Evaluating E.J. Liddell, Johnny Davis, and Zed Key
December 28th, 2021
By Alan Lu
Ohio State’s junior forward, E.J. Liddell has been having a terrific season this year prior to his team’s COVID-19 issues. He played very well in his team’s upset win over Duke, and I decided to watch him play in a December 11th game against Wisconsin that also featured another first-round prospect in sophomore guard, Johnny Davis, as I was able to see this game with thanks to YouTube via The Draftmatic. Both Liddell and Davis played well in that game in Ohio State’s win on that day. Here are my thoughts on how both of the players fared, as well as how their games may stack up as prospects for the NBA.
E.J. Liddell had a very good showing in his team’s win over Wisconsin. He showed off versatile scoring skills, as he particularly thrived at attacking the basket to score on offense, and he showed a good mid-range shot in this game. He also passed the ball well and excelled as a defender, and he made high-motor plays on both ends of the floor to help his team get the victory.
Liddell did a very good job of scoring in the post. He has very good strength, shooting touch, and body control to score down low, and he would often score on tough, fadeaway jumpers. He also was able to outmuscle his opponent to score and get an extra free throw midway through this match. He also showed a satisfactory ability to score off the dribble. Liddell tends to favor going to his left, and he would score on strong, left-handed drives to the hoop. He can take on the contact to score in traffic, and he especially excelled at going to his dominant hand. On the downside, he struggled more to score when going to his right, which would lead to some misses.
He also showed a knack for making mid-range jumpers. Liddell particularly excelled at scoring on pull-up jumpers from that range, as he was able to make a step-back jumper and a fadeaway jumper another time. He also received the ball from the high post, and he turned to score on long two from the baseline smoothly. Plus, he also ran the floor and caught a long outlet pass to score quickly early on. Liddell was able to make an open, spot-up three off of a pick and pop play, but he was sometimes inconsistent in looking to make shots off the catch from beyond the arc.
Also, Liddell showed off good playmaking skills in this game. He is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he possesses solid court vision that enables him to rack up assists. He is a good passer on the break. He would throw good touch passes and interior passes to set up scores for his teammates in transition, and he can make quick, accurate passes on the fly. He also passes well out of the post, and he was able to identify a double team and pass out to find an open shooter. Plus, he is also a good screen setter, as he’ll set firm screens and he would allow his teammates to get open jump shots and driving lanes. On the downside, he would throw hasty, inaccurate passes that would be a bit off-target and would get intercepted on occasion.
Liddell did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He has a keen nose for the ball, as he would haul in multiple boards on both ends of the floor, and sometimes he would push the ball quickly off of defensive rebounds. Also, Liddell played solid defense in this game. He did a great job of blocking and contesting shots to help his team protect the paint. He hustled back to make a nice chase down block on the break, and also blocked a shot when defending in the post another time. He also would alter shots and change their trajectories to force plenty of misses. He has very good timing, recovery speed, and instincts. He also would rotate to poke balls away and deflect passes to help his team get steals and deflections. He also showed that he can ably defend out on the perimeter as well as in the post, as he would contest threes and also would hold his ground when defending in the post in order to force misses. On one play though, he was over-aggressive on a close out, and he ended up out of position and trailing an opposing ball handler, which led his team to allow a basket late in this match.
In general, E.J. Liddell played very well, as he had a strong all-around game in his team’s double-digit win over Wisconsin. He has been one of the best players in college basketball this season, and he’s been very important to his team’s strong start and early success this year. He’s shown much improved playmaking and defensive skills, has consistently played with a great motor and effort, and he’s shown versatile scoring skills that has enabled him to thrive on the court. Liddell is a very productive combo forward whose intriguing blend of skill set, versatility, basketball IQ, and production could make him a very good pick for an NBA team in the first round of the 2022 draft.
Johnny Davis had a decent showing in his team’s loss to Ohio State. He consistently provided offense for them throughout the game, and he made energetic plays to help them remain competitive for most of this match. Davis did a good job of scoring off the dribble. He possesses a solid first step to the hoop, and he can finish plays using either hand to score around the basket. He also showed that he can take on and absorb the contact to continually score in traffic. He also excelled at scoring on quick drives in transition, as he was able to score on an emphatic dunk, and he also managed to score on a switch of hands layup another time.
