Evaluating Cason Wallace, Jett Howard, and Oscar Tshiebwe

December 27th, 2022

By Alan Lu

Today, I decided to take the time to watch Cason Wallace and Kentucky square off against Jett Howard and Michigan in a December 4th game that occurred earlier this year.  This match featured a couple of first round prospects that could be taken high in the draft, and it also featured some of the best and most productive players in college basketball.  It was a hard-fought game, but Kentucky was able to edge out Michigan to get the victory.  Here are my thoughts on how Wallace, Howard, and other various prospects fared in this contest.

Kentucky’s freshman point guard, Cason Wallace scored 14 points, made 4 three-pointers, and had 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block in his team’s win over Michigan.
(Photo:
Associated Press, via The Toledo Blade)

Kentucky’s freshman point guard, Cason Wallace had a strong showing in his team’s win over Michigan.  He is an agile, skilled playmaker that showed off versatile scoring skills, and he especially shot the ball well from beyond the arc.  He’s not the flashiest player, but he showed that he can get the job done on both ends of the floor.

Wallace really excelled at making open, spot-up threes from beyond the arc.  He would take advantage of opponents napping and giving him ample space to shoot, and he was incredibly effective at making spot-up threes to provide floor spacing for his team on offense.  He also was able to dribble left off of a screen to score on a runner from the mid-range.  However, he struggled to consistently score off the dribble, and he had some trouble getting shots to fall consistently when driving to the hoop.  He also doesn’t possess elite speed or explosive blow-by ability, so he ended up taking some tough, off-balanced jumpers at times.

Also, Wallace showed off solid playmaking skills.  He is an unselfish player that did a good job of consistently finding open shooters, and he also ran off of a curl cut and moved off the ball to get it, and then threw a crisp, accurate lob to a roll man to notch an assist.  On the other hand, sometimes he can be inaccurate with his passes, and he threw one outlet pass that was dropped that led to a turnover.  He also held the ball too long and had it stolen away by a defender another time.

Plus, he did a terrific job of rebounding the basketball.  Wallace especially would go in to chase down balls to get offensive boards, which would his team get extra chances to score on offense.  Plus, he played satisfactory defense in this game.  Wallace is a fundamentally sound player that tended to be in the right spots on the defensive end, and he showed a knack for intercepting passes to get steals.  He also has subtly solid recovery speed, which would enable him to close out and block shots to prevent his opponents from getting easy shots off.  He also would consistently contest outside shots to force misses.  On the other hand, sometimes he would over-help in the paint and be late to rotate back, and he would give up too much space, which would allow opponents to score on long-range jumpers.  He would gamble a bit too much at times, which would lead him to be out of position.  Other times, he would struggle to stay in front of his man other times, and every once in a while, he would occasionally struggle to defend off the dribble or on screens.

In general, Cason Wallace is a skilled, fundamentally sound point guard that played a solid all-around game to help his team get the victory.  He is a well-schooled defender that can both force turnovers and get plenty of stops, and he is also a very good spot-up shooter that can consistently make opponents pay whenever they give him space to shoot on offense.  Wallace is a solid prospect for the lottery, and he could end up being a solid player similar to former Sacramento Kings’ point guard, Mike Bibby in the NBA.

Jett Howard scored 16 points, had 4 rebounds, and made 2 threes in his team’s loss to Kentucky.
(Photo:
Ian Walton/Associated Press, via Detroit Free Press)

Michigan’s 6-6 freshman swingman, Jett Howard had a fairly solid showing in his team’s loss to Kentucky.  He is an offensively skilled player that can consistently knock down outside shots, and he also operates well as a secondary playmaker on offense.  He didn’t quite defend as well as anticipated, but he still showed off some skills in this game.

Howard showed an adequate ability to knock down jumpers on offense.  He was able to make an open corner three, and he also pulled up to make a quick three off the dribble late in this game.  He showed a knack for drawing free throws on three-point attempts to get to the foul line.  On the downside, he struggled to consistently knock down dribble, three-point shots, as he was much more effective at catching and shooting the ball from long distances.  While he didn’t really show that he could make movement threes in this particular game, Howard was able to knock down outside shots on motion plays in a later game against North Carolina, so he’s shown some potential to be a movement shooter for the next level. 

Also, Howard was active in scoring on hustle plays.  Howard was able to run in to score on an energetic tip-in after running in to get an offensive rebound.  He also showed a decent ability to score off the dribble.  On one play, he ran off of a ball screen to get it in order to score on a floater off of a dribble handoff.  He also used a spin move as well as a herky-jerky set of dribbles to score on a running layup.  However, he also had trouble finishing plays around the basket, as he would tend to shy away from contact, and he also struggled to consistently connect from the mid-range.

