Assessing Jordan Bell, Josh Jackson, Zach Collins, and More in the Elite Eight

March 26, 2017

By Alan Lu

On Friday, Kentucky’s freshman point guard De’Aaron Fox was the star of the second set of Elite Eight games, as he torched the UCLA defense time and time again to score 39 points in a win for his team.  Without a doubt, his performance there likely cements his spot to be picked in the top 5 for the upcoming draft.

But on Saturday, four teams played in Day 1 of the Elite Eight, and the first game went as expected.  Gonzaga ended up blowing out Xavier by double digits, and the Bulldogs played well on all facets of this match.

However, the most surprising outcome of this day was Oregon’s stunning upset win over 1st seeded Kansas to advance to the Final Four, and the were backed due to strong play from junior big man, Jordan Bell and sophomore guard, Tyler Dorsey.  Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared on this day, as well as how they rate currently as prospects for the NBA.

Oregon’s Jordan Bell had a terrific showing, as he nearly had a triple-double in his team’s surprise victory over Kansas.  He played outstanding defense, did tremendous work on the boards, and he also generally finished plays around the basket to get scores for his team.  Bell really excelled at finishing plays around the basket to garner scores.   He excelled as a scorer off of put backs, as he would grab numerous offensive boards, and quickly score off of them.  He also excelled at scoring on off-ball motion plays, as he would throw down a couple of thunderous dunks.

Also, Bell showed an adequate ability to score in the post, as he managed to score on a turnaround jump hook.  He does not look for his own shot much nor does he look to take many jumpers, but he did manage to get a score on the block when he looked to do so.  Plus, he also displayed decent playmaking skills.  Bell is a very unselfish player, and he excelled at hitting cutters from the high post.  However, he committed numerous turnovers, as that was mostly due to carelessness.  He also did an excellent job of rebounding the basketball.  He would often leap up to collect many boards on both ends of the floor, as he possesses great athletic tools, motor, and instincts to do so.

Bell also showcased tremendous defensive skills.  He is an outstanding shot blocker that had a knack for flying in and seemingly coming out of nowhere to block shots off of drives from the blindside.  Also, he managed to swat a shot from he post, as he will hold his ground, and he is a terrific position defender.  Bell managed to force a wealth of misses when he was defending in the paint.  But every once in a while, he would display lapses that would lead to opponents getting a score on occasion.

In general, Bell had a terrific game, as he showed that could potentially be an elite rim protector in the NBA.  He possesses great athleticism, rebounding, and defensive skills, and each block appeared to be better than the previous one.  Bell has flown under the radar for much of the year, but as he is having a strong NCAA Tournament, he could be a solid pick for a team in the mid to late first round range of the upcoming draft.

Oregon’s sophomore guard, Tyler Dorsey also played well, as he once again excelled as a shooter and scorer to propel his team to another NCAA Tournament win.  Dorsey shot the ball really well, as he showed a knack for making many jumpers from all over the court.  He has great range on his shot, as he can knock down threes from well beyond the NBA three-point line, and he also showed the ability to make pull-up jumpers as well as shots off the catch.  Plus, he is a quick guard that can get plenty of scores off the dribble, as he managed to score on a hop step in this game once, but he appeared to display just average playmaking skills.

Dorsey did not look to pass often, but that was because he did not need to.  He ended up making many shots efficiently against Kansas.  He did show the ability to kick it out to shooters off the dribble.  However, he also committed several turnovers off of drives, as he would struggle to protect the basketball at times, and he also committed an offensive foul by pushing off of a defender in an attempt to create separation.  He also did a good job of collecting rebounds, as he was especially active at crashing the defensive glass to help his team on the boards.

In summary, Tyler Dorsey is a quick combo guard that can play either backcourt position, and he can really shoot and score the basketball.  Plus, he has shown that he can make timely, clutch shots.  With his skill set, he would be a good pick for an NBA team in the late first to the second round range of the 2017 NBA Draft.

Kansas’ freshman forward, Josh Jackson had a slow start to the Elite Eight game against Oregon, but he managed to pass the basketball well almost throughout the contest, and he really started knocking down shots in the second half.  Plus, he was very active on the boards.  That was not enough to get his team the win, but he generally played well despite struggling to establish much of a rhythm in the first half due to early foul trouble.

Jackson showed a gifted ability to garner scores off the dribble.  He is a very good ball handler that has great speed, quickness, and body control to get buckets in the paint on drives to the hoop.  Jackson haas a nifty spin move that he can use, as he utilized that once to score on a floater.  Another time, he scored on an acrobatic reverse layup.  Also, he showed a very good ability to score on hustle plays.  Jackson was able to score off of a broken play, and he also drew free throws on cuts and rolls to the rim.  However, he struggled to knock down threes, as he missed them both times when he hoisted them up.

