Assessing De’Andre Hunter and Nickeil Alexander-Walker
March 7, 2018
by Alan Lu
One prospect that has been climbing up draft boards is Virginia’s 6-7 freshman forward, De’Andre Hunter. I decided to set out to watch a full game online that he played in, as his team played against conference rival, Virginia Tech in a hard-fought February 10th match that went all the way to overtime, as I was able to see it with thanks to YouTube via Evgeniy Fedorov. Both teams traded leads in a game that was played at a snail pace, and the Hokies ended up grinding out a surprising one-point overtime victory over Virginia. Here are my thoughts on how Hunter, Alexander-Walker, and other prospects fared in this game.
Virginia’s 6-7 freshman forward, De’Andre Hunter had a fairly good showing in his team’s loss to Virginia Tech. Though he came off the bench, he showed off versatile scoring skills, and he was able to contribute in a variety of ways to help his team on both ends of the court. Hunter is a good shooter that excelled at knocking down open threes off the catch. He used a ball fake to knock down one outside shot from beyond the arc, and he also made another long-range jumper off the catch later in this contest. Plus, he also did a good job of running the floor, as he was able to beat his man down court to score on a fast break while also drawing an extra free throw. He also was able to score on a nice hustle play, as he grabbed a tough offensive rebound, and dribbled in to score on a strong put back while drawing another extra free throw that time.
He also showed off decent low post scoring skills. Hunter is a tough, physical player that can get deep position on the block, and after finding himself open around the basket, he caught an entry pass, went up strong, and scored off the glass. He also managed to draw a non-shooting foul after getting the ball from the high post another time, but Hunter did miss once after using a pivot move to attempt a turnaround jumper. However, he missed on a floater after driving in from the baseline once. Another time, Hunter used a jab step, but missed on a mid-range shot.
Plus, he also displayed fairly good playmaking skills. Hunter is an unselfish player that will make the extra pass, and he will look to find the open man to set up scoring chances for his teammates. He also managed to throw a sharp interior pass to find a teammate underneath the hoop, and Hunter will set screens every once in a while. He did not turn the ball over often, but he did so once. On one play, he used a pump fake prior to driving to the hoop, but he then had the ball poked away from him to lose it to an opponent. Also, Hunter did a good job of rebounding the basketball. He was especially active on the offensive glass, and he would leap up to corral them in to help his team on the boards.
He also displayed fairly average defensive skills. In this game, Hunter would look to contest three-point shots as he was able to force some misses, and he also fought through a tough screen once to get his opponent to miss the shot. He also made a good rotation, as he may have helped poke a ball away from an opposing low post player to help his team force a ball handling turnover. In addition, Hunter also managed to stay in front of a smaller player on a drive on the break, as his positioning may have helped force his opponent to travel, as his man slipped on that occasion.
However, sometimes Hunter will give his man too much space or be late to rotate, as this led his team to allow a couple of scores on three-point shots. He doesn’t possess great lateral quickness, and late in the game, he slipped on the floor trying to step out on a shooter to allow an opponent to score on a deep three. Plus, he also struggled to move his feet when rotating to defend a baseline drive, and he ended up committing a foul, as he did not look to make a play for the ball.
In general, De’Andre Hunter had a fairly good game, as he was quite effective as a shooter and scorer when he was on the floor, and he showed off a good set of all-around skills against Virginia Tech. He may not stand out in any one area in particular, but he is a tough, competitive player that will compete on both ends of the court. With his skill set, he could end up being a likely second round pick whenever he enters the NBA draft.
Virginia Tech’s 6-5 freshman guard, Nickeil Alexander-Walker also played well, as he was able to help lead his team to a narrow overtime victory over their conference rival, Virginia. He shot the ball very well from beyond the arc, and he also played good defense to help get his team the win. Alexander-Walker did a very good job of knocking down spot-up threes from beyond the arc to effectively space the floor for his team. He can use off-ball movement to get open, and he also can use a pump fake or jab step to create separation between himself and his defender. In addition, he also has a quick release that enables him to easily get his shot off, and he also can make threes in transition.
However, he struggled to score when he would look to take shots inside the arc. He missed on a couple of fadeaway, pull-up mid-range jumpers, and he also missed on a leaner after dribbling off of a screen another time. Alexander-Walker does not possess a great first step to the hoop, and he had a tough time getting all the way to the rim on a consistent basis. He also showed off fairly average playmaking skills. Alexander-Walker did a very good job of not turning the ball over, but he also did not pick up an assist in this game, either. He was able to throw an entry pass to set up a scoring chance, and sometimes, he would bring the ball up to help set up the offense.
Though he did not grab many boards, he was able to collect several defensive rebounds, and he would usually push the ball up the floor off of them afterwards, but he did get called for committing an over the back foul when attempting to get an offensive rebound on one possession due to over-aggressiveness. He also played adequate defense. Though Alexander-Walker did not get a steal or block in this game, he would get his hands on balls, as he would deflect passes, and he also poked a ball away to almost force a turnover. Plus, he would also look to contest three-point shots to force some misses, and he also rotated on a drive to help force a ball-handling turnover.
