Evaluating Isaiah Collier, Keshad Johnson, and Kobe Johnson

March 10th, 2024

By Alan Lu

Yesterday, I took the time to watch USC’s 6-5 freshman guard, Isaiah Collier play against Arizona in a competitive, PAC-12 game.  Collier is a very athletic, strong combo guard that could end up being a lottery pick, so I decided to watch him play against a good college basketball team, and he did not disappoint.  Collier played well, and he helped lead USC to a double-digit win over Arizona.  Here are my thoughts on how he and other various prospects fared in this game.

USC’s 6-5 freshman guard, Isaiah Collier scored 16 points, and had 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 1 steal in his team’s 78-65 win over Arizona. (Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press, via The Herald Journal)

Isaiah Collier had a strong showing in his team’s win over Arizona.  He is a very athletic guard that thrived as a scorer, and he made some very impressive plays to help his team get the victory. Collier showed a satisfactory ability to score off the dribble.  He was able to score on a strong, reverse layup early on.  He also drove up court to throw down a fantastic dunk late in this game, and Collier has very good speed and magnetic athleticism.  He also showed a solid ability to make dribble, mid-range jumpers, and he was able to make a step-back jumper from that range.  However, sometimes he would tend to miss on quick drives to the hoop due to rushing.  

He also showed a decent ability to knock down jumpers in this game.  Collier was able to make a deep, spot-up three off the catch.  In this game, Collier was able to make a three, as well as some mid-range jumpers to keep his defenders honest. Also, Collier displayed decent playmaking skills in this game.  He is a fleet-footed guard that excelled at making speedy passes off the dribble and outlet passes to set up scores for his teammates.  He would find open teammates on the move, and he showed that he can throw long, accurate passes.  However, sometimes he would try to rush his moves, which would lead to turnovers.  He would throw inaccurate passes that would sometimes go astray, and he also was called for traveling when attempting to make a kick out pass on a drive in transition another time.

He also did an adequate job of rebounding the basketball, and Collier was able to get boards on both ends of the floor.  Collier also played adequate defense in this game.  He would jump on loose balls to help his team get steals.  However, sometimes he and his teammates would be caught out of position, which would lead his team to commit fouls when defending opponents off the dribble.

In general, Isaiah Collier played very well as he helped his team get a double-digit win over Arizona.  He is a very athletic combo guard, and Collier is one of the most athletic players in this draft, and his scoring and playmaking skills combined with his athleticism could make him a good pick in the lottery of the 2024 draft.

Keshad Johnson also had a strong showing in his team’s loss to USC.  He is an athletic, energetic swingman that played very well, and he showed a much improved outside shot in this game.  Johnson showed a knack for making quick, open spot-up threes off the catch, particularly from the corners.  He also was able to throw down a thunderous, turnaround dunk off a baseline drive while getting an and one.  Plus, Johnson was able to catch a lob pass off of a cut to score on a high-flying, alley-oop dunk.  But sometimes he would take contested, rushed shots that would lead to misses around the basket.

He also showed off solid playmaking skills.  Johnson is an unselfish player that did a good job of making passes off the dribble, and he was able to make an assortment of passes to set up scores for his teammates.  On one play though, he dropped a hard pass that led to a turnover.

Also, Johnson was able to chip in to get his fair share of boards.  He was more active at crashing the glass to get offensive boards, but he only was able to get one defensive rebound in this game.  He also played adequate defense.  Johnson was able to get his hands on a pass to get a steal.  Another time though, he struggled to fight through a screen and fouled an opponent when defending off the dribble.

Overall, Keshad Johnson played very well, and he primarily thrived as a shooter and scorer in this game.  He turned in a terrific showing, as he showed off elite athleticism as well as versatile scoring skills, and he could project into a 3 and D role in the NBA, as he could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the late first to the second round range of the 2024 draft.

