Assessing Nick Smith, Ricky Council IV, and Grant Sherfield

December 14th, 2022

By Alan Lu

Recently, Arkansas’ 6-5 freshman guard, Nick Smith came back to play his first few games in college basketball, and he had the opportunity to play in a December 10th game against Oklahoma.  I decided to take the time to watch him, Anthony Black, and other various prospects play in a highly competitive midseason, non-conference college basketball game.  He had a solid showing in his team’s win over Oklahoma, and Ricky Council IV and Grant Sherfield were among the standout performers in this match.  Here are my thoughts on how Smith and other prospects fared in this contest.

Arkansas’ freshman guard, Nick Smith scored 21 points to help lead his team to a 10-point win over Oklahoma.
(Photo:
Hank Layton/Whole Hog Sports)

Arkansas’ 6-5 freshman guard, Nick Smith is a very athletic combo guard that thrived as a scorer and offensive player, and he also showed off some playmaking skills.  He has a very quick first step that enables him to consistently get past his man, and he also showed the ability to move off the ball to score.  He’s an instant offense player that can rack up points in a hurry, but he also struggled a bit on the defensive end.

Smith thrived at scoring on backdoor cuts.  He was able to take advantage of defenders that would be caught napping and ball watching, and Smith has great speed and very good finishing ability that would enable him to dart to the rim to get the ball to score quickly.

He also did a good job of scoring off the dribble.  He was able to score quickly when he would take it to the rim, and he also was able to throw down a high-flying dunk on a drive in transition.  Smith also showed a knack for making dribble, mid-range jumpers, and he was able to score on a couple of runners smoothly.  On the downside, he struggled to make threes in this game.  He would run off ball screens quickly, but he tended to rush his shots that would lead to misses, even when he would have more time to get his shot off.  He was able to make a quick, open three-pointer off the catch to show his ability to make long-range jumpers late in this match.

Also, Smith showed off adequate playmaking skills in this game.  He is a very good ball handler, and while he predominantly looked to score, he was very effective as a scorer, and he also was able to throw some solid interior passes to find open teammates on the move.  He was able to throw a lob pass to find a teammate that ran down court to set up a score on the break.  On the downside, he would sometimes telegraph his passes, as a couple of them ended up getting tipped and intercepted.

He also managed to haul in a pair of defensive rebounds, and he also was able to tip a ball to help a teammate get an offensive board another time.  Defensively though, he struggled.  For the positives, he was able to jump on a couple of loose balls that were deflected to him to help his team get steals.  He also was able to rotate to tie up an opposing ball handler to force a turnover late in this game.  He also was able to stay in front of his man on a drive to get a stop later on.  On the downside, he tended to get beat off the dribble, which would lead his team to give up baskets.  He appeared to be a bit indecisive and slow to react in deciding how to defend on plays when a screener would look to set a screen out on the perimeter, which would sometimes lead him to be a step behind on the play.  He also had trouble defending bigger players in the post, which would lead him to commit fouls.

Overall, Nick Smith helped himself by having a good showing in his team’s win over Oklahoma.  He is a very athletic combo guard that thrived as a shot maker, and he also made some good passes to help his team in this game.  His blend of athleticism, scoring skills, and offensive skill set suggests that he may have a great deal of upside as a prospect for the NBA.  He will still need to be a more consistent three-point shooter and will need to continue to work on his defense, but Smith is a very talented prospect that could be a likely lottery pick for the 2023 draft.

Arkansas’ junior swingman, Ricky Council IV scored 26 points and dished out 5 assists to lead his team to a win over Oklahoma.
(Photo:
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press, via KAIT)

Ricky Council IV also played very well in his team’s win over Oklahoma.  He is an athletic swingman that had a solid all-around game, and he excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor to help his team get the victory.

Council thrived at scoring on hustle plays.  He would catch lob passes on quick backdoor cuts, which would enable him to score on thunderous, alley-oop dunks.  He also utilized a behind-the-back dribble move to score on a layup in transition.  He also went coast to coast to score on a mid-range jumper on the break.

He also showed a satisfactory ability to score off the dribble.  He was able to finish plays using either hand, and he also utilized a Eurostep move to score early on.  Council also managed to drive hard to the hoop to score on a ferocious late-game dunk.  Plus, he also was able to knock down a turnaround jumper in the post due to possessing good strength and scoring touch.  He also showed some range by making a very deep, step-back three from way out another time.

Plus, Council also showcased satisfactory playmaking skills.  He tended to throw crisp, accurate interior passes, and he also was able to throw a lob pass to find a cutter to notch an assist.  He also did a good job of throwing passes off the dribble, and he played with very good poise and patience.

While he didn’t come away with many rebounds, Council was able to haul in a pair of boards when he was on the floor.  He also played decent defense in this game.  Council would often poke balls away to help his team get steals and deflections.  He also dove on the ground to force a tie up to nearly get another steal.  He also showed solid length, positioning, and timing that would allow him to successfully challenge shots when defending drives to the hoop.