He also displayed satisfactory playmaking skills.  Howard would throw timely passes to find the open man, and he was able to create scoring chances for his teammates.  Plus, he did an adequate job of rebounding the basketball, and he was able to get boards on both sides of the ball.  Defensively, he looked to be about average.  Howard showed solid instincts, and he would jump passes to get steals.  He also chased a three-point shooter off the line to get an opponent to rush his shot and miss, and he also closed out on a long two to get another stop.  On the downside, Howard doesn’t possess elite lateral quickness, and he had trouble staying in front of his man when defending off the dribble.  He would tend to get beat off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  He doesn’t have great recovery speed, so he often was unable to make a play on the defensive end if he would get beat on the initial move.

Overall, Jett Howard played fairly well in his team’s loss to Kentucky.  He has had a solid freshman season so far, and he is a skilled swingman that can shoot and pass the basketball.  He has shown the potential to be a movement shooter in the NBA, but he will need to improve his on-ball defense moving forward.  In a favorable scenario, Jett Howard could end up being a solid role player similar to Sacramento Kings’ guard, Kevin Huerter in the NBA.  Howard is an intriguing prospect that has a solid set of skills, and he could be a good pick for an NBA team in the mid to late first round range in the 2023 draft.

Oscar Tshiebwe had 13 points and 14 rebounds in Kentucky’s December 4th win over Michigan.
(Photo:
Ian Walton/Associated Press, via Detroit Free Press)

Oscar Tshiebwe also had a fairly solid showing in his team’s win over Michigan.  He had another double-double to help his team, and he showed off solid low post scoring as well as great rebounding skills to get his team the victory.

Tshiebwe is a very strong big man that would often get deep position to score on drop step moves and jump hooks, and he also would draw fouls on his opponents to get to the foul line.  He also was able to drive to his left to score, and he can take slower-footed big men off the dribble to do so.  While he struggled more with his mid-range shot, Tshiebwe even was able to make a quick, baseline jumper from the mid-range once in this game.

He also showcased adequate playmaking skills. Tshiebwe showed that he can throw passes off the dribble and out of the post, and he will set hard screens to help his teammates get open driving lanes.  On the downside, he would sometimes commit turnovers when trying to make moves in the post, as he was called for traveling due to taking one too many steps with the ball, and he also committed an offensive foul off the ball when jostling for position.

Also, Tshiebwe did a tremendous job of rebounding the basketball.  He is a chairman of the boards, and he continued to do excellent work at hauling in boards, especially on the defensive end.  Defensively though, he struggled on this side of the ball.  For the positives, he has very good strength, which would allow him to hold his ground and contest shots when defending in the post to force misses.  He also hustled back to contest a shot on the break to get a stop once.  He also closed out on a three-point shooter to force another miss.  On the downside, he can tend to be late on his rotations, which would lead him to give up open shots.  Sometimes he would be late to get back to roll men, and he would allow open shots around the basket.  Another time, he sagged too far on a switch and allowed an opposing pick and roll ball handler to score on a floater.  Though he has great strength, he would sometimes give up deep position when defending down low, and he didn’t always show great resistance, which would lead him to allow scores around the basket.

Overall, Oscar Tshiebwe is a tremendous rebounding big man that excelled as a low post player in this game.  He is a hard-working big man that excelled as a inside scorer and rebounder, and he consistently made solid plays on offense and on the boards, and he seems to be a college coach’s dream to have and work with at the collegiate level, which makes it extremely bewildering that someone like Bob Huggins would have trouble working with him.  Tshiebwe has been one of the best players in college basketball, and he’s a very strong, mobile big man that has proven to be a reliable low post player and a tremendous rebounder in the college game.

Tshiebwe has been a terrific player at the collegiate level, but he may need to make a few tweaks to be able to adjust to the faster paced, NBA game.  He’ll need to continue to work on his jump shot and defense, but Tshiebwe has been highly productive at the collegiate level, especially at Kentucky, and he could be a very good pick for an NBA team in the second round of the 2023 draft.

Hunter Dickinson had a decent showing in his team’s loss to Kentucky.  He showed off versatile scoring skills and some range on his shot, but he struggled to be a consistent scorer out of the post.

