Assessing Erik Stevenson, Trey Wade, and A.J. Lawson

November 27th, 2019

by Alan Lu

Yesterday, I decided to take the opportunity to watch Wichita State play against South Carolina in the Cancun Challenge.  This was my first time watching the Shockers play during the 2019-20 college basketball season, as they are a well-coached basketball team that have produced several NBA players over the years, and are currently undefeated. This also presented a chance for me to watch South Carolina’s 6-6 sophomore guard, A.J. Lawson play in a competitive, college basketball game, as his stock had been rising, and he has received buzz as a first round prospect lately. Lawson had a few solid moments, but Wichita State jumped on South Carolina early, and the Shockers played a terrific all-around game that enabled them to get a double-digit victory.

Erik Stevenson had a solid all-around game to lead Wichita State to a win over South Carolina in the Cancun Challenge.   (Photo: Morgan Anderson/The Sunflower.)
Erik Stevenson had a solid all-around game to lead Wichita State to a win over South Carolina in the Cancun Challenge. (Photo: Morgan Anderson/The Sunflower.)

Wichita State’s 6-3 sophomore guard, Erik Stevenson had a very good game, as he managed to score 19 points, all in the first half, and he showed off solid all-around skills, as he also notched 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals to help lead his team to a sizable win over South Carolina.

Stevenson did a great job of scoring in transition. He would often beat his man down court to get the ball, and he has good hands to catch long passes, which would often allow him to score and draw free throws on drives on the break. Stevenson also was able to score on a turnaround jump hook in the post while drawing an extra free throw, as he is a good scorer in the post.

He also shot the ball fairly well, especially early in this contest. Stevenson was able to make a couple of spot-up threes off the catch, and he has a quick release that enables him to easily get his shot off. He also was able to score on an uncontested mid-range jumper. However, he had a tougher time in trying to make pull-up jumpers, and sometimes he would wait a bit too long, which would allow opponents to effectively close out on him when he would hoist up jump shots.

He also displayed fairly good playmaking skills. Stevenson is a good passer that would tend to throw accurate interior passes to set up scores for his teammates, and he is an unselfish player that can find them in stride. He showed a knack for finding cutters on the move, and he also passes well off the dribble. However, he can also be careless with the basketball at times, which would lead him to commit several turnovers.

Also, Stevenson did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He would often leap up to get defensive boards to help his team on the glass. On the other hand, there was one play where he was called for a reach-in foul after an opponent had grabbed a defensive rebound on one play.

Stevenson also played solid defense in this game. He did a good job of applying heavy ball pressure and poking balls away to force turnovers, and he also was able to successfully draw a charge when defending a drive to get a stop for his team. He was called for a reach-in foul once when trying to fight around a screen, but generally he tended to be in the right spots defensively, and he excelled at making plays to help his team on this side of the ball.

In general, Erik Stevenson had a solid all-around game to help lift his team to a double-digit victory over South Carolina. This was one of Stevenson’s best games of the season, and he is a smart, skilled combo guard that can play either backcourt position. In looking at his game logs, he can tend to run hot and cold as a shooter, but if he can consistently make shots and play well in big games, Stevenson could prove that he may potentially have the skills to make his way onto an NBA roster sometime in the future.

Wichita State’s 6-6 junior forward, Trey Wade also put forth a good performance in his team’s win over South Carolina. He played a solid all-around game, as he quietly excelled in virtually every category in the Cancun Challenge.

Wade shot the ball well to provide floor spacing for his team on offense. He was able to knock down spot-up threes off the catch, and he also used a pump fake move to score on a pull-up, mid-range jump shot. He also ran the floor to score on the break, and he was able to draw an additional free throw afterwards. On the other hand, he also had a couple of his shots blocked around the basket, as he can occasionally struggle to score in traffic.

He also showed off solid playmaking skills. Wade did a good job of throwing long interior passes to set up scoring chances for his teammates, and he also can pass off the dribble to find open shooters on the court. He has good court vision, which enabled him to often find teammates to collect assists. He did commit one turnover though, as he was called for a traveling violation after shuffling his feet in the post once.

Wade also excelled at grabbing rebounds to help his team on the glass, and he would chase down balls to collect offensive boards for Wichita State. He also played good defense. He was able to poke a ball away in the post to get a steal, and he has good agility, positioning, and footwork that would allow him to stay with opposing ball handlers, and to contest shots off the dribble to force misses.

Overall, Trey Wade is an athletic, energetic basketball player that played well in his team’s win over South Carolina, and he is a fill-in-the-blanks type of player that can really help his team on both ends of the court. Right now, he has not drawn much draft buzz, but he could be a player to keep an eye on, as he could project to be a solid role player in the NBA down the road.

South Carolina’s 6-6 sophomore swingman, A.J. Lawson had a promising start to this game, as he showed an ability to score on quick drives to the hoop in transition, and he also ran off the ball to make a quick spot-up three off the catch to show his ability to space the floor. Plus, he also was actively defensively, as he would play passing lanes to get steals and deflections, and he is an agile, fleet-footed player that can guard opponents to get stops when defending them off the dribble.

However, he had trouble consistently making shots, and he generally just faded into the background as the game wore on. Lawson also wasn’t very assertive in looking for his own shot in this game, and he also didn’t end up seeing much playing time in the second half.

Lawson was unable to make a turnaround jumper in the post, or on a reverse layup in traffic off of a cut, and he also tended to throw inaccurate passes that were prone to getting intercepted, and he also would sometimes have lapses on defense, as he was beat on a cut that caused his team to allow a score.

In this game, Lawson did not really take control of this game, but it was also baffling as to why he didn’t play very much in the second half. He didn’t shoot the ball very much, and he would tend to miss on tough jump shots off the dribble when he would look to hoist them up. Overall, Lawson just did not play very well, but he is a very athletic swingman that could potentially end up being drafted by an NBA team, as his stock may be fairly high based on his upside and projected role in the league.

