Evaluations from the First Day of the 2nd Round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament

March 19th, 2023

By Alan Lu

Yesterday, I decided to watch a couple of games that were played in the 2023 NCAA Tournament.  It was another opportunity to watch Brandon Miller and Alabama play, and they squared off against Maryland in the second round.  I also managed to watch some of the Duke-Tennessee game, and Duke’s 6-5 freshman point guard, Tyrese Proctor has seemed to draw a lot of hype lately.  Also, Tennessee’s senior forward, Olivier Nkamhoua dominated to lead his team to a stunning win over Duke.  Here are my thoughts on how both of those games went.

The Alabama-Maryland Game:

It was a close game for most of the first half, and both teams played very good defense and struggled on offense early on. It appeared as though Alabama was in for a surprisingly tough game, but they were able to hit their stride towards the end of the first half due to the strong guard play led by senior Jahvon Quinerly, and they also received a boost from their frontcourt from freshman forward, Brandon Miller and sophomore center, Charles Bediako that allowed Alabama to pull away for a double-digit victory over Maryland in the second round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament.

Alabama’s senior point guard, Jahvon Quinerly scored 22 points and made 4 threes in his team’s second round win over Maryland in the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
(Photo:
Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press)

Jahvon Quinerly had a strong showing in his team’s win over Maryland.  He is an agile, skilled point guard that played in command pretty much throughout the game, and he played very well in this game.  He thrived at scoring on crafty, patient drives to the hoop, and he also thrived as an outside shooter, especially on spot-up threes off the catch.

He also would throw timely interior passes to get his teammates the basketball, and he showed that he can find them on the move.  Quinerly also defended well, as he would jump passes to get steals, and he would stay in front of opposing ball handlers and actively contest shots to force misses.  Overall, Quinerly played terrifically in this game, and he is a smart, skilled playmaker that could project to be a solid role player in the NBA.

Brandon Miller had a fairly solid bounce back game.  Sure, he still wasn’t quite as efficient as he should have been, but he played far better on offense compared to the last time, especially since he was held scoreless in the previous game against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.  Miller was more aggressive on offense, was able to find his stride as a scorer at times, and he made some very good hustle plays to help his team on both ends of the floor.

Miller thrived at scoring on hustle plays.  He would draw free throws by making strong moves to the hoop, and he also managed to score on a tip-in after leaping up to get an offensive rebound.  He wasn’t consistent as a shooter or scorer off the dribble, but Miller was able to use a spin move to make a mid-range jumper, and he also scored on a smooth drive to his right another time.  He also also managed to make a pair of threes from beyond the arc.  He struggled to consistently make threes though, especially when he would run off ball screens to get the ball, and he also struggled to score off the dribble, especially when he would try to make shots in traffic.  In this game, it seemed that he appeared to be more comfortable at catch-and-shoot or catch-and-finish plays rather than creating consistently off the bounce.

He also showed off adequate playmaking skills.  Miller was able to make passes off the dribble and out of the post to find the open man.  On one play when handling the ball though, he had a ball stolen away from him to commit a turnover.

Also, Miller did a solid job of rebounding the basketball, and he would sometimes push the ball quickly up the court.  He also defended well in this game.  He did a very good job of challenging shots, and he also flew in to block a shot to prevent an opponent from scoring on the break.

Overall, Brandon Miller still wasn’t consistent on offense, but he played significantly better than how he fared in the first round of this tournament, and he made some impressive, impactful plays that reminded people of why he’s widely regarded as a likely top 5 pick for the 2023 draft.  He’ll still need to get his jump shot fully back on track, but it’s a good sign that he’s playing more aggressively on offense, and when he gets his full stride back as a shooter and scorer, Alabama could be an unstoppable team in this tournament.

Charles Bediako thrived as a finisher around the basket and as an interior defender, and he has continued to play well in this tournament.  He is a very athletic, energetic big man that excelled at making plays in the paint, and he also managed to get deep position to score on a jump hook in the post.  He has played well, especially recently, and he could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the second round range of the 2023 draft.

Hakim Hart had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Alabama.  He is an athletic, energetic swingman that can pass and defend on the court, but he didn’t take or make many shots in this game.  He passed the ball well, and he excelled at picking off passes to get steals. 

On the downside, he struggled to make shots consistently, and he wasn’t able to make a three-point shot.  He was able to score on a left-handed drive, as well as use a spin move to score out of the post.  Overall, Hart will need to improve his jump shot and he will need to be more assertive on offense, but his athleticism and motor could enable him to be a second round pick of a future NBA draft.

Jahmir Young had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Alabama.  He is an agile, skilled combo guard that showed that he was comfortable scoring on dribble, mid-range jumpers, and he also would drive hard to the hoop in transition to score the basketball.  Sometimes, he would try to force the issue too much, which would lead to misses.  He also wasn’t always accurate on his passes, and he threw a low pass to a big man that was dropped out of bounds, as he probably should’ve thrown it higher so his teammate wouldn’t have to bend down so far to get the basketball.

Overall, Young is a skilled guard that can make shots, but he wasn’t able to make a three nor get an assist in this game.  He will need to improve his outside shot, especially from beyond the arc, and he will need to improve his court vision and ability to run the point.  He’s a fringe prospect for the NBA right now, but even if he doesn’t reach the NBA, he could carve out a long playing career in professional basketball.

