Evaluating Keyontae Johnson, Devin Vassell, and Scottie Lewis

November 15th, 2019

by Alan Lu

Recently, I took the time to watch Scottie Lewis and the Florida Gators take on the Florida State Seminoles in a non-conference basketball game that took place on November 10th. Scottie Lewis is an athletic, young swingman that is rated as a potential lottery pick by numerous draft sites, and he was a highly touted recruit coming into college. Lewis made some very solid defensive plays in his team’s loss to Florida State, but the players I came away most impressed with were Florida’s sophomore guard Keyontae Johnson, and Florida State’s sophomore guard, Devin Vassell. Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared, as well as how their games may translate to the NBA.

Florida's 6-5 sophomore guard, Keyontae Johnson played very well in his team's loss to Florida State. (Photo: David Bowie/Gator Country.)
Florida’s 6-5 sophomore guard, Keyontae Johnson had a solid showing in his team’s loss to Florida State. (Photo: David Bowie/Gator Country.)

Florida’s 6-5 sophomore guard, Keyontae Johnson had a strong showing in his team’s double-digit loss to Florida State. He’s an athletic wing player that can shoot and score the basketball, and he also showed off some solid handles when the basketball was in his hands.

Johnson showed a good ability to get quick scores on drives to the basket. He is a smooth ball handler that has a variety of dribble moves, as he can get to the hoop with ease to garner scores. He can utilize a deft spin move, and he can finish with either hand to score on graceful layups. He also drove in once to score on a powerful dunk, but sometimes Johnson may not always go up strong, as he also had his shots blocked a couple of times.

He also did a good job of scoring on hustle plays, and he also can knock down jumpers to space the floor for his team on offense. Johnson was able to leap up to get a lob pass off of a cut to score on a high-flying alley-oop dunk. Plus, he also ran off the ball to score on an open, spot-up three off the catch.

However, Johnson also was quite turnover prone in this game. For the positives, he handles the ball well, and he is an unselfish player that would swing the ball to open shooters to set up scoring chances for them. However, sometimes he would tend to hasty passes that would get intercepted, as that would lead him to commit a slew of turnovers.

He also was able to haul in his fair share of boards, as he would run in to chase down balls to get rebounds on both ends of the floor, and he also pushed the ball up the floor on one occasion.

Plus, he also played adequate defense. Johnson was able leap up to tip a lob pass to force a turnover once. He also showed that he can guard opponents in the post as well as out on the three-point line to force opponents to miss shots. However, he also ended up committing a couple of fouls. He was called for a blocking foul when defending a drive in transition. Another time, he got backed down when defending in the post as he showed no resistance, which led him to have to foul his opponent. On a separate play, he over-helped by leaving his man open to rotate to an opponent in the high post, but he was late to rotate back to his man, which led him to give up a three-point basket.

In general, Keyontae Johnson played well, even though his team struggled to score and ended up losing by double digits to Florida State. He is a tough, athletic swingman that can shoot and score the basketball, and he also handles the ball fairly well. He will need to improve his ability to pass the basketball and be a more consistent defender in games, but Johnson could be a good value pick in the late first to the second round range of the 2020 draft.

Florida State's sophomore guard, Devin Vassell had several highlight-reel worthy plays, and he also played very good defense in his team's win over Florida. (Photo: Matt Stamey/Associated Press via MSN.com.)
Florida State’s sophomore guard, Devin Vassell had several highlight-reel worthy plays, and he also played very good defense in his team’s win over Florida. (Photo: Matt Stamey/Associated Press via MSN.com.)

Florida State’s sophomore guard, Devin Vassell put forth a solid performance in his team’s win over Florida. He is an athletic swingman that would make hustle plays on both ends of the floor, and he is a skilled, versatile jack-of-all-trades type of player that was able to make positive contributions in virtually every facet of the game to help his team get the victory.

Vassell showed a strong knack for scoring on hustle plays. He would often run in to score on tip-ins, and he also managed to score on an emphatic alley-oop dunk off of a cut. Plus, he also ran the floor to score on a high-flying jam in transition.

He also flashed the ability to knock down jumpers in this game. Vassell has an adequate ability to make three-point shots, as he was able to make an open spot-up three once out of three tries. He also made a baseline pull-up, mid-range jumper another time. However, he also had a tendency to miss on pull-up jumpers and on runners, as Vassell may lack an elite foot speed to consistently get all the way to the hoop to score often off the dribble.

