Assessing the Murray Brothers and Caleb Houstan

March 4th, 2022

By Alan Lu

Yesterday, I took the time to watch Keegan Murray and Iowa play against Michigan in a Big Ten conference basketball game.  Caleb Houstan had been surging and playing very well under interim head coach Phil Martelli, who had been filling in for Juwan Howard while he’s been suspended for punching a Wisconsin assistant coach in a melee.  Keegan Murray played really well, especially early on, and he ended up dominating to lead his team to a win over Michigan.  Houstan struggled in the first half, as he received fairly infrequent touches early on, but also forced up some tough shots, but he was able to play considerably better in the second half due to playing solid defense and shooting better as the game progressed.  Here are my thoughts on how Keegan Murray, Caleb Houstan, and other various prospects fared on this day.

Iowa’s sophomore forward, Keegan Murray was absolutely dominant, as he excelled right from the get-go in his team’s win over Michigan.
(Photo:
Paul Sancya/Associated Press)

Keegan Murray turned in a magnificent showing in his team’s win over Michigan.  He was a scoring machine, and he made shots from all over the floor.  He played his best game yet, and he made a really strong case to be picked in the top 5 of the 2022 draft with his tremendous play on both ends of the court to help get his team the victory.

Murray did a tremendous job of shooting the basketball.  He would dribble off screens to make smooth, pull-up threes off the dribble.  He also would use jab step moves to effortlessly knock down threes from beyond the arc.  He also did a good job of scoring out of the post.  He was able to quickly back his man down and spin to his right to score around the basket.  He also excelled as a scorer off the dribble.  Murray would tend to score on strong drives to the hoop, and he also is an athletic forward that can use a series of moves to get past his opponents.  He also would usually make strong moves to draw fouls upon his defenders to frequently get to the free throw line.

He also showed off good playmaking skills.  Murray passed the ball very well, and he was able to notch several assists in this game.  He handled the ball and threw a long outlet pass to set up a score for a teammate on the break.  He also would show good patience and find open teammates, as he can find them on the move to notch assists.  He was indecisive between whether to shoot or pass the basketball once, and after jumping up with the ball, he came down with it, and he was called for an up and down, traveling violation that time.

Also, Murray showed a satisfactory ability to rebound the basketball.  On the other hand, he was called for fouling an opponent on a put back once.  He also played solid defense.  He did a great job of blocking shots to help his team protect the paint, and he also jumped on a loose ball to get a steal another time.  He would use his length to contest shots both out on the perimeter and in the paint to force misses.  He also was able to stay with an opponent on a pin-down to contest a three to get a stop for his team.  On the downside, sometimes he would sag off of shooters, which would lead him to allow them to score on outside shots.

In general, Keegan Murray played really well, and he was fantastic in his team’s win over Michigan.  He really strengthened his case to both be a lock for the lottery and to be a top 5 pick in the upcoming draft, and he showed that he can shine in a featured role as the go-to scorer on his team.  He is a very skilled forward whose scoring and defensive skills combined with his versatility could enable him to end up being a solid starter in the NBA.

Iowa’s sophomore forward, Kris Murray played very well in his team’s win over Michigan.
(Photo:
Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images)

Kris Murray also had a strong showing in his team’s win over Michigan.  He is a very athletic combo forward that is the twin brother of Keegan Murray, and he thrived as a shooter and scorer.  He threw down some fierce, ferocious dunks on strong right-handed drives to the hoop.  He excelled at scoring off of cuts and rolls to the rim.  He made an open spot-up three.  He also showed an adequate ability to score in the post, and he was able to quickly back his man down and use a ball fake to score around the basket.

He also showed a satisfactory ability to rebound the basketball.  Defensively, he looked to be about fairly average though.  He was able to run in to intercept a pass to get a steal.  However, he had trouble defending stronger opponents in the post, which would lead him to commit fouls.  Overall, Kris Murray played very well, and he is an underrated prospect that could be a player to keep an eye on, especially in the 2022 NCAA Tournament.

Michigan’s 6-8 freshman forward, Caleb Houstan had some good moments, especially in the second half, but turned in an uneven performance in his team’s loss to Iowa.
(Photo:
Paul Sancya/Associated Press)

Caleb Houstan had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Iowa.  He really struggled to shoot or score early on, especially in the first half, and he would force up some difficult shots that would lead to misses.  He was able to find his stride in the second half, as he did a better job of making shots, and he was able to defend well by playing shutdown defense at times.  He didn’t have his best game, but he played hard and stayed motivated down the stretch even when the game didn’t seem to be going his way.

Houstan was streaky with his jump shot, but he shot the ball considerably better in the second half.  He was at his best when taking spot-up threes, and Houstan did a decent job of knocking down outside shots in this game.  He was able to make a couple of quick, open three-pointers off the catch.  He seemed to struggle more to make shots when moving off the ball to get it in catch and shoot situations, and while he was able to take a couple of shots off of pin-downs, he wasn’t able to connect on those plays.

