Assessing J.P. Macura, Jo Lual-Acuil Jr., and Trevon Bluiett

November 29, 2017

by Alan Lu

I decided to sit down and watch a college basketball game between Xavier and Baylor, as this matchup featured several prospects that could potentially wind up being second round picks in the upcoming draft.  It was competitive for awhile, but then Xavier was able to pull away in the second half to get the victory.   Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared on this day.

J.P. Macura played very well in Xavier’s double-digit win over Baylor.  He excelled as a shooter and scorer when he is on the floor.  He possesses very good range and shooting touch to knock down many threes off the catch, and he also is a crafty scorer off the dribble, as he possesses the agility and body control to finish numerous plays around the basket.  He’s not an elite athlete, but he really knows to maneuver his way in the paint to get scores for his team.

As a playmaker, he looked to be about average.  He mostly looked to score, but he would look to make the extra pass at times, as he can hit a cutter every once in a while.  However, sometimes his passes can be inaccurate, which can lead to turnovers.  He also generally rebounded and defended well.  Macura was quite active on the defensive glass, and he would also contest numerous shots to force misses.  He has good hands, as he managed to poke a ball away to get a steal, and he will use his length to challenge shots, but sometimes he may struggle to defend opponents on drives, as he may not possess great lateral quickness.  In this game, J.P. Macura played very well in his team’s win over Baylor.  His lack of ideal athleticism may give NBA scouts and teams pause before drafting him, but he is a smart skilled player that could end up being a good pick for a team in the second round of the upcoming draft.

Baylor’s 7-0 senior center, Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. turned in a rather uneven performance, as he had some good moments, but he was not able to consistently play well when he was on the floor.  He can get plenty of scores on hustle plays.  Lual-Acuil is a tall, athletic big man that can finish numerous plays above the rim, and he was able to throw down an emphatic dunk off of a roll.  He also will run the floor and crash the glass, which can help him get additional scores around the basket.

He also managed to score on a reverse layup off of a high post drive.  However, Lual-Acuil struggled to consistently score in the post.  He also did not make a three-point shot, as he missed his only attempt from beyond the arc.  He did play unselfishly, as he would look to find the open man, and he also did not turn the ball over.  Lual-Acuil did not rebound the ball particularly well, though he did score on a put back off of an offensive board.  But he did not come away with nearly enough rebounds when he was on the floor.

He also showed adequate defensive skills.  Lual-Acuil is a solid help defender that can leap up to block numerous shots to protect the paint, and he also is an instinctive player that can get his hands on balls to collect steals, but sometimes, he can be too aggressive defensively, which can lead him to commit fouls.  Other times, he may not be in the right spots, as he can allow opponents to occasionally score on jumpers as well as in the post.

In general, this was not Lual-Acuil’s best game, but he did make some good hustle plays when he is on the floor.  He will need to be more consistently productive in games, as well as improve his skill level offensively, but he may have the skill set to be a potential second round pick for the upcoming draft.

Trevon Bluiett was actually the main reason why I tuned in to see this game, but I was rather disappointed by his lackluster performance on offense against Baylor.  He did occasionally make some shots, and he did play pretty good defense, as well as rebound well, but he struggled to knock down threes, and he was also turnover prone.

He had trouble knocking down threes, as he did not make any of them in this game.  Bluiett did show a good ability to make mid-range jumpers, as he can dribble in to do so.  He gets great elevation on his shot, and he can knock those down even when they are tightly contested.  Plus, Bluiett showed a fairly good ability to get scores off the dribble, as he possesses the patience, the strength, and the shooting touch to do so.  However, he was turnover prone in this game.  He had some trouble handling and protecting the basketball, as he was called for traveling once, and he lost the ball a couple of times when trying to make a move to the hoop.  Bluiett did show an adequate ability to pass the basketball, as he would move the ball to find open shooters.

He also generally rebounded the ball well, and Bluiett is a high motor player that can leap up to get tough rebounds on both ends of the floor, but he did commit a reach-in foul once when going for a defensive board once.  Defensively, he would hustle back on defense, and he also managed to jump a pass to obtain a steal.  In all, this was not Trevon Bluiett’s best performance, but he did play well in other areas that were unrelated to shooting the basketball.  This game does not deter from the fact that he is a smart, skilled basketball player, and with his skill set, he could end up being worth a second round pick for an NBA team in 2018.

Other Notes:

Baylor’s senior guard, Manu Lecomte had an up and down game, but he did do a very good job of making threes.  He even made one three-pointer off of a quick curl to get to the corner, and he also made a nifty pull-up three on the break, but he struggled to score consistently off the dribble, and he also had trouble making pull-up, mid-range shots.  He also did not show great playmaking skills, as he did not look to pass often, and he would commit some careless turnovers on drives.

He also showed adequate defensive skills.  He would contest shots and heap on loose balls, but he also would tend to commit fouls when defending opponents off the dribble.  Right now, Manu Lecomte may be a longshot to be drafted, as his lack of ideal size or athleticism may give teams pause before thinking to select him.  But his ability to shoot the basketball could make him a candidate to end up on an NBA summer league roster.

Baylor’s 6-8 combination forward, Terry Maston actually played the best for his team in the Bears’ loss to the Musketeers.  He showed off a variety of scoring skills when he was on the floor.  He excelled at knocking down jumpers when he would elect to take them, as he made a three off of a pick and pop play, and he also made a face-up, mid-range shot.  Maston also showed a good ability to score in the post, as he did so off of a drop step move as well as on a turnaround jump hook.  He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays, as he would actively get scores around the basket.

Maston played really well in the first half, but he cooled off later on as he slowed his roll in the second half.  He still did not excel as a rebounder or playmaker, though.  Defensively, he was about average.  He did manage to leap up to deflect a pass, and he also managed to force a miss when defending the post, but he did show some lapses, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

In general, Terry Maston is a skilled offensive player that can score the basketball inside and out.  He may be more of an inside scorer, so he may need to show NBA scouts and teams that he can effectively play out on the perimeter on a consistent basis.  But as he played well in this game for Baylor, he could end up being a likely player on an NBA team’s summer league roster in 2018.

Kaiser Gates is a 6-8 junior forward that shot the ball really well for Xavier.  He really excelled at knocking down quick threes off the catch, as he would take advantage of defenders giving him too much space to shoot the basketball.  He also managed to score on a high post drive from the baseline.   He did not stand out in the other areas, but he could be a prospect to keep an eye on in 2019, as he could project to be a shooting specialist at the next level.

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