He also did a good job of passing and handling the basketball. Vassell is an unselfish player that would look to find the open man, as he can kick balls out to shooters off the dribble, as he well as throw long, accurate passes to set up scoring chances for his teammates. On one play, he used a behind the back dribble move prior to throwing a lob pass to set up a scoring opportunity for a teammate.

Also, Vassell did a good job of rebounding the basketball. He would run in and leap up to get multiple boards on both ends of the floor, and he also showed a good ability to provide his team with second chance points after getting offensive rebounds.

Vassell also played solid defense. He is a very good shot blocker for his size, as he was able to swat a shot out of bounds when defending on a high post drive due to possessing good leaping ability, agility, and timing. Also, he nearly collected another by coming in from the blindside to swat a shot from a post player, but that didn’t count as his teammate had committed a foul just before he did so. Vassell also will play passing lanes and jump on loose balls to get steals and deflections, and he also dove on the ground to force a tie-up on a separate possession. He is a rangy defender that can cover a lot of ground, and he also has good foot speed to stay with opposing ball handlers to get them to miss shots. However, sometimes he can be out of position, which can lead him to be late on his rotations, as that can cause him to allow scores to his opponents.

In summary, Devin Vassell is an athletic, high-motor swingman that plays hard on both ends of the floor, and he may have the skills to be a shut down defender at the next level. He is an underrated prospect that could swiftly move up draft boards if he keeps playing well this season, and he could be a good value pick in the late first to the second round range for the 2020 NBA Draft.

Florida's freshman guard, Scottie Lewis has terrific defensive skills, and he did a very good job of blocking shots in this game against Florida State.   (Photo: Matt Stamey/AP via MSN.com.)
Florida’s freshman guard, Scottie Lewis has terrific defensive skills, and he did a very good job of blocking shots in this game against Florida State. (Photo: Matt Stamey/AP via MSN.com.)

Florida’s 6-5 freshman guard, Scottie Lewis is a rangy defender that is a surprisingly good shot blocker on the court, and he also will bring a lot of defensive intensity to get many stops for his team.

Lewis did a great job of blocking shots off of drives, as he has great recovery speed to make quick rotations, and he was able to make a nice chase down block once to ferociously swat a shot in transition, while he showed very good leaping ability, agility and timing to block two other shots late in this game. Lewis moves his feet quickly when defending opponents off the dribble, and he can get his hands on passes and poke balls away to get steals and deflections. He was able to successfully get stops when defending in the post as well as out on the three-point line, and his defensive versatility could enable him to be quite valuable to NBA teams at the next level.

On the other hand, Lewis can also be too aggressive in reaching for the basketball, as he can be foul prone at times. He also whiffed on a steal attempt when defending an opposing ball handler, which led him to be out of position when defending his man off the dribble, as he wasn’t in position to defend the lob pass or to block out on a play that led to his team to allow a put back score.

On offense, Lewis excelled at scoring on hustle plays. He was able to make a backdoor cut to the hoop to get the ball, and he was able to go up strong to draw a foul on his defender to get to the foul line.

He also flashed the ability to score on aggressive drives to the basket. Lewis was able to go hard right, which enabled him to draw free throws. However, he can tend to take tough shots, as he tended not to finish plays when he wouldn’t get foul calls, as he would miss on off-balanced layup attempts in traffic. He also attempted to take a couple of threes, but he missed on both outside shots from beyond the arc.

He also will need to improve his playmaking skills. For the positives, Lewis is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man. However, he can tend to be off-target on his passes, as he may not put it in spots where his teammates can be in a prime position to score off of them. He also committed a turnover as he had a ball poked away before losing it to the opposition. Mostly though, Lewis will need to improve his accuracy as a passer in order to improve his chances to collect assists on a more frequent basis.

In this game, Scottie Lewis actually did not make a single field goal, but on the bright side, he made all four of his free throws. He’ll need to work on his jump shot, but that he can make his free throws consistently may be an encouraging sign for his future growth as a potential shooter in the future.

Overall, Lewis does not seem to be nearly the prolific scorer or playmaker that he was billed to be coming into college, but his strong defensive skills still may suggest that there may still be a decent possibility that he could have a bright future in the NBA. Maybe he’s not superstar scoring wing player he was hyped up to be, but instead, perhaps he could find his niche as an elite defensive specialist in the future. Right now, his draft stock may be a bit high, but if he improves his jump shot, he could end up carving out a long career as an Avery Bradley type of player in the association.

