Evaluating Ron Harper Jr., Ayo Dosunmu, and Kofi Cockburn

December 20th, 2020

By Alan Lu

Today, I took the time to watch Ron Harper Jr. and Rutgers play in a Big Ten conference basketball game against Illinois in a highly anticipated, early season matchup.  I had seen some highlight clips of Harper online, and I was intrigued with his skill set, because he is an athletic, 6-6, 245-pound wing player that not only fits the profile of being a 3 and D type in the NBA, but he is a strong forward that has also shown that he is capable of throwing down some really nice alley-oop dunks in games. 

To me, I feel that he’s been vastly underrated on draft boards, and today, he had a big test in facing off against one of the best teams in the country in Illinois.  Both Harper and Rutgers played well, as Harper scored 28 points and made 5 three-pointers, and Rutgers went on to defeat Illinois by three in this game.  Here are my thoughts on how Harper and the others fared, as well as how his game may translate to the NBA.

Rutgers’ 6-6 junior forward, Ron Harper Jr. put forth a sterling performance, as he scored 28 points to get his team the win over Illinois.
(Photo:
Bill Kostroun/Associated Press, via The Fresno Bee)

Ron Harper Jr. had a strong showing in this game, and he played very well on both ends of the court to help lift his team to get a tough win over Illinois. He did a great job of making quick, spot-up threes off the catch.  Harper would usually score on pick and pop plays from long range, and he also excelled at making corner threes.  Harper shot the ball very well, especially from downtown. Plus, he also ran the floor to score on a powerful dunk in transition.

He also showed a fairly good ability to score off the dribble.  Harper would carefully handle the ball to score on strong left-handed drives to the hoop, and he can quickly get past his man do so.  He also was able to use a crossover move to get past his man to score late in this game.  Sometimes though, he struggled a bit to handle the ball when taking it to the rack, but he was still able to score on isolation plays.  However, he struggled a bit to score from the high post, and he missed a couple of times, on tough, off-balanced shots.

As a playmaker, he looked to be about average.  Harper will make the extra pass to find the open man, and he was able to throw a behind the back, outlet pass to find a teammate in transition.  He did commit one turnover, as he threw a lackadaisical pass that ended up getting picked off. Also, Harper did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was quite active at crashing the glass,  as he dove on the ground to get an offensive board, and he also would often get defensive rebounds in this game.

Also, Harper played solid defense in this game.  He has very good strength that allows him to defend in the post as well as out on the perimeter, and he possesses the capacity to defend bigger players down low.  In this game, he was able to hold his ground when defending in the post to force a miss, and he then scored on a spot-up three on the very next play.  Harper also is active in contesting shots to force misses, and he is also a rangy defender that will get his hands on passes to get steals and deflections.  However, sometimes he would tend to sag too far off of shooters, which would sometimes lead him to give up jumpers to his opponents.

In general, Ron Harper Jr. is a skilled, strong forward that played a very good all-around game, and he could be a solid 3 and D type of role player in the NBA.  He did a great job of scoring on spot-up threes, and he also is a versatile defender that can cover a lot of ground on that end, and also can play very solid low post defense.  He will need to improve his ball handling, but he is an intriguing prospect that has a wide range of skills, and he would be a solid pick for an NBA team in the late first to the second round range of the 2021 draft,

Illinois’ junior guard, Ayo Dosunmu scored 22 points and had 11 rebounds and 6 assists in his team’s loss to Rutgers, but he also needed 20 shots to get to that point total.
(Photo:
Catalina Fragoso/USA Today Sports, via Journal Star)

Ayo Dosunmu had a decent showing in his team’s loss to Rutgers.  He put forth a sterling showing in his team’s win over Duke, but in this game, Dosunmu missed too many shots he could have made, though he still managed to score 22 points, while collecting 11 rebounds, and 6 assists in this game.

Dosunmu showed a decent ability to score off the dribble in this game.  He would often dribble in to take pull-up jumpers from mid-range, and he changes directions well, as he can rise and elevate to knock them down effortlessly.  He also was able to drive off of a screen to score on a floater, and Dosunmu would sometimes also draw fouls on strong moves to the hoop.  However, it seemed as if he tended to settle for taking too many mid-range jumpers, and there were times where he would get his shots blocked or miss on quick, contested runners in the lane.

He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  Dosunmu did a great job of scoring on tip-ins after leaping up to grab offensive rebounds.  He also managed to score on a couple of quick, backdoor cuts to the hoop. He didn’t take threes very often, but he was efficient in knocking them down, and Dosunmu was able to make a quick, spot-up three off the catch.

