Evaluating Keion Brooks, Kellan Grady, and Oscar Tshiebwe in the Kentucky-Kansas Game

January 29th, 2022

By Alan Lu

Today, I tuned in because TyTy Washington was healthy enough to play for Kentucky, and it was also against Kansas, who featured another possible future lottery pick in senior swingman, Ochai Agbaji, who’s been having a terrific season.  Kansas proved to be no match for Kentucky though, and Kentucky managed to get a big lead early on, and never let up.  Kentucky ended up getting a blowing out win over Kansas, as they received strong performances from Keion Brooks, Kellan Grady, and Oscar Tshiebwe, and they also played very well as a team overall.  Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared in this game.

Kentucky’s forward, Keion Brooks had a terrific game, as he scored 27 points and hauled in 8 rebounds in his team’s win over Kansas.
(Photo:
Jay Biggerstaff/USA Today Sports, via Kentucky Rivals)

Keion Brooks had a tremendous showing, as he consistently made stellar plays to help his team get the win.  He did a tremendous job of knocking down mid-range jump shots, and he excelled as a scorer on off-ball motion plays due to possessing good athleticism, smarts, and instincts. Brooks did a great job of knocking down mid-range jumpers.  He would move off the ball and get open to score on spot-up, mid-range jumpers, and he also was able to pull up to score on a floater another time. 

He also did great work as a scorer on hustle plays.  He would often draw free throws on strong put backs, and he also scored off of an offensive rebound.  He would also score on powerful dunks around the basket, and he also caught a lob pass off of a backdoor cut to score on a thunderous alley-oop dunk late in the first half.  Brooks didn’t take any threes, but he didn’t have to, because he was incredibly efficient as a shot maker, decision maker, and scorer on offense. Also, he displayed adequate playmaking skills.  When he was in the high post, Brooks threw a nifty, no-look pass to find a teammate around the basket to notch an assist.  He also did not turn the ball over once on offense in this game.  Plus, Brooks did a very good job of rebounding the basketball, and he especially thrived as an offensive rebounder, in which he was able to provide his team with plenty of second chance points.

He also played satisfactory defense in this game.  Brooks was able to deflect a pass, and he was active in contesting shots both out on the perimeter and in the paint to force misses.  He was able to contest a shot off of a cut to get a stop and also to force a shot clock violation.  Sometimes though, he would struggle to defend out on the perimeter.  He would sometimes give up too much space to shooters, and he also got beat off the dribble once, which led him to commit the foul afterwards.

In general, Keion Brooks played very well, and he had a fantastic game to help lead his team to a blowout win over Kansas.  He scored 27 points and had 8 rebounds, and he thoroughly dominated in this match.  He is an underrated prospect that is quietly playing well this year.  On the other hand, he will still need to work on his three-point shot in the future, but Brooks’ athleticism combined with ability to score and defend could make him a solid find for an NBA team whenever he declares to enter the NBA draft.

Kellan Grady shot the ball really well in his team’s win over Kansas.
(Photo:
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press)

Kellan Grady also had a superb showing in his team’s win over Kansas.  He is a sharpshooter that did a great job of shooting and scoring the basketball, and he did a great job of moving off the ball on offense to get open threes in this game. Grady showed a knack for making quick, open spot-up threes off the catch.  He was able to make one from way out early on, and he also thrived at running off of pin-downs to make quick, turnaround threes effortlessly.  He also used a pump fake to score on a smooth, pull-up three.

He also played unselfishly, and he was able to pick up an assist.  He also was able to haul in several defensive rebounds to help his team chip in on the glass.  Grady also played adequate defense.  He managed to deflect a pass out of bounds, and he also contested a shot off of a drive to force a miss.  On the downside, sometimes he can be late on his rotations, and other times can be too aggressive on the close out.  On one play, he fouled a shooter on a three-point shot, which gave the other team three free throws.

Overall, Kellan Grady is a very good shooter that did a great job of knocking down his threes to provide floor spacing to help his team on offense, and he is an underrated prospect that just has a knack for making sound plays when he is on the floor.  He is a smart, skilled guard that shoots the ball very well, and he also knows how to get open on off-ball motion plays.  He could be a good find for an NBA team in the second round of the 2022 draft.

Oscar Tshiebwe also played very well in this game to help lead Kentucky to a win over Kansas, and he’s been one of the best players in college basketball this season.
(Photo:
Jay Biggerstaff/USA Today Sports, via SB Nation’s A Sea of Blue)

Oscar Tshiebwe also played very well in this game, as he was able to notch another double-double to help his team get a double-digit win over Kansas.  He thrived as an interior player, but he also showed off a good mid-range shot in this game.  He’s been one of the most consistently productive big men in college basketball, and Tshiebwe recently had what the No Dunks crew would call a big beef game by notching 22 rebounds (and he also scored 21 points) in an overtime win over Mississippi State on January 25th.   Therefore, the game against Kansas proved to be very easy for him, as he was able to overpower his defenders and take advantage of being left open to score and rebound quite often throughout this contest.

