Analyzing Jordan Hawkins, Andre Jackson, and Lamont Butler in the 2023 National Championship Game
April 4th, 2023
By Alan Lu
Yesterday, I watched the heavily favored Connecticut Huskies square off against the upstart San Diego State Aztecs in the 2023 National Championship game. UConn has been scorching hot, as they have been tremendous in this tournament, and their signature win was a dominant, 28-point victory over Gonzaga.
Frankly, I was expecting a UConn blowout win, and I was very surprised that San Diego State made it to the title game instead of either Alabama, Houston, or a team of a similar caliber. I just didn’t think San Diego State was talented enough to win this game, or had the depth to be able to compete toe-to-toe against UConn. San Diego State also didn’t seem to have a prospect rated on any of the big boards or mock drafts I’ve seen this year. In the title game, UConn did win by double digits to take home the championship. However, I was also impressed by San Diego State’s competitiveness and mettle in the second half, even if they were outmatched in this game.
UConn’s sophomore guard, Jordan Hawkins scored 16 points to help lead his team to win the 2023 National Championship.
(Photo: David J. Phillip/Associated Press, via The Norman Transcript)
UConn’s 6-5 sophomore sharpshooting guard, Jordan Hawkins had a strong showing in his team’s win over San Diego State. He’s been tremendous all tournament long, especially against Gonzaga, and he did a very good job of making plays to help his team get the victory. He is a very good shooter that does a great job of making shots from deep, and he is also a very good athlete, and what makes him extremely tough to guard is his tremendous ability to move off the ball to get open on offense, combined with having a very quick release that enables him to easily get his shot off.
Hawkins did a very good job of shooting and scoring the basketball. He excelled at running off ball screens to make threes and mid-range jumpers. He showed a knack for moving off the ball to get open in order to score on smooth threes from deep. Plus, Hawkins thrived at using motion to score off of cuts, and he made a swift back door cut to score late in this game. He almost scored on what would’ve been a thunderous dunk off of a drive, but he threw it down too hard and missed.
He also did a decent job of rebounding the basketball. Plus, he also played satisfactory defense. Hawkins was able to intercept a pass to get a steal. He also fought through a screen and managed to make an impressive block when defending a mid-range jumper another time. On the downside, he fouled a three-point shooter once due to over-aggressiveness.
In general, Jordan Hawkins played very well in this game, and he was a superstar in this tournament. He is a terrific offensive player that has a high basketball IQ, and he really understands how to move off the ball, which combined with his strong shooting and scoring skills, enables him to continually score on offense. He is a rising star that should be a lottery pick in the 2023 draft, and he could end up being a star player in the NBA.
Andre Jackson made a number of terrific passes in this game, and he showed off tremendous court sense to help get UConn the 2023 National Championship.
(Photo: Brynn Anderson/Associated Press, via Bozeman Daily Chronicle)
Andre Jackson also put forth a strong performance to lead Uconn to win the 2023 National Championship over San Diego State. He is a very smart, skilled 6-6 point guard that showed off strong playmaking and defensive skills in this game. Jackson has outstanding court vision and a tremendous feel for the game, and he showed an uncanny ability to find his teammates to set up scores for them.
Jackson did a great job as a playmaker in this game. He has terrific court sense and he showed a great ability to push the ball up the court and drop a nifty, no-look pass back to open shooters to set up scores for them on fast breaks. He also would probe the defenses and throw sharp, accurate interior passes to consistently find the open man, and he can throw pinpoint passes to weave it between defenders. He also does a very good job of passing the ball back on dribble handoffs to and setting solid, firm screens to help his teammates score on open jump shots. He also excelled at finding cutters and teammates on the move to set up scores for them.
He also played solid defense in this game. Jackson would get his hands on passes to get steals and deflections. He also ran in to tie up an opposing ball handler to nearly get a steal. He also would use his length to contest jump shots to force misses. Every once in a while though, he would struggle to guard opponents off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls.
