Analyzing Tre Jones, Ochai Agbaji, and Cassius Stanley in the 2019 Champions Classic

November 6th, 2019

by Alan Lu

The 2019 State Farm Champions Classic kicked off early, as the event started on the first day of the 2019-20 regular season in college basketball. The first game was between Duke and Kansas, and though there were no truly elite prospects playing such as Zion Williamson or R.J. Barrett, it still ended up being a very competitive match regardless. It was not a well played game as there were a lot of turnovers, but nevertheless, it was a tightly played contest that went all the way down to the wire, but Duke was able to hold on to get a two-point victory.

The top performers appeared to be Tre Jones, Ochai Agbaji, and Cassius Stanley in this game, while others such as Vernon Carey Jr., Matthew Hurt, and Devon Dotson played well at times, while also having struggled at other junctures of this game. Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared, as well as where they may currently stack up as prospects for the NBA.

Tre Jones could be a first round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. (Photo: Brad Penner/USA Today Sports via SI.com)
Tre Jones had 15 points, 6 assists, and 6 rebounds to help lift Duke to a win over Kansas. (Photo: Brad Penner/USA Today Sports via SI.com)

Duke’s sophomore point guard, Tre Jones played fairly well to help get his team a narrow victory over Kansas. He didn’t knock down a three-point shot, but he excelled in virtually every other category in this game.

Jones did a good job of knocking down pull-up mid-range jumpers. He can dribble in to make shots off the dribble from the mid-range area, as he seemed very comfortable in doing that against Kansas. He also can score on quick, right-handed drives to the hoop, as he has a good first step off the dribble. However, Jones would sometimes rush his shots in traffic, which would lead to misses, and he also was unable to make a single three-point shot from beyond the arc.

He also displayed solid playmaking skills. Jones generally threw good passes as he sees the floor well, and he can find open teammates on the move to set up scores for them on the break. Jones can throw pinpoint passes in transition, and he also will often look to find the open man. However, he did end up throwing a couple of bad, hasty passes that led to turnovers, and he also had a ball taken away that led to another.

Also, Jones was active at crashing the glass, as he was able to get a good number of defensive rebounds to help his team get boards.

Plus, Jones also defended well. He would poke balls away and intercept passes to get steals and deflections, and he also would tend to be in the right position defensively, as he also drew an offensive foul on an opponent. He did get beat off the dribble once to allow a score, but generally, Jones excelled by playing tough defense that would stymie his opponents.

In general, Tre Jones had a fairly good showing to help lead his team to a win over Kansas. He generally made good decisions with the ball in his hands, and he tended to make solid plays on both ends of the floor. Jones will still need to improve his jump shot, but he is a solid, reliable game manager that could end up being a quality role player in the NBA, as he could be a good pick for a team in the late first round range of the upcoming draft.

Ochai Agbaji could be a first round pick in 2020. (Photo: Adam Hunger/Associated Press via KUSports.com)
Kansas’ 6-5 sophomore swingman, Ochai Agbaji had a good game despite the turnovers, as he showed off all-around skills in his team’s loss to Duke. (Photo: Adam Hunger/Associated Press via KUSports.com)

Kansas’ 6-5 sophomore swingman, Ochai Agbaji put forth a fairly good performance in his team’s loss to Duke. At times, he looked to be dominant, as his tremendous athleticism and two-way potential was put on display at various junctures of this game. At other moments, he would overtly try to force the issue that would lead him to commit turnovers, and he also missed shots that he could have made down the stretch.

Agbaji did a very good job of attacking the basket to garner scores for his team. He excelled at scoring on thunderous dunks off of backdoor cuts, as he would catch his defender napping, and then quickly dart to the rim off the ball to get the pass before finishing the play above the rim to score the basketball. He also showed a knack for getting to the free throw line after driving hard to the basket out on the break, and he also used an overhead ball fake to score in transition once.