Tshiebwe did a good job of scoring on open, mid-range jumpers.  He would score on pick and pop plays, and he also managed to get the ball on a short roll, as he then dribbled in to score on a turnaround, mid-range jump shot.  He also showed a solid ability to score in the post.  Early on, Tshiebwe used numerous pump fakes to score around the basket.  He also managed to score on a tough layup while getting an extra free throw.  Plus, he also showed that he can score off the dribble as well as on put backs.  Sometimes, he would shoot the ball too hard and miss, but generally Tshiebwe excelled as a scorer on offense.

He was a bit turnover prone on offense, though.  For the positives, Tshiebwe is an unselfish player that will look for the open man.  He was able to utilize a pump fake and then kick a ball out to an open shooter off the dribble to notch an assist.  Sometimes though, he would be a bit careless in the post, which would lead him to commit turnovers.  After getting the ball on a short roll, he drove in, but committed a charging foul while he was trying to kick a ball out to a shooter.  He also was called for three seconds in the key while trying to post up once.  He also threw a hasty pass that got intercepted on another possession. 

Plus, Tshiebwe did a great job of rebounding the basketball.  He hauled in numerous boards to help his team get many boards throughout this contest.  He was able to block out two defenders and managed to tap a ball out on a rebound attempt, despite having two opponents around him.  On the other hand, he also was called for committing an over the back foul on an offensive rebounding attempt on a separate possession.

Also, Tshiebwe played very good defense in this game.  He has good hands, and he would get his hands on passes to get steals and deflections.  He also is a very strong big man that has great strength, and he would hold his ground when defending down low to get stops for his team.  He did a very good job of playing passing lanes and contesting shots in the paint to help his team both force turnovers and get stops on the defensive end.

Overall, Oscar Tshiebwe had a strong showing in his team’s win over Kansas.  He is a tremendously strong, physical specimen that was able to outwork his opponents to score and rebound quite often in the paint.  He is also a smart player that would use pump fakes to get open looks down low, and he also showed off an improved mid-range jumper.  He lacks elite foot speed and quickness, and at 6-9, he may project to be a slightly undersized center, though he has more than enough strength to be able to handle players at that level.  He’ll need to show NBA teams that he can adjust to playing and defending more out on the perimeter, and opposing ball handlers will test him on pick and rolls at higher levels.  Still, there is no doubt that Tshiebwe has been a tremendously productive player for Kentucky this season, and he could be a good find for an NBA team whenever he decides to enter the NBA draft.

Sahvir Wheeler also brought forth a solid performance in his team’s win over Kansas.  He passed the ball very well, and he mostly thrived as a facilitator in this game.  He didn’t take many shots, but he showed that he can ably knock down open jumpers, as he was able to make a long two and a three-point shot.  Wheeler struggled to score more off the dribble, but he appeared to be more comfortable in taking and making shots off the catch, as his opponents would leave him wide-open in this game.

Also, Wheeler passed and handled the ball very well.  He is a quick, agile playmaker that threw good passes off the dribble, and he would make an assortment of passes to get assists.  He was able to make a wraparound pass to notch an assist, and he also would find his teammates on the move to set up scores for them.  He did commit one notable turnover, as he was called for traveling when handling the ball once.

He also was able to get boards on both ends of the floor to help chip in on the glass.  However, he struggled to guard opponents off the dribble, as he would sometimes be too aggressive in applying ball pressure, and his lack of size would make it difficult to contest shots of taller players.

Overall, Sahvir Wheeler played well in his team’s win over Kansas.  He stood out as a distributor in this game.  At higher levels, his lack of size and elite jump shot or defensive skills will present as significant concerns, but his foot speed combined with his ability to run a team could enable him to carve out a lengthy playing career in professional basketball in the future.

TyTy Washington returned from a minor ankle injury to play against Kansas.  He had his ups and downs in this game.  He didn’t shoot well, but he fared much better in the non-shooting or scoring related elements of the game, especially as a facilitator. Washington didn’t shoot the ball well at all, as he struggled to make threes or mid-range jumpers.  He did appear to be more comfortable in taking mid-range jumpers, but it seemed as if he was forcing up threes that he didn’t seem to be entirely comfortable in taking.  Early on, Washington was able to score on a quick floater on a speedy drive in transition while drawing a foul simultaneously, and it seemed that it was somewhere between the close and mid-range area where he scored.  He also managed to draw a non-shooting foul on a speedy fast break drive another time.

While recovering from his ankle injury seemed to negatively impact his jump shot, it didn’t negatively impact Washington’s ability to distribute the basketball.  Washington showed off good playmaking skills in this game.  He is a quick, agile ball handling guard that would swiftly get into the lane, and he showed that he can both throw pinpoint passes to find teammates around the basket, and also kick balls out to shooters on other plays.  He did commit one turnover, as he threw an errant pass that got intercepted once.

Also, he was able to get several defensive boards to help his team on the glass.  Washington also played satisfactory defense.  He did a great job of getting steals.  He would swipe balls away and jump passes to get steals for his team.  He also actively contested a runner to force a miss.  On the downside, he bit on a pump fake once, which led his opponent to score on a long two.

