Assessing Semi Ojeleye and Sterling Brown

June 15, 2017

By Alan Lu

This time around, I wanted to watch an SMU game, as they have two players that have significant buzz for the 2017 NBA Draft in 6-7 junior combination forward, Semi Ojeleye, and 6-6 senior swingman Sterling Brown. 

As you may already know, Ojeleye eventually had a terrific NCAA Tournament showing as he dropped 24 points and 10 rebounds in a surprising loss to USC, and he also had a solid NBA Draft Combine, as he is now considered a candidate to go in the late first round.  Meanwhile, Sterling Brown’s stock has risen considerably, as he could go in the second.  With thanks to YouTube via Coach Nemanja Jovanovic, I was able to SMU play against Cincinnati in the AAC Tournament that was played on March 12th.  Here is how I feel Ojeleye and Brown fared in that game, as well as how they may rate as prospects for the NBA.

Semi Ojeleye is a good shooter that can space the floor for his team.  He can knock down numerous threes from beyond the arc, as he can do so off the catch or dribble.  Plus, he also can use a step back move after quickly driving in to make a pull-up, mid-range jumper.  However, he may have a fairly slow release, as he may have to load up to get his shot off.  He also can score on hustle plays.  Ojeleye is a high motor player that possesses good athletic gifts, as he managed to score on a tip in off of an offensive rebound once.  He also ran the floor to beat his man down court and caught a lob pass, but he missed an alley-oop dunk on the break in this game.

Plus, he also can garner scores off the dribble as well as in the post.  Ojeleye is deceptively quick, and he can draw fouls or knock down jumpers off the dribble.  While he may not have a wide variety of post moves, he is agile, strong, and has good shooting touch to get scores on the block.  Also, Ojeleye displayed adequate playmaking skills.  He is an unselfish player that will make the extra pass, and he is a solid passer from the post.  He will patiently look for the open man, and he has fairly good court vision.  However, there was one play where he drove into traffic, and got tied up, which resulted in him committing a turnover.

However, he may need to improve his ability to rebound the basketball.  For the positives, Ojeleye can capitalize on collecting offensive boards, as he can quickly score off of them afterwards.  He also will haul in his fair share of defensive rebounds.  However, he may not always get boards in his area or block out, which can lead his team to allow put back scores.

He also showcased adequate defensive skills.  Ojeleye will actively contest shots, as he will use his length and positioning ability to force misses around the basket.  Plus, he may tend to make timely rotations, and he will also hustle back on defense to prevent the other team from getting out on the break.  Also, he can heap on loose balls to help his team come away with steals.

However, he may struggle more when defending opponents in one-on-one situations.  Ojeleye had trouble defending the post, as he may try to gamble for a steal and allow an easy catch, or get beat on a move to the hoop.  He showed a decent ability to rotate on drives, but sometimes he may struggle to guard quicker players, which can lead him to commit fouls or allow scores at times.  Also, he may give up too much space to his man, which can lead him to give up a three-point basket to the opposition on occasion.

In general, Semi Ojeleye is a versatile player that has solid athletic gifts, and he can score the basketball in many different ways.  He may also be an underrated passer when he is out on the floor.  However, he may need to improve his rebounding and defense, as he may tend to let his opponents get too many boards in his area, and he may not possess top end lateral quickness on the defensive end.  Still, with his offensive skills, athleticism, and intangibles, Ojeleye could end up being a worthwhile pick for a team in the late first to the second round range of the upcoming draft.

Sterling Brown also shot the ball well to help SMU get the win over Cincinnati.  He can knock down numerous spot-up threes off the catch, and he has a quick release that enables him to easily get his shot off.  He also excels at knocking down pull-up, mid-range jumpers, as he can patiently dribble in to hoist them up, and he has a crossover move that he can use to create separation.  Plus, he also is an adequate scorer off the dribble.  While he may not have a great first step, he is a patient driver that possesses the shooting touch and body control to regularly finish plays in the paint.  He also can score on a runner and also draw fouls on his opponents.  But sometimes, he may try to overtly force the issue, which can lead to misses.

