Assessing Wesley Iwundu and John Collins in a First Four Game

March 15, 2017

By Alan Lu

Recently, I caught the second game of the First Four on Tuesday, as Kansas State squared off against Wake Forest in Dayton.  This matchup featured two notable prospects for the 2017 NBA Draft in Wake Forest’s sophomore big man John Collins and Kansas State’s senior swingman, Wesley Iwundu.  Here are my thoughts on how they fared on this day, and how they may rate as prospects for the NBA.

Kansas State’s 6-7 senior swingman, Wesley Iwundu had a terrific showing, as he was able to lead his team to a victory over Wake Forest.  He played well in all facets of the game, as he showed off a solid set of all-around skills in this contest.  Iwundu showed a gifted ability to garner scores off the dribble.  He has a solid first step, and he is a quick, strong player that can accelerate to the hoop, as he has the body control to regularly get scores and free throws for his team.  Also, he showed a solid ability to score on the move, as he managed to throw down a thunderous two-handed jam off of a cut.

Plus, he also showed off a good ability to score in the post.  Iwundu backed his man down, as he turned to score on a jump hook.  Also, he showed a good ability to shoot the basketball when he elected to take jumpers, as he managed to make a quick spot up three off the catch.  In addition, Iwundu showed off solid playmaking skills.  He is a smart player that has solid court vision and handles the ball well, as he basically plays like a point forward.  He would tend to make solid interior passes off the dribble to set up scores for his teammates.  He had a knack for making the right reads on offense, but there was one play where he threw a weak pass once that was intercepted by the opposition.

He also displayed a good ability to rebound the basketball.  Iwundu was quite active at hauling in boards on both ends of the floor, and sometimes he would leap up to collect them for his team.  Plus, he also defended well.  Iwundu would apply great ball pressure on ball handlers, as he would at times force them to throw bad passes, and he also showed the ability to jump passes to collect steals.

In general, Wesley Iwundu put forth a great performance, as he showed a wide range of skills in the win over Wake Forest.  He is a versatile player that can help an NBA team in a variety of areas, and he may be a Marquis Daniels-like player that could end up being a solid pick for an NBA team in the late first to the second round range of the upcoming draft.

Wake Forest’s sophomore big man, John Collins also played very well in his team’s loss to Kansas State.  He was very active at collecting a wealth of points and rebounds for his team in the paint, as he had a very strong showing in this match.  Collins did a great job of getting scores in the post.  He has very good strength to back his man down, and he possesses superb shooting touch to get many scores on the block.  He mostly scored on a fairly basic set of moves, as he would score on a turnaround, fadeaway jump hook, a running jump hook, and off of drop step moves, but he was really effective at getting buckets for his team down low.

He also did a tremendous job of scoring on hustle plays.  Collins showed a knack for scoring off of offensive rebounds, as he would get numerous put back scores.  Plus, he also would run the floor to score on the break, and he would slip into the open spaces to score on thunderous dunks around the basket.

Also, Collins showed off fairly average playmaking skills.  He did make a good pass from the high post to a cutter to set up one scoring chance.  But he did commit a couple of traveling violations after looking to score from the post, as his footwork may not always be sound.   Collins did make good passes when he would elect to do so in this game, which is encouraging, but he has not tallied many assists throughout his collegiate career so far to date.

He also showcased a very good ability to rebound the basketball.  Collins was quite active at crashing the glass on both ends of the floor, and he would get numerous scores on put backs.   He possesses solid length, athleticism, and motor to haul in boards, but sometimes he would allow put back scores to the opposition, as he would not always put a body to block out his opponents.

However, he still had his struggles defensively.  His mistakes didn’t look that bad on the surface, but he tended to allow scores in the post.  Collins would struggle to stay between the man and the ball, and sometimes he would have lapses when defending down low.  But Collins did make a nice contest on a drive at the rim to force a miss, and there he shows the potential to be a plus-level rim protector when he is active, focused, and alert on defense.

In summary, John Collins put forth a very good performance, as he excelled at scoring and rebounding the basketball in this game.  He helped keep his team in it for most of the way, and he may be an old school type of player that could be a solid selection for a team in the mid to late first round range of the 2017 NBA Draft.

Other Notes:

Wake Forest’s sophomore guard, Bryant Crawford had a solid game in his team’s loss to Kansas State.  He showed off a good all-around game, as he excelled at scoring on strong drives to the hoop, and he also threw solid passes to his teammates to display his very good court vision.  He also defended well for most of the game, as he would pick off passes to get steals, and he also showed off solid athleticism in blocking a shot to prevent an opponent from getting a mid-range shot off. 

However, Crawford was whistled for a Flagrant 1 foul however, which may have ended up sealing the win for Kansas State inadvertently.  On that play, he had been knocked to the ground after being hard screened, and ended up committed a reach-in foul by flailing for the opponent’s foot.  The referees declared that he was not going for the ball, even if an argument could have been made that he perhaps was trying to do so, but this play lead to Kansas State getting two free throws and the ball back in a crucial juncture late in the game.

Even so, Bryant Crawford showed that he could be an intriguing player to keep an eye on in 2018.  He is an athletic, skilled offensive player that excels as a scorer and passer, and he also may be a plus-level defender when he is focused.  He did not shoot the basketball well from beyond the arc and he had that one mishap defensively, but he did everything else well, as Crawford could be a sleeper prospect for the NBA.

Kansas State’s senior big man, D.J. Johnson also played well.  He mainly scored on hustle plays, and he showed a very good ability to block shots due to possessing very good quickness, leaping ability, and timing to do so.  He showed a solid ability to score around the basket, and he defended well in the low post at times, though he also was prone to committing a few fouls.  Johnson may be flying under the radar as a draft prospect, but he could perhaps be worthy of getting an invite to be on an NBA summer league roster this year or down the road.

Wake Forest’s senior swingman, Austin Arians showed a very good ability to make spot-up threes off the catch, and he also flashed the ability to score off the dribble as well as off of cuts.  He may only be an average athlete and defender though, as he does not possess a great first step, and had trouble staying in front of opponents on defense at times.  But Arians shot the ball very well, and his ability to space the floor and knock down threes could perhaps make him a decent candidate to be on an NBA summer league roster in the future.

Also, Kansas State’s sophomore guard, Kamau Stokes shot the ball very well, as he really excelled at making threes from beyond the arc to help lead his team to a victory over Wake Forest.  Barry Brown also excelled at scoring the basketball in this game.  Wake Forest’s Konstantinos Mitoglou made a deep three from well beyond NBA range late in the match to help his team.

Overall, this was quite an entertaining game to watch, especially down the stretch.  Both Wesley Iwundu and John Collins played very well in this contest, and both turned in strong performances in the First Four game between Kansas State and Wake Forest.  In the end, only one team could advance, and Kansas State made enough plays to do so, as they will end up facing Cincinnati later this week.