Evaluating Zhaire Smith, Keenan Evans, and Vladimir Brodziansky

March 5, 2018

by Alan Lu

Recently, I took the time to watch a Big 12 basketball game that was played on March 3rd between Texas Tech and TCU via WatchESPN, as this was an opportunity to watch Texas Tech’s 6-5 freshman swingman Zhaire Smith play, and it also presented the chance to see other prospects that could potentially end up in the NBA someday.  Zhaire Smith is an athletic, skilled basketball player that has been rising up draft boards, and he was able to turn in a good showing off the bench to help his team in a win over TCU.  Here are my thoughts on how he played in this game, as well as how other various prospects fared on this day.

Texas Tech’s 6-5 freshman guard, Zhaire Smith played well in his team’s win over TCU, as he showed off good all-around skills and athletic ability, and he was able to make some solid impactful plays on both ends of the court.  Smith did a very good job of scoring on cuts to the basket.  He can make quick cuts to the hoop, and Smith was able to throw down a couple of emphatic dunks to score on off-ball motion plays.

Plus, he also did a good job of scoring on crafty drives to the hoop.  Smith has an above average first step to the hoop, and he can patiently maneuver his way to get scores off the dribble in the paint.  On one play, he used a stutter step before scoring on a nifty, acrobatic, switch of hands layup due to possessing good shooting touch, body control, and the strength to get the basket.  Smith also used a deft hop step move to score on a fast break once, but sometimes, he can miss shots in traffic, as sometimes he may rush shots due to not always playing under control.

He also managed to make a quick open three off the catch to showcase his range.  However, Smith can be reluctant to take shots from beyond the arc, and his first shot of the game was an airball, as he used multiple pump fakes and a step-back move in between, but he missed the shot completely as the shot clock expired afterwards.  He also showed off fairly average playmaking skills.  Smith did not look to pass often, but he was able to find an open shooter to notch an assist in this game.  He did not commit many turnovers, but he did have some trouble protecting the basketball.  On one play, he received the ball midway on a cut, but he had the ball ripped away from him on a baseline drive to turn the ball over that time.

Smith also did a fairly good job of rebounding the basketball.  He showed a knack for leaping to get defensive boards, and he as able to draw fouls after collecting a couple of tough rebounds in traffic.  Smith even was able to get a tough, one-handed defensive rebound, as he also drew a foul after coming down with the basketball, but there was one occasion where he did not properly block out his man, after appearing to box out his man, he got beat on a spin move to allow his opponent to get the inside position and put back score.

He also played good defense in this game.  Smith is an active defender that will play passing lanes, as he can get his hands on passes to collect steals and deflections for his team.  He will also contest shots, as he can rotate to force opponents to miss on drives, and he has long arms that can enable him to successfully challenge three-point shots, but there was one occasion where he missed on a steal attempt as he then got beat off the dribble, leading his opponent to kick the ball out to a shooter to set up a three-point basket for TCU.

In general, Zhaire Smith put forth a good performance to help his team get a close win at home, and he is an athletic, skilled swingman that could potentially excel as a two-way player at the next level.  With his skill set, he could end up being a good value pick for a team in the late first to the second round range of the upcoming draft.

Texas Tech’s 6-3 senior point guard, Keenan Evans also had a solid showing to get his team the win, as he especially played well in the second half.  He had a slow start to this game, but he scored all 23 of his points in the second half to lead his team to get the victory.  Evans is a strong, agile player that can quickly get to the hoop to score often on aggressive drives to the basket.  He is a skilled ball handler that can deftly get past his man, and he was able to split double teams to routinely garner scores.  Evans also managed to get extra free throws on multiple occasions after scoring around the basket off the dribble, and he can bull his way to the hoop to routinely get scores and free throws, but Evans also had his shots blocked a couple of times, as he may force up shots on occasion.

He also shot the ball fairly well when he looked to take jumpers.  Evans was able to make an open quick three, and he showed enough shooting skills to space the floor from beyond the arc.  Plus, he used a nice step back move to draw free throws after hoisting up a pull-up, mid-range shot from the elbow.  Also, Evans showed off decent playmaking skills.  While he displayed a heavy score-first mindset, Evans is a good ball handler that can be a solid facilitator when he looks for his teammates.  He was able to throw some solid, accurate interior passes, as he can find teammates on the move in stride, and he also threw a lob pass to a cutter to set up a nifty alley-oop dunk.  Evans did not turn the ball over often, but every once in a while, he may turn the ball over due to carelessness, as he threw an ill-advised crosscourt pass that ended up being intercepted by a defender once.