Plus, he also excelled at making spot-up threes to help space the floor for his team. He did miss on several jumpers, and he even had a shot blocked off of a put back, but generally Agbaji did a good job of making shots from all over the floor.

On the other hand, he tended to be quite turnover prone in this game. For the positives, Agbaji can throw accurate long passes, as he was able to find a teammate out on the break to notch an assist, and he also threw a lob pass to set up a scoring chance another time. However, he tended to make careless mistakes with the ball in his hands. He had a ball poked away from behind that led to a turnover, he also was called for a clear-out foul, and he also shuffled his feet that led to a traveling call. Sometimes, Agbaji can throw hasty passes that can get intercepted, as he occasionally would struggle to pass or handle the basketball cleanly on offense.

Also, Agbaji did a good job of rebounding the basketball. He was able to haul in multiple boards on both ends of the floor, and he would sometimes chase down balls to get them for his team. He also played fairly good defense. Agbaji would intercept passes to get steals, and he also dove on the ground to collect another, but he also was beat off the dribble that led him to allow a score another time.

In summary, Ochai Agbaji had a solid showing in his team’s loss to Duke. He is a very athletic swingman that can shoot and score the basketball, and he also defended well when he was on the court. He did commit too many turnovers, but Agbaji looked to be his team’s best player on the floor in this game. Agbaji is an intriguing prospect, as he is a versatile player that may have considerable upside, and he could be a good find for a team in the mid to late first round range of the 2020 NBA Draft.

Cassius Stanley may have the skills to be a first round pick in 2020.  (Photo: Sujal Manohar/The Chronicle)
Cassius Stanley had an excellent showing as he scored 13 points and had the two best dunks of the night to help Duke get a narrow win over Kansas. (Photo: Sujal Manohar/The Chronicle)

Duke’s 6-5 freshman guard, Cassius Stanley had a tremendous showing to catapult his team to a win over Kansas. He came off the bench to excel on both ends of the floor, as he ran down court to score on two magnetic jams on the break, he excelled as a scorer off the dribble, and Stanley also made a corner three. Stanley has a good first step to the hoop, he can score using either hand though he prefers to go left, and he showed a knack for drawing fouls upon his opponents.

Stanley also showed that he can chase down balls to get boards, as he was able to do so to help his team get an offensive rebound once. He also defended fairly well, as he would jump passing lanes to get steals and deflections. On the downside, he was quite turnover prone, as he would sometimes lose the ball or travel when handling it, as he would occasionally struggle to make moves off the dribble.

Overall, Stanley is a very interesting prospect, as he came virtually out of nowhere to help his team get a solid victory over Kansas. He made shots from all over the floor, and he may have been the most athletic player on the floor in this game. Stanley may have a somewhat similar skill set to former Utah Jazz swingman, Ronnie Brewer with his ability to defend and use off-ball movement to get scores. Definitely, Cassius Stanley is a player to keep an eye on, and if he can continue to play this well, not only would he likely be a first round prospect for the 2020 draft, but there’s also a chance that just maybe, he might be Duke’s best prospect overall for the NBA.

Vernon Carey Jr. had a decent showing in his team’s win over Kansas. He had his fair share of ups and downs as he got off to a rather slow start, but he was able to pick things up due to his versatility and ability to contribute on both ends of the floor.

Carey did a good job of knocking down jumpers to space the floor for his team. He excelled at making spot-up threes off the catch from beyond the arc to show his range on offense. He did miss on a long two, and he also missed on a fadeaway jumper off of a drive, but Carey is a big-bodied center that can really stretch the defenses with his ability to shoot the basketball.

He also showed a decent ability to score in the post. Carey possesses very good strength and adequate footwork, as he can use drop steps to get scores and numerous free throws to help his team on offense.  However, he would miss turnaround jumpers in traffic, as he sometimes doesn’t get enough lift on his shot. Carey did manage to run the floor to draw free throws on a strong move in transition, but he had his shot blocked another time when attempting to score off of a put back. Also, though he drew many fouls upon his defenders, he did not do a great job of making his free throws in this game.