Also, Jackson was able to get several rebounds to help chip in on the glass. He didn’t shoot or score much on offense, but he didn’t really need to do much of that in this game. Jackson was able to cut to the hoop to get the ball in order to score on a mid-range floater. He also would draw fouls on strong drives to the hoop. However, he didn’t take many shots overall, and he was unable to make either of the threes that he took from beyond the arc.
In summary, Andre Jackson played very well in this game, and his tremendous playmaking skills were on full display, as he made a wealth of crisp, accurate passes to rack up assists against San Diego State. He had a strong tournament overall, and he could be a very good pick for an NBA team in the mid to late first round of the 2023 draft.
San Diego State’s Lamont Butler scored 13 points and had 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 steal, and 1 block in his team’s 76-59 loss to UConn in the 2023 National Championship game.
(Photo: David J. Phillip/Associated Press, via San Gabriel Valley Tribune)
San Diego State’s 6-2 junior guard, Lamont Butler played very well in his team’s heartbreaking loss to UConn. He is an athletic, skilled combo guard that excelled at making shots and plays to help his team on offense. He was able to make a pair of threes early in the first half, but he didn’t take many shots, and he also didn’t seem to get the ball enough.
He was more assertive in the second half, and his ability to drive to the hoop allowed him to score, kick the ball out to shooters to set up scores for them, and Butler helped his team cut into the lead in the second half. Eventually, UConn was able to pull away to get a double-digit victory, but Butler excelled as a shooter, scorer, and shot creator on offense.
Butler was able to pass off the dribble to notch a pair of assists. However, sometimes he would play too wildly, which would lead him to miss tough shots in traffic, or to commit a slew of turnovers. He would sometimes throw hasty passes that would get intercepted.
He also did a decent job of rebounding the basketball. Butler also played satisfactory defense. He managed to block a shot when defending in the post. He poked a ball away to nearly get a steal. He also successfully drew a charge another time. Overall, Butler is an athletic, skilled combo guard that can shoot and score the basketball. In the previous game, he made the game-winning field goal against Florida Atlantic to send his team to the National Championship game, and he had a strong NCAA Tournament overall. Butler is a talented shot maker that can score on offense, but he’ll need to be more assertive on offense and he’ll need to show that he can reliably run the point at the next level. Currently, he may project to be a second round prospect for the 2023 draft.
UConn’s 6-9 junior big man, Adama Sanogo had a strong showing to help lead his team to get the win in this game. He is a strong, bruising big man that plays with a heightened sense of physicality, and he is a strong force in the middle that excelled as an interior player on both ends of the floor.
Sanogo did a very good job of scoring in the post. He has great strength that would allow him to often get deep position and to seal his man to get the ball, and he would score on drop step moves and jump hooks. He also would use his great strength to pin his defender deep in the paint to make it very difficult for his man to guard him, and Sanogo would then draw fouls to get to the free throw line.
He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays. Sanogo was able to slip past defenders to score on the move, and he also scored on a tip-in off of an offensive rebound. He also tried to score on a drive to the hoop after getting the ball from further out, but he handled the ball a bit clumsily and ended up missing the shot that time.
Sanogo also passed the ball well. He was able to throw a sharp, accurate pass to find a cutter to notch an assist in this game. Plus, he also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. Sanogo excelled at hauling in boards on both sides of the ball. He also defended well in this game. Sanogo managed to block a shot hard off of a roll to help his team protect the paint. He also deflected a pass out of bounds once, and he excelled at contesting shots in the paint to force misses. On one play though, he was late to get back, and ended up fouling an opponent on a roll to the rim.
Overall, Adama Sanogo played very well, and he was dominant as a low post scorer and interior player in this game. He was matched up against Nathan Mensah to start the game, and Mensah was no match for Sanogo. Sanogo willed his way to the hoop to score early and often, and his tremendous strength and physicality made it very difficult for San Diego State to guard him.