He also displayed fairly good playmaking skills.  Dosunmu is a speedy playmaker that can consistently dart into the lane, and he can kick balls out to open shooters to set up scores for them.  He also used a ball fake to throw an accurate lob to notch another assist, and he does a good job of pushing the ball up the court to create transition-scoring opportunities for his team.  However, he tended to rush his moves too much at times, as there were multiple instances where balls would slip out of his hands when handling it that would cause him to commit turnovers.  He also would sometimes throw hasty passes that would end up getting intercepted.

Dosunmu really would get after the glass to haul many rebounds in this game, and he was tremendous in getting boards to help his team on the glass, as he would sometimes push the ball quickly up the court afterwards. He also played decent defense in this game.  Dosunmu was able to catch a pass thrown right to him to get a steal, and he also did a good job of staying in front of opponents off the dribble to force traveling calls on them.  He also managed to contest a three to force a miss.  However, sometimes he would be too aggressive on the defensive end, which would lead him to commit fouls when defending opposing ball handlers.

Overall, Ayo Dosunmu had a fairly good performance in his team’s loss to Rutgers.  He is a speedy, skilled combo guard that has a variety of skills that could prove to be useful at the next level.  His scoring ability combined with his playmaking skills and strong athletic gifts could enable him to thrive as a role player in the NBA.  He will need to trust his three-point shot more, but Dosunmu is having a very good season this year, and he would be a good pick for an NBA team in the late first to the second round range of the upcoming draft.

Kofi Cockburn scored 17 points and 12 rebounds in his team’s loss to Rutgers today.
(Photo:
Ben Solomon/Rutgers Athletics, via The News Gazette)

Illinois’ 7-0 sophomore center, Kofi Cockburn had thoroughly dominated Minnesota by scoring 33 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in his team’s win in that game, so it was greatly anticipated to see how he would fare against Rutgers.  In this match, Cockburn didn’t play nearly as well, but he still had a decent, if not a great showing in his team’s loss to Rutgers.  He played very well early on, but he was defended capably by Rutgers’ junior center Myles Johnson, whose size, strength, and shot-blocking prowess on the defensive end helped serve to slow down Cockburn on offense.

Cockburn did a decent job of scoring in the post.  He is a tall, physical big man that relies on his strength to bully opponents down low, and he was able to have his way with Omoruyi early on.  Cockburn excelled at scoring on drop step moves, and he also caught a lob pass to score off the glass.  While Johnson was able to slow him down, Cockburn still was able to score in the post at times, nonetheless.  Cockburn was able to use a quick shoulder fake to score on a beautiful, fadeaway jump hook off the glass.  However, he had more trouble scoring on turnaround jump hooks later on, and he also had a couple of his shots blocked after barreling in to use drop step moves.

Also, Cockburn generally excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He ran the floor to score on a powerful dunk on the break.  He also would score on strong, two-handed put back slams after leaping up to grab offensive rebounds.  He didn’t look to take jumpers that were outside of the paint though, and so Cockburn will likely need to work on extending his shooting range in the future.

He displayed adequate playmaking skills in this game.  Cockburn can pass out of the post to find open shooters, and he also would set good screens to help get his teammates open driving lanes.  Though he did not notch an assist in this game, he also did not turn the ball over, either.

In addition, Cockburn excelled at rebounding the basketball to help his team get many boards throughout this contest.  He would often leap up to get numerous boards on both ends of the floor.  However, he also was called for a reach-in foul when pursuing an offensive board once.

Defensively, he looked to be fairly average.  Cockburn was able to rotate to contest shots off of drives to force some misses.  However, he would tend not to communicate to his teammates where screeners were, and he would tend to sag too far on switches to allow opponents to score on jumpers.

Overall, Kofi Cockburn is a strong, mobile big man that was able to put up fairly solid numbers in his team’s loss to Rutgers.  He is a strong, very physical center that operates well out of the post, and his game is tailor-made for college basketball.  He is a solid inside scorer that operates well out of the post, and he also will consistently grab many rebounds in games.  His tremendous size and strength makes him very tough to guard in the post, and he can easily dominate mid-tier college basketball teams such as Minnesota.

On the other hand, it’s unclear if his game will translate nearly as well to the NBA.  He hasn’t really shown much of a face-up game as he doesn’t really look to take jumpers or to make plays off the dribble, he’s struggled to defend pick and rolls as well as out on the perimeter, and he doesn’t possess overwhelming foot-speed or agility. 

Still, it’s hard to ignore Cockburn’s strong production, and he has played very well for Illinois this season.  In a favorable scenario, he could be a solid rotational big man that could be useful as a situational-use center in the NBA, and he could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the second round range of the 2021 draft.

