Analyzing Josiah Jordan-James, Keon Johnson, and Yves Pons in the Tennessee-Arkansas Game

January 6th, 2021

By Alan Lu

Today, I took the time to watch Moses Moody and Arkansas play against Tennessee in an SEC basketball game.  Moody is a mid-first round prospect whose draft stock had been climbing up dramatically, and even though his team won a lot of games against fairly easy competition early on, Moody impressed by having a solid showing, as he scored 16 points in his team’s double-digit win over Auburn. 

This game also was an opportunity to watch Tennessee play, as they also have a several notable draft prospects in Keon Johnson, Jaden Springer, and Josiah Jordan-James.  It was a very competitive game in which Arkansas had the lead early on, but Tennessee played tough defense and they played well in the second half to get a comeback win, and they managed to effectively shut Moody down.  Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared, as well as where they may currently stack up as prospects for the NBA.

Tennessee’s Josiah Jordan-James put forth a sterling performance, as he scored 17 points, made a pair of threes, and had 9 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 assist, and 1 block in his team’s win over Arkansas.
(Photo:
Saul Young/Pool, via News Sentinel, via Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Tennessee’s 6-6 sophomore swingman, Josiah Jordan-James had a strong showing in his team’s win over Arkansas.  He had a solid all-around game, and he played well on both ends of the court to help his team get the victory. Jordan-Jones excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He would score and draw fouls on strong drives to the hoop in transition, and he also ran in to score on a put back after grabbing an offensive rebound.

Plus, he also shot the ball fairly well.  Jordan-James was able to make a couple of quick, open threes, and he was able to get fouled while making a three-point shot to get an extra free throw.  He also utilized a pump fake to make a long two off the dribble.  However, he would be a bit streaky with his outside shot, as he also missed his fair share of spot-up threes after running off the ball to get it on offense.

He also did a decent job of scoring off the dribble.  Jordan-James was able to score on an acrobatic, switch of hands, reverse layup around the basket.  However, sometimes he would miss shots, especially when he would not be able to get foul calls. He also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  Jordan-James is an unselfish player that will make the extra pass, and he can find open shooters to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  He also did not turn the ball over once on offense. Also, Jordan-James did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was quite active at crashing the glass, and he would chase down numerous balls to help his team get boards, especially on the defensive end.

Adding to that, Jordan-James played very good defense in this game.  He would often get steals, as he would pounce upon loose balls, poke balls away, and he also intercepted a pass another time.  He is a high-motor player that will dive for loose balls, and he also would contest jump shots to force misses.  He also was able to block a shot off of a drive to force a miss.  He also jumped to defend a pass, which forced an opponent to drop the ball to commit an over and back violation.  However, he can be too aggressive every once in a while, which can lead him to committing touch fouls when defending opponents off the dribble.

In general, Josiah Jordan-James played very well, and he scored 17 points, and he also had 9 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 assist, and 1 block in his team’s win over Arkansas.  He had a strong all-around game, and he also played well in the team system.  He’s a talented player who can be unselfish to a fault, but he could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the late first to the second round range, as he may have the skills to thrive as a role player in the NBA.

Keon Johnson played well, as he especially excelled at scoring in the post, and he scored 14 points in his team’s win over Arkansas.
(Photo:
University of Tennessee’s Athletics)

Tennessee’s 6-5 freshman guard, Keon Johnson had a solid showing in his team’s win over Arkansas.  He hasn’t really gotten off to a great start this year, but he put forth a good performance to help his team get this victory, and he especially excelled as a scorer in this game. Johnson did a very good job of scoring in the post.  He used a nice up and under move to score early on, and he also managed to score on a turnaround jumper.

He also showed a solid ability to score off the dribble.  Johnson can use either hand to score and draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line, and he also pulled up to make a mid-range jump shot.  However, sometimes he would go in too aggressively, as he would occasionally miss on tough, difficult shots when he wouldn’t get foul calls, and he struggled more to knock down jumpers consistently outside of the paint.

He also displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  Johnson was able to get the ball to an open shooter to notch an assist, but he also threw a hasty entry pass that got intercepted another time. Though he didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, Johnson was able to grab a pair of defensive boards to help his team on the glass.  He also played satisfactory defense in this game, and he would contest jump shots to help his team force misses.