Sometimes, he would score on strong drives to the hoop.  Houstan did a better job of driving to his right to score, as he was able to score on a patient baseline drive once, and he also used a step-through move to score on another right-handed drive on the break.  He also was able to draw fouls upon his defenders a couple of times.  However, he would tend to force the issue too much as he would drive into traffic, especially if he hadn’t gotten the ball for stretches, and he would end up missing on tough, contested shots in the paint.  He showed that he was able to score off the dribble on occasion, but it’s still not really a strength of his, and he forced up a handful of difficult, contested shots that hurt his shooting percentages in this match.

He also displayed fairly average playmaking skills in this game.  Houstan is a good passer on the break, and he can throw sharp, long passes to help set up scores for them in transition.  He also was able to set a solid off-ball screen once.  Sometimes, though he would throw hasty passes that would lead to turnovers.  He threw an inaccurate pass that was dropped out of bounds once, and he also threw a lazy entry pass that ended up getting intercepted another time.

While he didn’t grab many rebounds in this contest, Houstan was able to chase down balls to get boards on both ends of the floor, and he would tend to push the ball quickly up the court off of defensive rebounds.  He also played solid defense in this game.  Houstan played some of his best defense in the second half.  He was able to stay with Keegan Murray on a drive and proceeded to emphatically block his shot to a teammate due to possessing good length, agility, timing, and instincts.  He also showed a knack for poking balls away from opposing ball handlers to get steals, and he also intercepted a pass intended for a post player to get another.  He also was able to cut off penetration when defending a drive to force a pass on a separate possession.  Sometimes though, he would be caught ball watching and be a bit late on his rotations, which would lead him to allow opponents to score afterwards.  He also was over-aggressive on a close out another time, which led him to trail an opponent on a drive to allow a score that time.

In summary, Caleb Houstan had a really slow start to this game, which was in stark contrast to Keegan Murray and Iowa’s tremendous start, and so Houstan and Michigan were in a facing a significant uphill battle to claw their way back in it.  Still, it was refreshing to see that Houstan kept fighting and battling throughout this match, and he was able to knock down shots and defend well late in this contest. 

This game seemed to resemble his up and down season, that he struggled considerably in the first half, but he was able to bounce back and play better in the second half.  He can sometimes force up contested, off-balanced shots, especially when he’s not getting open shots in the flow of the offense.  It seemed as if his teammates weren’t always looking for him early on when he would be wide-open, which seemed to lead him to try to take quick shots and score more off the dribble. 

Overall, Houstan is an athletic swingman that still projects into a 3 and D type of role in the NBA, but his inconsistent play this year suggests that it will take him some time to develop and realize his full potential.  He still very much projects into the late first to the second round range, but he probably would be a better fit on a team that passes frequently and one that uses a motion offense instead of a team that goes through a post or an iso player for the next level.

Jordan Bohannon had a solid showing in his team’s win over Michigan.  He especially thrived as a shooter and scorer in this game.  He did a great job of knocking down threes, as he would make numerous open deep threes off the catch quickly, and he also would effortlessly score on pull-up threes off the dribble.  He also would throw accurate passes to find open teammates when he would look to pass the basketball.  He struggled more to handle ball pressure though, which would lead him to commit ball-handling turnovers.

He didn’t grab any rebounds in this game.  For the positives, he would look to poke balls away, and he was able to get a steal.  However, his lack of size would make it difficult to defend taller shooters on the defensive end.  Overall, Jordan Bohannon is a tough, gritty combo guard that can shoot and score in bunches, and he is a gamer that could end up carving out a lengthy playing career in professional basketball.

Hunter Dickinson played fairly well in his team’s loss to Iowa.  He is a strong, physical center that operates primarily out of the post, and he was able to stuff the stat sheet in this game. Dickinson showed a solid ability to score in the post.  He would back his man down, and he would tend to score on turnaround, left-handed jump hooks.  He also was able to score on a powerful dunk another time.  He also would make strong moves to draw fouls upon his defenders.  However, he also missed several times, and he seemed to struggle more when taking jump hooks with his right hand.

He also did a good job of scoring on mid-range jumpers off the dribble, and Dickinson showed a good shooting touch and footwork to do so.  He also ran in to score on a quick put back.  Plus, he also would run the floor to score on fast breaks, as he was able to score on a layup and get an extra free throw once, and he also scored on a powerful jam another time.  He also took an open three, but missed that time from beyond the arc.

Also, he showed off adequate playmaking skills in this game.  Dickinson is a fairly good passer out of the post, and he was able to make an assortment of passes to rack up assists.  He was able to pass out of a double team to notch an assist, and he also found a cutter to get another.  He also was able to throw a sharp interior pass to find the open man.  He also set a good on-ball screen to help his teammate score on an open jump shot once.  Sometimes though, he would try to throw tough passes out of the post, which would get intercepted, and he also dropped a catchable pass another time.  Other times, he would not always look to find open teammates when posting up.

