Evaluating Nico Mannion, Chase Jeter, and Josh Green in the Wooden Legacy Championship

December 2nd, 2019

by Alan Lu

Recently, I took the time to watch Arizona’s freshman point guard, Nico Mannion and his team play against Wake Forest in a December 1st game that took place at the Paycom Wooden Legacy Championship. In this game, Mannion passed the basketball well, and though he struggled to make shots at times, he tended to make sound plays when he was on the floor. Also, Arizona received solid interior play from Chase Jeter, as well as strong shooting and scoring from their guards such as Dylan Smith and Max Hazzard. Wake Forest made a few runs to keep the game close, but in the end, Arizona was able to run away with the victory.   Here are my thoughts on how Mannion and some of the other plays fared on this day, as well as how their games may translate to the NBA.

Arizona's freshman point guard, Nico Mannion made smart plays to help his team get the win over Wake Forest in the Wooden Legacy Championship.  (Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images via AZ Central.)
Arizona’s freshman point guard, Nico Mannion made smart plays to help his team get the win over Wake Forest in the Wooden Legacy Championship. (Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images via AZ Central.)

Arizona’s freshman point guard, Nico Mannion had an adequate showing in his team’s victory over Wake Forest. Though he struggled to make shots consistently, he made smart passes throughout this game, and he also defended fairly well when he was on the court.

Mannion displayed solid playmaking skills in this game. He can kick balls out to shooters off the dribble, and he would throw timely passes to set up a wealth of scores for his teammates. He also has very good court vision, as he can throw sharp interior passes to find his teammates on the move. He did commit a couple of turnovers though, as he threw a bounce pass that ended up being intercepted once, and he also had a ball poked away when driving towards the hoop another time.

He did a decent job of getting scores off the dribble. He would tend to go to his left to score on floaters, and he also has a subtly quick first step that enables him to draw plenty of fouls upon his opponents. However, sometimes he would also miss on floaters, as he would sometimes take them from too far away, and he also occasionally would miss on off-balanced shots. He also attempted to hoist up several threes, but in this game, Mannion was unable to connect on any of his long-range shots from beyond the arc.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, Mannion was able to get a board on each end of the floor, and he can chase down balls to collect a few rebounds to help his team on the glass.

Mannion also played decent defense. While he may not possess great size or elite physical tools, he is an active defender that tends to put himself in the right spots to help his team get stops. Mannion managed to jump a pass quickly to get a steal, and he also brought considerable ball pressure, as he would actively defend opposing ball handlers to make it tough for them to get past him. He also would actively contest jump shots, and he also was able to prevent an opponent from catching a ball in the post late in this contest. However, sometimes he can be caught ball watching, which can lead him to get beat on a cut, or to be late to rotate on shooters. On a separate play, he was called for a reach-in foul when defending a bigger player in the post.

In general, Nico Mannion had a fairly good showing in his team’s win over Wake Forest. He didn’t play nearly as well as he did against Illinois, but he still did a good job of effectively running the team at the point. He is a smart, skilled player that can help his team in a variety of ways, and he is a likely lottery pick that could end up being a solid starter in the NBA.

Arizona's senior center, Chase Jeter played very well to lead his team to a win over Wake Forest in the Wooden Legacy Championship.  (Photo: Alex Gallardo/Associated Press via News 4 Tucson.)
Arizona’s senior center, Chase Jeter played very well to lead his team to a win over Wake Forest in the Wooden Legacy Championship. (Photo: Alex Gallardo/Associated Press via News 4 Tucson.)

Arizona’s senior center, Chase Jeter played very well in his team’s win over Wake Forest. He excelled as an inside scorer and rebounder in this game, and he was very effective as an interior player when he was on the floor.

Jeter did a very good job of scoring in the post. He would often back his man down to get deep position on the block, and he would pivot to score on turnaround jump hooks. He also can take on the contact to draw plenty of fouls on defenders, which would enable him to get to the free throw line. Plus, Jeter also showed a knack for scoring on rolls to the rim, and he was able to throw down a powerful dunk off of a roll once. Plus, he also managed to score on a tip-in after getting an offensive rebound, and Jeter will actively crash the glass to help his team get second chance points.

He also is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man. However, sometimes he may not always protect the basketball. On one play off of a roll, he dropped a pass and then tried to save a ball that ended up going to an opponent, which led his team to commit a turnover that time.

Also, Jeter did a good job of rebounding the basketball. Jeter was able to leap up to haul in multiple boards on both ends of the floor. However, sometimes he can forget to block out his man, which can occasionally lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Defensively, he looked to be fairly average. For the positives, Jeter would actively contest shots around the basket, and he was able to swat an opponent’s put back attempt to force a miss that time. He also has good strength to hold his ground in the post, and he also helped trap an opposing ball handler to force an opponent to call a timeout. However, he also had a tendency to sag too far off of his man, which would cause him to allow opponents to score on mid-range jumpers. Other times, he would struggle to defend his man, and there was one play where he got beat off the dribble when defending out on the perimeter, as he committed the foul, which led his team to allow a score and an extra free throw that time.