He also displayed fairly good playmaking skills.  Jackson plays the game like a tall, very athletic point forward, and he also possesses solid court vision, as he can find teammates off the dribble while going at full speed to set up numerous scores, but sometimes, his passes can be inaccurate, and every once in a while he may throw a hasty pass in traffic that may end up getting intercepted.  Plus, Jackson showed off tremendous rebounding skills.  He showed a knack for hauling in boards on both ends of the floor, as he would quickly leap up to collect them for his team.

He also showcased adequate defensive skills.  Jackson possesses great length, athleticism, and instincts, as he would contest shots to force some misses.  Also, he has quick hands, as he managed to collect a steal, and he poked a ball away out of bounds to nearly get another.  But sometimes, he would give up too much space to allow opponents to make threes, and other times, he would overplay his man, which would lead them to score or draw free throws on drives to the hoop.  In summary, Josh Jackson played quite well, even if he sat for quite a while in the first half due to early foul trouble.  But he managed to play through it as he re-entered the game late in the first half, and he really showcased his strong facilitation skills.

In addition, he did a great job of attacking the basket to garner scores in the second half, and he really excelled at collecting boards on both ends of the court.  With his skill set, Jackson could be a top 3 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, but he will have to answer questions about his past off-court behavior that resulted in him getting suspended one game this year.

Both Dillon Brooks and Frank Mason scored many points for their teams respectively, though they also took far more shots than usual in this game.  While Brooks showed the ability to get steals, and he also threw down a dunk off of a cut, he generally struggled to make shots consistently.  For Mason, he generally excelled as a playmaker and defender, but he too also struggled to make shots on a consistent basis on this day.

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk excelled at making threes and getting scores off the dribble, and he also passed the basketball well in a loss for Kansas.  But he also played good defense, and one occasion, he stayed in front of a quicker guard, as he forced his opponent to commit an offensive foul that time.  Mykhailiuk generally played well on both ends of the court against Oregon, and he could be a good pick in the second round of the upcoming draft.

Dylan Ennis played very well in a win for Oregon.  He showed versatile scoring skills, as he would often score on strong, quick drives to the hoop, he also made a three, and he also scored off of a cut to the hoop.  Ennis also displayed good playmaking and defensive skills, as he is an unselfish player that will make the extra pass, and he also tipped a pass in the post to help his team get a steal.  With his skill set, he could end up being a very good addition to an NBA team’s summer league roster.

The Gonzaga-Xavier game was not anticipated to be a close game, and the Bulldogs made sure that it wouldn’t be.  Xavier stayed in it in the first half, but Gonzaga was just too good for them, as they ended up steamrolling the Musketeers in the second half.   As a result, Gonzaga ended up cruising to a double-digit victory to advance to the Final Four of this year’s NCAA Tournament.

Gonzaga’s freshman big man Zach Collins played well, as he helped lead his team to a blowout win over Xavier to get them to the Final Four this year.  Collins showed a very good ability to score on hustle plays.  He managed to throw down an emphatic dunk after being left open around the basket, and he also scored on a put back in transition.  Plus, he also managed to score on a high post drive as he made a leaner, as he has a quick first step as well as a solid shooting touch.

Plus, he also displayed good playmaking skills.  He was able to make a good pass from the post to set up a score for his team.  Collins also sets hard, firm screens to free up his teammates, though he was called for an illegal, moving screen once.  He also showed a gifted ability to rebound the basketball.  Collins excelled at hauling in numerous boards on both ends of the floor, though he also was called for going over the back a couple of times.

Collins also played good defense.  He managed to block a shot off of a drive, as he is a tall, mobile big man that has very good timing to do so, and he altered and successfully challenged many other shots to force misses.  He generally defended decently in the post, but there was one time where he got backed down to allow score down low.  Another time, he committed a foul trying to contest a shot after rotating to help on a drive.

In general, Zach Collins had a solid game, as he generally excelled as an inside scorer, rebounder, and interior defender for his team.  He is an athletic, high motor that has a good set of skills, and he could be a very good pick for a team in the mid to late first round range of the upcoming draft.

Gonzaga’s junior big man, Johnahan Williams had a tremendous performance to lead his team to a blowout victory over Xavier.  He showed a strong set of all-around skills to get the Bulldogs the win.  Williams showed a great ability to garner scores off the dribble.  He has a very good set of moves, as he can use a pump fake and an overhead ball fake to get past defenders, and he managed to score on patient drives, as he would also draw additional free throws on both occasions.   Also, he showed a good ability to score in the low post, as he managed to do so off of a jump hook.

Plus, he really excelled at scoring on hustle plays, as he would score on put backs and broken plays, and he even caught a lob pass to throw down an alley-oop dunk.  On top of that, Williams also managed to knock down a spot-up three off the catch to show his range from the floor.  He also showcased very good rebounding skills.  Williams was quite active at crashing the glass, and he especially excelled as an offensive rebounder, as he would tend to score off of them.