Rutgers’ senior guard, Jacob Young played very well in his team’s win over Illinois.  He especially excelled as a playmaker on offense, as his ability to shoot, score, and distribute the ball helped his team get a tough victory over the in-conference opponent.

Young did a fairly good job of scoring on speedy drives to the basket.  He is an athletic guard that can quickly get into the lane, and he can use either hand to score on crafty layups around the basket.  He would use solid dribble moves, and he has good body control that enabled him to score on tough shots and also draw fouls to get to the free throw line.  However, sometimes he would go too fast and take difficult shots, which would lead him to miss contested shots in traffic when he would not get foul calls.

He also showed a fairly good ability to knock down jumpers to provide his team with some floor spacing.  Young showed a knack for making pull-up jumpers from the mid-range, and while he didn’t take many threes in this game, he was able to pull up to make way from well beyond the arc.

Plus, he also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  Young is an unselfish player that will find open shooters to notch assists, and he can push the ball on the break, as he would throw nice behind the back passes to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  However, sometimes he would be too reckless when handling the basketball, as he was called for traveling once, and he also collided into a big man and lost the ball out of bounds another time.  He also threw a fancy behind the back pass off the dribble that ended up getting intercepted on a separate possession.

However, he did not grab any rebounds, and he also struggled defensively.  For the positives, Young was able to catch an errant pass that was thrown right to him to get a steal, and he also contested a floater to force a miss.  However, he tended to be caught ball watching, which would lead him to allow opponents to score on cuts and jumpers.  Other times, he would struggle to defend opposing ball handlers, as he would then commit fouls as a result.

Overall, Young had a solid showing in this game, and he is an athletic, skilled playmaker that can shoot and pass the basketball.  He will need to trust his three-point shot more, much more, and he will also need to improve his defense.  Right now, he may be a borderline second round candidate for the time being, but if he continues to work hard, he could end up making his way to the NBA as a backup point guard in the association.

Rutgers’ 6-11 junior center, Myles Johnson played fairly well in his team’s win over Illinois.  While he wasn’t quite as efficient at scoring the basketball in this game, his impact went beyond the box score.  He played solid defense, as he was able to slow down Kofi Cockburn when defending in the post, and he was able to match Cockburn’s size and physicality down low.  Johnson also excelled as a rebounder, shot blocker, and interior defender, and he played an important role in helping his team get the victory.

On offense, he primarily looked to score around the basket.  He showed an adequate ability to score in the post in this game.  Johnson used an overhead ball fake to score down low, and he also used a pivot move to score on a turnaround jump hook.  He also would go up strong to draw fouls upon his defenders.  Sometimes though, he would take rushed, contested shots that would lead to misses around the basket. Johnson also generally excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He was active at crashing the offensive glass, and he would score on put backs after grabbing offensive rebounds for his team.

He also displayed decent playmaking skills in this game.  Johnson is an unselfish player that can pass out of the post, and he would set very good screens to help his team get scores on offense.  He set a good off-ball screen on a screen-the-screener player to help get his teammate an open jump shot, and he also set a solid on-ball screen to help his team get an open mid-range shot another time.  He did commit one turnover though, as he had a ball poked away when trying to post up once.

Johnson did a tremendous job of rebounding the basketball.  He was active at crashing the glass, and he was able to get many boards for his team, as he was basically a chairman of the glass.  However, there was one play where he committed an over the back foul when pursuing an offensive rebound.

Also, he played fairly good defense in his team’s win over Illinois.  Johnson has very good size and strength, as he would hold his ground to contest shots in the post to force misses, and he also managed to force a three seconds in the key violation once.  He also did a very good job of blocking shots in the paint, and he also would get his hands on passes to get steals, as he also was able to break up a lob pass in this game.  However, sometimes he would struggle to defend out on the perimeter even after rotating, which would lead his team to allow scores on drives to the hoop.  Other times, he would try to defend in the post, but his opponent would be able to score anyways.

Overall, Myles Johnson had a solid showing in this game.  He is a strong, physical center that can play with his back to the basket, and he played solid interior defense to help his team get the win.  He will need to work on improving his shooting range in the future, but his ability to defend strong, physical centers could allow him to make an NBA team’s roster one day.

Illinois’ 6-2 senior guard, Trent Frazier played very well in his team’s loss to Rutgers.  He excelled at knocking down jump shots to provide floor spacing, and he especially excelled at making quick, spot-up threes off the catch.  He also was able to score on quick drives to the basket, and he showed a solid ability to get to the free throw line when going hard to the hoop.

