Assessing Caleb Houstan, Jeenathan Williams, and Hunter Dickinson

November 11th, 2021

By Alan Lu

Yesterday, I took the time to watch Michigan’s 6-8 freshman forward, Caleb Houstan play in his team’s season opener against Buffalo, as it was on the Big Ten Network.  This also was an opportunity to watch several other notable prospects such as sophomore center Hunter Dickinson, freshman forward Moussa Diabate, and Buffalo’s senior guard Jeenathan Williams.  Houstan got off to a great start, and while he was slowed by foul trouble, he kept competing in the second half, and he was able to make some solid plays towards the end of the game.  Meanwhile, Dickinson, Williams, and Diabate all played very well in this match.  Here are my thoughts on they fared, as well as where they may currently stack up as prospects for the NBA.

Michigan’s 6-8 freshman forward, Caleb Houstan played fairly well in his team’s win over Buffalo.
(Photo:
Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Caleb Houstan had a solid season debut in his team’s win over Buffalo.  He played very well early on, as he showed off shooting and scoring skills, very good athleticism, and he showed the knack for making sound plays when he was on the floor.  He did run into some foul trouble midway through the first half, which slowed him down, and there were some questionable calls from the officials that negatively impacted him.  Still, he fought through adversity, and he was able to make a couple of solid plays down the stretch to help his team hold onto the lead to get the victory.

Houstan shot the ball well in this game.  He showed a solid ability to knock down spot-up threes off the catch.  He was able to make one early from the right wing, and he also moved off the ball to make another three later on.  He didn’t look to shoot the ball very much though, and sometimes there would be numerous possessions where he would not touch the basketball.  On the bright side, Houstan still did a good job of knocking down threes on offense.

He also would run the floor and actively look to score on hustle plays.  Houstan ran the floor to score on a high-flying dunk, while getting an extra free throw.  He also did a decent job of scoring off the dribble.  Early on, he dribbled to his right, used a pump fake, and then went left to score smoothly on a switch of hands, finger roll layup.  Even more impressive was that he changed directions well to score on that play.  On the downside, on one play where he ran the floor to get the basketball, he drove left quickly towards the baseline, but he went in a little too fast and missed, as he rushed the shot and was unable to score in traffic that time.

Plus, he also showed off solid playmaking skills.  Houstan did a great job of throwing interior passes to set up scores for his teammates.  He threw solid entry passes to get the ball to his teammates on the block.  He also threw a sharp interior pass to help set up a score for a teammate on the break.  He also dribbled off of a screen and threw a nice, timely hook pass to set up a score for a roll man another time.  He also was able to set an off-ball screen once.  On the downside, he can sometimes try to force the issue too much on offense at times.  On one play, he drove right off of a screen after getting the ball on a dribble handoff, but he was later called for a traveling violation, and he would’ve thrown a bad pass that would’ve gotten intercepted if they had not made that call.

Also, Houstan did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was active in crashing the glass to get boards on both sides of the ball.  He boxed out his man to get a defensive rebound early on, and he also brought the ball up after getting another defensive board.  He also leapt up and tipped a ball to himself to get an offensive rebound.  He has a keen nose for the ball, and he would make a concerted effort to come away with boards to help his team on the glass.

Defensively though, he looked to be fairly average.  For the positives, Houstan is an active defender, and his length, activity, and athleticism makes him a promising defender when he is on the court.  Early on, he was able to get his hands on a pass to get a steal.  He was able to contest a couple of outside shots to force misses.  He also would hustle to make plays, and he was able to poke a couple of balls away to nearly get steals.  On the downside, while he did consistently give good effort throughout this game, his technique and fundamentals weren’t always there on the defensive side of the ball.  Specifically, he had a tendency to cheat off of his man and into the paint far too often.  As a result, he would close out too hard on opposing ball handlers, which would put him out of position.  He also would sometimes take bad angles and get beat off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Caleb Houstan played fairly well in his team’s win over Buffalo.  He ended up playing a lower volume role than expected, but he shot the ball well, was active and engaged on both ends of the floor, and he generally made smart decisions in this game.  He made solid team plays, and he also showed a high compete level by continuing to make plays even when things weren’t going his way.  He is a very talented player that had a solid first game, and he is a very skilled, athletic swingman that could end up going in the lottery in the 2022 draft.