Sometimes, he would not be in the right spots, as that would lead his team to allow three-point baskets to the opposition. On one play, he overran a shooter on a switch and promptly got beat off the dribble. On another, he over-helped in the paint and sagged too far off his man to allow an open three-point shot that would go in. Plus, sometimes he would only jog back in transition, as this would lead him or a teammate to commit fouls as a result.
In summary, Nickeil Alexander-Walker played fairly well, as he excelled as a floor spacer to help get his team a win in overtime. He may not possess as much upside as some of the other prospects in his draft class as he possesses just average physical tools and size to play out on the wing, but he is a very good shooter that can knock down threes consistently and he may possess the ability to move off the ball to help his team on offense. With his skill set, he could end up being a good value pick for an NBA team in the second round if he were to enter the upcoming draft.
Virginia Tech’s 6-2 junior point guard, Justin Robinson played very well to lead his team to a narrow win over the Virginia Cavaliers. He excelled as a scorer on strong drives to the hoop as well as off of cuts, and he also showed the ability to split double teams. He also was able to make several threes to showcase his range, as he can make outside shots off the catch, dribble, or after dribbling off of screens.
He also displayed fairly good playmaking skills in this game. He is a crafty ball handler that can regularly split double teams, and he will find the open man to set up scores for his teammates, but he also committed several turnovers, as he occasionally struggle with his footwork when handling the ball due to being called for traveling a couple of times, and he also would occasionally throw hasty passes that would get picked off.
He also showed off adequate defensive skills. Robinson would actively contest shots, and he also managed to block a shot off of an opponent’s roll to the rim, but sometimes he would have trouble defending jumpers, as his lack of size would make it tough for him to consistently contest shots, and sometimes he would over-help in the paint, which would lead his team to allow a couple of three-point baskets to his opponents.
In general, Justin Robinson had a solid game, as he managed to score 20 points and dish out 7 assists to get his team the overtime win over Virginia. He’s a smart, skilled player that has excelled running the point this year, and he also may possess above average physical tools for a player at his position. While he has not drawn nearly as much draft buzz as his higher profile teammate, Alexander-Walker, Robinson could end up being a potential second round pick for an NBA team someday.
Virginia Tech’s 6-10 junior center, Kerry Blackshear Jr. put forth an uneven performance as he really struggled to knock down threes, and he missed often on pick and pop plays. However, he did a great job of finishing plays around the basket, as he would often get tough offensive boards, and score on strong put backs while drawing extra free throws. He also managed to score on a cut to the hoop, but he did miss on a drive despite using a spin move to try to score on a leaner on a separate play.
He showed off decent playmaking skills in this game. Blackshear would look to find the open man, he found a teammate on a cut to get one nifty assist, and he would also set firm screens and pop off of them to set up scoring chances for his team. However, he had some trouble making moves in the post, as he traveled once due to rushing his move, and he also threw a hasty pass out of a double team that got picked off. Another time, he had the ball poked away when posting up, as he did not recognize the double team was coming fast enough, and he did not protect the ball well that time.
Though he may not have grabbed as many rebounds as hoped, he was especially active on the offensive glass late in the game, and his put back score late in overtime proved to be the go-ahead and eventual game winning bucket for his team, but Blackshear did also commit a foul once when going for a defensive board, as he was called for a push off that time. He also played good defense in this game. Blackshear managed to jump an entry pass to get a steal, and he also would look to contest shots from all over the floor to force misses. But he was called for a reach-in foul once when defending the post. Another time, he sagged too far off of his man, which allowed his opponent to score on a pull-up, mid-range jumper.
In summary, Kerry Blackshear Jr. had his ups and downs, but his a strong, mobile big man that can get scores and rebounds for his team when he is focused on doing so. He also can set good screens. However, he really struggled with his jump shot against Virginia, which hurt his scoring efficiency, but he did end up making the go-ahead basket to get his team the win. Blackshear could be a definite player to watch next year, as he could end up being a second round pick in 2019.
Virginia’s 6-5 senior guard, Devon Hall had a decent showing in his team’s loss to Virginia Tech, though he really struggled in overtime, as he missed some key free throws down the stretch in that time span. He excelled as a floor spacer, as he would run off screens to make corner threes, and he also showed a penchant for knocking down long-range jumpers off the catch. He also can use a jab step or an overhead ball fake to knock down threes. He did seem to be a bit streaky with his jump shot, but Hall was clearly at his best when taking and making threes, as he was also unable to make any jumpers that were taken inside the arc.
Plus, he also showed off adequate playmaking skills. He was at his best when he would play with patience, as he can kick the ball out to shooters off the dribble, and he can time plays to set up scoring chances for his teammates. But sometimes he would commit turnovers due to carelessness, as he would occasionally throw questionable passes, and he also had a ball ripped away on one drive to the hoop, as he does not possess a great first step off the dribble.
