Assessing Marcus Carr, Aaron Henry, and Liam Robbins
December 28th, 2020
By Alan Lu
Today, I decided to take the time to watch Marcus Carr and Minnesota play against Michigan State in a Big Ten conference basketball game. Carr is an athletic, junior point guard that has played very well this season, and he recently put forth strong performances in wins over Saint Louis and Iowa. I figured that Michigan State would be a good test for him, to see if he can continue to play well against another quality team in college basketball, as it featured one of the league’s best perimeter defenders in Aaron Henry. In this case, Carr aced his test as he played very well, and he led his team to a blowout win over Michigan State. Here are my thoughts on how Carr, Henry, and other prospects fared on this day, as well as where they may currently stack up as prospects for the NBA.
Minnesota’s 6-2 junior point guard, Marcus Carr played very well in his team’s blowout win over Michigan State. He really excelled as a shooter and scorer in this game, and he also played well on both ends of the court to help his team get the victory.
He did a great job of knocking down outside shots to provide floor spacing for his team. Carr would often back step-back jumpers, as he was able to pull up to make threes, and he also used a quick crossover move to make one from just inside the arc. He is an agile player that handles the ball very well, and Carr showed a knack for making pull-up jumpers throughout this contest.
Plus, he also showed a solid ability to score off the dribble. Carr was able to score on a strong drive after absorbing the contact to score on a tough, fall-away layup. He also used a crafty hesitation move to score on an acrobatic layup off the glass late in this game. He has good foot-speed and changes directions well, which allowed him to regularly score around the basket. However, he did tend to take quite a bit of tough shots, as he would sometimes miss on occasion.
Carr also showed off solid playmaking skills. He excelled at throwing crisp, long passes to find open teammates, and he also passes well off the dribble. He also was able to set a solid on-ball screen to help a teammate score on an open jump shot. However, he did commit a couple of turnovers, as he threw an inaccurate high entry pass that sailed out of bounds once, and he also was called for a traveling violation after using a step-back move another time.
Also, he did a decent job of rebounding the basketball. Carr was active at crashing the glass, and he was able to get multiple boards on both ends of the floor. He also played fairly good defense in this game. Carr would jump passes to get steals and deflections, and he also was able to contest a three-point shot to force a miss.
Overall, Marcus Carr had a stellar showing in his team’s win over Michigan State. Carr did a great job of shooting and scoring the basketball, and it also helped that Michigan State never really got their offense together to make it a competitive basketball game. Still, Carr is playing very well this season, and he would likely be a bargain for a team in the NBA draft, as he has the skills to thrive as a role player in the NBA.
Michigan State’s junior point forward, Aaron Henry curiously did not start this game, and it may have triggered a bad reaction for his team, as they really struggled from the get-go. Henry had his ups and downs as he ultimately did not play very well in his team’s loss to Minnesota, but he played better in the second half, and he was able to make some solid aggressive plays on both ends as he started in the second half at the point, and was able to get incorporated into the game more.
Henry showed an adequate ability to score off the dribble. He was able to go to his right to score on a patient floater off the glass, and he also got fouled on another drive to the hoop. He also was able to pull up to make a long two-point shot. However, Henry tended to settle for way too many, mid-range jumpers, as he missed far too often on those shots, and he also was struggled to score when he would try to post up on the block.
On the bright side, Henry was able to make an open corner three on the break. He’s struggled to knock down outside shots this year, but he’s been more successful in previous seasons, albeit in lesser roles with his team. Henry will need to trust his outside shot more, and he will need to take far more three-point shots to get his efficiency back up to where it can be.
Plus, he also displayed solid playmaking skills. Henry is an unselfish player that will consistently look to find the open man, and he would throw good passes off the dribble to set up scores for his teammates. He can find them in stride, and he generally threw solid interior passes in this game. There was one play though, where he threw a bad jump pass that ended up getting intercepted. Also, he did an adequate job of rebounding the basketball. Henry would crash the glass to get boards, and he was able to leap up to get several defensive rebounds to help his team on the glass.
He also played fairly good defense in this game. Henry is an active, feisty defender that would look to actively hound opposing ball handlers, and he was able to intercept a pass to get a steal. He also would constantly poke balls away to nearly force other turnovers, and he also was able to contest a shot off of a drive to force a miss. Sometimes though, he would overpursue opposing ball handlers, which would sometimes lead him to get beat off the dribble to commit fouls and allow scores at times.
In summary, Aaron Henry didn’t quite play nearly as well as he did against Duke, and though he defended fairly well, he wasn’t quite the defensive stopper in this game as he was in this year’s Champions Classic. Henry has struggled to shoot or score the basketball, and this was probably his team’s worst loss of the season, as they looked listless offensively.