Kobe Johnson also had a strong showing to help lead his team to a double-digit win over Arizona.  He had a very good all-around game, and he consistently made plays on both ends of the floor to help his team get the victory. Johnson did a good job of shooting and scoring the basketball.  He excelled at scoring on hustle plays, as he would tend to score on cuts and fast breaks.  Johnson was able to utilize a Euro-step move to score on a drive in transition.  He also ran the floor to score on a high-flying dunk.  He also excelled at scoring off the dribble, as he was able to make a floater, and he also made a smooth, step-back three from long range.

He also displayed decent playmaking skills.  Johnson was able to throw sharp, accurate passes to find open teammates in stride to notch assists.  Sometimes though, he would throw inaccurate passes that would sail out of bounds.  Another time, he was called for an over and back violation when stepping back behind the mid-court line while having the ball in his hands.

Also, Johnson was able to chip in to get his fair share of boards when he was on the floor.  He also defended very well.  Johnson would frequently intercept passes and jump on loose balls to get a plethora of steals, and he would contest shots both out on the perimeter and in the paint to force a wealth of misses.  On one play though, he lost track of his man on a cut to allow a score.  Another time, he got beat off the dribble, which led his team to give up another basket.

In summary, Kobe Johnson played very well, as he turned in a tremendous performance to help get his team a victory over Arizona.  He will still need to improve his outside shot, but Johnson is a smart, skilled player whose skill set, versatility, and above average athletic gifts could make him a solid second round pick for the 2024 draft.

Oumar Ballo played very well in his team’s tough loss to USC.  Ballo especially thrived at scoring out of the post, as he would make strong moves to score on layups and dunks, and he would outmuscle his opponents to draw plenty of fouls and get to the foul line.  He also was able to run the floor to score on a thunderous dunk.  While Ballo didn’t really look to take outside shots, he thrived as a scorer and finisher around the basket.

He also displayed satisfactory playmaking skills.  Ballo was able to throw a no-look bounce pass out of the post to find a cutter to notch an assist.  Plus, he did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He also played satisfactory defense.  Ballo was able to intercept a pass to get a steal.  He also rotated to block a shot off of a drive to a teammate.  On one play though, he didn’t effectively communicate a screen to a teammate, which led his teammate to foul an opponent off the dribble.

Overall, Oumar Ballo had a strong showing in his team’s loss to USC, and he is a strong, physical center that can score and rebound in the paint.  He’ll need to expand upon his skill set offensively, but he is a productive player that could end up being a good find for an NBA team at the next level.

DJ Rodman also played very well to help lead his team to a win over Arizona.  The 6-6 senior is a mobile, energetic forward that excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor.  He excelled at scoring on hustle plays, as he was able to score on a roll in traffic, on a backdoor cut, as well as in transition and off of a tip-in.  He was able to score out of the post, and Rodman also was able to make a pair of open, spot-up threes to show his range.

He played unselfishly and did a decent job of rebounding the basketball.  He also defended very well.  He would contest shots to help his team force misses. He also would jump on loose balls to help his team get steals, and he also rotated to block a shot off of a drive.  On one play though, he got outmuscled when defending in the post, which led his team to give up the basket that time.

Overall, Rodman had a solid showing in this game, and he especially thrived as a scorer and defender in this game.  While he may be undersized to play inside, he is a high motor player that has above average athletic gifts and a fairly wide range of skills, and Rodman could end up being a reliable role player in the NBA.

Bronny James also played very well in his team’s win over Arizona.  Alhough he hasn’t shot the ball well as hoped on the season, Bronny James turned in a strong showing by making a slew of stellar plays on both ends of the floor.

James was able to score on a high-flying dunk off o fa drive in transition.  He also was able to make a deep, step-back three smoothly to show his range.  He didn’t take many shots, but James showed off a promising jump shot and good athletic gifts.