Also, Williams displayed a strong ability to defend his opponents.  Williams did a great job of blocking shots and collecting steals, as he possesses very good length, athleticism, and instincts.  He has the timing to swat numerous shots, and he has the quickness and reach to both pick off passes and rip balls away to collect steals for his team.

In general, Johnathan Williams played very well, as his strong play was pivotal in getting his team to the Final Four.  Though he has flown under the radar all year long, he may be worth a first round pick either in this year’s NBA draft or in 2018.

Nigel Williams-Goss put forth a solid showing in Gonzaga’s win over Xavier, as he continues to have a very good NCAA Tournament this year.  Williams-Goss showed a terrific ability to knock down jumpers to space the floor, as he would make many long-range shots off the catch, and he also managed to make a three after running off of a screen to get the ball.

Plus, he showed a knack for scoring on quick drives to the hoop, as he can score on floaters, and he also can do so after using a spin move.  But sometimes, he would miss on runners to the basket.  Other times, he may rush his shots, which may lead him to miss shots off the dribble in traffic.  Also, he showed off solid playmaking skills.  Williams-Goss generally threw crisp, accurate passes, as he would find open shooters often, and he would throw very good interior passes to set up scores for his teammates.

He also did a great job of rebounding the basketball, as he would leap up to haul in defensive boards.  Williams-Goss also excelled defensively, as he would pick off passes to get steals, and he also blocked a shot off of a drive due to possessing very good size, length, and timing at his position.

In summary, Nigel Williams-Goss had a solid all-around game, as he played very well.  He has been one of the best players on a Final Four team, but it’s strange that he has not received more draft buzz.  Still, he is a very good player that could be worth a pick in the late first to the second round range of the 2017 NBA Draft.

Xavier’s junior swingman, Trevon Bluiett did not have a great game, and he did not play nearly as well after putting forth a tremendous performance the round before against Arizona.  Whether if Gonzaga was more committed to stopping him or if Bluiett simply ran out of gas and just stopped shooting as well, both could end up being the answer to those questions.

Bluiett did show an adequate ability to knock down pull-up mid-range jumpers as well as to get scores off the dribble.   He had a much better time making shots from the mid-range area, as he can use a step back move or a pump fake to create separation.  Bluiett also tended to miss shots in traffic off the dribble, and he also really struggled with his three-point shot against Gonzaga.  He did make a pull-up three on the break, but he missed numerous other threes off the catch.

Bluiett did pass the ball well, and he even hit a cutter to set up a score.  However, he also committed one notable turnover, where he had the ball ripped away from him on a drive to the hoop.  He also rebounded the ball well, as he would leap up to haul in numerous defensive boards.  But he may have shown below average defensive skills in this game, as he would commit silly touch fouls, and he also struggled to guard quicker players.

In summary, Trevon Bluiett did not play well, and as a result, Xavier ended up getting knocked out of the NCAA Tournament.  It may be unclear how exactly to rate Bluiett as a prospect, given his substantial rise that included his tremendous showing in a win over Arizona, and subsequent off game in a loss to Gonzaga.  But given his skill set, he could end up being a solid pick for a team in the late first to the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft.

Przemek Karnowski quietly had a good game for Gonzaga.  He showed a good ability to get scores in the post when he would elect to take shots, as he would tend to score on jump hooks.  He also passed the basketball well, as he made good passes from the post, and he would set good screens to free up shooters on plays.

Plus, he defended well, as he blocked a floater, and he also forced numerous misses in the paint.  He did pick up a couple of fouls in the post, though.  But in general, Karnowski had a fairly good showing in his team’s win over Xavier, and he would likely be a great addition to an NBA team’s summer league roster.

J.P. Macura had the best game among Xavier’s players in a loss to Gonzaga.  He did a very good job of getting tough scores off the dribble, and he also managed to score on a tip in, off of a cut, as well as on a step through move in the post.  Not only is he a crafty scorer that can get numerous scores inside the arc, he also showed off a good ability to knock down threes in this game when he would elect to take them.

He also displayed good playmaking skills, as he can make crisp, accurate passes, and he has solid court vision, as he can make fancy, no look passes on the break.  He also helped out on the boards, and showed off adequate defensive skills, as he was active as a help defender in this game.  In general, J.P. Macura played well in a loss for Xavier.  He may be an interesting player, as he could be a prospect to keep an eye on for 2018.

Overall, these were my thoughts from the two games that were played today.  Gonzaga thoroughly dispatched Xavier as they routed them after both teams played competitively in the first half.  But the big surprise was to be had for the second game. Oregon ended up defeating Kansas, but also, Jordan Bell put forth an excellent, dominant performance, and his outstanding defense in this game was one for the ages.   In the two games, there were many players that played well, but Jordan Bell had the best showing among all of them, as his strong play throughout the season has been a key reason on why Oregon has been able to advance so far in this tournament.

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