Dickinson did a good job of scoring on rolls to the rim.  He also ran the floor to get the ball in the post, and he used an overhead ball fake to score.  Plus, Dickinson showed that he can score on put backs.  He also showed some ability to score out of the post.  He would consistently get deep position, which would enable him to score on drop steps and jump hooks.  On the downside, he often had trouble scoring on turnaround jumpers or jump hooks, and he would sometimes miss shots in traffic.  He had trouble finishing plays in traffic, and he even had a few of his shots blocked, but he also missed on some makeable shots around the basket in this match.

Also, Dickinson was able to make an open three-point shot from beyond the arc.  He wasn’t able to consistently knock down outside shots, but that he was able to make a three shows that he could develop a reliable jumper at higher levels.  He also showed that he can ably take slower-footed big men off the dribble, and he was able to use a shoulder fake to score once.

He also showcased satisfactory playmaking skills.  Dickinson can throw an assortment of passes out of the post, and he also will set solid screens to help his teammates get open jump shots and driving lanes.  He threw a hasty interior pass that got intercepted once, but he usually did a good job of passing the basketball, especially out of the post due to possessing solid court sense.

He also did a decent job of rebounding the basketball, and Dickinson was effective at hauling in offensive boards.  Defensively, he looked to be fairly average.  Dickinson did a good job of blocking shots to help his team protect the paint due to possessing good size and timing.  He also was able to poke a ball away off of a drive to nearly get a steal.  On the downside, he had trouble guarding quicker players, and he would get beat on moves to the hoop, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Hunter Dickinson played fairly well in his team’s loss to Kentucky.  He is a skilled big man that has underrated passing skills and he even showed off a promising outside shot for the next level.  On the downside, he disappointed with his inconsistent play as a low-post scorer, as he struggled to consistently finish plays around the basket, especially in traffic, and he also struggled to guard quicker players on the defensive end.  He will need to show that he can be a reliable outside shooter and that he can be a passable defender at the NBA level, but his strong production at the collegiate level and scoring skills could get him looks from NBA teams late in the 2023 draft.

Kentucky’s 6-11 freshman center, Ugonna Onyenso played well in limited minutes in his team’s win over Michigan.  He was able to utilize a pump fake to score on a put back.  He did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  Plus, he showed a solid free-throw shooting stroke as he made both of his free throws, which showed that he could potentially develop a reliable jump shot if he puts in some hard work and time to do so.

Defensively, he shows very good promise as a rim protector and anchor in the paint.  Onyenso really excelled at blocking shots in the post due to possessing good athleticism, timing, and instincts.  He was able to make his presence felt by hustling to block a shot in the post to a teammate midway through this match. 

However, he struggled to defend in the post in the other times when he didn’t block or alter shots.  At times he would give up deep position and allow easy catches and scores.  He didn’t do a great job of cutting off penetration when he would defend on the ball, which would enable his opponents to get clean looks to score at the rim.  He also sagged too far on a switch another time, which led him to allow his man to score on a floater.

Overall, Onyenso is a very athletic big man that may have a good deal of upside, but he also has not seen the floor much at Kentucky.  It’s hard to get an accurate read on him because he has played so few minutes this year, but he’s shown a lot of promise as a rim protector, and he even has shown flashes of a promising jump shot.  He will most likely need to stay another year in college to hone his game, but if he ends up leaving for the 2023 draft, he could end up being an upside pick in the second round.  If he works hard to hone his game, he could end up being a solid, rotational big man that could provide effective interior play at the NBA level.

Michigan’s 6-7 sophomore swingman, Isaiah Barnes played well in limited minutes in his team’s loss to Kentucky. He showed some real promise in the first half, and he is an athletic shooter that can knock down threes. He had a very good first half, and he is an athletic player that really excelled at making corner threes to space the floor for his team on offense.  He also did a good job of contesting jump shots to force misses.  He didn’t really get a chance to play much in the second half, but he was very effective in making plays in the limited time he had on the floor, and he could project to be a 3 and D type of role player in the NBA.

Kentucky’s Antonio Reeves is an agile, skilled combo guard that really excelled at making quick spot-up threes, especially on the break.  He also managed to slip behind the defense and leapt up to catch a pass to score around the basket.  On the downside, he really struggled to connect on his mid-range attempts.  He also showcased fairly average playmaking skills.  He was able to make a patient drive and kick pass to get an assist.  On the downside, he would sometimes be careless with the basketball, which would lead him to commit turnovers.

