Evaluating Cole Anthony, Markell Johnson, and Garrison Brooks

February 26th, 2020

by Alan Lu

I decided to take the time to watch Cole Anthony and North Carolina play against NC State in an ACC college basketball game that took place on February 25th. NC State was coming in red hot off of a stunning win over Duke, and I wanted to see what the Markell Johnson hype was all about, as this would be a chance to see him play, as well as to see him play against a very good NBA draft prospect in Cole Anthony. Johnson played very well early on and turned in a good game, but Anthony also played well, and while NC State was in control for most of the first half, North Carolina quickly dominated in the second half to run away with the victory. Here are my thoughts on how Anthony and Johnson fared, as well as how their games may translate to the NBA.

North Carolina's freshman point guard, Cole Anthony had a stellar showing, as he helped lead his team to an impressive come from behind win over NC State.  (Photo: Angelica Edwards/The Daily Tar Heel.)
North Carolina’s freshman point guard, Cole Anthony had a stellar showing, as he helped lead his team to an impressive come from behind win over NC State. (Photo: Angelica Edwards/The Daily Tar Heel.)

North Carolina’s freshman point guard, Cole Anthony had a solid showing in his team’s come from behind victory over NC State. He showed off versatile scoring skills, and he also excelled as a facilitator and defender in this game.

Anthony did a very good job of scoring off the dribble. He would often score on strong drives to the hoop, as he can score on acrobatic layups, and he also would take on the contact to frequently get to the free throw line. He also excelled at making pull-up, mid-range jumpers, and he can contort his body to knock them down seamlessly. Plus, he also drove in to score on a thunderous dunk on the break. He did miss on a couple of off-balanced runners, but generally he excelled at making shots off the dribble to help his team.

He also used a jab step to make a three-point shot from beyond the arc. However, he had trouble making long-range shots consistently, as he missed on a couple of pull-up threes, and he also missed another three that he took from way out.

He also displayed adequate playmaking skills. Anthony did a good job of finding open shooters, as he can quickly get into the lane and he also can throw good passes off the dribble to set up scores for them. He would draw in multiple defenders when taking the ball to the rim as they would try to collapse on him, and he would then kick it out to shooters to notch assists due to possessing very good foot speed and solid court vision. However, he also had a tendency to throw hasty passes that would go astray, and he also had the ball poked away from him a couple of times as he also committed his fair share of turnovers on offense.

Plus, he also did a good job of rebounding the basketball. Anthony would chase down balls to get defensive boards for his team, and he would sometimes push the ball up the floor off of them.

Also, Anthony played decent defense in this game. He showed a very good ability to get steals, as he has long arms and very good agility and foot speed that enabled him to poke a ball away on a drive to force a turnover, and Anthony also jumped a pass to get a steal another time. He also would contest jumpers to force misses, and he also managed to successfully draw a charge on a drive in transition due to good positioning.

Sometimes though, he would give up too much space to shooters, and he would not always contest shots, which would lead him to allow opponents to score on three-point shots. He also got beat off the dribble once, which led him to allow a score to his man. He also can be too aggressive when guarding his man which can lead him to commit touch fouls.

In general, Cole Anthony had a stellar showing, as he played a solid all-around game to help lead his team to a win over NC State. North Carolina has had a rough year, but Cole Anthony is a very talented player that can give them a glimmer of hope that just maybe they could somehow win the ACC Tournament to end up in the NCAA Tournament. Anthony has been inconsistent this year, but when he’s on his game, he can be really dominant and exciting to watch. Right now, he is a candidate to go in the lottery, and he is a skilled player that may have a lot of upside as a prospect for the NBA.

NC State's senior point guard, Markell Johnson played very well in his team's loss to North Carolina.  (Photo: Gerry Broome/The Associated Press, via The Winston-Salem Journal.)
NC State’s senior point guard, Markell Johnson played very well in his team’s loss to North Carolina. (Photo: Gerry Broome/The Associated Press, via The Winston-Salem Journal.)

NC State’s senior point guard, Markell Johnson also played well in his team’s loss to North Carolina. He is a speedy, versatile scorer that was able to make some thrilling plays on offense, and he also can rack up assists with the ball in his hands. He also generally rebounded and defended well, but on the downside, he struggled a bit with his outside shot, and occasionally would be careless with the ball that would lead him to commit careless turnovers in this game.

Johnson did a very good job of scoring on speedy drives to the basket. He has a solid first step off the dribble, and he also has an excellent stutter step, hesitation move that he can use to blow by defenders to garner scores. He is a very good ball handler that has a series of nifty ball handling moves, as he has a solid spin move, and he would also score on acrobatic layups around the basket. Plus, he would frequently draw fouls upon his defenders, which would help him get to the free throw line. He also managed to get to the foul line after being fouled on an aggressive dunk attempt on a drive in transition. Sometimes he would miss on contested, off-balanced layups in traffic, and he can be prone to rushing his shots every once in a while.

He also showed the ability to knock down threes to provide some floor spacing for his team on offense. Johnson can make them off the catch or dribble, but he tended too miss too many of them down the stretch, as he can be quite streaky with his jump shot.