In general, Ricky Council IV put forth a strong performance to help lead Arkansas to a double-digit win over Oklahoma.  He especially thrived as a scorer, and he had a penchant for making energetic, hustle plays to help his team in this game.  He is having a very good season, and he could end up being a good pick for an NBA team in the mid to late first round range of the 2023 draft.

Oklahoma’s senior point guard, Grant Sherfield scored 23 points and made 3 threes in his team’s loss to Arkansas.
(Photo:
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press, via Herald and News)

Grant Sherfield had a solid showing in his team’s loss to Arkansas.  He is an agile, skilled playmaker that was able to thrive as a shooter and scorer, and he made some creative plays to get buckets in this game.  He is a very good ball handler that was able to put his defenders in the spin cycle, and he is a crafty scorer that would maneuver his way to deftly make shots from all over the floor.  He was able to make some very impressive shots, and he looks to be an underrated prospect that could swiftly move up draft boards.  He also defended well, and while he didn’t get many assists in this game, Sherfield had a strong performance in this game overall.

Sherfield did a very good job of making threes and scoring off the dribble.  He showed impressive footwork to maneuver around a hoard of defenders, which would enable him to score at the rim, on mid-range jumpers, and from beyond the arc.  He also made utilize change of pace dribbles to disrupt his defender’s timing and anticipation in order to get past his man.  Sherfield also shot the ball very well from outside, and he was able to make threes both off the catch and dribble, and he was able to make one from well beyond the arc.

He also showcased perhaps adequate playmaking skills.  Sherfield did an impressive job of handling and scoring the basketball, but he wasn’t nearly as effective as a distributor as he should have been in this game.  He was able to make some drive and dish passes to find open teammates on the move on occasion.  However, he would sometimes be careless when handling the basketball, which would lead to turnovers.  He also would throw rushed, inaccurate passes that would end up getting intercepted.

Also, Sherfield was able to get a board on each end of the floor.  He also played adequate defense.  He was able to anticipate the play and jump the pass to get a steal, and he also rotated to swipe a ball away to get another.  He also was able to contest a mid-range jumper to force miss.  On the downside, he also would sometimes tend to be caught ball watching and lose his man on backdoor cuts, which would lead his team to allow scores.

In summary, Grant Sherfield played well in his team’s loss to Arkansas.  He is an agile, skilled lead guard that shoots the ball well, and he has established his outside shot early on this season.  He has been having a very good season, and he could end up being a good find for an NBA team in the 2023 draft.

Jordan Walsh also played well in Arkansas’s win over Oklahoma.  He excelled as a shooter, scorer, and defender when he was on the floor.  Walsh showed that he can make spot-up threes off the catch, as well as finish plays around the basket.  He also was able to throw down a magnetic jam on the break.

He also passed and defended well.  On one play, he pushed the pace and threw a timely bounce pass to set up a score for a teammate in transition.  He also was able to block a mid-range shot, swiped a ball away to get a steal, ran in to intercept a pass to get another, and Walsh was active in contesting shots to force misses.  Overall, Walsh had a solid showing in this game.  He didn’t look to create his own shot as much in the half court, but he made a lot of good team plays when he was on the court.  He put forth a very good performance overall, and Walsh may be a first round prospect that could comfortably project into a 3 and D role in the NBA.

Anthony Black’s performance looked to be a mixed bag in his team’s win over Oklahoma.  He was able to score very efficiently on hustle plays and was effective as a facilitator and defender in the first half, but he didn’t take many shots overall and was turnover prone in this game.

Black did a great job of scoring on off-ball, motion plays.  He flew in to score on a tip-in after leaping up to grab an offensive rebound.  He thrived at scoring on backdoor cuts, as his length, agility, and instincts would enable him to dart to the rim to score on those plays.  He also sprinted down court to get the ball in order to score on a high-flying dunk late in this match.  He also took on considerable contact when scoring on backdoor cuts, and it could be argued that he should’ve been awarded with extra free throws on at least one or more of those possessions.  He didn’t take a three-point shot in this game or look to score off the dribble, and Black will need to work on those skills in the future.

Also, he displayed decent playmaking skills.  Black is a very unselfish player that would often look to move the ball to his teammates, and he would make passes off the dribble and throw interior passes to set up a wealth of scoring chances for them.  He has good court vision, and he also showed that he can throw long, accurate passes to set up scoring opportunities for his teammates in transition.  On the downside, he would sometimes throw inaccurate passes that would go astray, and he also sometimes showed clumsy footwork when looking to create off the dribble that would lead to turnovers.