He also managed to help out on the boards, and Evans was able to collect several defensive rebounds when he was on the court.  Plus, he also exhibited adequate defensive skills.  Evans did a good job of playing passes, and he can jump passes to help his team get steals.  He also managed to tie up an opponent on a drive in transition to almost force another turnover.  Plus, Evans will look to challenge three-point shots to force misses.

However, Evans was also playing with a toe injury, and it seemed to limit his ability to move laterally on the defensive end at times.  At times, he struggled to stay in front of his man, as he would sometimes get beat off the dribble, and he also committed a blocking foul in transition another time.  On one defensive possession, Evans overhelped in the paint, which led his team to allow an opponent to score on a wide-open three-point basket.

In summary, Keenan Evans had a very good game, as he especially played well down the stretch to get his team the victory.  He is a quick, physical score-first point guard that can score often on strong drives to the basket, and he made solid plays when they counted.  He has been having a solid senior season, and he could end up being a potential second round pick this year.

TCU’s 6-11 senior center, Vladimir Brodziansky played well in his team’s loss to Texas Tech, as he had a good all-around game, and he especially excelled as an inside scorer and passer from the post when he was on the court.  Brodziansky showed off good low post scoring skills.  He can score on jump hooks using either hand, and he showed a knack for doing so to knock down shots over defenders due to possessing the size, shooting touch, and footwork to do so, but he did end up getting his shot blocked around the basket once from behind after catching an entry pass, as he did not use a pump fake on that occasion.

Plus, he also managed to throw down an emphatic jam late in the game to score off of a high post drive.  Also, Brodziansky showed an adequate ability to score on hustle plays.  He showed a knack for scoring after grabbing offensive boards, and he also managed to score on tip-ins twice, but sometimes, he can rush his shots, which can lead to misses around the basket.   He also took a three-point shot, but he missed his lone outside shot from beyond the arc.

He also displayed good playmaking skills.  Brodziansky excelled at throwing passes from the post to find the open man, as he can recognize double teams, and he also managed to find a teammate on a cut to set up a score.  Plus, Brodziansky will set on and off-ball screens, as he did so once which enabled a teammate to score on a jump shot.  However, he did have a tendency to drop entry passes in traffic, though on both occasions the balls thrown to him did not seem to be easily catchable due to the inaccuracy of the passes, as well as the coverage from the defenders.

In addition, Brodziansky did a great job of rebounding the basketball.  He would frequently leap up to haul in boards on both ends of the floor, and he was able to get plenty of second chance points to help his team offensively.  He showed a very good motor to come away with numerous boards, though he did commit an over the back foul when going for an offensive rebound once.

He also showed off decent defensive skills.  Brodziansky has long arms, as well as good timing and adequate mobility to block shots, as he managed to swat a shot to a teammate to prevent an opponent from scoring in the paint.  He also showed the ability to hedge out on screens and get back to his man, and he also was able to stay in front of a smaller ball handler once to force a pass.  Plus, Brodziansky showed a knack for successfully drawing charges when defending opponents off the dribble.

However, sometimes he struggled to guard quicker players, as he would tend to get beat off the dribble to allow scores.  He had some trouble forcing misses even after rotating to defend opponents on drives.  Another time, he got caught on a screen when defending an opponent off of a curl cut, and his opponent ended up driving to the basket from the high post to score on a dunk.

In general, Vladimir Brodziansky had a solid game, as he was able to help out in virtually every facet of this contest to help his team stay in the match.   He is a fairly mobile big man that can make plays on both ends of the floor, and he is also a good passer out of the post.  With his skill set, he could be a potential second round pick in 2018, and he could end up being a good addition to an NBA team’s summer league roster.

TCU’s 6-7 senior swingman, Kenrich Williams had a decent showing in his team’s loss to Texas Tech.  While he struggled with his jump shot, he was able to make positive contributions in the other facets of this game.  Williams showed a good ability to score off the dribble in this game.  He managed to score after taking the ball strong to the hoop, as he managed to score off the glass once.  Also, he managed to knock down a contested pull-up, mid-range jumper.

He also showed a knack for drawing free throws whenever he would look to finish plays around the basket.  Williams used a pump fake on an offensive rebound to get to the foul line on a put back, and he also drew free throws on a play where he was open around the basket.  He did struggle consistently knock down three-point shots, as sometimes he would rush his shots, but Williams was able to run off of a screen to knock down a quick, corner three early on.

Plus, he also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  Williams is an unselfish player that plays like a point forward, and he will make the extra pass to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  However, he also had some trouble with turnovers on offense, as he would not always play under control when driving to the hoop.  Also, he also passed out of a shot in mid-air and threw a pass that ended up getting intercepted, as on that time, that was due to indecisiveness.

