Analyzing Xavier Sneed, P.J. Washington, and Kevin Knox

March 23, 2018

by Alan Lu

Yesterday, I sat down to watch Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox, and the Kentucky Wildcats play against the Kansas State Wildcats in the Sweet 16.  The surprise was how quickly Kansas State jumped on Kentucky, and while Kentucky managed to take a lead in the second half, Kansas State made some big plays down the stretch to get a narrow win over Kentucky.  Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared in this game.

Kansas State’s 6-5 sophomore guard, Xavier Sneed played very well to lead his team to a surprising upset win over Kentucky, as he scored 22 points, made 5 threes, and grabbed 9 rebounds in this game.  Sneed did a great job of knocking down three-point shots to effectively space the floor for his team.  He excelled at making spot-up threes off the catch, and he also used a jab step move to make another three from beyond the arc.

He also managed to draw free throws on a fadeaway, pull-up, mid-range jumper.  However, Sneed struggled more to make jumpers when he would run off screens to get the ball on offense.  He also ran the floor to score in transition once.  However, after catching a long outlet pass on the break, he missed on a dunk on a fast break.  Also, Sneed would miss on tip ins due to rushing his shots after grabbing offensive boards.

In this game, Sneed was able to get an assist, and he did not turn the ball over once.  But he almost did, as on one possession, he had a pass deflected out of bounds.  Sneed also did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was quite active at hauling in boards on both ends of the floor, and he would sometimes get tough rebounds in traffic.  But he also would tend to foul opponents after they would grab rebounds, as he had a tendency to pick up quick fouls in this game.

He also played good defense.  Sneed excelled at poking balls away to get steals, and he also leapt up to break up a lob pass out of bounds on another possession.  He also drew a charge when defending a drive, and he also showed good ball denial skills.  However, he also tended to commit fouls, as he would be called for reach-in fouls, and he also would occasionally hold his man off the ball.  In summary, Xavier Sneed played really well, as his play was instrumental in helping his team get the win over Kentucky.  He especially excelled as a shooter and scorer in this game, and he could end up being a second round pick whenever he decides to enter the draft.

Kentucky’s 6-8 freshman combo forward, P.J. Washington had a very good game in his team’s loss to Kansas State.  He scored 18 points as he also drew 20 free throw attempts, and he also collected 15 rebounds, 3 steals, and 1 block against Kansas State.  On the other hand, he made only 8 of 20 his free throws, as he left plenty of more opportunities to score at the foul line.

Washington showed a gifted ability to get scores in the post.  He showed a knack for scoring on turnaround jump hooks, and he used a spin move once to do so.  He also can score on strong drop step moves, as he also was able to draw an extra free throw on one possession after scoring from the block.  Plus, after using a jab step and hesitation move, he took a dribble to throw down a powerful two-handed dunk.  He also showed a decent ability to score on drives to the basket.  Washington showed a knack for drawing fouls upon the opposition, and he has an adequate first step to the hoop.  But he missed on an awkward runner once, as he may not always show a great shooting touch when taking it to the hoop.

He also did a good job of scoring on hustle plays.  Washington scored on a strong put back off of an offensive board once, and he also managed to draw an extra free throw simultaneously.  He showed a knack for drawing free throws when crashing the glass, though he also really struggled to make those shots at the foul line.  In this game, he did not look to pass often, but he did throw an entry pass once.  However, he did commit a couple of turnovers.  One was where he got tied up on an offensive rebound, and another was when he traveled on a drive to the hoop.

Plus, Washington did a terrific job of rebounding the basketball.  He showed a penchant for hauling in many boards on both ends of the floor, and he also managed to tip a ball to a teammate once to help his team get an offensive board.  But there was one play where he fouled an opponent as his man grabbed a defensive rebound, on that possession; he forgot to box out, and he then yanked his opponent down to commit the foul.

Also, he played very good defense.  Washington excelled at blocking shots off of drives, and he would get his hands on passes to come away with steals and deflections.  He also can poke balls away to force turnovers, and he also would contest shots from all over the floor to force misses, as he can both defend out on the perimeter as well as in the post.

In general, P.J. Washington played very well, as he was Kentucky’s most consistently productive player in their loss to Kansas State.  He did not take or make a three in this game nor pick up an assist, but he excelled in most facets of this contest.  He will need to really improve his free throw shooting, but Washington is an athletic, high motor player that could be a potential first round pick in the upcoming draft.

Kentucky’s 6-9 freshman forward, Kevin Knox played fairly well in his team’s loss to Kansas State.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, and he is also an active help defender, but the most impressive thing about his game continued to be his ability to make mid-range shots after running off of screens.  Knox did a great job of knocking down mid-range jumpers to space the floor for his team. He showed a knack for making shots in that range after running off of screens as he can do that effortlessly, and he also used a pump fake to score on a pull-up, mid-range jumper another time.  Plus, he also was quite adept at drawing non-shooting fouls when running off the ball.

