Assessing Max Abmas, Grant Nelson, and Connor Vanover in the 2023 Summit League Championship Game

March 8th, 2023

By Alan Lu

Yesterday, I took the time to watch the 2023 Summit League conference tournament championship game that took place between Oral Roberts and North Dakota State.  This game featured two intriguing prospects in Oral Roberts’ senior point guard, Max Abmas, and North Dakota State’s forward, Grant Nelson.  Oral Roberts had a much better record and was heavily favored to win, and they took a commanding lead and never looked back, and the Golden Eagles ended up getting a blowout victory over North Dakota State.  Here are my thoughts on how Abmas, Nelson, and other prospects fared in this game.

Oral Roberts’ senior guard, Max Abmas scored 26 points and had 11 assists to lead his team to a win over North Dakota State to get Oral Roberts in an automatic berth to the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
(Photo:
Steven Branscombe/USA Today Sports, via Marietta Daily Journal)

Max Abmas had a strong showing in his team’s win over North Dakota State.  He is an agile, skilled score-first point guard that can score the basketball in a variety of ways, and he also showed off solid playmaking skills in this game.

He did a good job of knocking down jumpers to provide floor spacing for his team on offense.  He would run off ball screens and move off the ball to knock down smooth threes off the catch.  He also showed a knack for pulling up to make mid-range jumpers.  He did sometimes take tough, contested shots that would lead to misses, but Abmas generally showed that he can make shots off the dribble and also be a movement shooter in games.  Plus, he generally showed a solid ability to score on quick drives to the hoop, and he also did a great job of getting fouled in order to get to the free throw line.

Plus, Abmas also showed off solid playmaking skills in this game.  He excelled at throwing timely, accurate passes to get his teammates the basketball, and he thrived at making drive and kick passes, as well as finding teammates on the move to set up scores for them.  On the downside, sometimes he would try to overtly force the issue at times, which led him to commit a few turnovers, but generally Abmas did a good job of making decisions with the ball in his hands on offense.

Also, he was able to chip in to get his fair share of boards when he was on the floor.  Abmas also defended well in this game.  He did a good job of getting his hands on passes to get steals and deflections, and he also was able to switch onto a defender and contest a three to force a miss.  On the downside, there was one play where he got beat off the dribble, which led his team to give up a basket that time.

In general, Max Abmas played very well, as he just kept making strong plays to help his team to get a blowout win over North Dakota State.  He is an athletic, skilled playmaker that consistently excelled on offense, and he could be a solid get for an NBA team either as a second round pick or as an undrafted free agent whenever he decides to enter the draft.

Grant Nelson scored just 9 points and had 5 rebounds in his team’s double-digit loss to Oral Roberts in the 2023 Summit League Championship game.
(Photo:
Josh Jurgens/Associated Press)

North Dakota State’s 6-11 junior forward, Grant Nelson had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Oral Roberts.  He is an agile, skilled big man that likes to handle the basketball, but he didn’t take many shots in this game, and he also didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, either.

Nelson was able to score off the dribble as well as out of the post.  Nelson managed to score on an aggressive baseline drive in traffic.  He also used a drop step move to score on a jump hook when posting up.  Plus, Nelson also slipped a screen to score on a roll to the rim.  He seemed to be at his best when scoring on hustle plays.  On the downside, he had some trouble finishing shots in traffic, especially off of post plays, and he didn’t seem to have a great feel for his jump shot from the outside.

Also, Nelson showed off decent playmaking skills in this game.  Despite not actually getting an assist, he did a good job of passing out of the post, and he would find open teammates in stride to set up scoring chances for them.  On the other hand, he didn’t look for his own shot as much as expected, and he also turned the ball over once.

He also did an adequate job of rebounding the basketball.  Nelson was able to get multiple boards on both ends of the floor.  He also played adequate defense in this game.  Nelson would rotate to defend opposing ball handlers and apply significant ball pressure, and he was able to trap an opposing ball handler to force a turnover once.  He also managed to contest a three to force a miss.  For most of this game however, he didn’t seem to make a significant impact on the defensive end, though.

In summary, Grant Nelson is an athletic, skilled big man that likes to handle the basketball, but he was far too passive most of the time, and he didn’t really assert himself or take command of the game.  He will need to be more assertive and will need to improve his jump shot, but he could be a prospect to keep tabs on down the road.

Oral Roberts’ senior center, Connor Vanover (pictured here blocking the shot) had 10 points, 10 rebounds, 6 blocks, and 3 assists in his team’s win over North Dakota State in this game.
(Photo:
Josh Jurgens/Associated Press)

Oral Roberts’ senior center, Connor Vanover also played well to help get his team a win over North Dakota State.  He was able to notch a double-double, and he did a very good job as a passer and shot blocker in this game.