Buffalo’s Jeenathan Williams was outstanding in this game, as he scored 32 points and collected 8 rebounds in his team’s loss to Michigan.
(Photo:
Carlos Osorio, via niagara-gazette.com)

Buffalo’s 6-5 guard, Jeenathan Williams had a terrific showing, as he scored 32 points and had 8 rebounds in his team’s loss to Michigan.  He scored the basketball at will, and he helped his team claw their way back in the game to help them hang around longer than expected.

Williams did a great job of scoring off the dribble.  He has very good ball handling skills, athleticism, and body control that enabled him to regularly score on isolation plays.  He has a solid first step to the hoop, and he also can use swift dribble moves such as a crossover or a Euro-step move to quickly get past his man to score around the basket.  He showed that he can finish plays using either hand, and he also would take on the contact to regularly score at the rim.  He was able to score on fadeaway jumpers, and he also had a knack for scoring in traffic. 

He also shot the ball well, as he excelled at making mid-range jumpers off the dribble, and he also was able to make a pair of spot-up threes off the catch.  He also ran off of a ball screen to make his second three of the game.  Also, he would run the floor and use off-ball motion to get the basketball, which would enable him to score on strong drives to the hoop.

He also displayed perhaps above average playmaking skills.  Williams was able to get any shot he wanted on offense, and he also would swing balls to open shooters to set up scores for his teammates.  Every once in a while, he would be a bit careless with the basketball.  He threw an inaccurate interior pass that ended up going out of bounds.  When driving to his right another time, he was called for traveling, as he would’ve otherwise scored on a pull-up, mid-range jumper, but that was taken off the board.

Also, Williams did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was quite active in crashing the glass, and he would leap up to get numerous defensive boards in this game.  Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  Williams was able to successfully draw a charge when defending a floater off of a short roll to get a stop for his team.  Sometimes though, he can tend to be unfocused on the defensive side of the ball.  On one play, when initially defending his man in the post, he ran away from his man, and his teammate had to rotate to commit a foul instead.  Another time, he was late to rotate, and he ended up fouling a three-point shooter that resulted in a four-point play for the opposition.

Overall, Jeenathan Williams put forth a magnificent performance in this game, and he thoroughly excelled as a shooter and scorer against Michigan.  He was especially great at driving to the hoop to routinely score on opposing defenders.  He was basically an instant bucket getter for Buffalo and he played the game like a seasoned NBA veteran.  Williams is a talented player that is skilled enough to play in the NBA, and he is a smart, skilled scoring guard that could be a good find for a team in the NBA next season.

Michigan’s sophomore center, Hunter Dickinson scored 27 points in his team’s win over Buffalo in their season opener.
(Photo:
Junfu Han/Detroit Free Press)

Hunter Dickinson played very well in his team’s win over Buffalo.  He did a great job of scoring the basketball, especially in the paint, and he showed off improved mobility and athleticism as he scored 27 points and also collected 6 rebounds and 1 block to help his team get the victory. Dickinson did a good job of scoring in the post.  Early on, he leapt up to score on a tip shot.  His best score of the game was when he used an explosive spin move to his right to score on a powerful dunk while drawing an extra free throw.  He was rather streaky when he would try to score on left-handed turnaround jump hooks, but he was more effective in scoring on those plays when he would get deep position on the block.

He also was active at scoring on hustle plays.  Dickinson did a decent job of scoring mid-range jumpers after getting the ball on short rolls.  He also caught a lob pass to score on a roll around the basket.  He also did a very good job of scoring off of offensive rebounds, as he was able to score on a tip-in and on a powerful put back dunk another time.

He also looked to be fairly average as a playmaker in this game.  Dickinson showed that he can throw timely passes to cutters to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  He also was able to effectively pass out of the post to find an open shooter.  He also would set good screens to help his teammates score on open jump shots.  On the down side, he was called for setting a moving screen once.  He also was called for committing an offensive foul on a floater off of a short roll, as he would’ve scored on that had that call not been made.

Plus, he did a decent job of rebounding the basketball, and he was quite active at crashing the glass to help his team get offensive rebounds.  On the downside, Dickinson was called for committing an over the back foul on an offensive rebound attempt once. Defensively, he looked to be fairly average.  For the positives, Dickinson did a good job of rotating to block shots to help his team protect the paint.  He also rotated to contest a floater to force a miss another time.  On the downside, he would sometimes get beat off the dribble, and he would close out too hard and end up out of position.  He also would sometimes over-rotate and not make timely rotations, which would allow opponents to score on open shots.

