Evaluating Josh Jackson, Johnathan Motley, Frank Mason, and Others

February 2, 2017

By Alan Lu

This game presented the opportunity to see two of the best teams in college basketball in a Big 12 conference matchup that featured some of the top prospects for the NBA Draft.   Kansas played host to Baylor, as both teams fought valiantly to try to win the game.  But ultimately, with the strong play of Josh Jackson, Frank Mason, and others, Kansas was able to pull out a five-point win at home.  Here are my thoughts on how they and other various prospects fared on this day.

Kansas’ 6-8 freshman forward, Josh Jackson put forth a strong showing, as he played well on both ends of the floor to lead his team to a narrow victory over Baylor.  In this game, he scored 23 points, and he also collected 10 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 assist, and 1 steal for the Jayhawks.

He showed a terrific ability to garner scores off the dribble.  He has great speed, quickness, and body control to regularly finish plays around the basket, as he has a nifty spin move in his arsenal, and he also managed to throw down a thunderous dunk off the baseline.  Plus, he also managed to score on an electrifying tip dunk off of an offensive rebound in this game.  Also, he shot the ball very well, as Jackson has greatly improved his ability to shoot threes recently.  Jackson excelled at knocking threes, especially in the corner, as he used a step back move to make one, and he also made another open three off the catch.

However, he showed below average playmaking skills in this game.  For the positives, Jackson showed an adequate ability to pass the basketball to his teammates in a variety of ways.  However, sometimes he was inaccurate with his passing, and on other occasions, he played too wildly in looking to make plays off the dribble.  Plus, he did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was quite active at crashing the glass on both ends of the floor, as he hauled in many boards for his team when he was on the floor.

He also played good defense.  He really excelled at blocking shots, as he possesses great length, athletic ability, and timing to do so.  He showed great recovery speed after biting on the initial pump fake to get his first one, as he quickly got back on his feet and leapt back up to swat the shot.  The second time, he ferociously swatted a shot off of a drive.  Plus, he showed quick hands to help get his team steals.  However, he tended to give up too much space at times, as he would allow his opponents to score on jumpers.  Another time, he would commit a foul when defending in the post.

In general, Josh Jackson played very well, as he showed why he is largely considered to be a lock to be a top 5 pick for the upcoming draft.  He is an elite level athlete that can score the basketball in a variety of ways, and he is a solid rebounder and defender.  Though he committed many turnovers against Baylor, he normally is a sound playmaker that plays like a cerebral point forward.  With his skill set, he could end up being a solid player in the NBA.

Baylor’s junior forward Johnathan Motley put forth a strong showing in a loss to Kansas.  He made his presence felt early and often, and he showed off a solid all-around game for his team.  Motley showed off a gifted ability to score in the post.  He is a skilled scorer that has a good set of moves, and he has the footwork and shooting touch to get numerous scores on the block.  He was able to score on an up and under move, fadeaway jumper, as well as on a turnaround jumper against the Jayhawks.

Plus, he also showed a solid ability to garner scores off the dribble.  He has a very good first step to the hoop, and he is a talented ball handler that has the body control to regularly finish plays around the basket.  Motley was able to get an acrobatic score on a drive early on, and he can also score on a runner to the hoop.  He also showed off a good ability to make jumpers to space the floor for his team.  Motley was able to make a three off the catch, as he could be a potential stretch big at the next level.

Also, he displayed good playmaking skills.  Motley is an unselfish player that can make a variety of passes, as he would often find open shooters from the post, and he also would hit cutters.  But sometimes, he would be inaccurate with his passes, on one occasion he traveled in the post, and another time he failed to protect the basketball as he had a ball poked away from him on a drive to the hoop.  He also rebounded the ball very well.  Motley was quite active at crashing the glass on both ends of the floor to help his team on the boards.  He also displayed decent defensive skills, as he would contest shots to force misses, but on one occasion he committed a foul inside the paint.

In summary, Johnathan Motley played a terrific game, as he showed off a tremendous set of offensive skills against Kansas.  He asserted himself early in the game as a scorer and rebounder, and he then was more of a facilitator in the second half.  With his skill set, he could end up being a good pick for a team in the mid to late first round range of the 2017 NBA Draft.

Kansas’ 5-11 senior guard, Frank Mason played very well to help lead his team to defeat Baylor at home.  He started off fairly slowly, but he went on to have a strong second half to get his team the victory.  He showed a good ability to garner scores off the dribble.  Mason generally has very good speed, strength, and body control to finish plays around the basket, and he would regularly draw free throws on fast break drives to the hoop.  Plus, he showed the ability to make runners off the dribble.  But Mason also tended to miss floaters, and he also had some trouble scoring in traffic early on.