He also displayed fairly good playmaking skills. Johnson has the ball in his hands a lot, and he will look to find the open man to rack up assists in games. He can swing and kick balls to open shooters off the dribble to set up scores for them, and he also would throw accurate long interior passes, as he can find his teammates on the move. Johnson also can consistently turn the corner to get the ball to roll men to notch assists. However, he also had the ball poked away a couple of times that led him to commit turnovers, as he can occasionally struggle to handle the ball when faced with heavy ball pressure, and he also threw a couple of sloppy passes that led his team to commit turnovers.

Also, Johnson did a good job of rebounding the basketball. He would actively look to crash the glass, and he was able to get plenty of boards to help his team on the floor.

Johnson also played decent defense. He showed a knack for collecting steals, as he would poke balls away and intercept passes to do so. He also would aptly contest jumpers to force misses, and he was able to cut off penetration when defending an opposing ball handler to get his man to travel another time. Sometimes though, he would give up too much space to shooters, and there was one play where he didn’t even contest a three, as he would occasionally allow them to score on jumpers. Other times, he would shade too far one way when defending opponents off of drives, as he would get beat off the dribble every once in a while to allow scores.

In summary, Markell Johnson also had a solid showing, as he made solid plays continually throughout the game to keep his team in the game. As for his team, they started out strong, but then faltered in the second half in their loss to North Carolina. Johnson seemed to be his team’s definitive best player on the floor, and he could be a solid find for an NBA team in the second round range in the upcoming draft, as he could be a similar player to former Los Angeles Clippers’ guard, Jeff McInnis in the association.

North Carolina's junior big man, Garrison Brooks had a dominant performance to help his team rally from behind to get a narrow victory over NC State.  (Photo: Jenna Miller/Tar Heel Illustrated.)
North Carolina’s junior big man, Garrison Brooks had a dominant performance to help his team rally from behind to get a narrow victory over NC State. (Photo: Jenna Miller/Tar Heel Illustrated.)

North Carolina’s 6-9 junior big man, Garrison Brooks played very well, as he dominated with his strong post play to help lead his team to a win over NC State. He also helped out on the glass, and he scored 30 points and hauled in 9 rebounds to help his team get the victory.

Brooks did a very good job of scoring in the post. He would frequently back down his man to get deep position down low, and he would often score on crafty up and under moves as well as on turnaround, fadeaway jumpers. He has good strength, footwork, and shooting touch, and he also can utilize a shoulder and pump fakes prior to scoring on jumpers from the block. Plus, he also can score on strong jump hooks. He often was able to throw down a dunk after getting an entry pass once. He also showed a knack for taking on the contact to draw fouls upon opposing defenders, which would enable him to draw many free throws on offense.

He also did a decent job of making jumpers in this game. Brooks was able to use an overhead ball fake, as he dribbled to his right to make a mid-range jumper shortly after getting an offensive rebound. He did take a three-point shot from well beyond the arc after using a jab step, but he ended up missing completely that time.

On the downside, Brooks was called for traveling a couple of times in the post, as it also cost him another low post score that would’ve netted him a basket off of an up and under move on a play that ended up being his second turnover of the match.

He also did a fairly good job of rebounding the basketball. He was quite active at crashing the glass, and he would get tough boards to help his team on both ends of the floor. Plus, he also managed to score off of a couple of offensive rebounds to provide his team with second chance points.

Overall, Garrison Brooks had a stellar performance in his team’s comeback win over NC State. He had a terrific game as he excelled as a scorer and rebounder, and NC State could not stop him in the post down the stretch. He has had a solid junior season, and he could potentially be a second round pick whenever he decides to enter the NBA draft.

Other Notes:

North Carolina’s 6-3 senior guard, Christian Keeling also played very well, as he showed a knack for making mid-range jumpers to get scores for his team, as he can do so off the catch, dribble, and he also can run off screens to knock them down. He also made an open, spot-up three, and he also excelled as a scorer on quick drives to the basket.

He also made a good pass on a drive to find a cutter to notch an assist, as he showed good patience and vision that time. He also was able to get tough boards on both ends of the floor, and would sometimes push the ball up the floor. Keeling also played decent defense. He ran back to make an impressive chase down block on a drive in transition due to possessing good athleticism, motor, and instincts, and he also contested a drive on the break to force another miss. There was one play though where he over-helped off of a shooter, but was late to rotate back as he allowed his man to score on a corner three that time.

Overall, Keeling did a very good job of shooting and scoring the basketball. He’s had his ups and downs throughout the season, but he is an athletic, combo guard that can put up points in a hurry, and he has the skills to make an NBA team’s summer league roster this year.

North Carolina’s 6-8 sophomore swingman, Leaky Black quietly played very well, as he had a solid showing in his team’s win over NC State. He showed a knack for scoring on strong drives in transition, as he used a Euro-step to score while drawing an extra free throw once, and he is a smooth ball handler that can quickly get into the lane. He also showed a knack for making mid-range jumpers, as he can do so off the catch or dribble. He did use a step back move to take a pull-up three, but missed on his lone three-point attempt from beyond the arc.