Plus, he also did a decent job of knocking down jumpers, especially from the mid-range. Davis showed a knack for scoring on mid-range shots off the dribble, and he can use either hand to quickly get to his spots and score. Davis was also able to run off a pindown to score off the catch, and he also dribbled off of a screen to make another mid-range shot. He would sometimes take contested jumpers, and he would try to flail in order to get foul calls, but it would lead to misses. Davis also showed that he was comfortable in dribbling to his left to score on threes off the dribble. Unfortunately, he was rather streaky with his three-point shot, and he especially struggled to make spot-up threes off the catch. He also struggled to score in the post, and his lack of size made it tough for him to score when he would look to post up on the block.
Also, Davis showcased adequate playmaking skills when he was on the court. He plays with a heavy, score-first mentality, but he has solid court vision and he can make some nice passes to find the open man on offense. Davis did a good job of throwing timely passes to roll men to set up scores for them, and he can find his teammates on the move. He also threw a nifty, no-look, between-the-legs pass to find an open shooter due to having the good sense to find his teammate behind him. He also was able to make quick drive and kick passes to find open shooters. On one play though, he tried to post up, but when he was doubled, he threw a rushed, inaccurate pass that ended up getting deflected off his teammate out of bounds, which led to a turnover.
Plus, Davis did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He is an agile guard that was quite active at crashing the glass, and he would often get defensive boards for his team. He also would sometimes push the ball quickly up the court after getting defensive rebounds. On one play though, he was called for committing an over the back foul when going for a rebound once.
He also played good defense in this game. Davis is an active, aggressive help defender that can make plenty of plays to help his team on this side of the ball. He showed a penchant for running in to intercept passes to get steals for his team, and he also managed to steal the ball away from an opposing ball handler from behind to force another turnover. He also recovered to swat a long two to a teammate due to possessing good timing and quickness. He also was able to contest shots to force misses, and he also poked a ball away to nearly get a steal another time. Sometimes though, he would be too aggressive in trying to make plays when defending his opponents, which can lead him to commit fouls.
In summary, Johnny Davis played fairly well in his team’s loss to Ohio State. He is an agile, skilled combo guard that can shoot and score the basketball, and he also rebounded and defended well in this game. He’s a bit in between guard positions, as he’s undersized to play the two, but he doesn’t seem to pass the ball enough to be a true point guard. Regardless, he is a very skilled player that could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the late first to the second round range of the 2022 draft.
Ohio State’s Zed Key played fairly well in his team’s win over Wisconsin. He is a strong, powerful interior player that primarily excelled as an inside scorer, screen setter, and interior defender when he was on the court. Key showed a satisfactory ability to score in the post. He was able to get deep position to score on a right-handed hook shot. He also caught a lob pass to score on an alley-oop layup, as he managed to score above the rim another time. His strength and physicality would give his opponents problems, and he did a good job of drawing fouls on them on offense. Plus, he also excelled at scoring on hustle plays. He is a high-motor player that would sprint down court to get the ball in transition, and he was able to score on a couple of powerful dunks. He also caught a lob pass off of a roll in order to score on a strong, alley-oop dunk. Plus, he also attempted a mid-range jumper from the baseline, but he missed as he shot it too hard on that possession.
Also, Key showed off solid playmaking skills in this game. He can effectively pass out of the post, and he was able to notch a pair of assists. He is also a good screen setter, as he would set firm, wide screens that would enable his teammates to get open driving lanes and jump shots to set up scores for them. On the downside, he dropped an inaccurate pass thrown by his teammate that went out of bounds, as that led to a team turnover, though that was more his teammate’s fault that time.
Plus, Key did a great job of rebounding the basketball. He would leap up aggressively to get boards on both ends of the floor, and he would secure balls by hauling them in often when he was on the court. He also played satisfactory defense in this game. Key rotated to block a shot off of a drive to a teammate due to possessing good timing and instincts. He also has great strength to hold his ground when defending in the post, and he would contest shots to force misses. He also managed to alter a shot off of a cut to force a miss another time, and he defends with very good verticality and positioning skills when he defends in the paint. Sometimes though, he wouldn’t switch and would tend to sag too far when defending screens, and it would allow opposing pick and roll ball handlers to score on open mid-range shots.
Overall, Zed Key is a strong, bruising power forward that excelled at making plays in the paint on both ends of the floor. He may need to expand his skill set and game on offense, but he is a productive player that has helped Ohio State considerably at the collegiate level. Currently, he projects to be a borderline second round candidate whenever he decides to enter the NBA draft.
Wisconsin’s 6-4, fifth-year senior guard, Brad Davison also had a decent showing in his team’s loss to Ohio State. He is an agile, skilled combo guard that can shoot and score the basketball, and he has a quick release and deep range that enables him to easily get his shot off and score on offense. In skill set, his game is quite similar to Illinois’ senior shooting combo guard, Alfonso Plummer, and Davison’ three-point shooting can be a significant asset to a team at the collegiate level.