Overall, TyTy Washington didn’t shoot the ball well at all, but he passed and defended well when he was on the court.  He may need to ease his way back into the lineup, but he generally showed good decision making skills in his team’s win over Kansas.  He’s a talented point guard whose jump shot will come back to him over time, maybe as soon as the next game.  Right now, Washington is an athletic, skilled point guard whose offensive skills may make him a solid bet to go in the lottery of the 2022 draft.

Jacob Toppin is a very athletic, combo forward that thrived at scoring and rebounding the basketball in this game.  He shot the ball well, as he was able to pull up to make a mid-range jumper, and he also made an open corner three later on.  He also excelled at scoring around the basket.  He drew free throws on a turnaround, jump hook in the post.  He also managed to score on an emphatic dunk off of a cut, as well as on a tip-in off of an offensive rebound.

Toppin also rebounded the ball well.  His only miscue was that he was called for traveling when driving to the post, as he was called for using one too many steps that time on offense.  Overall, Jacob Toppin played very well in his team’s win over Kansas, and he’s one of the more underrated prospects on his team.  He’s played very well lately, and his vast athleticism and motor could enable him to be a defensive specialist in the NBA someday.

Ochai Agbaji didn’t play very well in his team’s loss to Kentucky, though he did have some moments at times in this game.  He struggled to get going early on, and while he was able to make some shots in the second half, he didn’t end up being a very effective scoring option for his team in crunch time. Agbaji did an adequate job of scoring off the dribble.  He was able to score on a swift layup off of a drive in transition while drawing an extra free throw afterwards.  On the downside, he also missed on an off-balanced layup on a right-handed, half-court drive another time.

Though he struggled with his jump shot against Kentucky, Agbaji was able to make several smooth jumpers over the course of this game.  He was able to knock down a pair of pull-up jumpers, one from the mid-range, and another from behind the three-point line.  He also ran off a ball screen to make a quick, spot-up three off of a pin-down.  He also managed to draw three free throws on a pull-up three another time, which is a sign of how hard he’s really worked on his jump shot.  On the downside, he struggled to make threes or mid-range jumpers consistently in this match. He also showed off fairly average playmaking skills in this game.  Agbaji is an unselfish player that would swing the ball to find open shooters to notch assists.  Sometimes though, he would throw passes that would get deflected or dropped by his teammates, which would lead to team turnovers.

He also didn’t get enough rebounds in this game, but he was able to get a pair of defensive boards when he was on the floor.  He also played satisfactory defense in this game.  Agbaji was able to jump a pass to get a steal, and he also jumped on a loose ball to help his team get another.  He also managed to poke a ball away when defending a drive to nearly get another.  He also contested a three to force a miss another time.  Sometimes though, he would struggle to guard shooters.  He sagged too far off his man, which led him to give up a three-point basket.  Another time, he over-compensated, and he ended up fouling an opponent that was behind the three-point line, though his man was trying to pass the basketball.

Overall, Ochai Agbaji is a very athletic swingman that thrives as a scorer in transition, and he also has generally excelled as a shooter this season.  However, he didn’t shoot the ball very well in this game, and he struggled to be a consistent scorer in the half-court against Kentucky.  Still, Agbaji is a big-time athlete that has played very well over the course of the season, and he currently projects to go in the mid to late first round range on draft day.  If things go as expected, he could end up being a solid role player similar to Arron Afflalo in the NBA.

Christian Braun had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Kentucky.  He didn’t show much of a willingness to take outside shots, but he also showed some scoring and playmaking skills in this game. Braun showed a satisfactory ability to score off the dribble.  He can use quick moves to get past his man, and he would tend to score on strong drives to the hoop.  He also managed to score on a put back.  On the downside, sometimes he would miss wildly around the basket when he wouldn’t get foul calls.  He did an adequate job of knocking down his jumpers.  He also was able to move off the ball to make an open corner three.  He also missed on a couple of his other three-point attempts, though.

Also, Braun showed off satisfactory playmaking skills.  He can throw long, accurate passes to set up scores for his teammates on the move, and he also can make an assortment of passes off the dribble due to possessing good court vision.  Sometimes though, he would be careless with the ball on offense.  He was called for traveling on a baseline drive, which was a shame because he would’ve scored on a quick dunk off the dribble had that call not been made.  He also telegraphed a pass that ended up getting intercepted.

He also did an adequate job of rebounding the basketball, and Braun was able to push the ball up the court off of a defensive board once.  He also played perhaps adequate defense.  He was able to intercept a pass to get a steal, and he also managed to block a shot.  However, he also would tend to sag off of shooters, which would lead him to give up open baskets to them.

Overall, Christian Braun had some good moments at times, though he didn’t seem to stand out from the pack or take over in this game.  He is a versatile swingman that can do a little bit of everything, but he will need to be a more consistent shooter and defender in games.  Currently, he projects to be a second round prospect for the 2022 draft.

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