Assessing John Collins, Jaron Blossomgame, and Donte Grantham

February 15, 2017

By Alan Lu

Recently, Wake Forest’s 6-10 sophomore big man John Collins has been rising up draft boards, so I wanted to take the time to scout him.  On Tuesday, his team was playing on the road against Clemson in an ACC matchup.  Though both teams had mediocre records and may likely end up not making the NCAA Tournament, they both had potential first-round prospects, as Clemson also featured senior swingman Jaron Blossomgame.  Here are my thoughts on how they and other various prospects fared on this day.

John Collins put forth a solid performance in a loss to Clemson.  He showed off strong inside scoring and rebounding skills, and he was virtually unstoppable in the paint on offense.  Sure, it was against a team that had double-digit losses in which the opposing team’s top center may be a fringe candidate for the NBA, but Collins really excelled at putting the ball in the hoop.

He showed off a gifted ability to score in the low post.  Collins showed off solid athletic ability, footwork, and shooting touch, as he was often able to score on drop step moves and turnaround jumpers.  He rarely missed against Clemson, and he showed off great body control to make shots when he was on the block.

Plus, he also excelled as a scorer on the move, and he was able to get several scores around the basket on hustle plays.  Collins was able to catch a lob pass to score on a roll to the rim.  Plus, he also runs the floor well, as he was able to score in transition.  Another time, Collins was open underneath the hoop, and he threw down a powerful dunk.  Also, he was often able to score on put backs off of offensive rebounds, as he managed to throw down an emphatic tip dunk once in this game.  Moreover, Collins showed off the ability to knock down jumpers, as he made one mid-range shot when he was on the court on offense.

On the other hand, he showed off below average playmaking skills.  Collins does not look to pass often, though he did find a shooter once to pick up an assist.  But moreover, he was quite turnover prone on offense.  He had a tendency to travel when making his move to the basket in an attempt to score, and he struggled to catch balls several times thrown to him in the post.  Other times, he would fail to protect the basketball, which would lead to additional turnovers.  Also, he showed off very good rebounding skills.  Collins showed a knack to haul in boards on both ends of the floor, and he was able to get numerous scores on put backs off of offensive rebounds.

However, he looked to be below average defensively.  For the positives, he did play better on that end of the floor in the second half, and he showed off solid athletic ability and timing to block a couple of shots off of drives.  But for most of the night, he struggled on defense, especially in the first half.  Collins had trouble defending big men in the post, as he would get backed down, and allow scores around the hoop.  Also, he would tend to commit fouls off of drives, and sometimes he would not rotate or contest the shot in time to force misses.  He had a tendency to pick up fouls in the paint, as he ended up fouling out.

In general, John Collins had a very good game, as he showed off a solid ability to score and rebound in the paint. But he struggled with turnovers and fouls, and he did not play well on the defensive end overall.  In the NBA, he could end up being a mid to late first round pick, and he could add some punch to a team as a scorer and rebounder on the floor in the mold of a Jordan Hill type in the league.

Clemson’s 6-7 senior forward, Jaron Blossomgame also put forth a good showing to lead his team to a win over Wake Forest.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, as well as a solid ability to pass and rebound the basketball to help get his team the victory.  Blossomgame showed off an adequate ability to score in the post.  He managed to score on a couple of turnaround jump hooks, and he also made a fadeaway jumper.  He did miss on a couple of jump hooks, but generally Blossomgame showed off solid athletic ability, footwork, and shooting touch to get numerous scores on the block.

He also showed a decent ability to knock down jumpers when he was on the court.  Blossomgame was able to make both a contested, spot-up three, as well as a pull-up three, as he can make threes both off the catch and dribble.  But he did have several misses off the catch from beyond the arc, and he also missed a pull-up, mid-range jumper, as he can be quite streaky with his jump shot.

But he struggled to consistently score off the dribble.  Blossomgame did show a knack for drawing free throws when taking the ball up the court on fast breaks, though he struggled to make them when he was at the foul line.  However, though he did score on a right-handed scoop shot off of a half-court drive, he missed numerous other times, as he struggled to get his shooting touch whenever he would look to use the dribble to try to get scores for his team.

Also, he showed off adequate playmaking skills.  Blossomgame showed off good patience to find the open man, as he would collect several assists when he was on the floor.  But sometimes, he would make hasty decisions, as he committed a charging foul off of a drive once, and he threw a bad pass that was deflected and intercepted another time.  Plus, he showed off a tremendous ability to rebound the basketball.  He collected many defensive boards for his team, as he would often leap up to haul them to help his team on the glass.

Blossomgame displayed fairly average defensive skills.  For the positives, he was active as a help defender, as he possesses great athleticism and solid instincts to do so.  He quickly jumped a pass to collect a steal, as he then managed to draw free throws for his team on a fast break drive off of it.  Also, he leapt up to block a shot, and he was able to use his length and positioning ability to force some misses.  On the other hand, he would give his man too much space at times, which would allow them to get scores afterwards.  At times, he would get beat off the dribble, which would lead him to commit a foul or allow scores as a result.