He also showed a decent ability to knock down threes from beyond the arc.  He used a pump fake to make an open three, but he missed on two other occasions from long distance.  However, he struggled to score on drives to the basket.  Knox was able to draw free throws on a leaner after taking the ball quickly to the hoop once, but he tended to miss on floaters against Kansas State.

In this game, he did not look to pass often, and he also committed a couple of turnovers.  Knox pushed off on a drive to commit an offensive foul, as he struggled to create separation off the dribble that time.  He also committed a charging foul on an aggressive drive to the hoop from the baseline, as the call took the score off of the scoreboard.  Knox did a good job of grabbing defensive rebounds to help his team in this game.

However, he displayed fairly average defensive skills.  Knox blocked a shot off of a drive, and he also was able to obtain a steal.  Plus, he also contested a three to force a miss.   On the other hand, he would tend to commit fouls as he would hold opponents and be called for reaching in, as one play led his team to allow a score on a drive as well as an extra free throw.  He also jogged back in transition that led his team to give up a basket, and he also gave his man too much space to allow his opponent to score on a three-point basket on a separate play.

In general, Kevin Knox played fairly well, as he showed a diverse skill set in his team’s loss to Kansas State.  He can help his team in many facets of the game, but what’s really intriguing is that he is a very athletic combo forward that excels at shooting and scoring the basketball.  He is a very skilled player that can bring versatility to an NBA team, and he could end up going in the late lottery this year.

Kansas State’s 6-3 junior guard, Barry Brown did not have a great game overall, but he scored on a clutch floater off the dribble late in the contest, as that proved to be the go-ahead basket to help Kansas State get the win over Kentucky.  Brown struggled to make shots consistently, but he can score on quick drives to the hoop, as he can make a floater, and he also managed to score on a reverse layup in transition.  He will look to take the ball aggressively to the rim, but he struggled often to score off the dribble, as he had trouble making fadeaway jumpers, and he also struggled to score in traffic.  But he did show an adequate ability to make mid-range shots, as he was able to stop to make a pull-up jumper in this game.

He also displayed decent playmaking skills.  Brown can kick it out to shooters off the dribble to set up scores, and he also can throw entry passes.  But he did throw a bad pass that got intercepted once, and he is a score-first player that may not always look for his teammates enough on offense.  He also struggled defensively in this game.  He did manage to contest a mid-range shot to force a miss.  However, Brown tended to commit fouls due to over-aggressiveness, and he also got mixed up on one play that led his team to allow a score on a drive.

In summary, Barry Brown did not necessarily play well against Kentucky, but he made a big shot with the game on the line when his team needed him to step up.  After playing very well in the second round against UMBC, he did not play nearly as well in this game, but Brown is an athletic combo guard that can put up points, and as his team will advance to the Elite 8, Brown may have a chance to move up draft boards in this tournament.

For Kentucky’s 6-6 freshman guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, it was a mixed bag for him.  He did not shoot well from the field, but he excelled at drawing and making free throws.  He was able to collect a handful of assists, but that was also accompanied by a handful of turnovers that he endd up committing in this game.

Gilgeous-Alexander did a good job of scoring on quick drives to the basket.  He is a shifty guard that can quickly get into the lane, and he was able to score after switching hands on one play.  He also managed to score on a scoop layup, and he also showed a knack for getting free throws for his team on strong, aggressive moves to the hoop.  He also managed to draw free throws on a reverse layup after getting an offensive board.  However, he did not show much touch when taking jumpers.  He missed on a floater as well as on a fadeaway, pull-up jumper once, and he also had trouble connecting on mid-range shots or threes against Kansas State.

He also showed just average playmaking skills in this game.  Gilgeous-Alexander played unselfishly, and he would usually kick the ball to the open man to set up scoring chances for his team.  However, he was quite turnover prone on offense.  He had trouble protecting the basketball, as he would get the ball poked away a couple of times, and he also tried to be too fancy on a pass off the dribble that ended up getting picked off.  Gilgeous-Alexander threw some hasty passes in this game, and he also was called for committing a charging foul off of a drive once on offense.

Also, he showed an adequate ability to collect rebounds, as he was able to garner multiple boards on both ends of the floor.  However, he did once commit a foul when going for a defensive rebound once due to over-aggressiveness.  Defensively, he was below average in this game.  Gilgeous-Alexander managed to poke a ball away to help his team get a steal once.  However, he tended to be late on his rotations, as he would give up too much space to allow his man to score on three-point shots.  In summary, Gilgeous-Alexander was able to make some good plays, but he did not consistently play well when he was on the court.  He had too many lapses on both ends of the floor in this game, and there were times where he would play too recklessly on offense.

Right now, he is a talented player that could go in the mid first round, as he is a tall, athletic point forward that may bring plenty of skills to the table.  However, he will need to do a better job of playing under control, and he will also likely need to improve his jump shot to increase his chances to succeed at the next level.

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