Overall, Hunter Dickinson had a solid showing in his team’s win over Buffalo.  He was especially effective as an inside scorer and screen setter, and his great strength and improved mobility really helped his team in this game.  He made solid team plays, and he will likely be his team’s go-to scorer this season.

Moussa Diabate also played well in his team’s win over Buffalo.  He made energetic, high-motor plays to help his team on both ends of the floor, and he also showed off very good shot blocking skills, and some ability to score off the dribble in this game. He showed a knack for scoring on hustle plays.  Diabate was able to throw down powerful dunks in transition as well as on a roll to the rim.  He also showed a satisfactory ability to score off the dribble.  Diabate used a pump fake on a left-handed drive to score on a smooth layup, while drawing an extra free throw afterwards.  He also was able to draw free throws after using a spin move to his right another time.  On the downside, he struggled to knock down his free throws or outside shots.

Diabate also displayed decent playmaking skills in this game.  He would pass swiftly out of the post to find open shooters to set up scores for them.  He also passed out of of a roll to set up a score for a corner shooter.  He also showed that he can handle the ball a bit in the open floor.  On the downside, he also was a bit turnover prone.  He was called for setting a moving screen once.  He also got tied up on an offensive rebound that led him to commit another turnover.

He also did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  Diabate was able to haul in multiple boards on both ends of the floor.  On the other hand, there was one play where he was called for an over the back foul when going for an offensive rebound.  Also, Diabate played good defense in this game.  He did a great job of blocking shots to help his team protect the paint.  He also ran in to deflect a pass out of bounds to nearly get a steal.

Overall, Moussa Diabate played very well in his season debut, and he is a very athletic, high-motor big man that excelled at making hustle plays in this game.  He also made nice timely passes to get assists, and he also showed the ability to take the ball to the rim to score on offense.  He’ll need to improve his jump shot, but regardless, he is an intriguing prospect that could end up being a first round of the 2022 draft.

Buffalo’s 6-7 senior forward, Josh Mballa had a decent showing in his team’s loss to Michigan.  He had a slow start to this game, but he was able to make a slew of very athletic plays to help his team stay in it down the stretch. Mballa excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He was able to score on a floater in transition while getting an extra free throw.  He also managed to throw down a powerful dunk off of a backdoor cut.  He also showed an adequate ability to score in the post.  On one play, he dribbled left, then changed directions swiftly to go right to score off the glass.  He also was able to absorb the contact to draw free throws.  On the downside, he also had a couple of his shots blocked, as he would sometimes struggle when he wouldn’t get foul calls.  He also missed on both of his three-point shots.

He also was quite turnover prone on offense.  For the positives, Mballa showed the ability to throw solid interior passes to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  He was able to find a cutter to get an assist.  He also threw a behind-the-back pass off the dribble to get the ball to a teammate in the paint.  However, he generally struggled to handle the ball when pressured, which would lead him to commit ball-handling turnovers.  He also threw a bad pass that ended up getting intercepted.

He also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He would leap up to get a handful of defensive boards in this game.  He also played fairly average defense in this game.  Mballa was able to rotate to poke a ball away to nearly get a steal.  On another play though, he got beat off the dribble to allow a score.  He also was in the area but didn’t step up to contest a drive another time, which led his team to allow another basket.

Overall, Josh Mballa had his ups and downs, but he played better as the game wore along.  He is a very athletic, combo forward that can make hustle plays, especially on offense, but he will need to improve his outside shot and be more disciplined defensively.  It’s uncertain if he will end up making the NBA, considering that he is basically like an undersized big man in a wing player’s body, but his strong production and good athletic gifts could enable him to carve out a lengthy playing career in professional basketball.

Buffalo’s 6-0 senior point guard, Ronaldo Segu played fairly well in his team’s loss to Michigan.  He was especially effective when the game was close, and he is a speedy, agile playmaker that can ably create shots for himself and others.  He did a decent job of scoring on right-handed drives and step-back, mid-range jumpers, and he has a good set of dribble moves that he can use to get separation from his defenders.  He also would go to his left to get fouled and draw free throws on pull-up, mid-range jumpers.  On the downside, he was quite streaky with his jump shot, as he also missed his fair share of pull-up mid-range jumpers, and he tended to miss on spot-up threes in this game.