Sanogo had a very good NCAA Tournament overall. There had been questions regarding his athleticism before, but he’s shown he can score when matched against length and athleticism, and he was able to make some athletic plays in this tournament. He even was able to make a pair of threes against Florida Atlantic to showcase his potential to be a floor spacer at the NBA level (although on the other hand, he didn’t seem to take an outside shot in this particular game against San Diego State). He’s shown solid court sense by being able to find cutters and make sharp passes to get assists in this tournament. It remains to be seen if he can capably defend NBA starting point guards on pick and rolls, but despite that question mark, Sanogo seems to have improved in every aspect of the game this year. He played an integral role to help his team win the championship, and Sanogo could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the late first to the second round range of the 2023 draft.
UConn’s 6-5 senior point guard, Tristen Newton played very well in his team’s double-digit win over San Diego State. He especially thrived as a shooter, scorer, and rebounder, and he is an unselfish player that turned in a strong showing in this game.
Newton showed a solid ability to score off the dribble. He is a quick, athletic guard that would score on strong, right-handed drives to the hoop. He also can knock down shots from the outside. He was able to utilize a spin move to score on a mid-range shot. He also was able to make a quick three from beyond the arc. Plus, he did a great job of rebounding the basketball.
He also showcased perhaps above average playmaking skills in this game. Newton is a fleet-footed guard that can pass out of the dribble and out of the post, and he can find teammates on the move to set up scores for them. On the downside, he would sometimes throw inaccurate passes that would go astray. Other times, he would over-dribble, which would lead to ball-handling turnovers.
He also played satisfactory defense. Newton was able to pick off a pass quickly to get steal, which enabled him to score on a speedy layup on a fast break. However, there was one time where he got beat off the dribble, which led him to commit a foul that time.
Overall, Tristen Newton played well, and he thrived at making plays to help his team in this game. He committed a rash of careless turnovers early on, but he bounced back nicely by continually making shots and grabbing rebounds. He is an underrated prospect that can play either backcourt position. He’ll need to be a more consistent shooter in games, but his versatility and intriguing skill set could enable him to be an effective role player in the NBA.
San Diego State’s 6-7 senior forward, Keshad Johnson played very well in his team’s loss to Uconn. He is a strong, fairly athletic player that showed off versatile scoring skills, and he excelled as a shot maker on offense. Johnson was able to score on a tough, turnaround, baseline jumper out of the post. He also used a crossover to score on a smooth, mid-range jumper. He also made an open, spot-up three off the catch. Plus, he also thrived at scoring on hustle plays, and he drew a lot of free throws in this game. He did miss on an aggressive drive to the hoop once, but Johnson did a good job of making shots overall.
He also was able to make a drive and kick pass to notch an assist. He also was able to get his fair share of boards to help his team chip in on the glass. Overall, Johnson had a strong showing in this game. He didn’t seem to shoot the ball enough at times, and he’ll definitely need to trust his outside shot more. He’s not a super explosive athlete, but he’s a skilled scorer that has a good shooting stroke. If he can be more assertive on offense and show that he can be a knockdown three-point shooter on a consistent basis, especially from the corners, Johnson could end up being a 3 and D type of player in the NBA.
San Diego State’s 5-10 guard, Darrion Trammell had some good moments despite turning in sort of an uneven performance in his team’s loss to UConn. He is an athletic, skilled guard that can shoot and score the basketball, but he also would sometimes make some bad plays on both ends of the floor.
Trammell did a great job of scoring on mid-range jumpers, especially off the dribble. He also was able to make a corner three. However, he struggled more to score off the dribble when he would look to go all the way to the hoop. He also was a bit streaky with his outside shot, and he threw up an airball on a rushed corner three late in this game.
Also, Trammell showed off fairly average playmaking skills in this game. On one very good play, Trammell made a quick drive and dish pass, as he threw a crafty, wraparound pass to set up a score for a teammate at the rim. On the downside, sometimes he would play too carelessly, and he threw a lazy pass that ended up getting intercepted. He also didn’t seem to look to pass the ball enough at times, and he didn’t seem to make enough noteworthy passes on offense.
He also did an adequate job of rebounding the basketball. He also played adequate defense. Trammell was able to jump a pass to get a steal. He also successfully drew a charge another time. However, sometimes he would struggle to defend opponents off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls.