Florida State’s 6-7 freshman forward, Patrick Williams had his ups and downs in his team’s win over Florida. He played solid defense, but he struggled to score consistently in this game.

Williams showed a decent ability to score on hustle plays. He was able to catch a lob pass to score on an alley-oop dunk off of a backdoor cut from the baseline to showcase some solid athleticism and ability to score around the basket. However, after dribbling in from the post off of an offensive rebound and despite using a strong drop step move, he ended up missing weakly in traffic that time.

He also showed a decent ability to score off the dribble. Williams was able to use a spin move to score on a smooth layup off of a drive, but he also had a shot blocked out of bounds when driving to the left on a separate play. He also attempted to take a corner three, but he ended up throwing up an airball as he missed badly when attempting his lone outside shot from beyond the arc.

Also, he displayed fairly average playmaking skills. Williams is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, but he committed his lone turnover by stepping out of bounds before trying to handle the ball off of a defensive rebound once.

Plus, he also did a good job of rebounding the basketball. Williams would leap up to get plenty of boards, as he was able to collect numerous defensive rebounds to help his team on the glass.

In addition, Williams also played good defense. He is an active, help defender that showed a knack for rotating to block shots off the dribble, as he would tend to swat them to teammates due to possessing good length, recovery speed, and leaping ability to do so. He also would get his hands on passes to get steals and deflections. However, he also tended to commit fouls when defending in the paint due to over-aggressiveness. He also struggled to defend on drives, as he would sometimes get beat or backpedal too much, which would cause him to be out of position and allow scores.

Overall, Patrick Williams had some good moments at times in this game, as he excelled from a defensive standpoint, but he did not stand out offensively when he was on the court. He will need to significantly improve his jump shot and playmaking skills, as well as to be more assertive on offense. Most likely, if he ends up finding his way into the NBA, he could end up being a similar player to former Memphis Grizzlies’ forward, Darrell Arthur in the association.

Florida’s senior center, Kerry Blackshear had a fairly good showing in his team’s loss to Florida State. He showed a strong ability to get to the free throw line, and he also rebounded well when he was on the court.

Blackshear did a good job of scoring in the post as well as off of hustle plays, as he would barrel his way to the hoop to draw a hoard of free throws to help his team. But sometimes he would miss shots awkwardly in traffic, and he also struggled to make threes or shots off the dribble, especially when he was not getting foul calls.

Also, he displayed fairly good playmaking skills. Blackshear is a solid passer that would throw accurate interior passes to set up scoring chances for his teammates, and he also can find cutters from the high post. However, he had a tendency to drop catchable passes in this game, which would lead his team to commit turnovers.

He also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He would often chase down balls to get offensive rebounds due to possessing a good motor, and he would leap up to haul in defensive boards when he was on the floor, as he can sometimes collect them amidst a crowd. On the other hand, he would also sometimes commit over the back fouls, as he would not always be in position to get those boards.

Plus, he also played fairly good defense. Blackshear was able to collect steals and blocks, as he would use his length and anticipation skills to jump passes to get steals, and he also rotated in the post to block a shot to himself. He would actively step up to defend drives to force misses, and he also would hold his ground when defending in the post to get opponents to miss their shots.

Sometimes though, he would struggle to defend opponents off the dribble, as he would get, and then would end up committing fouls and allowing scores. On a separate play, neither he nor Omar Payne communicated to Lewis that a screener was coming towards him, and no one stepped up on a drive in transition, which led their team to allow the basket that time.

Overall, Kerry Blackshear had a fairly solid game, as he was able to contribute in many different areas when he was on the floor. He is a skilled big man that can score and rebound the basketball, and he is a second round prospect that could end up being an effective role player in the NBA.

Other Notes:

Florida State’s 6-5 junior guard, M.J. Walker played fairly well in his team’s win over Florida. He showed off versatile scoring skills, as he would make open corner threes on the break to show his shooting ability, and he also would get quick scores off the dribble, as he can finish shots with either hand. He also is an unselfish player that will keep the ball moving to set up scores for them, but he also struggled to handle the basketball when faced with heavy ball pressure that would lead him to commit turnovers.