Dickinson did a very good job of hauling in rebounds to help his team clean the glass on both ends of the floor.  He also played adequate defense in this game.  He did a great job of blocking shots, as he would swat three-point shots, as well as shots in the paint to get stops for his team.  He also would contest mid-range shots to force misses.  However, he also would tend to get beat off the dribble by quicker players, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Other times, he would sag too far when guarding shooters on switches, which would lead him to give up three-point baskets to the opposition.

Overall, Hunter Dickinson had a solid showing in his team’s loss to Iowa.  He excelled as the focal point of his team’s offense, and he also thrived as a rebounder and shot blocker on the court.  On the downside, sometimes he didn’t seem to always look for his teammates on offense, and he also struggled to defend quicker opponents off the dribble.  He is a tall, big-bodied center that has been a very good player in college basketball, but his fit in the NBA may be unclear, as he is an underwhelming athlete, and he will need to improve his on-ball defense.  That said, he may project into a backup center role in the NBA, and he is currently a borderline second round candidate for the upcoming draft.

Eli Brooks also played very well in his team’s loss to Iowa.  He thrived as a shooter and scorer, and he turned in a solid all-around game.  He excelled at scoring on quick, spot-up threes, and he also showed that he can knock down quick threes off of pin-downs.  He also did a good job of scoring off the dribble, and he showed a knack for scoring on runners using either hand.

He also showed an adequate ability to pass and handle the basketball.  He can throw accurate long passes to get the ball to his teammates on the break, and he can make drop-off passes off the dribble to create scoring chances for them.  On the downside, he rushed a pass that resulted in a turnover, but Brooks generally played very well on offense.  Also, he was able to haul in several defensive boards to chip in on the glass.  He also played satisfactory defense.  Brooks was able to rotate to tie up an opponent on a drive to get a steal, and he also contested another to force a miss.  He also would deflect passes, and he also successfully drew a charge another time.  However, his lack of size would make it tough for him to defend taller opponents on the defensive end.

Overall, Eli Brooks is a skilled, fairly mobile combo guard that played very well, and he thrived as a shooter and scorer in this game.  He consistently made good plays when he was out on the court, and he is a tough, gritty playmaker that could compete for a roster spot in the NBA someday.

Moussa Diabate did not play very well in this game.  He really struggled to score, especially in the post, and he also missed a mid-range jumper from the baseline.  He did do a much better job of scoring on off-ball motion plays, and he was able to throw down powerful dunks off of cuts and in transition.

He also was able to pass out of a double team from the post to patiently find an open shooter to notch an assist.   However, he tended to drop passes that would lead to turnovers, and he also struggled to protect the basketball, as he had a couple of balls that ended up getting stolen away by his opponents.

He also did a decent job of rebounding the basketball.  While he didn’t grab many defensive rebounds, he really excelled at hauling in offensive boards for his team.  Defensively, he struggled, and he was disappointing in this game, especially on this side of the ball.  More specifically, he really struggled to defend opponents out on the perimeter.  On one good play though, he blocked a shot off of a roll to a teammate due to possessing good athleticism, timing, and instincts that time.  However, he would often struggle to defend opponents off the dribble, and he would get beat on moves to allow scores around the basket.  Other times, he would over-help in the paint and sag too far off of shooters, which would lead him to give up three-point baskets to his opponents.

Overall, Moussa Diabate struggled on both ends of the floor, and he did not play very well in his team’s loss to Iowa.  He is a very athletic big man, but he still has a ways to go on both ends of the floor.  If he decides to enter the draft, he would most likely be a second round prospect that could get drafted based on his size, athleticism, and upside.  He’ll need to improve in many different areas of the game, but his considerable upside could make him an interesting prospect to watch in the future.

DeVante’ Jones played fairly well in his team’s loss to Iowa.  He shot the ball well, as he was able to make spot-up threes off the catch, and he also made one from way out.  He also showed a knack for scoring on mid-range floaters, as he can use either hand to do so.  He doesn’t possess overwhelming speed or quickness, but he is a crafty scoring combo guard that was able to comfortably score on jumpers when he would elect to hoist them up.

He also showed off satisfactory playmaking skills.  Jones would kick balls out to shooters to rack up assists.  Sometimes though, he would throw hasty passes that would get intercepted, and he also lost the ball when handling it another time.  He also would sometimes not get the ball to open teammates, and there were times where he would miss them when they would be open.

Though he didn’t get many rebounds in this game, Jones was able to leap up to get a defensive board, as he made a good hustle play that time.  Defensively, he struggled though.  On one good play, he contested a drive to force a miss.  On the other hand, he would sometimes give up too much space to shooters, which would cause him to allow scores to them.  His lack of size would make it tough for him to guard opponents, especially when he would defend in the post, and he would end up committing fouls and allowing scores as a result.

Overall, DeVante’ Jones turned in a satisfactory showing, and he was able to knock down shots and rack up assists in this game.  He’ll still need to work on getting the ball to open teammates in the flow of the offense, and he will need to improve his ability to guard taller players.  Currently, he is a borderline second round candidate for the 2022 draft.

NBA Scouting Live
error: Content is protected !!