Vanover showed a knack for scoring on hustle plays.  He caught a lob pass off of a roll to score on an alley-opp dunk.  He also ran the floor and drew free throws once.  He also ran in to score on a tip-in after leaping up to get an offensive rebound.  He also was able to make an open, mid-range jumper off of a pick and pop play to showcase his shooting touch.  Vanover was also very willing to shoot threes, but unfortunately, he wasn’t able to connect on any of the long-range shots that he took from beyond the arc.

He also passed the ball very well.  Vanover showed a knack for throwing crisp, accurate interior passes to cutters to set up numerous scoring opportunities for his teammates.  He also took good care of the basketball.

Plus, Vanover did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was able to haul in plenty of boards on both ends of the floor.  On one play though, he was called for an over the back foul when going for an offensive board once.  He also played solid defense.  Vanover did a fantastic job of blocking shots, and he would often utilize his great size, shot blocking skills, and timing to swat and challenge numerous shots when defending in the paint to get stops for his team.  He also intercepted an entry pass to get a steal early on, and he excelled at contesting shots off the dribble and in the post to force misses.  On the downside, he would sometimes give up too much space to shooters, as it would also be partially due to the team’s drop coverage, which would lead his team to allow opponents to score on mid-range jumpers.  Another time, he rotated on a drive but struggled to stay in front of an opposing ball handler, and his team gave up a basket that time.

Overall, Vanover is a mobile, energetic center that excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor to help his team get the win.  He’s an intriguing big man that has great strength, combined with the shooting and defensive potential to be a rotation-caliber player at the NBA level, but he was unable to get consistent minutes at Arkansas previously, and sometimes would be inconsistent in games.  He’s had a solid season this year, but he’ll need to show that he can keep up in faster paced games against upper-echelon opponents.  If he can prove that he can do so, he could end up being a solid backup center in the NBA.

Oral Roberts’ 6-7 junior forward, Patrick Mwamba had a strong showing in his team’s double-digit win over North Dakota State.  He is a strong, athletic forward that excelled as a shooter and scorer in this game.  Mwamba showed a knack for making open, spot-up threes, and he is a sharpshooter that excelled at making standstill threes from long distance.  He also did a good job of scoring out of the post, and he showed good strength, balance, and shooting touch to consistently score around the basket.  He also was able to pass back to an open shooter to notch an assist once.

Also, Mwamba was able to get boards on both sides of the ball.  He also played satisfactory defense.  Mwamba stayed in front of an opposing ball handler, poked a ball away, and then dove for the loose ball on the ground to get a steal.  On the downside, he would sometimes play too aggressively, which would sometimes lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Patrick Mwamba played very well in this game, and he scored 20 points and made 4 threes to help his team get a much needed win in their conference tournament championship game.  He’ll need to show that he can consistently excel against upper-echelon opponents, but Mwamba is an athletic combo forward that could project into a 3 and D role in the NBA.

Oral Roberts’ 6-7 senior forward, DeShang Weaver also played very well in this game.  He is an athletic, skilled player that thrived as a shooter and scorer on the court.  He showed a knack for making open, spot-up threes, as well as scoring on hustle plays.  He also was able to score on a thunderous dunk off of a roll to the rim.  He also was able to make a solid hustle play by diving hard for a loose ball on the ground to help his team secure an offensive rebound.  Overall, Weaver had a strong showing, as he instantly made plays off the bench to help his team, and he could project into a 3 and D role in the NBA.

Oral Roberts’ 6-6 sophomore swingman, Demari Williams played very well in limited minutes, and he instantly made an impact late in this game.  He is an athletic, high-motor player that showed a knack for jumping passes quickly to get steals, and he also was able to drive up the floor to score on a powerful, breakaway dunk.  Williams played very good defense and excelled as a scorer in the open court.  He will need to improve his outside shot, but he could be a prospect to watch in the future, and he could end up being an integral player for Oral Roberts next season.

North Dakota State’s Boden Skunberg scored 18 points in his team’s loss to Oral Roberts.  He isn’t a flashy player nor is overwhelmingly athletic, but he showed that he can score the basketball in a variety of ways.  He would score on strong, patient drives to the hoop, and he also showed that he can make spot-up threes, as well as score out of the post.  On the downside, he’s not very athletic, so sometimes he would struggle to finish plays or handle the ball in traffic.  Overall, he played well in his team’s loss, and he could end up carving out a long, playing career in professional basketball.

All in all, those were my thoughts on how Max Abmas and other various prospects fared in yesterday’s game that took place between Oral Roberts and North Dakota State in the 2023 Summit League’s conference tournament championship game.  Thanks for reading.

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