Davison showed a knack for making threes against Ohio State, and he can especially score from downtown. He has a lot of range on his shot, and he showed that he can make them off the catch or dribble. On one play, he pivoted, dribbled to his right, and he scored on a deep, pull-up three while fading away. Three-point shooting is Davison’s best skill, and like Plummer, Davison likely would project into a Bryn Forbes-like shooting combo guard role if he makes it to the NBA.
Also, Davison ran off of a ball screen to get the basketball, and he dribbled to his right to score on a quick, step-back jumper from the mid-range. He is a good mid-range shooter that can make step-back jumpers with ease. On the downside, he would struggle to score off the dribble whenever he would try to go all the way to the basket. Davison really struggled to score in traffic whenever he would look to score in the paint, and his lack of size or foot-speed would make it difficult for him to get shots up near the rim area.
He’s a heavy, shoot-first, score-first guard, so he didn’t seem to make many noteworthy passes in this game. On one play when he was in the high post, Davison threw an inaccurate pass back that led to an over and back violation. Also, Davison did a decent job of getting defensive rebounds, and he was able to swoop in and quickly bring the ball up off of a defensive board once. On the other hand, he would sometimes be called for reach-in fouls shortly after his opponents would get offensive rebounds.
Also, Davison played satisfactory defense in this game. He was able to intercept a pass to get a steal, and he also poked a ball away to nearly get another. He also rotated to the post to nearly tie up an opposing ball handler as he brought solid ball pressure, but his teammate had fouled his man instead. On the downside, Davison can be too aggressive defensively, and he was prone to committing reach-in fouls, as he did so once when defending in the post.
Overall, Brad Davison is an agile, skilled combo guard that can knock down threes to spread the floor for his team on offense. He’s not an overwhelming athlete, but he can utilize quick bursts in short areas to get up threes and mid-range shots. On the downside, his lack of size, playmaking skills, or elite athleticism may make it difficult for him to make it to the NBA, especially if his three-point shot doesn’t translate well to higher levels. Davison is a lower ceiling sort of prospect, but his jump shot could enable him to compete for a roster spot in the NBA someday.
Wisconsin’s 7-0 fifth-year senior center, Chris Vogt had his ups and downs in his team’s double-digit loss to Ohio State. He’s not a particularly skilled offensive player, as he didn’t look to take jumpers outside of the paint area, nor looked to pass or handle the ball much, if at all, but Vogt is a mobile, energetic big man that would make hustle plays to sporadically help his team on both ends of the court at times.
Vogt showed a knack for scoring on hustle plays. He in particular excelled at scoring on quick rolls to the rim. He managed to score on a surprisingly athletic dunk while getting an extra free throw, and he also used a pump fake to score another time. He doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of post moves though, and he generally struggled to score on post plays. Vogt tended to miss on jump hooks, and he’s not really a player that should be used in one-on-one situations very often, as he especially struggled to create his own shot or score on isolation or low post possessions in this game.
He also showed off satisfactory playmaking skills in this game. Vogt is a solid screen setter, and he would set firm screens that would enable his teammates to get open driving lanes and jump shots, and it would also allow himself to get open to score on rolls to the rim. Unfortunately, Vogt did not do a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He was able to leap up to get a pair of defensive boards, but he rarely came away with rebounds when he was on the floor. He tended to be out of position, and he would often commit loose ball fouls and over the back fouls when he would pursue opportunities to go for rebounds.
Also, Vogt played satisfactory defense in this game. He is a good interior defender that showed a knack for blocking shots due to possessing very good size, length, timing, and instincts. He would often swat shots around the basket to help his team protect the paint. Vogt also managed to jump on a loose ball to help his team get a steal, and he also deflected a ball to nearly get another. On the downside, he tended to be undisciplined when defending screens or in one-on-one situations, and he generally struggled to defend in space. He over-hedged onto an opposing ball handler as no one got back to the roll man, and his team allowed the roll man to score on an open dunk. He also struggled to defend a drive and didn’t cut off the pentration to allow a score. Late in the game, he fouled an opponent in the post, but he didn’t need to do that, as his teammate Davison was close to tying up an opposing ball handler when they doubled their opponent on that possession.
Overall, Chris Vogt is a strong, mobile center that can block shots and defend in the paint, but he will need to improve considerably on the offensive end, as well as show that he can hold his own and capably defend opponents out on the perimeter. Right now, he projects to go undrafted in the 2022 draft and it may be doubtful if he will make it to the NBA, but Vogt’s shot blocking skills and size could enable him to carve out a playing career in the G-League and/or overseas in the future.