In summary, Keon Johnson is a strong, physical swingman that can score out of the post and off the dribble to help his team on offense.  He will need to improve his outside shot, but his ability to score combined with having solid physical tools could enable him to be an intriguing option for NBA teams to consider in the second round, as he could project to be a better NBA player than college basketball player if he ends up in a favorable situation at the next level.

Yves Pons played well, and he made his presence felt defensively, as he provided terrific shot blocking skills to help lead his team to a comeback win over Arkansas.
(Photo:
Saul Young/Pool via News Sentinel-Imagn Content Services, LLC, via Rivals)

Tennessee’s 6-6 senior forward, Yves Pons also had a solid showing in his team’s win over Arkansas.  He excelled as a shot blocker and defender in this game, and he also was efficient as a scorer around the basket when he was on the floor.

Pons played solid defense in this game.  He did a great job of blocking shots due to possessing very good athleticism, range, and timing.  He would often rotate to swat shots off of drives, and he also blocked a shot in the post to help his team on the defensive end.  Pons also was able to successfully draw a charge on an opposing ball handler to get a stop another time.  However, sometimes he would struggle to defend opponents out on the perimeter.  On one play, he bit on a pump fake and then allowed an opponent to score off the dribble.  He also sagged too far off of a shooter another time, which led him to allow his man to score on a three-point shot. He also did a good job of scoring in the post.  Pons was able to score on a couple of turnaround jumpers, though he missed one another time.  Pons also ran the floor to score on a powerful dunk on the break. 

On the downside, he didn’t look to score very often, and he missed on both of the three-point shots he hoisted up from beyond the arc. Pons was able to get his fair share of boards, and he was able to get multiple offensive rebounds in this game.  He also was able to get the ball to a shooter to get an assist on a separate play.

Overall, Yves Pons is a very athletic, high-motor player that played well defensively to help lead his team to a win over Arkansas.  He will need to improve his jump shot and scoring skills, but his ability to make plays on the defensive end could make him an intriguing option to consider in the late second round range of the 2021 draft, as he could project to be a defensive specialist in the NBA.

Arkansas’ 6-1 junior guard, J.D. Notae put forth a very good performance in his team’s loss to Tennessee.  The speedy combo guard excelled as a shooter and scorer, and it appeared as if he was able to put up points at will down the stretch to keep his team in the game.  He also made some solid defensive plays.  Notae was able to score a game-high 19 points, and his strong scoring skills and athletic gifts really helped him on offense today.

Notae did a very good job of knocking down threes to space the floor for his team.  He can make them both off the catch and dribble, and he also used a step-back move to make a pull-up three while getting fouled to get the extra free throw afterwards.

He also did a very good job of scoring on speedy drives to the basket.  Notae has tremendous foot-speed, and he can use either hand to score, and he would often get past his man to score on quick, acrobatic layups.  He also managed to score on a backdoor cut another time.

He also displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  Notae would look to get the ball to open shooters, and he can throw passes off the dribble.  He also was able to find a cutter to notch an assist another time.  However, he was also quite turnover prone in this game.  Sometimes he would struggle to handle the ball when faced with heavy ball pressure, and he also was called for stepping out of bounds when getting the ball in the corner another time.

Also, Notae did a good job of rebounding the basketball, and he was quite active at crashing the glass to help his team get defensive boards.  He also played fairly good defense in this game.  He would actively contest shots to force misses, and he also was able to deflect passes to nearly get steals.  He did commit a blocking foul on a drive, but it appeared as though he were set that time.

Overall, J.D. Notae had a solid showing in his team’s loss to Tennessee.  He is a speedy, skilled combo guard that can shoot and score the basketball.  He will need to take better care of the basketball to limit his turnovers, but he is currently having a very good junior season, and he could be a prospect to watch, as he could project into a microwave type of scorer role for an NBA team off the bench at the next level.

Arkansas’ 6-9 senior forward, Vance Jackson played very well, and he excelled as a sharpshooter and scorer for his team in their loss to Tennessee.  This might have been his best game that he’s played in months.  He hasn’t seen the floor nearly as much as expected, but Jackson was able to show some of his shooting skills and versatility as a skilled forward that can score on offense.

