Evaluating Marcus Keene and Jaylen Adams

April 22, 2017

By Alan Lu

Recently, I decided to take the time to watch a non-conference college basketball game that was played early this season, as it featured two small school prospects that may be in the 2017 NBA Draft.

It provided the opportunity to see Central Michigan’s junior point guard, Marcus Keene, who led the NCAA in scoring in division 1, as well as St. Bonaventure’s junior point guard, Jaylen Adams.  Thanks to YouTube via bd Global, I was able to see Central Michigan play against St. Bonaventure in a November 22nd matchup in the Lone Star Showcase.

Marcus Keene possesses a gifted ability to garner scores off the dribble.  He is a shifty guard that has a very quick first step to the hoop as he can quickly split double teams, and he is a strong finisher around the basket.  He has a variety of ball handling moves that he can use as he changes speeds well, and he can garner many scores and free throws on offense.  However, he struggled to knock down jumpers when he would hoist them from outside the paint area.  Keene did make one step back, pull-up three, but in general, he struggled to connect from three-point land, or from the mid-range area.

On the other hand, Keene displayed average at best playmaking skills.  For the positives, he has very good speed and quickness, as he can regularly turn the corner on pick and rolls, and he has the ability to split double teams as the primary ball handler.  He will also throw good interior passes off the dribble to set up some scores due to possessing good court vision.  However, he also can tend to play too wildly, which can lead him to commit a number of turnovers.  Keene can tend to overtly force the issue too much, as he may lose the ball or get it stripped on drives to the hoop.  Other times, he may shuffle his feet to get called for traveling.

He also showed a good willingness to rebound the basketball, as he would collect his fair share of defensive boards when he was on the floor, but he also struggled defensively.  On the plus side, Keene did manage to contest a mid-range shot after chasing his man off of a pin down to force a miss early in the game.

On the other hand, he generally had trouble fighting through screens, and on a couple of occasions, it led him to foul jump shooters to give the other team numerous free throws.  Keene generally struggled to defend jump shots, as he will give up too much space to allow his man to get scores.

In general, Marcus Keene is an intriguing prospect, as he has the foot speed and the scoring ability to warrant serious looks from NBA teams in the second round range of the draft.  But on the downside, he showed shaky playmaking skills, as he may try to do too much at times, and he can be streaky as a shooter.  Right now, he may not be a lock to be selected, but he could end up being an interesting option for NBA teams late on draft day.

St. Bonaventure’s junior point guard, Jaylen Adams had a solid game, as his team blew out Central Michigan on this day.  In observing his playing style, he is a skilled, game manager that can make shots and take care of the basketball, and he will generally not look to play outside himself very often.

Adams showed a very good ability to make jumpers to space the floor for his team.  He showed a knack for making deep pull-up threes as he can make them from NBA range, and he can also knock them down after dribbling off of screens.  Plus, he also displayed a good ability to make pull-up, mid-range jumpers.  Additionally, he can also get scores off the dribble.  He has a solid first step, and he can draw numerous free throws on drives to the basket.  He may not look to go all the way to the hoop often, but he can change speeds to throw defenders off their timing.

Also, he is a very good playmaker.  Adams is a smart basketball player that plays with great patience, and he is a table setter that can often find the open man, as well as make interior passes to set up a wealth of scores for his teammates.  He has the court sense to continually make plays on the court, and he will limit his turnovers to a minimum on offense.  Adams also showed a good ability to rebound the basketball.  He will get long boards, and he can push the pace to set up scoring chances for himself and his teammates.

However, he also struggled defensively.  For the positives, Adams has good foot speed, and he can stay in front of his man and use his length to contest shots to force misses.  However, he does not possess great lateral quickness, as he can tend to get beat off the dribble, which can lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

In general, Jaylen Adams has been a solid point guard at the collegiate level, as he has shown the smarts and offensive skills to excel this year.  But he may not possess elite physical tools or skills outside of his ability to run the team.  Most likely, if he stays in the draft, he could end up being a second round pick in 2017.