Carey displayed adequate playmaking skills. He is a fairly good passer from the post, and he also can set good screens to help his teammates get open shots. On the other hand, sometimes he doesn’t always look to see where his teammates are, and on one play, he had his head down when posting up, and he threw an inaccurate pass that ended up getting intercepted.

He also did an adequate job of rebounding the basketball, and in this game, Carey would leap up to get plenty of defensive boards to help his team on the glass.

Carey also played fairly good defense. He did a good job of rotating to block shots off of drives, as he would put himself in good spots defensively to be in position to do so. Plenty of times, he would step up on drives to contest shots to force misses, and he also managed to force a shot clock violation due to good footwork and making a solid rotation on defense. He also managed to intercept a pass to get a steal another time. At times, he would be prone to committing fouls after rotating to help on drives. He also was called for a foul when defending in the post after allowing an easy catch to an opponent on a separate play, though he ended up fouling a bad free throw shooter.

Overall, Vernon Carey Jr. put forth an adequate performance to help his team get the win over Kansas. The freshman center is a versatile scorer that can knock down jump shots from beyond the arc, and he also has a variety of skills that allowed him to play well down the stretch. There are concerns about Carey’s athleticism, and whether or not if he can still be just as effective as a scorer and defender against upper echelon athletes, and Carey struggled a bit in the first half. In general, he played well down the stretch, and he is a skilled big man that could be a solid find for a team in the late first round range, as he may have the skills to be a reliable role player in the NBA.

Duke’s 6-9 freshman forward, Matthew Hurt had his ups and downs in this game against Kansas. He did a good job of knocking down shots to space the floor for his team on offense, but he also struggled mightily to score in the paint when they would look to get him the ball there. He didn’t offer much else than showing off a smooth, silky jump shot, though that alone could be enough to get him to the NBA.

Hurt did a good job of making jumpers on offense. He excelled at using jab step moves to make three-point shots, and he also was able to make a corner three. He struggled more when he would look to score on pick and pop plays, but generally Hurt excelled at making long-range shots off the catch. Hurt also used a step back move to make a contested, fadeaway, mid-range jumper, and he showed a good ability to knock down mid-range shots.

On the other hand, he struggled more to score inside the arc. Hurt missed on a runner off of a drive, and he also missed badly when attempting to score in the post. Adding to that, he also missed on a put back, and Hurt showed both poor footwork and a below average lift when he would attempt to score in the paint.

He also had some trouble handling the basketball. Hurt was called for traveling in the post as he shuffled his feet when he fell down, and he later lost the ball while handling it to commit another turnover.

Hurt also didn’t grab many rebounds, but he was able to get a board on each end of the floor. However, he also didn’t seem to play great defense in this game, either. He had a tendency to double off his own man, as he did so once, which led his teammate to have to foul on a cutter. Also, there was another play where he sagged too far off his man, which led his opponent to score on a three-point basket.

In summary, Matthew Hurt did not have his best game, but he still was able to make several three-point shots from beyond the arc. Hurt will need to show that he can make positive contributions in other ways, but his jump shot alone may be the reason why he’s considered to be a first round candidate. Right now, he seems to have a similar game to former Indiana Pacers’ veteran forward, Austin Croshere, and in a favorable scenario, Hurt could end up being an effective role player in the NBA.

Kansas’ sophomore guard, Devon Dotson had some good moments in this game, but his performance was uneven in his team’s loss to Duke. He is a speedy, fleet-footed player that can score on quick drives to the basket, as he has a very good first step off the dribble. Dotson also excelled at getting to the free throws on speedy drives to the hoop, and he also was able to make a deep pull-up three at the end of the game.  

However, he did not shoot the ball well from beyond the arc, and he also was quite turnover prone. In this game, Dotson tended to be inaccurate on his passes, and he would be too careless when handling the ball, as he would get it poked away when facing heavy ball pressure. Though Dotson has great foot speed that enables him to get many scores at the rim, he doesn’t seem to have natural point guard instincts, and he really struggled to be a facilitator or caretaker on offense.