In summary, Chase Jeter is a tough, physical big man that can score and rebound the basketball, as he excelled at making plays in the paint to help get his team the victory. Right now, he may be a second round prospect for the 2020 draft, and he may have the skills to end up being a backup center in the association.

Josh Green could be a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.  (Photo: Alex Gallardo/Associated Press via OA Online.)
Josh Green played very good defense to help Arizona get the win over Wake Forest. (Photo: Alex Gallardo/Associated Press via OA Online.)

Arizona’s 6-5 freshman swingman, Josh Green had his ups and downs in his team’s win over Wake Forest. He didn’t shoot the ball well, but he played well in the non-shooting or scoring related categories to help his team get the victory on this day.

Josh Green would actively look to score on hustle plays in this game. He ran the floor to score in transition, but he also missed on contested, fadeaway jumper after getting the ball on a backdoor cut. He also managed to draw free throws after grabbing defensive rebounds, because the other team would be over the limit due to having fouled too often.

He flashed the ability to score off the dribble as well. Green managed to score on a emphatic, two-handed dunk off of an aggressive, right-handed drive, but he also had a tendency to miss shots in traffic, as he had trouble getting all the way to the rim without the help arriving at times. He also struggled to make jumpers, as he missed on a mid-range jumper and on a three-point shot from the field.

Green can also pass and handle the basketball. He can throw nifty, behind the back passes to set up scoring chances for his teammates, and he was able to throw one such pass to help set up a score on a give and go on the break. However, he also tended to throw inaccurate passes, as one pass was intercepted, and he also had another sail out of bounds. In addition, he was called for a charging foul when attempting to score on a floater, but it would’ve missed if the play had been a no-call instead.

Also, Green did a great job of collecting rebounds to help his team on the glass. He is an athletic swingman that possesses a good motor, and he would often leap up and haul in boards on both ends of the floor to get his team rebounds against Wake Forest.

Plus, he also played good defense. Green was able to make a terrific shot block, as he swatted a shot off of a drive out of bounds due to possessing good leaping ability, recovery speed, and timing to do so. He also was able to get his hands on a pass to get a steal, and he also poked a ball away to nearly collect another. He also managed to contest a three to force a miss. However, sometimes he can be too physical on defense, which can lead him to occasionally pick up fouls. On another play, he sagged too far off his man and was late to rotate back, which caused him to allow an opponent to score on a corner three.

Overall, Josh Green didn’t have his best game, but he fared well in the other elements of the game that were not shooting or scoring related. He is an energetic player that defends well, and he seems to have a good feel for the game. He has been shooting better this season than how he did against Wake Forest, and he could be a mid first round pick that may project to be a solid role player akin to Brooklyn Nets’ swingman, Caris LeVert in the NBA.

Arizona’s 6-5 senior guard, Dylan Smith had a tremendous showing in his team’s win over Wake Forest. He scored 20 points and made 4 threes from beyond the arc, and he had his best game to help his team win the Wooden Legacy Championship.

Smith did a very good job of knocking threes to space the floor for his team on offense. He excelled at running off of ball screens to make long-range shots from beyond the arc, and he also was able to get an extra free throw on one such play afterwards. He also excelled at scoring on tough runners off the dribble, and he was able to make a bank shot off the glass. Plus, he also showed a knack for drawing fouls when looking to make plays off the dribble.

He also defended well. Smith stayed with an opposing ball handler to block a shot off of a drive to a teammate, and he also was able to deflect a pass on a separate play. Smith did a good job of contesting jumpers and shots off of drives to force misses, and he will also actively fight through screens. However, there was one play where he sagged too far off his man, which caused him to allow an opponent to score on a three-point shot. Late in the game, he unsuccessfully tried to draw a charge, but because it resulted in a no-call, his opponent ended up making an open mid-range jumper instead.

Overall, Dylan Smith is an athletic, skilled basketball player that can shoot, score, and defend, and he is an underrated role player that can do the little things to help his team get wins in games. He has not put up gaudy statistics, but he has the skill set to transition into a 3 and D type of role player in the NBA, as he could be a good find for a team at the next level.

Other Notes:

Wake Forest’s 7-0 junior center, Olivier Sarr played very well from the get go in his team’s loss to Arizona, and he looked to be by far his team’s best prospect on the floor.

Sarr excelled at scoring in the post, as he can score on turnaround jumpers, and he showed a strong ability to get to the foul line. He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays, as he was able to roll to the rim to score on an alley-oop dunk, and he also scored on a tip dunk another time.

He also has shown emerging shooting skills. Sarr showed a knack for making mid-range jumpers, but he also missed on a three off of a pick and pop play.

