Assessing Josh Jackson, Monte Morris, Frank Mason, and Others

January 17, 2017

By Alan Lu

Kansas and Iowa State squared off in a Big 12 matchup that was played on January 16th, as this was a game between two potential NCAA Tournament teams that featured some of the top prospects for the 2017 NBA Draft.   It was a close game that went down all the way to the wire, but in the end Kansas came away with the victory.  Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared on that day.

Kansas’ 6-8 freshman forward Josh Jackson had his highs and lows throughout the evening.  He was able to get a couple of scores early, but then he was plagued with turnovers and fouls, and started to have trouble making shots.  He did rebound well and make some solid defensive plays, but overall Jackson’s performance was a mixed bag against Iowa State.

Jackson showed an adequate ability to attack the basket to garner scores.  He generally excelled as a scorer off the dribble, as Jackson has very good speed and quickness to get to the hoop, and can gracefully finish plays around the basket.  Plus, he showed decent low post scoring skills, as he was able to score once in the post.  However, he did have his shot blocked off of a cut another time.

But he struggled to shoot the basketball.  Jackson had trouble knocking down jumpers, as he would miss whenever he would elect to take them from the floor.  He does not look to have the smoothest release when he shoots the ball, as he sort of flings the ball and it can tend to flatten out as he may not get enough arc on his shot.  Moving forward, it would benefit Jackson greatly if he were to improve his jumper significantly.

He also showed decent playmaking skills.  Jackson is a very unselfish player that sort of operates like an off the ball, point forward, and he made a slew of solid interior passes to notch a handful of assists in this game.  On the other hand, he did also commit many turnovers as well, as he lost the ball a few times off the dribble when pressured, and he also threw a couple of errant passes that went astray.

Also, Jackson rebounded the ball well.  He has great length, athletic tools, and instincts, and he would usually leap up to haul in numerous defensive boards to help his team.  He did commit a foul going for an offensive rebound due to over-aggressiveness, but Jackson generally excelled at crashing the glass in this game.

Defensively, Jackson looked to be fairly average.   Jackson was a factor in contesting and altering shots to force some misses, as he would use his length, athleticism, and instincts to change shot trajectories, and he also blocked a shot ferociously on a drive.

However, he tended to pick up too many fouls defensively.  Some of them were not quite his fault, as one call appeared to be rather questionable, and another was when he rotated on a drive to cover for a teammate’s blown assignment.  But Jackson did trip an opponent to commit his first foul, and he did foul out as he did so in attempting to contest a layup.  He also once bit on a pump fake early on to allow a score on a drive.

In general, this was not Jackson’s best performance, but there was plenty to like even if this game was not his strongest showing.  He is a point forward-like player that can create plays for himself and others, and he will keep making team plays even when he struggles to make shots.  Defensively, Jackson had some issues with foul trouble, but he was still able to force misses inside the paint. 

Jackson’s lack of a jump shot could potentially be somewhat problematic at the next level, but he appears to have a good set of skills in all of the other areas to compensate for that, as he will still likely be a lottery pick for the upcoming draft.

Iowa State’s senior point guard, Monte Morris put forth a very good performance in a loss to Kansas.  He showcased a strong ability to shoot and score the basketball, he made timely passes to set up scores, rebounded and defended well, and he also showed off impressive athletic abilities in this contest.

Morris showed a very good ability to score off the dribble, as he was able to get numerous scores on drives as well as in transition.  Morris has very good speed and quickness to dribble the ball down court, and he scored quite often on fast breaks, as one included an emphatic dunk in transition.  Plus, he showed the ability to make floaters, though he was not as consistent in making them against Kansas.

He also shot the ball very well.  He did a great job of knocking down threes and mid-range jumpers as he did so both off the catch and dribble.  Morris also showed a good ability to run off screens to knock down jumpers, as he was really able to space the floor for his team.   As he also excelled at scoring on the move against Kansas, Morris also was able to throw down an impressive tip dunk off of an offensive rebound.