Dotson played fairly good defense, as he was able to poke a ball away to get a steal, and he also tied up an opposing ball handler and deflected a pass to nearly force turnovers on other occasions.

Overall, Devon Dotson is a speedy combo guard that can quickly get into the lane to score the basketball, but he will need to improve his decision-making in order to be more effective at playing the paint. Right now, he looks to be a second round prospect, as he may have a similar skill set to former Brooklyn Nets guard, Tyshawn Taylor.

Other Notes:

6-5 junior guard, Marcus Garrett showed an adequate ability to take the ball to the basket to get scores and free throws on aggressive drives to the basket, though sometimes he would miss wildly in traffic.

He also showed off adequate playmaking skills, as he can throw accurate lob passes to set up alley-oop dunks for his teammates, but he also can struggle to create separation off the dribble, which can lead him to commit some turnovers. He also was able to collect his fair share of boards, and Garrett was active as a help defender, as he would roam to get steals and blocks on the defensive end. However, sometimes his tendency to go for steals would get him into trouble, as he also had a tendency to be called for reach-in fouls.

Overall, Marcus Garrett is an athletic, hard-nosed swingman that can score and pass the basketball. He will need to improve his jump shot and play more under control on offense, but he is a versatile role player that could be a pivotal player for Kansas this year, and if things pan out for him, he could potentially end up being like a Marquis Daniels type of player in the association.

Kansas’ 6-8 freshman forward, Tristan Enaruna made his impact felt early, but he suddenly seemed to have disappeared in the second half, as he became less and less of a factor as the game wore on. Enaruna is a tall, athletic swingman that can shoot and score the basketball. He was able to use a side step to his left to make a pull-up three with ease, and he also scored on a patient drive to the hoop. However, he had a runner blocked by an opponent another time, as he was unsuccessful at driving from the baseline later on.

Enaruna played good defense, as he can block shots. He managed to swat an opponent’s fadeaway jumper from the post, as well as off of a put back another time, as he has the length, footwork, and timing to excel as a shot blocker on the defensive end.   Enaruna did not show off great playmaking skills however. While he can handle the basketball, he had a tendency to throw bad passes into traffic that would wind up getting intercepted by defenders.

Overall, Tristan Enaruna is a young, athletic swingman that could project into a 3 and D type of role player in the NBA, but he will still need to show that he can consistently play well at the collegiate level. His performance off the bench was promising, and if he can keep playing well in his role at Kansas, Enaruna could potentially end up being a second round pick, as he could be a similar player to current Minnesota Timberwolves’ forward, Jake Layman in the league.

Duke’s senior big man, Javin DeLaurier is an athletic big man that would look to score on hustle plays, and he also is a very good rebounder. He was able to rip a ball away from an opponent off of a drive to get a steal, and he almost made a ferocious chase down block in transition, but instead was called for a foul on that play. DeLaurier ended up in foul trouble as he eventually fouled out due to over-aggressiveness. Still, DeLaurier was able to play well at times, as he is a player that could compete for a roster spot in a backup role in the NBA.

Kansas’ sophomore center, David McCormack is a mobile big man that generally threw solid outlet passes as he tended to pass the ball well, and he also excelled as a cutter to get scores on offense. Plus, he also was able to make a tough catch in the post, as he used a spin move to score on a turnaround jumper. He also used a pump fake move to draw free throws when driving from the high post. McCormack also attempted long two-point shots, but he was unable to connect on attempts from that distance. He also would sometimes miss shots in traffic, as he would not always finish plays around the basket.

Generally, McCormack rebounded and defended well, as he would get his hands on balls to collect steals, and he also swatted a shot off of a drive. But sometimes he would commit fouls when defending down low, and he also sagged too far off his man, which led him to allow his opponent to score on a three-point shot.