He also passed the ball well, as he would often kick balls to open shooters off the dribble, and he passes well off the dribble to get them the basketball. He also tended to throw solid interior passes, as he can find roll men on the move. He did have a ball poked away from behind that led him to commit one turnover, and he also threw a catchable pass that a teammate dropped out of bounds.

Plus, he also was able to chip in to get his fair share of boards, and he would leap up to get some tough offensive boards in traffic.

He also played adequate defense. He was able to poke a ball away to get a steal, and he also altered a corner three to force a miss due to possessing good length, athleticism, and anticipation skills. He also contested another three to force his man to miss the shot. Sometimes though, he would have trouble defending drives, which would lead him to allow scores. He also over-helped off of a shooter and was late to rotate back, which led him to allow his opponent to score on a corner three another time.

Overall, Black had a better game than the box score indicated, as he is a good ball mover that can operate as a tall, off-ball point guard, and he can help his team in a variety of ways. Right now, he will need to improve his jump shot and be more assertive on offense, but he may be an intriguing long-term prospect, as he could be a second round prospect for the 2021 draft.

NC State’s 6-5 senior guard, C.J. Bryce didn’t have his best game, but he was able to make a tough, turnaround fadeaway jumper in the post to show off his low post scoring skills, and he also can score on aggressive drives as well as in transition. However, he tended to miss his three-point shots, and he also tended to commit too many careless turnovers in this game. He was able to collect plenty of defensive rebounds, though, and he also defended fairly well. He would contest threes to force misses, and he also poked a ball away from behind to get a steal. However, he would sometimes be too aggressive in trying to contest shots, and on one play, he fouled an opponent on a pull-up, mid-range jumper that led to a three-point play for the other team.

In all, C.J. Bryce is a tough, mobile swingman that has some low post scoring skills, and is an aggressive position defender, but he will need to improve his outside shot and take better care of the basketball on offense. Right now, he may be a borderline second round candidate, but he has the skills to make an NBA team’s summer league roster this year.

NC State’s 6-5 junior guard, Devon Daniels was coming off a terrific, 25-point performance in his team’s win over Duke, but he had an uneven performance in his team’s loss to North Carolina. He struggled in the first half as he was plagued with foul trouble, but he was able to make enough shots to show some promise as a prospect for the 2021 draft.

Daniels did a good job of knocking down outside shots to provide floor spacing for his team on offense. He ran off the ball to make a spot-up three, and he also made a corner three off the catch to get another score from beyond the arc.   He also can score on strong drives to the basket, but would occasionally miss on wild, rushed shots off the dribble.

He also displayed decent playmaking skills. Daniels is an unselfish player that will keep the ball moving, as he can pass out of the post, and he also threw a lob pass to a roll man to notch one really good assist. Sometimes though, he can play too recklessly on offense, as he ended up committing a couple of ball-handling turnovers in this game.

He also played adequate defense. Daniels was able to poke a ball away on a drive to get a steal, but he sometimes had trouble guarding quicker guards, as there was one play where he committed a foul and allowed a score at the same time.

Overall, Daniels is a skilled combo guard that can shoot and pass the basketball, but his lack of elite physical tools may limit his upside as a prospect for the next level. Right now, he will likely need to stay in school to continue to hone his game, and a year in an expanded role on offense could boost his draft stock next year. He likely would project into a 3 and D type of role in the NBA, and while it’s uncertain if he’ll be able to guard upper-echelon players by then, Daniels is a skilled player that could potentially make an NBA team’s roster as he may be a similar player to former Charlotte Hornets guard, J.P. Macura in the association.

NC State’s 6-10 redshirt junior big man, D.J. Funderburk played fairly well n his team’s loss to North Carolina. He excelled as scoring in the post as well as on hustle plays, as he excels at scoring on the move, has good hands to catch long passes, and he can throw down rim-rattling dunks to get scores around the basket. He also managed to make a face-up, mid-range jumper to show his range on offense.

Funderburk also rebounded the ball well, as he would often chase down balls to get defensive boards, and he would leap up to get numerous boards to help his team on the glass. However, he seemed to struggle defensively. For the positives, he was able to block a shot in the post, and he would actively look to challenge shots when defending down low to get some stops for his team, and Funderburk also managed to get a steal. However, he often had trouble defending Brooks in the post, as he proved to be too much for him. Funderburk would try to front him, but would allow easy catches, which lead to allowing him to score on dunks. He also was backed down on another play before biting on a pump fake, as he fouled his opponent on an up and under move that led him to allow a score. He also struggled to defend out on the perimeter, as he ended up getting beat off the dribble to allow a score.

Overall, Funderburk is an athletic, energetic big man that can get numerous scores around the basket, and he also is a good rebounder that will also look to block shots. However, he really struggled to defend in this game, as he didn’t defend the post or out on the perimeter very well against North Carolina. He will need to improve his defense and continue to expand upon his skill set offensively, but his ability to play above the rim combined with having solid athleticism and motor could enable him to be a potential second round pick for the 2021 draft.

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