Also, Morris displayed good playmaking skills.  He generally played patiently and showed solid court vision, as he would make timely passes off the dribble to find open shooters to notch a slew of assists.  He especially excelled at dribbling off of screens to get passes to his teammates to set up scores for them.  But he did commit some early turnovers off the dribble, as some of the calls were questionable, and one was due to a slightly off target pass that was made in transition.

Plus, he also rebounded the ball well.  Morris was quite active at crashing the glass, as he hauled in multiple boards on both ends of the floor.  He also was able to capitalize on one offensive board by scoring on a tip dunk, and his ability to collect rebounds helped generate plenty of offensive possessions for his team.

Morris also played solid defense.  He did a great job of collecting passes, as he would frequently intercept them to garner steals, which would allow him to start early offense and fast breaks for his team.  Plus, he also was able to block a shot as he generally made it difficult for the opponents to make plays on offense.

In general, Monte Morris played very well as he consistently made quality plays to keep his team in the game.  He showed off a solid set of all-around skills, and he also showed off very good athletic tools on both ends of the court.  Morris is a smart, skilled basketball player that is consistently productive and also consistently makes sound decisions, as he would be a solid pick for a team in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft.

Kansas’ senior guard, Frank Mason also put forth a solid showing, as he was able to lead his team to a narrow victory over Iowa State.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, rebounded and defended well, and he hit critical shots to help lead his team to victory.

He showed a very good ability to score off the dribble.  Mason is a strong, quick guard that will drive the ball hard to the basket, and he was able to get numerous scores on half-court drives as well as in transition.  He excelled at scoring on fast break drives in traffic, but he did have more a little trouble scoring on half-court drives when surrounded by defenders.

Mason also shot the ball well, as he was able to knock down threes efficiently.  He was able to make a three off the catch, and another off the dribble, as his ability to score in a variety of ways would really keep defenders on their toes.

But he displayed fairly average playmaking skills at best.  While he generally excelled as a scorer, he did not make many passes that were noteworthy, and he also committed several turnovers, including one where he was called for a carry on a drive late in the game.

Also, Mason showed a good ability to rebound the basketball.  He excelled at collecting defensive boards, and sometimes he would push the pace after grabbing them to set up early offense and fast breaking opportunities for his team.

Plus, he also showcased good defensive skills.  Mason was quite active defensively, as he was able to deflect a pass on a cut, and he also tied up an opponent on a drive to obtain a steal.  But he also allowed a score to a three-point shooter, as his lack of length made it difficult for him to contest the shot out on the perimeter.

In this game, Frank Mason played very well, and he also made big shots down the stretch to help catapult his team to victory.  As a draft prospect though, NBA scouts and teams may be divided on whether or not he can succeed at the next level.  Mason is a very good athlete that drives hard to the basket and shoots the ball well, and his toughness, intangibles, and competitive drive help his case.  

On the other hand, he is a sub-six footer that does not usually run the point, and teams will want to know if he can effectively do so in the NBA, and if he will hold his own against taller players there.   But so far, Mason has played well consistently throughout this season, and most notably in big games.  Most likely, he would be a solid pick if a team were to select him in the second round of the upcoming draft.

Kansas’ 6-8 junior forward Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk also played very well in a win for his team over Iowa State.  He excelled as a shooter and scorer on the floor, generally would move the basketball, and he also rebounded well.

Myhailiuk did a very good job of shooting the basketball to make shots in this game.  He showed a solid ability to make threes after running off of screens, and he also was able to knock them down both off the catch and dribble. 

He also showed a good ability to score off the dribble.  Mykhailiuk is a quick, agile forward that can get to the hoop to score on drives to the basket, and he also had one where he drove hard to his right to score on a bank shot off the glass.

Plus, he showed decent playmaking skills.  Though he did not actually get an assist in this game, Mykhailiuk would make some quality passes as he would kick it out to shooters off the dribble to set up scoring chances.

Also, he was quite active on the boards.  Mykhailiuk generally did a good job of collecting defensive rebounds when he was on the floor.  But defensively, he had his struggles at times.  Occasionally, he would give up too much space to allow scores, and he also would commit touch fouls on opposing drives to the basket.