He played unselfishly, and James was able to notch an assist in this game.  On one play though, he was called for setting a moving screen that led him to commit an offensive foul and a turnover.  Plus, James also rebounded the ball very well.  He also played satisfactory defense.  He would jump passes to get steals, and he also was able to contest a shot off of a drive to force a miss.  On one play though, he committed a reach-in foul when defending an opponent off of a drive due to over-aggressiveness.

Overall, James hasn’t had the smoothest season, but he turned in a strong performance in hist team’s win over Arizona.  He will probably need to stay in school for another year or two to hone his overall game, as he will need to be a more consistent outside shooter, but James is an athletic, skilled combo guard that has a promising set of skills that could enable him to project to be a solid role player at the NBA level.

Other Notes:

Caleb Love had been having a very good season, but he really struggled with his shooting and shot selection, and he tended to take a lot of quick, rushed outside shots, which led to some bad misses.  He didn’t shoot the ball well at all, but he was able to score on a strong drive to the hoop early on.  He made some good passes due to possessing solid court vision, but sometimes he would rush his moves that would lead to turnovers.  Overall, he didn’t play very well against USC, and he will need to improve his shot selection and play more under control moving forward.

Jaden Bradley didn’t have his best game, as he struggled in his team’s loss to USC.  For the positives, Bradley showed the ability to score when he would look to attack the basket.  He used a pump fake to score on a midrange leaner, and he also scored on a quick baseline drive.  Plus, Bradley was able to score off of a cut.  However, sometimes Bradley would take tough, contested shots that would lead to misses, and his shot selection was quite suspect.  He also didn’t take any threes in this game.

He generally passed the ball well, and Bradley would make timely passes to find open teammates in stride.  However, there was one play where Bradley threw a hasty pass that got intercepted.  Defensively, there was one time where he got beat off the dribble, which led his teammate to rotate to commit a foul on a baseline drive.  Overall, Bradley didn’t have his best game, and he will need to improve his shooting and shot selection, but he is an athletic point guard that could be a second round pick in a future NBA draft.

Kylan Boswell didn’t play well overall in his team’s loss to USC.  He was able to score on a step-back, midrange jumper and make a quick, open three, as he showed the ability to make outside shots, but Boswell really struggled to make floaters, and he didn’t shoot very well in this game.  He tended to take tough, rushed shots that would lead to misses. 

Boswell generally passed the ball well, as he would throw accurate passes to find teammates in stride due to possessing solid court vision, but he also threw an inaccurate pass that got intercepted once.  He did an adequate job of rebounding the basketball.  On the defensive end, he fouled a three-point shooter once.  Overall, Boswell is a shifty guard that can make some plays on offense, but he will need to be a more consistent shooter and he will need to be a more disciplined defender in games.  Currently, he is a second round prospect for the 2024 draft.

Pelle Larsson’s performance was a mixed bag in this game.  He showed off versatile scoring skills and is an unselfish player, but he didn’t shoot or defend well overall against USC.  On one good play, he used a quick jab step to score off the dribble while getting fouled, and he also made a deep three another time.  Plus, he also passed the ball fairly well.  However, Larsson struggled to make spot-up threes consistently, and he would tend to over-dribble and struggle to handle the ball when pressured, which would lead him to commit turnovers.  

He also would throw hasty passes that would get intercepted.  He also struggled considerably on the defensive end due to only being an average athlete, and he would often commit fouls when defending jump shots and opponents in one on one situations.  Overall, Larsson didn’t have his best game, and he will need to show that he can consistently knock down threes and defend upper-echelon players to show that he can make an effective transition to be able to play at the NBA level.

NBA superstar forward, LeBron James made an appearance to the USC-Arizona game last night.
(Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

Also, legendary Los Angeles Lakers’ forward, LeBron James showed up to this game to watch his son, Bronny James play, as well as to watch USC play. LeBron James recently accumulated the milestone of having scored 40,000 points in his NBA career.

All in all, those are my thoughts on how Isaiah Collier, Keshad Johnson, Kobe Johnson, Oumar Ballo, and other various prospects fared in this game.  Thanks for reading.

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