He also displayed decent playmaking skills.  Frazier can throw solid, long passes to find teammates on the move, and he also is an unselfish player that can find the open man to notch a string of assists.  However, he also threw a couple of hasty interior passes that ended up getting intercepted, and he also was called for traveling another time.

He didn’t grab a rebound in this game.  Frazer also played satisfactory defense in this game.  He was active in playing passing lanes, which helped him get steals and deflections.  He also used his length to actively contest a step-back three to force a miss.  However, he sagged too far off of a shooter to allow an opponent to score on a three once.  Another time, he committed a careless foul by colliding into an opponent when he tried to jump a pass in the backcourt.

Overall, Trent Frazier is an athletic, skilled combo guard that primarily excelled as a shooter and scorer in this game.  He has played well in his role this year, but he will need to be more aggressive in taking shots on offense.  He hasn’t drawn much draft buzz this year, but his ability to knock down jump shots could allow him to compete for a roster spot in the NBA sometime in the near future.

Illinois’ 6-3 senior guard, Da’Monte Williams also played fairly well in his team’s loss to Rutgers.  He did a terrific job of making quick, spot-up threes off the catch, and he also ran off the ball to make one early on. He looked to be about average as a playmaker in this game.  He was able to pass the ball to a cutter to notch an assist.  However, he was called for setting a moving screen another time, and he also used unnecessarily physical contact at the free throw line that led him to commit a foul, and it also gave the opposition more free throws in this game.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds, Williams was able to grab a pair of defensive boards against Rutgers.  He also played decent defense in this game.  Williams was able to pounce upon a loose ball to get a steal, and he did a good job of contesting jump shots to force misses.  However, he would sometimes struggle to defend opponents in one-on-one situations, which would sometimes lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Da’Monte Williams shot the ball very well, and he was ruthlessly efficient in making threes against Rutgers, as he was a perfect 4 for 4 from downtown to score 12 points in his team’s loss to them.  He will need to improve his playmaking skills and on-ball defense, but his ability to knock down jump shots could allow him to compete for a roster spot in the NBA next season.

Rutgers’ 6-4 junior guard, Montez Mathis had a solid showing in his team’s win over Illinois.  He is an athletic, physical player that shot the ball well, and he would score on spot-up threes off the catch.  He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays, as he was able to score on cuts, in transition, and he also scored on a put back slam.  He also was able to use a pump fake in the post to draw free throws once.  However, he struggled more to score on half-court drives, as he would rush his moves and tend to miss shots around the basket on those plays.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds, Mathis was able to get an offensive rebound in this game.  He also played fairly good defense.  He excelled as a shot blocker, as he would make it difficult for his opponents to easily get their shots off, and he also contested a three to force a miss.  However, sometimes he would struggle to guard quicker opponents off of drives and cuts in this game.

Overall, Mathis played very well, and he excelled as a shooter, scorer, and defender in this game.  He hasn’t posted good three-point shooting percentages at Rutgers, so this game may be something of an aberration, but Mathis played very well, nonetheless.  He will need to continue to make outside shots, especially from long range, but he is an athletic, energetic combo guard that could be a prospect to watch next season.

Rutgers’ 6-4 point guard, Geo Baker had his ups and downs in his team’s win over Illinois.  He didn’t shoot the ball well, but he showed off some solid playmaking and defensive skills when he was on the court.

Baker had trouble knocking down threes, and he was unable to connect on his long-range attempts from beyond the arc.  He excelled as a mid-range shooter, and he can quickly get to his spots and use crafty dribble moves to score on pull-up jumpers from that range. He also did a decent job of scoring on speedy drives to the basket.  He showed a knack for drawing fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line, but he did miss on a drive off of a screen once due to rushing.

He also displayed solid playmaking skills in this game.  He is a fleet-footed playmaker that can quickly get into the lane, and he would consistently find open shooters to rack up assists.  He also pushed the ball up the court off of a steal and threw a nifty behind the back bounce pass to set up a score for a teammate on the break. He can careless with the ball at times, which can sometimes lead him to commit turnovers.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds against Illinois, Baker was able to chase down a ball to get a defensive board once.  He also played satisfactory defense.  Baker would jump passes to get steals for his team, and he also hounded an opposing ball handler early on to make it difficult for him to handle the ball.  He also was able to contest a corner three to force a miss.  However, sometimes he would struggle to defend opponents off the dribble, which would sometimes lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Geo Baker is an athletic playmaker that can effectively run the team at the point, but he did not shoot the ball well in this game.  His athleticism and ability to make plays on both ends of the court could enable him to compete for a roster spot in the NBA next season, but he will need to improve his three-point shot to improve his odds to make it to the NBA someday.