Against Iowa State, Mykhailiuk showcased solid offensive skills as he made timely shots for his team, and he really excelled as a floor spacer when he was on the court.  He also showcased good athletic tools and rebounding ability in this game.  With his skill set, he could be a quality pick for a team in the first round portion of the upcoming draft.

Kansas’ junior point guard Devonte’ Graham also put forth a decent showing to help lead his team to a narrow victory over Iowa State.  He passed the ball well, and he generally played fairly solid defense.  While he struggled with his jump shot on this day, Graham generally played well within the team system in this game.

Graham showed a good ability to score off the dribble.  He was able to finish plays with either hand, and he has the speed and quickness to get into the lane to garner scores in the paint.  However, he struggled to make jumpers when he was on the floor.  Graham did make an open three in the corner, but he had trouble making threes and pull-up jumpers consistently.

He also showcased good playmaking skills.  He generally played unselfishly, as he would often find open shooters to set up numerous scores for his team.  But sometimes, he would lose the basketball or get it ripped away from him to commit turnovers, which would lead to fast breaks for the opposition.  Graham also played fairly good defense.  He did a good job of jumping passes to collect steals, and he showed good instincts to do so.

In this game, Graham did a very good job of running the team at the point, as he was quite effective as a game manager on the floor for Kansas.  He struggled with his jump shot, but he generally made plays when they counted, and he could be a worthwhile pick for an NBA team in the late first to second round range of the upcoming draft.

Kansas’ sophomore guard Lagerald Vick also played well, as he provided a spark off the bench to help lift his team to victory.  He excelled at attacking the basket to garner scores, as he was able to throw down emphatic dunks on fast breaks, and he also scored on a put back.   While Vick struggled with his three-point shot, he was able to knock down a pull-up mid-range jumper.  He also showed off decent playmaking skills.  Vick generally throw solid interior passes to set up scores for his teammates.  He also was able to make a good save on an up for grabs loose ball to help his team retain possession.  But he did end up committing several turnovers on offense.

Vick also rebounded and defended well.  He was active on the glass as well as on the defensive end, as he was able to haul in numerous boards on both ends of the floor, and he was able to score off of an offensive rebound.  Defensively, he showed off great quickness and ability to play passing lanes, and Vick was able to quickly jump a pass, as he was able to score on a fast break dunk for his team.  Also, he was able to block a couple of shots in addition.

 In general, Lagerald Vick played well in almost every aspect of the game.  He brought great energy to his team against Iowa State, and he made big plays on both ends of the floor.  With his skill set, he could perhaps be a good first round pick for an NBA team down the road.

Kansas’ senior big man Landen Lucas put forth a very good performance in a win over Iowa State.  He excelled as a scorer in the paint, as his size, strength, and hands made it difficult for his opponents to guard him down low.  

Lucas did a good job of scoring in the post, as he would often score on drop steps and jump hooks on the block.  Plus, he did a great job of finishing plays around the basket to get other scores.  He showed great hands to catch a lob pass as he scored quickly off it afterwards, and he also threw down a thunderous dunk around the basket.

In this game though, he appeared to display below average playmaking skills.  He did make a good pass from the post to notch one assist.  But Lucas was quite turnover prone in this game, as sometimes he would get the ball ripped away from him, and other times he would throw inaccurate passes.

He also was able to collect several boards on both ends of the floor.  While Lucas may not have rebounded as well as he could have, he did provide some rebounds to help his team.  But he also struggled defensively.  Lucas was able to block a pull-up mid-range jumper, but he did tend to commit touch fouls at times, especially when defending drives.  One especially bad foul was when he fouled a player on a mid-range jump shot, as he gave up a score and an extra free throw on that play.

In general, Landen Lucas played well as his size, strength, and ability to score in the paint helped swing the matchups in Kansas’ favor on this day.  He did a very good job of getting scores down low, especially since he was also matched up against a smaller frontline.  He may be a borderline candidate to be drafted, but he may have the skills to find his way onto an NBA roster sometime down the road.