Jackson did a great job of knocking down corner threes, and his size and ability to knock down spot-up jumpers off the catch really helped him provide floor spacing for his team on offense.  He also showed an adequate ability to score off the dribble, as he can use pump fake moves to draw defenders in the air, and he can score on floaters and layups.  Sometimes though, he would rush his shots in traffic, which would lead him to miss shots when he wouldn’t get foul calls.

He also rebounded the ball very well, and he excelled at crashing the glass to help his team get defensive rebounds.  Defensively, he looked to be about average, but he was called for a blocking foul on a drive, even though he appeared to be set on the play.

Overall, Vance Jackson played very well, and his strong play off the bench helped his team stay in the contest pretty much all the way until the end.  He is a skilled, athletic stretch big that can shoot the basketball and has scoring versatility.  He’s a long shot to be drafted, as he is in his final year of college eligibility and hasn’t seen the floor very much, but his size and shooting skills could give him a shot to compete for a roster spot in the NBA sometime down the road.

Tennessee’s 6-9 redshirt senior big man, John Fulkerson played very well in his team’s win over Arkansas.  He played well on both ends of the floor, and there were times where he looked to be unstoppable as a scorer in the post to help his team on offense.

Fulkerson did a good job of scoring in the post.  He would often score on turnaround jumpers and jump hooks, and he showed a deft scoring touch and footwork to consistently score around the basket.  He also would a series of dribble moves and ball fakes to draw fouls to get to the free throw line.  He also used a quick jab step to score on a quick, right-handed drive to the hoop.  Sometimes though, he would take tough shots, as he would not always be able to score on jump hooks or fadeaway jumpers. Also, he generally passed the ball well in this game.  Fulkerson was able to throw an accurate interior pass to notch an assist, and he also was able to pass out of the post to set up another score for his teammate.

He did a decent job of rebounding the basketball as well.  Fulkerson was active at crashing the glass, and he was able to help his team get plenty of defensive boards in this game.  He also played solid defense.  Fulkerson did a very good job of rotating to block shots in the paint to get stops for his team.

Overall, Fulkerson is an athletic, high-motor big man that excelled as an interior player on both ends of the floor, and he continually made big shots in the paint to help his team get the win.  He hasn’t quite played as well on the season, as he had averaged just 11 points per game and had made a shade under half of his field goals in his first 8 games of the season, and he will definitely need to extend his shooting range.  If he can keep playing well, he could draw more attention from NBA teams and scouts, and in a favorable scenario, he could end up competing for a roster spot in the NBA next season.

Tennessee’s 6-4 junior guard, Victor Bailey Jr. played very well, as he scored 17 points off the bench to help lead his team to a win over Arkansas.  He also played well defensively, and his ability to make plays on both ends of the court really helped his team in this game.

Bailey did a good job of scoring off the dribble.  He would tend to favor going to his right, as he can score on smooth, crafty drives to the hoop, and he has good body control to score on acrobatic layups, as well as to get fouled to often get to the free throw line.  There were a few times where he would miss when he wouldn’t get foul calls, but usually Bailey excelled at scoring and drawing free throws when he would take the ball hard to the rack. He also shot the ball very well, and he excelled at making quick, spot-up threes off the catch.  He also was able to run off the ball to make a three-pointer, as he can use off-ball movement to get open and score on offense.

He also played satisfactory defense in this game.  Bailey would rotate to block and alter shots in the paint to force misses, and he also would get his hands on balls to get steals and deflections.  However, sometimes he would commit bad fouls on the defensive end.  On one play, he bit on a pump fake, and fouled a three-point shooter to allow a score and an extra free throw.  He also got beat on a cut another time, and committed a foul to allow a score and another free throw that time as well.

Overall, Victor Bailey Jr. played well, as he excelled as a shooter, scorer, and defender in this game.  He has flown under the radar as a draft prospect, but he could project to be a second round prospect whenever he decides to enter the NBA draft.

Arkansas’ 6-6 redshirt senior guard, Jalen Tate played fairly well in his team’s loss to Tennessee.  He excelled as a shooter and scorer on offense, and aside from committing numerous turnovers, he generally did a good job of making plays on both sides of the ball.

