win over Maryland.  (Photo: Mark Brennan/FOS-247 via 24/7 Sports.)
Penn State’s 6-9 redshirt senior center, Mike Watkins had a terrific game in his team’s win over Maryland. (Photo: Mark Brennan/FOS-247 via 24/7 Sports.)

Penn State’s senior big man, Mike Watkins played very well, as he may have had the best game of all of the players that participated in this contest. He made his impact felt early and often with his strong inside scoring skills and interior defensive play, and he also rebounded the ball very well to help his team get a win over Maryland.

Watkins did a decent job of scoring in the post. He would get deep position to score on the block, and he also managed to score on a powerful dunk at the rim. Sometimes though, he would tend to miss on turnaround jumpers, as he can struggle to score from the block when opponents would hold their ground to actively contest shots inside.

He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays. Watkins frequently scored off of offensive rebounds, as he also managed to score on a tip-in, and he also caught a lob pass off of a roll to score on an alley-oop dunk early in this game. Plus, he also ran the floor to score on a powerful jam on the break. He didn’t take many jumpers from outside of the paint area, but he missed his only three-point attempt that he took from beyond the arc. Also, Watkins was able to set a good on-ball screen that enabled his teammate to get open to score on a jump shot once.

Plus, he also rebounded the ball very well. He would frequently chase down balls to collect boards, as he was active at crashing the glass to help his team get many rebounds against Maryland due to possessing solid ball location skills.

He also played good defense. Watkins excelled at rotating to block shots off of drives, and he also deflected a pass out of bounds to nearly get steal. Plus, he also would rotate to contest shots off of drives and mid-range shots to force misses, and he also has good strength to hold his ground when defending in the post. However, sometimes he would have trouble guarding his man in one-on-one situations, which would lead him to commit fouls on drives, and he also allowed his man to get deep position on the block once, which led him to allow the score another time.

Overall, Mike Watkins played very well to help lead his team to a victory over Maryland. He is a strong, mobile big man that plays with a solid motor, and he can score, rebound, and block shots in the paint to make plays on both ends of the floor. Right now, he may be a second round prospect for the upcoming draft, and he has the skills to potentially end up being a solid role player in the NBA.

Maryland’s senior point guard, Anthony Cowan Jr. had some good moments, but he otherwise really struggled in his team’s loss to Penn State. He did show the ability to score on speedy drives, as well as make tough pull-up threes from well beyond the arc, but Cowan would all too often force up questionable shots when attacking the basket that would lead to misses, and he also had trouble making threes consistently.

Though Cowan threw a lob pass off of an inbounds play that set up a score for his teammate, he also was quite turnover prone on offense. He tended to get the ball poked away when facing heavy ball pressure, and he also would throw hasty passes that would get intercepted.

On the plus side, he did a good job of chasing down balls to get his team plenty of defensive rebounds. Overall though, Cowan did not play very well, as he missed too many shots, was quite turnover prone in this game, and he struggled to handle Penn State’s stingy, swarming defense. Right now, he may be a borderline second round candidate for the upcoming draft, but he will need to improve his shot selection and playmaking skills to improve his odds to make it to the NBA.

Maryland’s sophomore swingman, Aaron Wiggins had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Penn State. On one hand, he showed the ability to make and draw free throws on pull-up mid-range jumpers, and he also caught a lob pass off of an inbounds play to score on a nifty tip shot while drawing an extra free throw. Plus, he also rebounded the ball well and showed off some playmaking and defensive skills.

However, he did not shoot the ball very well, as he struggled to make threes consistently, and he also had trouble scoring off the dribble. For the positives, Wiggins is a good passer from the post as well as in transition, as he possesses good court vision.

Plus, he also rebounded and defended well, and Wiggins was able to alter a shot off of a drive to force a miss. However, he also was called for committed a foul on the defensive end due to hand-checking. Overall, Wiggins is a borderline second round prospect that possesses a variety of skills and is a fairly good athlete, but he will need to make more shots consistently and improve his shot selection in order to increase his odds to make it to the NBA.

Other Notes:

Penn State’s 6-4 sophomore guard, Myles Dread did a very good job of knocking down threes off the catch, as well as floaters off the dribble to get numerous scores for his team. He is a mobile, physical player that can score the basketball, and he also successfully drew a charge on a drive to get a stop for his team. Though Dread has not shot the ball nearly as well on the season, Dread played really well to help his team get the victory. If he can shoot as well as he did today, he could end up being a 3 and D type of role player at the next level.

Penn State’s 6-4 sophomore guard, Izaiah Brockington played very well, as he showed a tremendous ability to score on the break, and he also made a corner three to space the floor for his team. He would often draw free throws in transition, and he also ran the floor to score on a thunderous dunk late in this game. Plus, he also played adequate defense. Brockington managed to poke a ball away to get a steal, but he also fouled an opponent on a tip shot off of an inbounds play to give up a three-point play to the opposition.

Overall, Brockington is a very athletic combo guard that can score the basketball, and he may have been the best athlete on the floor, which includes Maryland’s current first round prospect, Jalen Smith. Brockington will need to improve his jump shot, playmaking skills, and on-ball defense, but he is an intriguing prospect whose athleticism and scoring ability could enable him to be a potential first round pick sometime in the future.

Penn State’s 6-3 sophomore guard, Myreon Jones made shots in a variety of ways, as he can make corner threes and score on drives to the basket, and he is an unselfish player that was able to rack up assists in this game. However, he also can struggle to score in traffic, and he also struggled to make outside shots late in this contest. Right now, he has been a fairly productive player for the Nittany Lions, and he could be a prospect to keep an eye on, as he could end up on people’s draft boards sometime down the road.

Maryland’s 6-5 sophomore guard, Eric Ayala was the primary scorer for his team in the first half, as he looked to score early and often, though he seemed to do so to the point where others were not getting involved on offense. Ayala did a good job of scoring off the dribble, as he can split double teams to get to the hoop to score, and he would often draw free throws on strong drives to the basket.

He also made a step back three and mid-range jumper on other occasions. However, he had trouble scoring in traffic as the game wore on, and he also struggled to make jump shots. Ayala also rebounded the ball well. As a passer, sometimes he would get the ball to shooters to notch assists, but he also can be inaccurate with his passes, and he also traveled once due to committing an up and down violation.

Overall, Ayala put forth a decent performance in his team’s loss to Penn State, as he individually had a good game, but he and the other guards did not look to involve Jalen Smith nearly enough on offense. Still, Ayala is a fairly athletic player that can score the basketball, and he could be a prospect to keep an eye on in the future.

Maryland’s 6-4 junior guard, Darryl Morsell was able to make shots in a variety of ways, as he made a deep three from well beyond the arc, and he also can score on strong drives to the basket. He is an athletic, physical player that can score in a variety of ways. However, he was also turnover prone due to recklessness, and he also had trouble defending his man on the other side of the ball. Overall, he is a scorer that can make shots, but he will need to improve his playmaking and defensive skills, but he could be a prospect to watch for the 2021 draft.

Other Notes, Part II:

Wayland Baptist’s 6-5 senior guard, J.J. Culver scored 100 points in an NAIA game today. This is also notable because J.J. Culver is also the older brother of Minnesota Timberwolves’ rookie, Jarrett Culver. Hats off to J.J. Culver, as this may have put him on the map as a draft prospect, as he is a player that can really score the basketball.