He also showcased decent playmaking skills in this game.  Segu is a quick, shifty guard that can quickly get to various spots on the floor, and he showed a solid ability to pass off the dribble to get assists.  He also was able to find cutters off the dribble to set up scores for his teammates.  He also played adequate defense in this game.  He was able to block a shot off of a drive to showcase his athleticism and timing.  On the downside, there was one play where he got outmuscled on a baseline drive that led him to allow a score.

Overall, Ronaldo Segu is a speedy, skilled point guard that can shoot and pass the basketball.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, but he also struggled to consistently knock down threes in this game.  He’ll need to be a more consistent performer in games, and his lack of size for his position may make it tough for him to be able to play well at higher levels.  Still, he showed a solid ability to quickly get into the lane to score or pass the basketball, and he is a skilled playmaker that could compete for a roster spot in the NBA sometime down the road.

Michigan’s 6-7 sophomore forward, Terrance Williams II also played very well in his team’s win over Buffalo.  He excelled as a scorer and defender in this game.  He did a good job of making spot-up threes off the catch, and there was one play where he ran off of a ball screen to make a quick three while getting fouled to draw an extra free throw afterwards.  He also managed to score on a right-handed drive, and he showed the knack for getting to the foul line when handling the basketball.  He also managed to score on a fadeaway jumper out of the post, and he also managed to score after grabbing an offensive rebound.

He did a very good job of rebounding the basketball in this game.  He also defended well, and he would actively stay in front of his man and contest shots off the dribble to force misses.  Overall, Williams had a very good showing, and he managed to score 15 points and collect 7 rebounds in his team’s win over Buffalo.  He may be a very underrated prospect, and he could be a player to watch as the season progresses ths year.

Michigan’s 6-1 redshirt senior guard, Eli Brooks played fairly well in this game.  He excelled as a scorer on right-handed drives, and he also did a decent job of scoring on mid-range jumpers.  Though he didn’t take many threes, he was able to make an open corner three to showcase his shooting skills.  He was efficient and effective as a shooter and scorer on offense. 

He also played unselfishly, and he was able to set up scores to rack up assists.  On the downside, he also threw an inaccurate entry pass that skipped out of bounds to commit a turnover once.  He also had some trouble defending opposing ball handlers, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Overall, he had a solid showing, and he excelled as a shooter, shot maker, and facilitator in his team’s win over Buffalo.

Michigan’s 6-1 redshirt senior point guard, DeVante’ Jones had his ups and downs in his team’s win over Buffalo.  He excelled as a facilitator on offense, and he showed the ability to take the ball to the hoop to score, but he also ran into foul trouble, as he ended up fouling out of this game.

Brooks did a decent job of scoring off the dribble.  He was able to score on a baseline drive to his right off of a screen, and he would tend to get fouled on drives to his right to get free throws.  On the downside, he got blocked on a left-handed drive off of a screen, and he also missed on a step-back jumper from the mid-range another time.  He also did not take a single three-point shot against Buffalo.

He showed a solid ability to distribute the basketball.  He would throw accurate interior passes to find teammates on the move, and he did a good job of finding the open man to rack up assists.  On the downside, there was one play where he threw an inaccurate outlet pass that sailed out of bounds.  Jones also was able to haul in a pair of defensive rebounds to chip in on the glass. 

He looked to be fairly average defensively.  Jones is an active defender that will look to force turnovers.  He was able to jump passes to get a pair of steals, and he also deflected a pass to nearly get another.  On the downside, he would tend to struggle to stay in front of opponents off the dribble, which would lead him to commit reach-in fouls and to allow scores.  There was another play where he ran away from an opponent with the ball, which caused his team to allow his man to score on an open three-point shot.

Overall, DeVante’ Jones didn’t have his best game, and he spent a good portion of the time on the bench as a result of being in foul trouble.  When he was on the floor, he showed a solid ability to pass and score off the dribble.  Currently, he is a borderline second round candidate, but if he improves his outside shot, he could end up being a solid backup point guard in the NBA.

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