Overall, Trammell had his ups and downs, and he was able to make some very good plays in this game. However, his lack of size was sometimes an issue for him on both sides of the ball. He would struggle to score in traffic when he would look to score in the paint, and he would sometimes struggle to defend taller opponents in one-on-one situations. He’ll need to be a more consistent outside shooter and show that he can consistently guard taller players in games. Trammell had a very good tournament overall, and he may be a borderline second round candidate for the 2023 draft.
UConn’s 7-2 freshman center, Donovan Clingan played well in limited minutes off the bench. He excelled as an interior player on both ends of the floor. He caught a lob pass off of a roll to score on a strong, alley-oop dunk. He also managed to score on a strong, drop step move out of the post.
Plus, he also defended well. He excelled as a help defender, as he blocked a shot hard off of a cut, and he also jumped a pass to get a steal. However, sometimes he would struggle to guard quicker players off the dribble and out of the post, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.
Overall, Clingan is a strong, physical center that operates well as an interior player at the collegiate level. He’ll need to work on his jump shot and cut down on fouls to allow him to stay in games for longer stretches next season. He’s not super fast or athletic, but he is strong, physical, and he can leap up to make impressively athletic plays at times. Clingan has been a solid player for UConn, and he could end up being a capable backup center in the NBA.
Matt Bradley didn’t play very well in his team’s loss to UConn. He was terrific in the game before against Florida Atlantic. However, in this game against UConn, Bradley just didn’t shoot the ball very well, and he had trouble making shots against the taller, more athletic UConn defenders.
In this game, Bradley was at his best when he would look to score on dribble, mid-range jumpers. He has good footwork, and he showed a good shooting touch from that range. His ability to make outside shots came in handy, and it enabled him to draw a foul on Hawking in order to draw three free throws off of a pull-up three attempt. However, Bradley had trouble knocking down threes, and while he ran quickly off ball screens, he really struggled to make threes on those possessions. He also attempted a reverse layup off of a baseline drive, but it ended up getting swatted away late in this game.
Overall, Bradley is a shot maker that has shown potential as a movement shooter, but his lack of size or elite athletic gifts could make it difficult for him to carve out a consistent role at the NBA level if he can’t make shots against taller, more athletic defenders. He’s talented enough to play in the NBA, but he’ll need to prove he can consistently make shots and score against NBA-level defenders in order to be able to stick around in the NBA for the long term.
Nathan Mensah also did not play very well in his team’s loss to UConn. In fact, he was just flat-out terrible in the first half. Despite being taller than Sanogo at 6-10 and being athletic, Mensah got pushed around in the post, and had trouble defending him. Mensah would often give up deep position and allow easy catches, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.
On top of that, he’s just not a very skilled offensive player. He really struggled to make shots, as he would continually to miss mid-range jumpers short. He also struggled to score out of the post, and his inability to score out of the post in this game against taller, longer defenders made him pass out of a shot, which led him to get his pass intercepted by a defender.
For the positives, Mensah did still show defensive potential. He is a tall, athletic shot blocker that can man and anchor the paint. He was able to block a shot out of the post hard to force a miss. He also managed to get his hands on a pass to get a steal. But overall, he really struggled to guard Sanogo, and it set a bad tone for his team for the rest of this game. Mensah is very raw offensively, and he will likely need to spend at a least a season in the G-League to improve and hone his game. But despite his abysmal performance in this game against UConn, Mensah might potentially have the most upside amongst players on San Diego State’s team that played in this game due to his length, athleticism, and rim protection potential.
Right now, Mensah may be more of a developmental prospect. If he can show that he can make shots against NBA-level defenders and be a better position defender in games, he could end up being a backup center in the NBA. Otherwise, he may likely spend most of his pro career either in the G-League or overseas.
All in all, those are my thoughts on how Hawkins, Jackson, and other prospects fared in the 2023 National Championship game that took place between UConn and San Diego State. Thanks for reading.