Other Notes:

Wichita State’s 6-4 sophomore point guard, Jamarius Burton played fairly well to help lead his team to a win over South Carolina. He showed a decent ability to get scores on drives to the basket, and he is a fleet-footed player that can draw plenty of fouls on his defenders. He also managed to score on a backdoor cut while also getting an additional free throw afterwards. However, he had trouble knocking down mid-range jumpers, and he also struggled to score in traffic more when he wouldn’t get foul calls.

He also displayed decent playmaking skills. Burton did a good job of facilitating the basketball, as he has an assortment od dribble moves that he can use to create separation between himself and his defender, and he tended to throw solid passes off the dribble to set up scores for his teammates. He also has solid court vision that allowed him to find teammates in stride. However, he did commit a couple of ball-handling turnovers, and he also threw an entry pass that was picked off by a defender once.

Also, Burton did a good job of helping out on the boards, as he would crash the glass to get multiple rebounds on both ends of the floor. Overall, Jamarius Burton had a fairly solid showing in his team’s win over South Carolina. He is a solid facilitator that sees the floor well, and he also did a good job of attacking the basket to garner scores. While he may not possess elite physical tools, Burton is a smart, savvy basketball player that can play either backcourt position, and he is a player to keep an eye on in the future, as he could project to into a backup point guard in the NBA sometime down the road.

South Carolina’s 6-11 senior center, Maik Kotsar was his team’s most consistent player in his team’s lopsided loss to Wichita State, and while he may have played the best amongst them, he still did not have a great game in general.

For the positives, he showed a good ability to knock down mid-range jumpers, and he also has some low post scoring skills. On one play, he utilized a spin move to score on a turnaround, jump hook. However, he also struggled to score off the dribble from the high post, and he was unable to draw many free throws.

He also was able to show that he can pass out of the post to set up scores for his teammates, but he also committed a lot of turnovers in this game, as he can struggle to protect the basketball.

Kotsar didn’t grab many rebounds for a player his size, but he was able to haul in multiple boards on both ends of the floor. While he doesn’t possess great physical tools and can struggle to defend on the ball, he was active defensively, as he was able to get his hands on passes to nab steals, and he also blocked an opponent’s put back due to possessing good timing on that play.

Overall, Kotsar is a skilled low post scorer that can also knock down a bevy of mid-range jump shots, but his athletic limitations could prevent him from excelling against tough teams in college basketball. He was the only player on his team to reach double figures by scoring 12 points, but it took him 13 shots to get there. He will also need to extend his shooting range out to beyond the arc to improve his ability to space the floor even more.  Right now, Kotsar may be a longshot to be drafted by a team in the NBA, but his offensive skills could allow him to carve out a career in professional basketball.

Wichita State’s 6-11 senior center, Jaime Echenique played very well in limited minutes in his team’s victory over South Carolina. He was able to score on a turnaround, fadeaway jumper in the post, and Echenique also managed to score on powerful dunks around the basket. He also would step up to contest shots in the post as well as off of drives to force misses, but he also was prone to committing fouls inside the paint due to over-aggressiveness. Overall, Echenique had a solid showing as he scored efficiently and also played decent defense in this game. While he may be a long shot to be drafted right now, he is an energetic big man that has played well in his role this season, and he could potentially carve out a lengthy career in professional basketball.

Wichita State’s 6-5 sophomore guard, Dexter Dennis did not quite play nearly as well as his teammates in his team’s win over South Carolina, but he was able to have some good moments at various times of this game.

He is an athletic, energetic player that could project into a 3 and D type of role in the NBA. Though Dennis struggled with his jump shot from beyond the arc, he was able to make an open spot-up three off the catch. He also appeared to make a nice shot block to prevent an opponent from scoring in transition early in this contest, but the referees had whistled him for a controversial foul instead.

Dennis was able to score off of a backdoor cut, and he also showed some passing skills, as he drove in and threw a nice interior pass to set up a score for a teammate. However, he also committed a couple of turnovers, as he also can be inaccurate with his passes at times.

Overall, though Dennis did not have a great game overall, he is an intriguing prospect to keep an eye on down the road. Though he did not really stand out here, Dennis is an athletic swingman that was his team’s leading scorer after the first two games of the season, and he was able to make several plays that highlight his potential as a prospect for the NBA. Right now, he will need to make jumpers on a more consistent basis, but regardless, if he can hone his overall game, he could end up being a 3 and D type of player at the next level.

In summary, it was thought at the start of this game that it would end up being A.J. Lawson’s showcase, as he is a very athletic swingman that has been rated as a first round prospect by several draft sites, and he also played well in the U19 World Cup in the FIBA tournaments. However, against Wichita State, that did not turn out to be the case.

Instead, he was held in check for the duration of this contest, and while he was able to draw free throws early on, that he missed both of them at the foul line helped set the tempo for things to come for South Carolina, as he ended up struggling with his jump shot and playing time in his team’s loss to Wichita State.

Adding to that, Wichita State put forth a very impressive performance, as they managed to thoroughly dominate South Carolina due to bringing their trademark, stifling defense, and they also did a good job of shooting and passing the basketball. They had good ball and player movement, and head coach Gregg Marshall did a great job of putting together the gameplan and controlling the game to get his team the victory. Unlike years past, there doesn’t seem to be any one definitive standout NBA draft prospect that the Shockers have, but instead, they have a good collection of players that have helped them get off to a 6-0 start so far this season. Certainly, Wichita State was a fun team to watch on this day, and they are a solid, cohesive team that could have a very good season this year if they can continue to play well as they did in this match that was held in the Cancun Challenge.