Brown also possesses fairly good playmaking skills.  He is an unselfish player that will keep the basketball moving, and he will find open shooters to set up scoring chances for them.  But sometimes he can make hasty decisions, as he tried to pass out of a drive, but ended up getting intercepted once by a defender.  Also, he may tend to make his decisions too slowly, so he may need to adjust to playing at a faster tempo at the next level.

In this game, he did not haul in many boards, but he did manage to collect a rebound on both ends of the floor.  He managed to get one offensive rebound off of a tap out, and he leapt up to collect a defensive board, but he did overrun one ball, which lead him to be out of position and for the team to allow a put back score.

In addition to this, he also may be a decent defensive player.  Brown is an active help defender, as he can swat a three-point shot due to possessing good timing, length, and athleticism.  Also, he managed to tie up an opponent after his man fell on a drive to help his team get a steal.  But he had some trouble defending drives due to not possessing elite lateral quickness, as this would lead him to commit fouls as a result.

In general, Sterling Brown was quite a productive player this past season for SMU, and he could be a second round pick due to possessing good offensive skills and athletic gifts.  He can shoot and score in a variety of ways, and he also is an unselfish basketball player.  But at the next level, he will need to show that he can make decisions at a quicker pace and defend upper echelon players.  With his skill set, he could end up being an effective role player in the NBA.

Other Notes:

SMU’s 6-8 senior big man Ben Moore had a decent showing, as he finished plays around the basket, and made good passes to help his team get the victory.  Moore does a good job of scoring on hustle plays.  He can score on cuts and rolls to the hoop, and he managed to throw down a thunderous alley-oop dunk off of a roll once.  Also, he can score on strong put backs after getting offensive rebounds for his team.  But sometimes, he can miss easy shots around the basket, as he may go up too wildly on occasion.

He also is an adequate scorer off the dribble.  He has a fairly quick first step, and he can throw down a emphatic dunk as he plays above the rim, even though he was fouled before hand, so it did not actually count as he did not receive continuation.  But sometimes, he may miss shots in traffic, as he may try to overtly force the issue.  However, he will need to improve his ability to score in the post.  He does not have a wide array of moves, and he tended to struggle to make shots, especially they were contested.  He also missed a long two off the catch in this game.

Plus, he also showed off adequate playmaking skills.  Moore is a solid passer that gets good touch and accuracy on his passes, and he can usually find the open man to set up numerous scores for his teammates.  He also even can quickly bring the ball up the floor to break a press.  But sometimes, he can play too recklessly, which can lead to turnovers.  On one play, he fell down when trying to post up, as he ended up losing the basketball.  On another, he threw a low pass out to a shooter, which deflected off of his teammate and around until a defender ended up intercepting it.

Also, Moore showed a fairly good ability to rebound the basketball.  He has a very good motor, and he will aggressively leap up to collect boards on both ends of the floor.  But every once in a while, he may jog back in transition rather than sprint back, as he can end up being out of position to allow the opponents to score on put backs.

However, he will need to improve his defense.  For the positives, Moore will actively look to challenge shots, and he can swat shots on occasion to protect the paint.  On the other hand, he may be foul prone, as he may struggle to move his feet at times, and he also lacks great strength to defend the post.  Also, he may not always look to contest shots in the post, which can lead him to give up baskets to the other team.

In general, Ben Moore may not likely be drafted, as he will need to improve his offensive skills, and he is an undersized big man that may be in between forward positions.  But if he makes it, he could perhaps end up being a Lou Amundson type of player in this league.

I did not watch Cincinnati’s Troy Caupain that much in this game, as he struggled with his jump shot and was not particularly noticeable as a playmaker against SMU.  But he did show a good ability to draw free throws on strong drives to the hoop, and he will contest jump shots to force misses.  While he will not likely get drafted, his skills could allow him to be on an NBA summer league roster.

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