In watching him play more this season, Henry seems to be more of an initiator, facilitator, and defender rather than a shooter or scorer, which may have been why it was quite difficult to evaluate him last year when he briefly was in the draft before withdrawing, as I treated him as a traditional 3 and D wing guy prospect rather than a defensive-minded point forward, and so last year, I didn’t rate him nearly as well as the other analysts. I didn’t understand Henry’s game at all back then. Last year, I felt he was overrated, and I thought his game just would not fit the NBA at all because I thought he was entirely too passive on offense to be a legitimate scoring threat at that level, and his three-point shot had regressed to the point where he would not quite be a reliable enough outside shooting threat in the NBA.
Now I understand that Henry’s game is a little more complicated than what I saw initially, because he actually doesn’t possess a conventional skill set. This year, I feel like I have a better handle on Henry’s game this time around. He’s not a typical 3 and D player, but rather, he’s more like a defensive-minded point forward. In a traditional NBA system, Henry might struggle, because an NBA team may ask him to be purely a spot-up shooter on offense, but he was reluctant to shoot the ball in his first two seasons, he still looks to be uncomfortable in a lead role this year, and he’s also struggled to make shots consistently. It’s also abundantly clear that he’s better used in a lower volume role, as his shooting percentages have taken a major hit as he’s had to ramp up his usage to try to adjust to a more prominent role on offense.
Under the right system in the NBA though, Henry could thrive as a role player, as he does have some very specific strengths and he does tend to make team plays out on the court. While he may never be an elite shooter or scorer the NBA level, Henry’s solid playmaking and defensive skills combined with having strong physical tools could enable him to be a good pick for an NBA team in the second round, as he could thrive as a defensive specialist off the bench similar to Brooklyn Nets’ guard, Bruce Brown in the association.
Minnesota’s 7-0 junior center, Liam Robbins put forth a sterling performance in his team’s win over Michigan State. He played well on both ends of the floor, as he excelled as an interior player in this game. Robbins did a very good job of scoring in the post. He would often get deep position down low, and he would tend to score on powerful jump hooks and smooth turnaround jumpers. He also can score on rolls to the rim, and Robbins also would draw fouls upon his defenders. Plus, he also was able to make a spot-up three off the catch to show his range. Robbins didn’t miss often, and he was the most effective at scoring on the block on offense.
He also exhibited satisfactory playmaking skills. Robbins would look to find the open man, and he was able to find a teammate on a backdoor cut to notch an assist. He did commit one turnover though, and he was called for setting a moving screen midway through this match. Plus, he also rebounded the ball very well. Robbins was quite active at crashing the glass, and he would also box out his opponents to get numerous defensive boards for his team.
Robbins played good defense in this game. He would often rotate to block and alter shots in the paint to force misses, and he did a great job of changing shot trajectories to make it difficult on his opponents. He excelled at contesting shots in the post and off of drives. Sometimes, he would commit fouls due to over-aggressiveness, but generally Robbins’ strong ability to contest and block shots helped his team do a very good job of defending in the paint.
In general, Liam Robbins is a strong, mobile big man that showed off versatile scoring skills, but he especially excelled at making plays in the paint to help his team get a big win over Michigan State. He is an underrated prospect that has not drawn much draft buzz, but he may have the skills to thrive as a role player in the NBA.
Minnesota’s 6-6 junior swingman, Both Gach had a decent showing in his team’s win over Michigan State. He didn’t shoot or score the ball well, but he showed off other skills, as he excelled as a facilitator, rebounder, and defender in this game.
Gach showed a decent ability to score off the dribble. He was able to quickly go to his left to score on a tough, fall-away layup, and he also was able to draw an extra free throw afterwards. He also was able to get fouled on a speedy fast break drive to get more free throws. He did miss on a floater from the baseline, but Gach showed that he can score when he would take the ball hard to the hoop. He also was able to score on a backdoor cut, and he also drew a free throw afterwards. However, Gach had trouble making jumpers outside of the paint, and he also missed both of his three-point shots from beyond the arc.
Also, he displayed decent playmaking skills in this game. Gach is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he is a speedy player that can pass and handle the basketball. He was able to race up the court with the ball, as he threw a nifty, behind the back pass to a teammate to set up a score for him on the break. However, he would sometimes throw hasty, inaccurate passes that would go astray, and he also was called for traveling another time around the basket.
Plus, Gach did a great job of rebounding the basketball. He was very active at crashing the glass, and he especially excelled at helping his team get defensive boards in this game. He also played fairly good defense. Gach was able to rotate to rip a ball away from an opposing ball handler off of a roll to get a steal, and he also would contest jump shots to force misses. Sometimes he would sag too far off of shooters, and he would occasionally be late on his rotations, which would allow scores to them.
Overall, Gach is an athletic, skilled swingman that played well in the non-shooting or scoring related elements of this game. He will need to improve his jump shot and be a more consistent player on offense, but he is an intriguing prospect that could be an option for NBA teams to consider late in the draft.