Other Notes:

St. Bonaventure’s junior combo guard, Matt Mobley played really well to help lead his team to cruise to a double-digit victory over Central Michigan.  He is a very athletic scorer that can make shots in a variety of ways, and he also defended well in this game.  He showed a great ability to get scores off the dribble as well as in transition, as he possesses very good speed, balance, and a first step to get to the basket.  He managed to get the extra free throw after scoring off the dribble a few times, and he even caught a long lob pass from Adams to throw down a thunderous alley-oop dunk in transition.

Plus, he also really excelled at knocking down threes from beyond the arc.  Mobley can make numerous open deep threes off the catch, and he also drew three free throws on a pull-up three-point shot.  He struggled more to shoot on the move, but generally he shot the ball very well from downtown, but he also showed off average playmaking skills.  For the positives, Mobley showed the ability to find the open man off the dribble to set up some scoring chances for his teammates.  However, he did show some questionable footwork off the dribble at times, as he traveled once to turn the ball over.

Mobley also rebounded the ball well, as he would collect defensive boards, and push the ball up the floor.  Plus, he showed off adequate defensive skills.   He managed to jump a pass to obtain a steal, as he managed to throw down an emphatic dunk off of it on the break.  Also, he will heap on loose balls, and use his length to contest shots to force misses and passing turnovers.  But every once in a while, he can commit fouls on opposing drives to the rim due to over-aggressiveness.

In summary, Matt Mobley may be a sleeper candidate to keep an eye on in 2018.  He will likely need to show NBA teams that he can run the point, but his athleticism, scoring ability, and defensive skills could make him an interesting prospect for next season.

St. Bonaventure’s 6-7 senior forward, Denzel Gregg also played well in his team’s win over Central Michigan.  He showed a good ability to attack the basket to garner scores, and he also excelled as a passer and rebounder when he was on the court.  Gregg did a great job of rebounding the basketball.  He was especially active at crashing the offensive glass, and he also was able to score on an acrobatic tip-in in this game.

Plus, he showed a decent ability to get scores off the dribble.  Gregg can get scores on strong high post drives, and he also managed to score once on a running jump hook.   Gregg also made a long two, but he struggled to make mid-range jumpers consistently, and he will likely need to add an outside shot in the future.  He also displayed very good playmaking skills.  Gregg has good court vision, and he both pass off the dribble and hit cutters to set up scores for his teammates, but he may have been average defensively.  For the positives, Gregg showed the ability to block shots, as he managed to swat a shot off of a drive.  But he also was late to rotate a few times, which would cause him to allow his opponents to get scores.

In general, Denzel Gregg may not likely end up in the NBA right away, as his lack of a jump shot combined with average defensive skills may not make him a great fit in the short term, but on the other hand, he is a good athlete that has very good strength, and Gregg is a high motor player that passes and rebounds the ball well.  Most likely, he may end up in the D-League or overseas, and in a favorable scenario, he could end up on a summer league roster sometime down the road.

Central Michigan’s senior combo guard, Braylon Rayson put forth a fairly average showing in his team’s loss to St. Bonaventure.  He showed a decent ability to shoot and score the basketball, as he can make score on runners, and he also made a pull-up three.  However, he showed off below average playmaking skills, and as he is a sub-six footer that does not play the point, that may not bode well for his NBA chances.  He also did not rebound well.  Defensively, there was one occasion where he forgot that he was in a 3-2 matchup zone and thought he was in man-to-man, as he wandered off, leading his team to allow a three-point basket.

Overall, this game helped me get a look to see where Marcus Keene and Jaylen Adams may be as prospects.  Right now, Adams may rate as the better all-around prospect as of today, as he is clearly the better playmaker at the point, and his feel for the game is very good, but Keene has better physical tools and ability to create plays off the dribble, which could give him a higher ceiling as a prospect for the NBA.  Right now, they both look to be second round prospects, and both have the ability to end up being solid role players in the league under favorable circumstances.

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