Hall showed an adequate ability to rebound the basketball, and he was able to come away with plenty of defensive boards when he was on the floor. However, he did end up committing a foul on a put back from behind late in overtime. Defensively, he had his struggles. For the positives, he managed to jump a pass to swiftly get a steal once, and he also would look to contest shots to force a couple of misses. However, he would tend to give up a bit too much space to his man, which would lead his team to allow three-point baskets to his opponents. He also had trouble keeping up with quicker opponents, as he ended up getting beat off the dribble a couple of times to allow scores.
In summary, Devon Hall had a decent game in his team’s loss. He shot the ball well from beyond the arc, and he also showed some passing and rebounding skills, but he also struggled with his position defense, he missed key free throws down the stretch, and he also committed a couple of careless turnovers in this game. Still, Devon Hall is a skilled player that shoots the ball well, and he could end up being on an NBA summer league roster this year.
Virginia Tech’s 6-6 junior forward, Chris Clarke played fairly well to help lead his team to a close win over Virginia. He possesses a decent ability to get scores off the dribble, as he can score on a tough fadeaway jumper, and he can also take the ball coast to coast to score on fast breaks. But sometimes, he may tend to take too many tough shots off the dribble, and he also had his shot blocked when he attempted to score on a reverse layup after using an overhead ball fake and a rip move from the post. Clarke did make a deep open three off the catch, as he made his lone three to show off his range.
Also, Clarke showed off fairly good playmaking skills. He generally passes well from the post, and he can hit cutters to set up scoring chances for his team. He can throw long accurate passes to his teammates, as he did so once to get the ball inbounds. But sometimes, he may struggle to consistently create his own shot off the dribble, as he was called for committing a charging foul once, and he had the ball poked away another time.
He also did a good job of rebounding the basketball, and he would frequently bring the ball up after leaping up to get defensive boards. Late in the game, he also managed to swoop in to get an offensive rebound. But there was one time where he did not properly block out his man, as his team ended up allowing a put back score.
He also played adequate defense. Clarke showed a knack for getting steals, as he can intercept passes and heap on loose balls to force turnovers, and he will contest mid-range shots and shots in the post to force misses. But sometimes, Clarke may tend to roam too much, as he may end up out of position, which can lead his team to scrambling situations that lead to baskets for the other team.
In summary, Chris Clarke played fairly well for Virginia Tech, as he is an athletic, high motor player that can make plays on both ends of the floor. He is a fairly low volume player, and he has not drawn much draft buzz this year, but he may have the skills to end up being a second round pick next season, especially if he ends up becoming more of a scorer.
Virginia’s 6-7 senior forward, Isaiah Wilkins did not make a field goal, but he excelled as a passer and defender when he was on the floor. He is an athletic, high-motor player that would make hustle plays on both ends of the court. He passes well out of the post, and he will also leap up to either get boards or to tip balls to help his teammates come away with rebounds.
He also generally defended well in this game. He was able to block a shot in the post to a teammate, and he also showed a knack for collecting steals due to possessing quick hands. Wilkins would also stay in front of his man and use his length to contest shots on drives to force misses, and he also would actively contest three-point shots. Plus, he also managed to draw a charge when defending a baseline drive once, but sometimes, he would get beat off the dribble, which would lead his team to allow scores, and other times, he would either not make a timely rotation or play disciplined defense, as he struggled more with his position defense in overtime.
Wilkins in general did not score often, but he is an unselfish player that generally defends well when he is on the court. In some ways, he may be a similar player to former Boston Celtics’ forward, Tony Gaffney, and Wilkins is a defensive minded player that could end up competing for a roster spot in the NBA even though he may be significantly lacking in offensive skills to develop into anything more than a bench player in the association.
Virginia’s 6-2 sophomore guard, Kyle Guy took a lot of shots, but he took a lot of tough jumpers that led to misses. Though he would run off screens, he generally would take contested long-range shots that would lead to some bad misses. While he did score on a floater once from the baseline, Guy also tended to miss inside the arc too, and he generally has trouble getting all the way to the basket due to possessing below average athletic gifts. He also struggled with his position defense, as he had trouble keeping up with his man, as he would get beat on moves, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores. On the other hand, he showed some passing and rebounding skills, and on one play, he managed to bring the ball up the floor.
However, Kyle Guy just did not play very well in this game, as he struggled to consistently make shots when he was on the floor. Guy may fall in the type of player that may be productive at the collegiate level, but his subpar size to play out on the wing combined with his below average athleticism may not make him an enticing prospect to most NBA teams. But he has usually shot the ball well in other games. Likely, he will probably end up staying all four years in college, and while he may not possess much upside as a prospect for the NBA, if he does find his way into the league, perhaps he could end up being a Bryn Forbes type of player in the association.