Tate did a fairly good job of scoring off the dribble.  He would tend to favor going to his left to score on strong layups, and he also was able to score on a quick floater another time.  He also showed a solid mid-range game, as he can make them both off the catch and dribble.  He also showed that he can use off-ball movement to score, as he was able to score off of a backdoor cut, and he also got fouled to draw an extra free throw.  Sometimes though, he would force up tough shots, which would lead him to get his shots blocked. He didn’t take many three-point shots, but he made them efficiently when he would hoist them up, and Tate was able to knock down an open, spot-up three off the catch.

He also displayed adequate playmaking skills, but he also was very turnover prone on offense.  Tate is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he can throw solid interior passes to find teammates on the move to set up scores for them.  He would tend to commit ball-handling turnovers, as he would have trouble handling the ball when faced with heavy ball pressure, and he also committed a charging foul another time.  He dropped a pass when crowded that led to an over and back violation, and he also threw an inaccurate pass that ended up going out of bounds.

Also, Tate did a good job of rebounding the basketball, and he was able to help his team get plenty of defensive boards in this game.  He also played satisfactory defense.  Tate was able to take a ball away to get a steal.  He almost blocked a long two, but the shot clock expired before he was able to do so.  However, there was one play where he was caught ball watching and was late to close out on a shooter, which led his man to score on a corner three.

Overall, Jalen Tate is an agile, skilled combo guard that can do a little bit of everything when he is on the court, and he was able to make some solid plays on both ends of the court.  He excelled as a scorer in this game, as he scored 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting, and he led his team with 6 assists in this game, but he also committed a game-high 6 turnovers as well.  He will need to take better care of the basketball, but his size, ability to play multiple positions, and versatility could allow him to compete for a roster spot in the NBA next season.

Arkansas’ 7-3 sophomore center, Connor Vanover had a decent showing in his team’s loss to Tennessee.  He played very well early on, as he showed off versatile scoring skills, and he also made a three-point shot in the first few minutes of this game.  He played fairly well on offense and was active as a rebounder and interior defender, but he struggled defensively, as he had trouble guarding the stronger, John Fulkerson in the post.

Vanover did a good job of scoring on hustle plays in this game.  He was able to score on cuts and rolls to the rim, and he also ran in to score on a tip-in after grabbing an offensive rebound. He also showed a decent ability to score in the post.  Vanover used a strong drop step move to score inside while getting an extra free throw.  However, he missed on a contested fadeaway jumper another time.

He also showed the ability to knock down jumpers to space the floor.  Vanover was able to make an open three off of a pick and pop play early on, but he then missed on two other three-point shots from beyond the arc later on in this match.

Also, he did a decent job of rebounding the basketball.  Vanover was active at crashing the glass, and he was able to haul in multiple boards on both ends of the floor.

He also was fairly active defensively.  Vanover was able to block a shot off of a drive, and he also contested a couple of fadeaway jumpers to force misses.  However, he struggled to defend Fulkerson down low, and he would get outmuscled, which would cause him to commit fouls and allow scores.  There was another play where he rotated but got beta on a drive to allow a score to the other team.

Overall, Vanover played well early on, and he is an athletic, skilled big man that can score the basketball in a variety of ways.  He will need to add strength and improve his ability to guard stronger opponents, but his size and scoring skills could enable him to be an effective rotation player in the NBA someday.

Tennessee’s 6-4 freshman guard, Jaden Springer didn’t have his best game, but he was able to make some plays on both ends of the floor when he was on the court. He can knock down jumpers to provide some floor spacing for his team on offense.  Springer pulled up to make a smooth, mid-range jumper from the baseline, and he also made an open corner three from beyond the arc.  However, Springer was too inconsistent as a shooter, and he ended up missing a couple of easy layups on the break, and he also got his shot blocked on a drive to the hoop.

He also passed and handled the ball well.  Springer is an agile player that would drive the ball hard to the rim, and he can get the ball to his teammates in a variety of ways to set up scores for them.  He also played fairly good defense.  He would rip balls away from opposing ball handlers to get steals, but he also fouled an opponent on a step-back three another time.

Overall, Jaden Springer showed some interesting skills, but he missed some easy shots that he should’ve made in this game, and he tended to miss open layups on the break short on offense.  He may not have necessarily played well today, but he’s played well on the season so far.  Springer is an athletic combo guard whose scoring versatility and defensive skills could make him an intriguing candidate for NBA teams to consider in the late first to the second round range of the 2021 draft.