Minnesota’s 6-4 junior guard, Gabe Kalscheur had a decent showing in his team’s win over Michigan State, and his performance went beyond the box score, as he was a standout defensively in this game. He struggled to consistently shoot or score, but he would occasionally make some impressive shots. He was able to run off of a ball screen to make a quick, spot-up three, but he struggled to knock down long-range jumpers from beyond the arc. Kalscheur showed some quickness in scoring on a right-handed drive to the hoop, but was not able to score consistently. He was able to make a fadeaway, mid-range jumper though.
Kalscheur played very good defense, and he especially guarded Henry well. He would often stay in front of his man, and he would get him to miss on tough, contested mid-range shots. Kalscheur also was able to hold his ground to force a miss when defending in the post, and he excelled as an on-ball defender in this game.
Overall, Kalscheur had a solid defensive performance, and while he didn’t have a great game offensively, he still was able to make a positive impact as a defender to help his team get the win over Michigan State. Kalscheur will need to work on his jump shot moving forward, but he is a fairly athletic, high-motor combo guard whose defensive skills could enable him to compete for a roster spot in the NBA someday.
Michigan State’s 6-2 sophomore guard, Rocket Watts did not play well at all in his team’s blowout loss to Minnesota. He really struggled to shoot or score the basketball in this game. He was able to dribble right off of a screen to make a smooth, pull-up jumper from the mid-range, but he often missed on his jump shots, and he also missed on a rushed, reverse layup off the dribble another time.
Watts did display decent playmaking skills. He has good speed that enables him to quickly dart into the lane, and he would quickly kick balls out to shooters off the dribble to set up scores for them. He also can throw solid interior passes, and he handled the ball well, as he did not turn the ball over once.
On the downside, he did not grab a single rebound, and he did not defend well. Watts was called for fouling an opponent on a long-range shot, and he would be late on his rotations, as he generally struggled to guard shooters in this game. Overall, Watts did not play very well, but he was able to pass and handle the ball well when he was on the court. He didn’t shoot the ball well though, and he’ll have to make more shots consistently to increase his odds to make it and succeed in the NBA.
Michigan State’s 6-9 sophomore forward, Joey Hauser did not play very well in this game, either, but he was able to have some good moments at times. Hauser showed a decent ability to score in the post. He would use a spin move to his left and then go up strong to draw free throws. He showed a knack for going hard to the hoop to draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line. However, he would also tend to take tough, off-balanced shots, which would lead to misses when he wouldn’t get foul calls. Though he missed on all of his three-point shots, Hauser did manage to make an open mid-range shot from the baseline.
He didn’t seem to make any noteworthy passes, but he did throw an inaccurate pass that bounced off his own basket as it ended up getting intercepted once. Hauser was able to get his fair share of boards to help his team get some defensive rebounds. However, he really struggled to defend in the post, as his lack of size or strength made it difficult for him down low, and he would tend to commit fouls and allow scores. There was another time where he didn’t rotate to a cutter in time, and his team allowed another score around the basket.
Overall, Joey Hauser did not play very well, and he did not shoot nor defend well. This might have been an off game for him, but he needs to shoot the ball as well as he had been this season, as he also doesn’t have elite physical tools or athleticism. Right now, his jump shot could get him looks from NBA teams, but he will need to certainly play better than how he did tonight against Minnesota.
Minnesota’s 6-5 sophomore guard, Tre’ Williams played well in limited minutes for his team, as he excelled as a scorer off the dribble and in transition. He also threw good long passes to set up scores for teammates in transition, and he also pounced upon a poorly thrown pass to get a steal. In this game, he ran the floor, and Williams was able to score on a high-flying, windmill dunk. He missed on both of his three-pointers, though.
Overall, Williams is an athletic swingman that could project to be a defensive specialist in the NBA one day, and he showed much more athleticism in this game than he appeared to have against Illinois. Williams has been playing well recently, and he could be a prospect to watch next season.
Michigan State’s 6-3 freshman point guard, A.J. Hoggard had a fairly solid showing, as he may have had his best performance of his season in his team’s loss to Minnesota. Hoggard is a seldom-used guard that hadn’t seen much playing time, but he was able to score on speedy drives and quick cuts to the hoop, and he also was able to knock down a pull-up jumper from the mid-range.
He also passed the ball fairly well, and he was able to drive in to make a nice drop-off pass to set up a score for a teammate around the basket. Hoggard also was able to push the ball up the floor off of a defensive board. He also played decent defense, as he was able to intercept a pass and take a ball away from a ball handler to get steals. On the other hand, he can sometimes struggle to defend opponents off the dribble, as he also was foul prone in this game.
Overall, A.J. Hoggard made some solid plays on both ends of the court, and he is an agile playmaker that could see more playing time on his team later on in this season. He will need to improve his outside shot and work on getting more assist totals, but his raw foot-speed and very good motor look to be good traits for him moving forward, and he may the ability to end up being a player in the NBA someday.