Overall, David McCormack is a tough, mobile big man that seems to be making strides to improve as an overall player. He will still need to improve his face-up game and show that he can consistently defend well. Right now, he may be a second round prospect, and in a favorable scenario, he could end up being a backup center in the association.

Kansas’ senior center, Udoka Azubuike had an adequate showing in his team’s loss to Duke. He excelled as a finisher around the basket, as he would run the floor and catch lob passes to score on powerful alley-oop dunks. Azubuike also showed off fairly good low post scoring skills, as he backed his man far into the paint, he used an overhead ball fake, and he then scored on a thunderous dunk while getting an extra free throw simultaneously. Azubuike has tremendous strength, as he will get deep position, and he has the scoring touch to be effective down low.

He also passed the ball well, as he is a good passer out of the post, and he was quite effective at finding cutters to set up scores for them. However, he also had a tendency to shuffle his feet when receiving the ball in the high post, and Azubuike tended to be uncomfortable when receiving the basketball too far away from the basket. He also was indecisive another time when trapped in the post, and he tried to pass out at the last second, but it led to a shot clock violation.

Azubuike also did a good job of rebounding the basketball. However, he tended to be foul prone when defending in the paint, as sometimes he would get overpowered inside, and he also had some trouble guarding quicker players off the dribble.

Overall, Azubuike is a strong, powerful big man that can score, rebound, and block shots in the paint. He’ll need to improve his mobility and shooting touch when he’s away from the basket, but Azubuike is a second round prospect that has the skills to compete for a backup role in the NBA

Alex O’Connell made some solid plays in this game for Duke, as he would intercept passes to get steals, and he also ran in to make a surprising tip slam to score off of an offensive rebound. He also scored on a patient drive and made a corner three, but O’Connell eventually struggled with his outside shot from beyond the arc. Overall, O’Connell is a fairly athletic, combo guard that plays with a high motor. If he can show that he can play well in an extended role this year, that could help him gain some traction as a prospect for the NBA, and O’Connell may have the ability to develop into a backend rotation player similar to former San Antonio Spurs’ guard, Gary Neal in the association.

Kansas’ redshirt sophomore forward, Silvio De Sousa waited an entire season to play his next college basketball game, and the question was if he can take the next step as a prospect and shine on the big stage. Unfortunately, De Sousa did not seem to make that much of an impact on this game, as he just did not play much, and he did not make a single field goal against Duke. He still rebounded the ball well and got to the free throw line at a solid rate, but did little else other than miss on wild put backs and commit careless turnovers on offense. Right now, the jury is out on whether or not if De Sousa should be considered a legitimate prospect, but he didn’t show off any perimeter skills or much of an ability to play well against elite competition. Therefore, De Sousa may not be nearly as polished as anticipated, and he will need to play significantly better and get more minutes in order to move up draft boards in the future.

Duke’s freshman swingman, Wendell Moore Jr. did not play very well in his season debut, as he struggled to make much of an impact on this game. Moore tended to miss wildly on aggressive drives in traffic, and he would sometimes have his shots blocked off the dribble or posting up. He also missed on a pull-up, mid-range jumper on the break. Moore did manage to score on a patient, right-handed drive after using a nifty stutter step move to score off the glass.

He also showed some playmaking skills, as he was able to throw a nice dump off pass off of a drive to set up a scoring chance for a teammate due to possessing above average athletic gifts and court vision, but Moore ended up stepping out of bounds another time while driving baseline that led him to commit a turnover.

Overall, Moore did not play too well, as he did not make many shots, and was quite turnover prone in this game. He also did not seem to be as athletic as he appeared to be in the 2019 McDonald’s All-American game, and he struggled to get all the way to the basket. Right now, Moore will need to develop his jump shot and learn to make smarter decisions in games, but for now, his draft stock may be way too high, and realistically, he may be more of a draft prospect for 2021 or sometime down the road. There’s still a lot of basketball to be played this season, but Moore did not make a very good impression with his shoddy performance in this game.