He also played fairly good defense. Walker is an active, help defender that can get steals and blocks, as he managed to block a three-point shot to a teammate due to possessing good leaping ability and timing, and he also leapt up to tip a lob pass to a teammate to get a steal another time. He did a good job of playing passing lanes, and he also rotated on a drive to successfully draw a charge on his opponent on that play. On the other hand, he can struggle to defend his teammates on the move, as he can get beat on those plays, which cause his team to commit fouls and allow scores as a result.

Overall, Walker is an athletic swingman that did a good job of making shots and getting stops on the defensive end. He will need to show that he can consistently make shots to move up draft boards, but if he can, he could then project to be a 3 and D type of role player in the NBA.

Florida’s 6-10 freshman big man, Omar Payne scored on a tip dunk, he also caught a lob pass to score on an alley-oop dunk, and he also rotated to block a shot off of a drive out of bounds to show off solid athleticism and inside scoring skills on offense. However, he struggled to defend drives on the defensive end, and he also didn’t communicate a screen was coming to a teammate, as his team allowed an opponent to score on a drive in transition that time. Overall, Payne is an athletic, energetic big man that will need to expand his skill set offensively and be a more disciplined defender, but he could project to be a defensive specialist in the association.

Florida’s 6-5 sophomore point guard, Andrew Nembhard did not play very well in his team’s loss to Florida State. For the positives, he did make a couple of open, spot-up threes off the catch, but he struggled to score off the dribble, and he committed a slew of uncharacteristic turnovers on offense.

He had trouble getting all the way to the basket off the dribble, as he doesn’t possess elite foot speed. He is a very unselfish player that can throw some good passes, as he was able to throw a lob pass to a cutter to set up an alley-oop dunk for a teammate, and he also can kick balls out to shooters and pass out of the post. However, he also was inaccurate on several of his passes, as it would sail out of bounds, and he also lost the ball once after trying to be too fancy when handling the ball another time.

Nembhard did an adequate job of rebounding the basketball, as he would crash the glass to haul in defensive boards for his team.

He also played decent defense. He would deflect passes to get steals, and he also would look to stay with ball handlers and contest jump shots to force them to miss shots. However, he also had a tendency to over-rotate and end up out of position, which would lead him to allow opponents to score on three-point shots. Another time, he struggled to defend an opponent on the break, and he ended up committing a blocking foul that time.

Overall, Andrew Nembhard is a tall table-setter that will look to pass often, and his team will rely on him often to get his teammates involved and going on offense. He tried to do that in this game, but unfortunately, he wasn’t successful in making shots or in taking care of the basketball, and their offense stagnated for most of this contest. He had trouble consistently getting into the lane, and he had trouble creating his own offense off the dribble. Right now, he will need to show that he can excel as top-notch competition and against upper echelon athletes. He might not end up being drafted by a team in the NBA, but his ability to run an offense likely will allow him to compete for a roster spot at the next level.

Florida State’s 6-4 senior point guard, Trent Forrest also did not play very well in this game in his team’s win over Florida. He did not shoot the ball very well, as he would frequently miss shots off the dribble, but he did manage to draw free throws on drives as well as on a put back. Forrest didn’t look to take nearly enough threes, but he did make a three-pointer in transition, and he should probably take a lot more of them moving forward.

He also showed off fairly average playmaking skills. Forrest is an unselfish player that can throw solid interior passes, as he managed to throw an accurate lob pass to a cutter to set up an alley-oop dunk, and he also passes the ball well on the break. However, he also showed a tendency to throw weak passes that ended up getting intercepted, and he also was careless with the basketball that led him to commit turnovers.

On the bright side, Forrest rebounded very well, and he also played fairly solid defense in this game. Forrest is an active, agile guard that would apply heavy ball pressure, as he can poke balls away, deflect passes, and jump on loose balls to get steals and deflections for his team. However, he also can tend to be caught ball watching and be late on his rotations, which would lead him to commit fouls, and it would also put his team in scrambling situations.

In this game, Forrest did not make shots very efficiently, and he was quite turnover prone on offense, but he showed off fairly good rebounding and defensive skills in this game. He will need to improve his jump shot and show that he can effectively run a team consistently in big games, but even still, his skill set may suggest that if he can put his skills altogether, he could potentially find a way to make a team’s roster in the NBA.