I also watched this game to see Tennessee’s 6-7 senior forward, E.J. Anosike play today against Arkansas.  He had previously put up solid numbers at Sacred Heart, which is a small school in NCAA’s Division 1 basketball last season.  Unfortunately though, he did not play much, he did not take a single shot on offense, and he was barely noticeable on the floor.

I primarily watched this game in order to watch Arkansas’ 6-6 freshman guard, Moses Moody play, as his draft stock had been rapidly climbing up draft boards recently.  Part of that is Arkansas has faced an easy non-conference schedule so he was able to pad his stats, but he also played well as he scored 16 points in his team’s win over Auburn.  With the way things were going for him, he looked to be a skilled sharpshooter that looked poised to be slated to go in the late lottery this year.

However, Moody did not play well at all today, and he scored just 6 points on 1 of 8 shooting in his team’s loss to Tennessee.  His performance was incredibly disappointing and underwhelming, and his performance was well below my expectations in this game. He had his shots blocked on all of the two-point shots he attempted as a result of Tennessee’s sterling defense, and Moody only made one three-point shot today, and he kept passing up three-point shots late in this game.

Moody showed an adequate ability to knock down jumpers in this game.  He was able to make an open corner three off the catch, and it’s clear that Moody is at his best and most effective when he operates as a spot-up shooter from beyond the arc.  He also managed to draw three free throws on a step back three that he hoisted up midway through the match.  However, he missed on several other spot-up threes quickly other times.  Still, with his shooting prowess that he’s shown this year, it’s abundantly clear that Moody should’ve taken more than just 4 three-point attempts from beyond the arc today against Tennessee.  Most likely, he needs to run more off of screens, and he will need to be more active off the ball so that he can get more open three-point shots.

There have been some question marks about his athleticism or perhaps lack thereof, and Moody did not help himself with the way he played in this game.  He had his shots blocked four different times, as he had a couple of shots blocked off of cuts, once off of a drive, and another time in the post.  Moody had trouble getting a clean shot up from around the basket, as he had his shots blocked by three different players, and twice by Fulkerson.  His lack of elite foot speed or quickness was evident, and he just didn’t seem to have a great sense of knowing where the help was, or when to take shots inside the paint in this game.

He also displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  Moody was able to swing the ball to an open shooter to notch an assist, and he also set an on-ball screen another time.  Moody was mostly too passive on offense, and his inactivity and unwillingness to shoot or make shots in this game seemed to hurt his team today, but on the other hand, he did not commit a single turnover on offense.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, Moody was able to chase down a couple of balls to get a pair of defensive boards.  However, he will need to improve defensively.  On one good play, he was able to contest a pull-up, mid-range jumper to force a miss.  However, he can tend to be too aggressive when contesting shots, as he fouled an opponent on a three-point shot to allow a score and an extra free throw once.  On a separate play, he bit on a pump fake to commit a foul when defending in the post.  Also, he was called for a reach-in foul when defending a drive, and he can sometimes struggle to defend quicker opponents.

Overall, Moses Moody did not play very well, and it was frustrating to watch him get his two-point attempts blocked all day, and he did not take nearly enough three-point shots on offense.  From his season stat line, it seems as if he’s capable of providing more for his team, but Moody just played poorly on both ends of the floor today.  He’s not super athletic, and he sometimes has trouble creating his own shots on offense.  Most likely, he would project to be a spot-up shooter at the NBA level.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but he might not have the vast upside that others think he may have.  Moody will need to be more consistently productive against tough competition, and he will have to improve his playmaking and defensive skills.  Right now, his jump shot could enable him to get picked in the late first to the second round range, as he could be a similar player to Portland Trail Blazers’ sharpshooting guard Gary Trent Jr., but Moody’s draft stock could drop even more if he continues to struggle in conference play and down the stretch this season.

Other Notes:

Washington Wizards’ superstar guard, Bradley Beal scored 60 points in his team’s loss over the Philadelphia 76ers today!  He scored 57 points through three quarters.  It’s a tremendous feat that he was able to accomplish so early in the season, and it’s terrific to see players playing at their best, as we were able to get our second 60+-point game of the season in the NBA this year.

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