Also, Williams did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He would frequently crash the glass to haul in boards, and he is a high motor player that has a keen nose for the ball.  He also played fairly good defense in this game.  Williams showed a knack for emphatically blocking shots, as he would rotate to swat shots to prevent opponents from scoring on off-ball motion plays.  He will actively contest shots from all over the floor to force misses, and he also will play passing lanes to get steals and deflections.  In addition, he also managed to successfully draw a charge when defending a drive once.

However, he also had some trouble defending quicker players particularly when defending out on the perimeter, as this would lead his team to commit fouls.  On another play, he got beat on a quick backdoor cut, which led his team to give up a dunk to the opposition.  In summary, Kenrich Williams had a fairly good showing in his team’s loss to Texas Tech.  Though he did not shoot the ball well, he played well in other facets of the game.  While he may not possess ideal athleticism for a player at his position, Williams is a versatile player that can help a team in a variety of ways, and he could potentially end up being a second round pick this year.

Others Notes:

Texas Tech’s 6-8 senior forward, Zach Smith had a fairly good game when he was on the floor, as he was able to make some highlight reel worthy plays against TCU.  Smith excelled as a scorer off of cuts, and he did a very good job of throwing down thunderous dunks to get scores in the paint.  He did miss on a mid-range shot once, and he also missed on a strong tip dunk attempt another time, but Smith is a very athletic player that can garner scores using off-ball motion plays.

He also would make the extra pass to find the open man.  However, Smith committed a charging foul once when driving hard to the basket to commit an offensive foul and a turnover.  Though he did not grab many rebounds, Smith was able to grab a board on each end of the floor.  He also played good defense.  Smith was able to emphatically block a shot off of a drive in transition, and he also deflected a pass once, as he was active as a help defender.  However, he gave up a bit too much space when defending a drive on one play, as he ended up too far underneath the hoop, which led his team to allow a score inside.

Zach Smith played well when he was on the floor, as he was able to make high-energy plays on both ends of the court against TCU.  He will need to improve his skill set offensively, but he is a very athletic, high motor player that could end up making an NBA team’s summer league roster.

TCU’s 6-5 sophomore guard, Desmond Bane showed off versatile scoring skills, as he excelled at scoring on strong drives and cuts to the basket, and he also managed to make a couple of open, spot-up threes off the catch.  He also showed a good ability to get steals, as he can play passing lanes and rip balls away from opponents to do so.  However, he occasionally had trouble with turnovers and with his position in this game.  He played well in his team’s loss as he scored 21 points against Texas Tech, and Bane may be a potential 3 and D type of prospect for the NBA, whose skill set may resemble for Los Angeles Lakers’ guard, Jabari Brown.

Texas Tech’s 6-5 senior guard, Niem Stevenson was able to make a couple of tough, pull-up jumpers against TCU, as he shot the ball fairly well to help get his team a close win.  He struggled more to score on drives and cuts to the basket, but he did score on a strong move to the hoop off the dribble early on.  He also played good defense, as he rotated once to block a shot off of a drive, and he also has the strength and footwork to defend out on the perimeter as well as in the post.  However, Stevenson struggled with turnovers, as he had some trouble making plays off the dribble, and he also threw a bad pass off of a drive once that ended up getting picked off.

In general, Niem Stevenson was able to make some impactful plays in Texas Tech’s win over TCU.  While his numbers may not stand out in any way, Stevenson is a strong, physical player that could potentially project into a 3 and D role for the next level, and he could end up having a fairly lengthy career in either the G-League or overseas in the near future if he does not end up in the NBA.

Texas Tech’s 6-5 freshman guard, Jarrett Culver did not shoot the ball much in this game, but he did show a knack for knocking down spot-up threes off the catch, as he can also run off screens to do so.  He also rebounded and defended well, and his best defensive play came late in the contest, as he managed to recover on a drive to block a shot to himself to get a stop for his team.  Culver is an athletic swingman that could project into a 3 and D type of role in the NBA, while he did not look for his shot often or seem to stand out for most of this game, he was able to make some impactful plays as he could end up being a potential second round pick in the future.

Texas Tech’s 6-11 senior center, Tommy Hamilton did not play very well overall, but he was able to knock down an early spot-up three off the catch to show his range as a shooter, and he also set a good, firm screen to help his teammate score on a drive to the basket.  Hamilton could project into a stretch big type of player, and while his statistics this year may not stand out, he could be an intriguing prospect for the G-League or international basketball.

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