Illinois’ 6-3 freshman guard, Adam Miller did not play very well at all, and he was a massive disappointment in his team’s loss to Rutgers.  He was held scoreless as he didn’t shoot the ball very often, but he threw up some terrible looking jumpers, as he got blocked on a mid-range shot, and he also drove in quick to miss on a pull-up three another time. Though he was able to draw a non-shooting foul on a drive to the hoop, he also went in a little too wildly another time that led him to get his shot blocked on a separate play.

He displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  For the positives, Miller is an unselfish player, but he can overdo this to the point where his defender can decide to roam and leave him open without worrying about Miller taking shots or scoring on offense.  Miller has fairly good court vision, and he was able to find a cutter to set up a score once.  However, he threw a weak pass that got intercepted, and he also had a ball deflected off of him that went out of bounds another time.

He didn’t grab any rebounds in this game, though.  Defensively, he looked to be fairly average.  Miller was able to contest a three to force a miss, and he also was able to deflect an inbounds pass to nearly force a turnover.  However, he had trouble defending opponents off of drives and on cuts, and sometimes he would not be focused enough on this end of the floor.

What was really disappointing about Miller’s play in this game was that not only did he not shoot the ball well, but he also didn’t take many shots or get many assists in his team’s loss to Rutgers.  He basically faded into the background, and didn’t do any of the things that have enabled him to pop on people’s draft boards earlier this year.  Miller will need to shoot better, and be more assertive on offense, and he clearly did not do those things very well today.  Right now, he will need to be a more consistent player on offense, but his ability to knock down jump shots currently makes him a second round prospect for the 2021 draft.

Illinois’ 6-9 junior big man, Giorgi Bezhanishvili excelled as a scorer in the post, but he also struggled defensively in this game.  He would score on rolls to the rim, and he was able to score on a dunk after getting the ball on the move.  He would also use shoulder fakes to score on left-handed jump hooks.  Plus, he also managed to score on a put back.  He didn’t look to take jumpers from outside of the paint, but he was very effective as an inside scorer in this game against Rutgers.

He also was able to throw a sharp entry pass to get his teammate the ball down low once.  However, he was sometimes prone to committing careless turnovers.  He was called for a three seconds in the key violation due to being in the paint too long on offense.  He also threw a pass that got intercepted another time.

He also was able to get his fair share of boards in this game, as he was able to get rebounds on both sides of the court.  However, he generally struggled defensively.  Sometimes, he would hold his ground when defending down low, and he would contest some shots in the post to force misses.  However, he tended to get beat off the dribble, even on rotations, which would lead his team to commit fouls and allow scores.  Other times, he had trouble preventing opponents from scoring on the block.

Overall, Bezhanishvilli did a good job of scoring the ball in the paint, but he struggled in the other facets of the game.  Right now, he will need to stay in school to expand his game offensively, and he will need to improve his on-ball defense.  If he can make significant strides, he could end up competing for a roster spot in the NBA when his collegiate career ends.

Rutgers’ freshman center, Cliff Omoruyi had a rough game, as he was held scoreless in his team’s win over Illinois.  He was able to rotate to block shots to help his team protect the paint, and he also broke up a lob pass and deflected it to a teammate to help his team get a steal.  However, he would often get overpowered when defending in the post to allow scores, and there was another play where he didn’t run hard back on defense, as his team allowed a dunk in transition.

He had a lot of trouble guarding the much stronger, and more physical Kofi Cockburn down low, and he also missed both of his free throws early on after crashing the glass to get an offensive rebound.  He also was foul prone, as he was called for setting a moving screen, and also went over the back to commit a foul when going for an offensive rebound on a separate play.

Overall, Cliff Omoruyi looked overmatched when starting this game, but if anything, it may have allowed his backup center, Myles Johnson to thrive as a change of pace center that could match Cockburn with his size and physicality.  Omoruyi will definitely need to improve his offensive skills, and he will need to be used more as a rim runner on offense in the meantime, but he will also need to get in the weight room and add more muscle to be able to handle defending stronger big men down low. 

It’s clear that the Big Ten is a major step up from high school basketball, and he did not look ready to play against Cockburn in this game.  Still, Omoruyi is an athletic big man that showed glimpses of his potential when he would block shots and get steals on the defensive end.  Omoruyi will likely need to stay three or all four years in school before he makes the jump to the NBA, as he currently looks to be ways away from getting there right now, but with more polish, in time he could end up being a fringe rotation player at the next level similar to current Miami Heat big man, Chris Silva in the association.

NBA Scouting Live
error: Content is protected !!