He also showed a decent ability to make jumpers to space the floor for his team.  Mason missed a couple of outside shots off the catch, but he was able to make a timely pull-up three late in the game.  Mason also displayed good playmaking skills.  He generally made crisp, accurate passes as he would find shooters, and he would throw solid interior passes to set up scores for his team.  His passes were mostly on point, and he threw accurate lob passes to his teammates in this game.  But one of his passes went astray as he tried to make one off of a drive to the hoop, and he also lost the ball handling it that led to another turnover.

He also showed off decent rebounding skills.  He was hauled in his fair share of defensive boards when he was on the floor.  Mason also defended well, as he showed very quick hands to obtain numerous steals.  But, there was one play where he was late on his rotation, which led him to allow a three-point basket to an opponent.

In this game, Frank Mason put forth a good performance in a home win for Kansas over Baylor.  Despite the slow start, he was able to get into a groove in the second half, and he played well for the rest of the game.  With his skill set, he could end up being a solid value pick for a team in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft.

Kansas’ junior point guard Devonte’ Graham also played well to help lead his team to a win over Baylor.  He played well on offense, as he excelled as a shooter, scorer, and facilitator in this game.  Graham did a very good job of shooting the basketball to space the floor for his team.  He excelled at knocking down threes from beyond the arc, as he especially excelled at making them off the catch.  Plus, he also showed a solid ability to garner scores off the dribble, and he showed off good quickness, body control, and finishing ability to score on an acrobatic layup around the basket.

He also displayed good playmaking skills.  He made crisp, accurate passes to his team, and he also threw an accurate lob pass to set up a scoring chance for his team.  While he did not collect many rebounds, he did leap up to come away with a tough defensive board on one particular occasion.

In general, Devonte’ Graham put forth a good showing, as he excelled offensively in a win for his team.  With his skill set, he could end up being a solid pick for a team in the late first to the second round range of the upcoming draft.

Kansas’ 6-8 junior swingman Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk also had a solid game, as he shot the ball very well against Baylor.  He did not look for his own shot often in the first half, but he started to get into a rhythm early in the second half.  Mykhailiuk shot the ball very well, as he excelled at making threes off the catch, and he also made a long, pull-up jumper inside the arc.  Another time, he was able to draw free throws after catching a lob pass on a quick backdoor cut to the hoop.

In this game, Mykhailiuk shot the ball well, and he played unselfishly, which he did so perhaps to a fault.  He also defended well, as he used his length to make it tough for his opponent to secure the catch on the final play of the game, and he also contested a three to force a miss.  Mykhailiuk may rate as a 3 and D type of player at the next level, as he could end up being a late first to second round pick in the NBA.

Other Notes:

Kansas’ 6-5 sophomore guard Lagerald Vick never quite found his rhythm on offense, as he struggled to make jumpers, and he missed a thunderous dunk on the break after leaping up to catch a lob pass in transition.  He did show off a decent ability to pass the basketball.  He did not play much, and most likely he may be a player to watch next season rather than for this year.

Baylor’s 7-0 junior center, Jo Lual-Acuil showed a good ability to make jumpers, as he made a three and a mid-range jumper off the catch to show his range from the floor.  Unfortunately, he was quite inconsistent as a scorer in the paint, as he especially struggled to score off the dribble.  He was quite active as a rebounder and shot blocker, as he possesses solid length, athleticism, and timing to make plays for his team.  Lual-Acuil is an intriguing player that could be a player to watch next year, as he is an athletic shot blocker that could excite NBA teams if he continues to improve his jump shot and if he continues to refine his game, especially on offense.

Kansas’ 6-10 senior big man, Landen Lucas struggled to score efficiently against Baylor, as he struggled to score in traffic or make jumpers consistently, but he did rebound and defend well on this day.  He grabbed many boards, and he made key stops defensively.  Lucas was able to break up a lob pass to help his team get a steal, and he also contested a three to force a miss.  He is a high motor big man that competes on every play, and he may be a likely bet to be on an NBA summer league roster, as his competitiveness and potential to excel on both ends of the floor could allow him to potentially make an NBA team’s roster at the next level.

Baylor’s 5-11 junior guard Manu Lecomte did a very good job of shooting the basketball, and he also excelled at jumping passing lanes, as he would get steals, and turn them into fast break points for his team.    He may be undersized to play the point, and it is uncertain how well he can play that position, but his ability to shoot the basketball could make him a prospect to watch next year.

Overall, this was a very entertaining game, as Baylor appeared to have the upper hand in the first half, but then Kansas came out strong in the second half, and they ended up making enough plays to hold on for the win.  Josh Jackson, Johnathan Motley, and Frank Mason were among the standout performers in this contest, as Kansas was able to defeat their Big 12 rival at home.