For Iowa State’s 6-4 combo guard Deonte Burton, his performance was a mixed bag against Kansas.  He started well early, and he had some quality moments at times, but his play was also inconsistent as he was too streaky on offense on this day.

Burton showed a good ability to score off the dribble.  He is a quick, strong guard that has excellent physical strength, and he did a great job of taking on the contact to get numerous buckets in the paint.  Plus, he also did a good job of making pull-up jumpers.

He also showed adequate low post scoring skills.  Burton was able to score on a strong drop step move over a smaller defender down low.  But Burton was inconsistent with his jumper, especially from beyond the arc.  He did make an open three on a pick and pop play, but he really had trouble knocking down threes, as he would continually attempt a jab step to hoist up shots from long range.

But he also showed below average playmaking skills in this game.  Burton did not collect an assist, but every once in a while he would find open shooters to set up scoring chances.  However, he also tended to make hasty decisions, which led to turnovers. 

Burton drove to the hoop, but came down with the ball after thinking about but not shooting the ball, which led to an up and down violation.  Another time, he got tied up on a drive, as he exposed the ball to a defender.  Also, he threw an ill-advised pass off of a drive to a big man, as his teammate dropped it out of bounds.

He did a decent job of rebounding the basketball.  Burton was able to haul in his fair share of boards, and he once leapt up to grab a defensive rebound on one possession.

He also defended fairly well.  Burton really excelled as a shot blocker, as he would leap up to swat shots from the blind side to protect the paint, and he also was able to get a hand on an entry pass to help his team obtain a steal.  But he also had trouble defending the post, as he would be matched up against the much taller Landen Lucas at times, and his lack of length defending down low prevented him from forcing misses against him.

In this game, Deonte Burton had some good moments, but he was up and down for pretty much the whole game.  He will need to be a more consistent shooter, and he will need to find ways to use his size and strength to draw more free throws. 

But there’s no doubt that he has the ideal size to play two-guard in the NBA, and he also has the ability to be a plus-level scorer and defender at the next level.  Right now, he may be a borderline second round candidate, but he could move up draft boards if he can be more consistently productive in games.

Kansas’ sophomore big man Carlton Bragg also had a fairly good game as he generally excelled as a scorer and rebounder in the paint.  He was quite active in finishing plays in the paint, as he would score off of offensive rebounds, and he would also score on broken plays as well as on a cut to the hoop.  Plus, he showed decent low post scoring skills as he can score on a fairly quick drop step move.

Bragg also rebounded the ball very well, as he was quite active in hauling in numerous boards when he was on the floor.  He especially was active at crashing the offensive glass, as he was able to get numerous scores off of rebounds afterwards. 

Defensively, he may need to improve however.  For the positives, he showed solid activity, and he would contest drives, as he was able to force some misses.  But he also tended to be too aggressive when defending drives at times, which would lead his team to commit fouls.   Another time, he gave up too much space to allow an opponent to score on a pull-up jumper. 

In general, Carlton Bragg played fairly well, and he is an athletic, high-motor big man that could potentially be a significant contributor at the next level.  With his skill set, he could end up being a quality first round pick for an NBA team if he continues to hone his overall game.

Other Notes:

6-5 guard Matt Thomas excelled as a shooter when he was on the floor, especially off the catch.  He showed off deep range, as he made his second three from well beyond NBA range.  But he did not seem to show off other skills in this game, as he struggled to do other things well on this day against Kansas.

Iowa State’s senior combo guard Nazareth Mitrou-Long excelled as a scorer off the dribble, and he showed a fairly good ability to shoot the basketball.  He also passed the ball quite well, and like Thomas, he could potentially end up on an NBA summer league roster later this year.

In all, this was a very competitive game as both Kansas and Iowa State both made quality plays to put their teams in position to win.  But ultimately, Kansas made more plays to get the victory, as they were aggressive in attacking the basket to get scores off the dribble, and they were really able to feed the ball to Landen Lucas in the post to take advantage of size mismatches down low.   On this day, Mason, Lucas, Mykhailiuk, and Morris all played very well, and Kansas was able to edge out Iowa State in a closely played contest.   That is all there is for now, and thank you for reading.