Also, he showed an adequate ability to rebound the basketball.  Reeves looked to be about average at best defensively.  For the positives, he was able to contest shots to force some misses, and he even hustled back hard to get a stop on the break.  On the downside, he had trouble defending off the dribble and cuts, and he would sometimes play too aggressively, which would lead him to be out of position.

Overall, Antonio Reeves played fairly well, and he did a great job of knocking down threes to help his team in this game.  He will need to improve in the other elements of the game, but his ability to knock down jumpers could enable him to compete for a roster spot in the NBA in the future.

Kentucky’s senior point guard, Sahvir Wheeler also played fairly well, and he especially excelled in the second half to help his team get the win.  He did a good job of scoring off the dribble, as he would use his speed to get to the rim to score and draw fouls, and he was also able to pull up to knock down outside shots.  He showed some late clock ability, and he did a good job of creating his own shot and scoring in those situations.  He even made a quick off-balanced, fadeaway three off the dribble, even though he’s not really known for his long-range shooting skills.  He did miss on some tough, off-balanced shots at times, but Wheeler was effective as a shooter and scorer overall in this game.

He also showcased decent playmaking skills.  He showed that he can make quick drive and kick passes as well as make outlet passes to set up scores for his teammates on the break.  Sometimes though, he would be called for carrying when handling the basketball, and he also would occasionally throw hasty, weak passes that would get intercepted.

Wheeler also was able to chip in to get several defensive boards, and he would sometimes push the ball quickly off of them.  He also defended well.  He was able to rotate to tie up an opposing ball handler to get a steal, and he would contest shots to force misses.  On one play though, he got beat off the dribble, which led to a scramble situation in which his team eventually allowed a three-point basket.

Overall, Wheeler played well, especially down the stretch, to help his team get the win.  He is a speedy, diminutive playmaker that excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor.  He will need to show that he can be a reliable outside shooter, and he will need to show that he can consistently guard taller players on a consistent basis.  He may not have much draft stock right now, but he’s been productive at Kentucky, and he could end up being a backup point guard in the NBA.

Jacob Toppin had a decent showing in his team’s win over Michigan.  He showed that he can finish plays around the basket and score off the dribble, and he also showed off a promising jump shot from the mid-range in this game.  He still didn’t take any threes, and he struggled with turnovers and on the defensive end at times, but he is an athletic, energetic combo forward that was able to make some solid plays in this match.

Toppin can make tough catches to score on powerful dunks around the basket, and he also caught a lob to score on an alley-oop dunk off of a roll to the rim.  He also was able to make a couple of mid-range jumpers, but he struggled to knock them down consistently.  He was active in scoring on hustle plays, and he also managed to score on a strong drive to the hoop, but he also would sometimes miss quick shots, as he would sometimes struggle to score in traffic.

He showed off fairly average playmaking skills.  Toppin showed that he can pass out of the post and off the dribble to create scoring chances for his teammates.  However, he threw an inaccurate pass out of the post once that led to an over and back violation.  He also extended his arm and cleared out with his arm on a left-handed drive, which led him to commit an offensive foul and a turnover that time.

He also did an adequate job of rebounding the basketball.  He was active at crashing the glass to get offensive boards, and he also was able to push the pace off of a defensive rebound on another possession.  Defensively though, he struggled.  On one good play, Toppin was able to rotate to the post to block a shot hard.  However, he also had trouble guarding opponents off the dribble, as he would tend to get beat on moves to allow scores.

Overall, Jacob Toppin is an athletic, energetic combo forward that can make hustle plays, but he will need to improve his jump shot and in the finer points of the game.  He will need more time to hone his game, but currently he projects to be a borderline second round candidate for the upcoming draft.

Kentucky’s freshman swingman, Chris Livingston didn’t play much, and he wasn’t nearly as effective as hoped when he was on the floor.  He rushed his shot and had it blocked when attempting to score on the break.  He drove hard to the hoop, but missed in traffic.  Livingston was able to score on a cut to the hoop, though it appeared to be on a designed cut rather than from improvisation.

Also, Livingston was able to leap up high to get a defensive board.  He also used his length to contest a long two to force a miss once.  Overall though, he didn’t shoot well from the field, but showed promise as a cutter and defender when he was on the floor.  He will need to get more playing time, and he will need to improve his jump shot and playmaking skills.  Most likely, he will probably stay in school as he hasn’t played enough this year, but he could project to be a second round prospect if he gets extended playing time in future seasons.

All in all, those are my thoughts on how Wallace, Howard, and other various prospects fared in the Kentucky-Michigan game.  Thanks for reading.

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