Sarr can also pass out of the post, but he did commit a couple of turnovers, as he can struggle to protect the basketball. He dropped a pass out of bounds once, and he had a ball poked off of him in the post that led him to turn the ball over on a separate possession.

Sarr did a great job of rebounding the basketball, as he would often leap up to haul in boards on both ends of the floor. Defensively, he looked to be about average. Sarr was able to poke a ball away to nearly get a steal, and he also drew a charge on a drive despite not being fully set. However, he also tended to commit fouls in the post, as he would not always show much resistance on those plays, and there was one play where he allowed a score and an extra free throw as a result.

Overall, Olivier Sarr is a fairly athletic, high motor big man that brought some serious scoring punch to help his team on offense. He also rebounded the ball very well, and it seemed to be a good tactic for Wake Forest to bring him off the bench. Right now, he may not be drawing much buzz as a draft prospect right now, but he could potentially be a sleeper pick for an NBA team in the second round range on draft day.

Arizona’s 6-0 senior guard, Max Hazzard played very well, as he did a good job of making spot-up threes, and he also played excellent defense in this game. He also ran the floor to score on a give and go layup on the break, and he did a great job of picking off passes to get steals and deflections on the defensive end. He is a fairly athletic, gritty playmaker that can shoot and defend on the court, and he is a tenacious player that could compete for a roster spot in the NBA.

Arizona’s 6-11 freshman center, Zeke Nnaji surprisingly struggled throughout this game, as he did not show his trademark scoring efficiency or shot making ability in his team’s win over Wake Forest. He was able to make an open mid-range jumper early on from the right elbow, and he also had a knack for drawing free throws when making moves in the paint. However, he struggled to score on turnaround jumpers in the post or off the dribble, and he only made one field goal in this contest.

He was able to pass to an open shooter to notch an assist, but Nnaji didn’t often roll hard to the rim, so he wasn’t really open often when he was on the move. He also committed a slew of turnovers. Nnaji tended to commit offensive fouls when trying to post up, as he would be called for clearing out with his arm, and he also had trouble protecting the basketball. He also was called for setting a moving screen late in the game, which resulted in him fouling out against Wake Forest.

Nnaji did a good job of rebounding the basketball, and he was quite active at crashing the glass, as he was able to haul in plenty of boards on both ends of the floor. He also played fairly good defense. Nnaji would rotate to block shots off of drives, and he also contested threes and shots in the paint to force misses. Sometimes though, he would be too aggressive when defending opposing ball handlers, which would lead him to commit fouls.

Overall, this was not Nnaji’s best game, as he had trouble making shots in his team’s victory over Wake Forest, and he was quite turnover prone on offense. Still, despite fouling out, he still managed to do a good job of rebounding and defending when he was on the court. Right now, Nnaji has been excelling at scoring efficiently this season, but there are may be concerns as to how well he can create shots for himself, and he’s posted rather pedestrian rebounding and blocks numbers so far this season. Currently, he may project to be a second round prospect, as he may have the skills to end up being an effective role player similar to former Cleveland Cavaliers’ big man, J.J. Hickson in the association.

Wake Forest’s 6-8 sophomore forward, Isaiah Mucius did not shoot very well in this game, but he was able to make some solid plays in his team’s loss to Arizona. Though he struggled to make jumpers or score in the post, Mucius was able to drive towards the baseline to score on a thunderous, high-flying dunk.

He also played solid defense, as he managed to rotate to swat a shot inside the paint from the blindside, and he also stripped a ball away from an opponent on a drive to get a steal.

Right now, Mucius is easily Wake Forest’s most athletic player on their team, and the vastly athletic combo forward may possess considerable upside. Currently, he may still be far from being a polished player at this stage, as he will need to improve his jump shot considerably and he will need to pass more to get more assists, but Mucius could be an intriguing, long-term project player, as he may have the skills to carve out a bench role at the next level, as he may be a similar player to Indiana Pacers’ forward, JaKarr Sampson in the NBA.

Wake Forest’s 6-0 senior guard, Brandon Childress struggled to make shots from most of the game, as he often struggled to make jumpers, but he was able to make a couple of deep threes from beyond the arc late in the second half, and he also had a solid score off of a baseline drive where he drew an additional free throw afterwards.

He’s a score-first combo guard that didn’t look to pass often, but he had one solid play where he split a double team off the dribble, and threw an accurate lob pass to a roll man to set up an alley-oop dunk for his teammate. However, he tended to commit fouls defensively, and he also fouled a jump shooter on a three-point shot that led his team to allow a four-point play to the opposition.

Overall, Brandon Childress is a streaky shooter that can score the basketball in bunches, but he was prone to missing on too many contested shots, and there were times where he would tend to force the issue too much on offense. Still, he is a player that can get points in a hurry when his team needs him to do so, and he is a score-first combo guard that could end up making an NBA team’s summer league roster in 2020.