In summary, Jaron Blossomgame had a fairly good game, as he showed off a variety of scoring skills, and he displayed solid passing and rebounding skills.  He struggled to consistently score off the dribble and had some defensive lapses, but he tended to make good plays when he was on the court.  With his skill set, he could be a good pick for a team in the late first to the second round range of the draft, as he could end up being an effective role player in this league.

For Clemson’s 6-8 junior forward, Donte Grantham, he put forth a disappointing showing, as it was nowhere close to the strong performance he had early this season against Xavier.  He was mostly a non-factor on offense, as he passed up on a lot of shots, and he did not grab a rebound.  But he did show adequate passing skills and solid defensive skills in his team’s win over Wake Forest.

Grantham flashed the ability to make jumpers when he was on the court.  He was able to knock down an open three off the catch in the corner, though he missed several other times on spot-up opportunities.   He also managed to draw a foul on a drive in transition, though he did not get free throws.  However, Grantham did not look to score often off the drive, nor looked to cut to the hoop often on offense.

He showed fairly good playmaking skills in this game.  Grantham plays like an off-ball, point-forward, as he is a very unselfish player, and perhaps so to a fault.  He threw solid interior passes, and his lone assist was due to very good court vision and patience, as he drove to the hoop, and threw a lob pass across the paint to set up an alley-oop dunk for a teammate.

Also, he will set screens for his teammates at times, as he can make himself available as a shooter on pick and pop plays, and he has the athletic ability to be a roll man on offense.  But he did not look to cut or roll to the hoop, and he looked to be quite passive on offense.  Grantham also committed a charging foul when attempting to kick it out to a shooter off of a drive once to commit his lone turnover.

Grantham showed off tremendous defensive skills.  He is a rangy defender that can make a lot of stunning plays on this end of the floor.  Grantham was able to jump a high entry pass to obtain a steal.  Another time, he raced down the court to make a chase down block on a drive in transition to get an impressive stop for his team.  On the play where he made that block, he showed off terrific recovery speed, leaping ability, and timing to prevent the opponent from scoring on the break.

In general, Donte Grantham did not have his best game, but he showed the willingness to be a team player when he was on the court, as well as the potential to be a standout defender at the next level.  But in terms of where he is as an overall player, he is a bit of an enigma, as his play has been frustratingly inconsistent throughout the season.

He may be a bit of a project, but he may have considerable upside as a player for the NBA, and he could really flourish at the next level if he puts his skills altogether.  If he were to declare, Grantham would likely be a second round prospect, but if he pans out in the association, he could perhaps at best be a player similar to Glenn Robinson III in the league.

Other Notes:

Wake Forest’s 6-3 sophomore combo guard, Bryant Crawford showed a strong ability to shoot and score the basketball, and he made timely threes down the stretch to cut the deficit late in the game.  He also excelled as a scorer off the dribble, and Crawford could potentially end up being a similar player to current Washington Wizards’ guard, Marcus Thornton in the association.

Clemson’s sophomore combo guard, Marcquise Reed showed a solid ability to shoot and score the basketball, as he showed off very good speed, shooting touch, and body control to score on drives, and he also excelled as a shooter from beyond the arc.  If he finds his way into the NBA, he could end up being an instant offense type of scorer for a team off the bench.

Clemson’s senior combo guard, Avry Holmes showed a nifty ability to make threes from beyond the arc, as he even made a step back, pull-up three from downtown in this game.  However, he did not show skills in the other facets of the game, though.  If he makes his way into the NBA, he could end up being a Bryn Forbes-type of player in the league.

Clemson’s 6-3 sophomore point guard, Shelton Mitchell played surprisingly well, as he showed off good speed, shooting touch, and body control to get a handful of scores off the dribble, and he was often able to draw and make many free throws in this game.  He played especially well in the first half, and he could be a player to keep an eye on in the future.

Clemson’s 7-0 junior center, Legend Robertin played well off the bench, as he is a solid athlete that has great size and strength, and he also runs the floor well.  He managed to throw down a couple of impressive, powerful dunks, as he excelled at catching lobs, and he also showed that he can excel as a scorer on rolls to the rim.  Plus, he also showed the ability to defend in the low post on defense.  On the season, he has barely played though, and he likely is not on many people’s draft boards, if he is on them at all.  But if he finds his way into the association, he could perhaps end up being an Earl Barron-type of player in the NBA.

Overall, this game started relatively slowly, and then Clemson started to build a sizeable lead in the first half.  But then, things became quite competitive in the second half, as Wake Forest slowly clawed their way back in it due to strong play of John Collins.  It was not enough for Wake Forest in the end, as Clemson held on to win, but both Collins and Blossomgame put forth good showings in a game that was played in mid-February.

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