In addition, Black was able to crash the glass to haul in boards on both ends of the floor.  He also played decent defense in this game.  Black is a long, rangy defender that can get plenty of steals and blocks for his team.  In this game, he was able to jump on loose balls to help his team get steals, and he also used his length and anticipation skills to jump a pass and save a ball to a teammate to help his team get another.  He also was able to poke a ball away another time.  Plus, he also showed good recovery speed to block a shot off of a cut, in which he was able to swat the ball to a teammate.  He also was able to successfully challenge a three-point shot to force a miss.   However, he also would tend to get beat off the dribble as he had some trouble staying in front of quicker ball-handlers, and he would sometimes get beat on secondary moves that would cause his team to give up baskets.

Overall, this wasn’t Anthony Black’s best game, but he still proved that he can make some solid plays on both ends of the court.  He is a tall, agile point forward that looks to have solid playmaking and defensive skills, but he will need to improve his jump shot in the meantime.  Right now, he could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the mid to late first round range on draft day.

Oklahoma’s 6-4 freshman guard, Milos Uzan had a strong showing in his team’s loss to Arkansas.  He is an agile, skilled playmaker that would often score on strong, aggressive drives to the hoop, and he also was able to knock down an open three-point shot to show some range.  He also showed good body control, change of directions, and finishing ability to score around the basket.

He also did a good job of passing and handling the basketball, and he was able to make some good passes off the dribble to notch assists.  Defensively though, he struggled.  He was given the very difficult assignment of having to guard Nick Smith for most of this game, and he had trouble staying in front of him.  Uzan tended to get beat off the dribble, which would lead him to allow scores.

Overall, Uzan is an agile, skilled guard that excelled as a scorer and facilitator, but he will need to improve his defense in the meantime.  This was a strong performance from him that could lead him to get a substantial increase in playing time this season.  Uzan will need to continue to be as assertive as he played in this game, and if he can keep playing well against upper-echelon opponents, he could play his way into the second round conversation in a future NBA draft.

Arkansas’ 6-9 senior big man, Makhi Mitchell thrived as an interior player on both ends of the floor.  He excelled at scoring on rolls and in the post, and he also managed to use a spin move to score on an up and under move from the block once.  He also was active in blocking and contesting shots to get stops defensively.  He would sometimes miss on rolls to the rim, and would sometimes not stay in front of his man on defense, but he generally did a good job of playing his role in this game.  He will need to work on his jump shot and playmaking skills, but he could project to be a backup big man in the NBA someday.

Oklahoma’s 6-10 junior center, Sam Godwin was able to make some impressively athletic, high-motor plays to help his team score on offense.  He was able to score on a couple of strong dunks off of cuts, and he showed that he can score in traffic.  He also ran in to score on an athetic tip slam later on.  He also was an interior presence defensively, as he was able to alter a put back to force a miss on the defensive end.  He will need to add more range to his game and work on his ball-handling skills, but Godwin could project to be an energetic, rim-running big man that could play solid minutes as a backup big man similar to former Indiana Pacers’ center, Miles Plumlee in the NBA.

Oklahoma’s 6-6 senior forward, Jalen Hill played fairly well in his team’s double-digit loss to Arkansas.  He generally thrived at scoring on hustle plays, and he is an aggressive player that can take on the contact to draw fouls upon defenders in order to get to the free throw line.  He was able to make some hustle plays to help his team on both ends of the floor, and he also threw a very long inbounds pass that set up a score for his teammate late in this match.  He will need to significantly improve his jump shot to increase his odds to make it to and succeed in the NBA.  Even if he doesn’t, he is a mobile, energetic swingman that could carve out a solid playing career overseas in international basketball.

As for the Groves’ brothers, both of them put forth uneven performances in their team’s loss to Arkansas.  Tanner Groves put forth an uneven performance overall. He shot the three-ball well, and he showed that he can excel as a spot-up shooter when given ample time and space to get his shot off.  However, he had trouble creating his own shot off the dribble, and he would sometimes be reluctant to take threes, which would get him into trouble at times. 

On one play, he passed up a wide-open three-point shot and decided to drive to the hoop instead, in which a defender swooped to pickpocket the ball away from him.  He also didn’t handle the ball particularly well, and he struggled to defend opponents out on the perimeter.  His lack of mobility made it difficult for him to defend in those situations, and he also would commit fouls when jostling for position.  Overall, Tanner Groves has to play much better than how he did today, and he really struggled to match up to quicker, more athletic opponents.

Jacob Groves also looked to put forth a mixed bag in his team’s loss to Arkansas. He had a couple of solid scores on drives to the hoop, and he also made a corner three, but he was still far too passive on offense, and he didn’t seem to make himself enough of a scoring threat on offense.  He had a fairly solid first half, but he was virtually invisible in the second half.  He flashed some scoring skills, but he will need to be more assertive, and he will need to be far more willing to space the floor in order to prove himself to be a prospect worthy of keeping track of in the future.

All in all, those are my thoughts on how Nick Smith and other players fared in this game.  Thanks for reading.

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