Maryland’s 6-9 sophomore forward, Julian Reese is a strong, mobile big man that was able to score early out of the post and on hustle plays.  He was able to make a pass on the break to help set up a score for a teammate.  He also rotated to block a shot hard off of a drive, and intercepted a pass to get a steal, defensively.  On the downside, he tended to pick up fouls due to over-aggressiveness, and it limited his ability to stay on the floor, as he fouled out.  Reese will need to work on his jump shot and be a more disciplined defender in games, but his ability to make plays on the interior could make him a prospect to watch in the future.

Noah Clowney didn’t seem to make as big of an impact in this game.  He played fairly well defensively.  He was able to hustle back to intercept a pass to get a steal.  He successfully drew a charge when defending on a drive.  He also contested a shot when defending in the post to force a miss.  On one play though, he got beat on a cut, which led him to commit a foul that time.

He didn’t shoot the ball well, as he struggled with his outside shot.  He was able to score on a put back, and he also drew free throws on a strong drive to the hoop another time, but mostly Clowney didn’t stand out that much on offense in this game.  Overall, Clowney will need to improve his jump shot, but he is an athletic, energetic forward whose versatility could make him an intriguing option for NBA teams to consider in the late first to second round range of the 2023 draft.

This was an opportunity for Donta Scott to make some noise in the draft stock game.  Instead, he didn’t play very well, as he would often miss shots from the post or badly on outside shot attempts, and he didn’t seem to handle the ball especially well, either.  He did manage to block a shot to prevent an opponent from scoring on the break, but he also struggled to defend shooters in this game.  Overall, Scott is a combo forward that will need to improve his jump shot and mobility.  He’s a fringe prospect for the NBA that will need to put time in his game to work on his skills, but even if he doesn’t make it to the NBA, he could end up having a solid career in international basketball.

The Tennessee-Duke Game:

Here are my thoughts on how Nkamhoua, Proctor, and other various prospects fared in this game. For those that would like to see the highlights, you can do so via YouTube via March Madness.

Olivier Nkamhoua scored 27 points and made 3 threes to lead his team to a stunning, double-digit win over Duke in the second round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
(Photo:
Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images, via SB Nation’s Rocky Top Talk)

Tennessee’s senior forward, Olivier Nkamhoua had a terrific showing in his team’s second round win over Duke.  Just when other teams losing appeared to pave the way for Duke to win this region, Tennessee came storming in to make sure that would not happen, and Tennessee was able to get a double-digit win in this game.

Nkamhoua did a great job of making jumpers, especially from downtown.  He showed a knack for moving off the ball and running off ball screens to make outside shots off the catch, especially on three-pointers.  He was able to use a spin move to score on a mid-range jumper from the baseline.  He also thrived as a scorer on hustle plays.  Nkamhoua did a great job of scoring on back door cuts.  He caught a lob to score off of a roll while getting fouled.  He also ran in to score on an athletic tip slam, as no one put a body on him when he went in for the offensive rebound.

Overall, Nkamhoua is a skilled offensive player that also has the size, length, and athleticism to be a plus-level defender for the NBA.  He was outstanding, as he scored 27 points on 10 of 13 shooting, and he made 3 threes to lift his team to get the win over Duke.  He helped his draft stock immensely, especially as he may project to be a versatile, valuable role player for the NBA, and he could be a solid prospect for teams to pick in the late first to the second round range of the 2023 draft.

Tyrese Proctor had a strong showing in his team’s loss to Tennessee.  If he’s played his last game in college, then this game will have helped his case immensely for the 2023 draft. Proctor excelled at scoring on crafty shots off the dribble, and he would skillfully weave past defenders to score in this game.  He showed a knack for changing directions to score on smooth drives as well as out of the post, and he showed a good shooting touch to make dribble jumpers.  Proctor especially thrived at making dribble, mid-range jumpers, and he was able to dribble off of a screen and use a smooth, step-back move to score on a one-legged, fadeaway mid-range jumper.

He also passed the ball very well, and he showed the ability to change speeds and make timely passes to find openly. teammates on the move to rack up assists.  Proctor also would also jump on loose balls and play passing lanes to get steals, and he showed good footwork to be able to make plays defensively.  On the downside, he tended to get caught on screens, and sometimes he would be late on rotations that would lead him to be a step late on plays.

Overall, Tyrese Proctor had a terrific game in his team’s loss to Tennessee, and this game may be the key to his draft stock for the upcoming draft.  He’s a young point guard that has shown the potential to develop into a crafty, skilled, big ball-handling point guard, and if that’s the case, that could allow him to be a significant asset to an NBA team at the next level.  Proctor still will need to develop into a reliable outside shooter, but his ability to make tough shots and play with poise could enable him to go in the late first to the second round range on draft day.

Santiago Vescovi had a solid showing in his team’s win over Duke.  He did a great job of shooting, scoring, and passing the basketball.  He especially showed a knack for running off ball screens to make catch-and-shoot threes, and he also consistently passed well off the dribble to rack up assists.  

He also was able to hustle back to block a shot off of a drive out of bounds.  However, sometimes Vescovi would get caught ball watching and give up too much space, which would lead him to allow three-point baskets.  Other times, he would struggle to stay in front of quicker guards defensively, which would lead his team to allow scores.  Overall, Vescovi played well in this game, especially on offense.  He will need to improve his defense, but he is an agile, skilled combo guard that could project into a backup point guard role in the NBA.

Julian Phillips had a fairly solid showing in his team’s win over Duke.  Though he didn’t take or make a three-point shot, he thrived at making athletic, energetic hustle plays in this game.  He ran the floor and caught a lob to score on a high-flying, alley-oop dunk.  He also flew in to score on a very athletic tip slam.  He also threw an interior pass to notch an assist.  While he didn’t shoot the ball very much, Phillips is a very athletic forward that has shown he can make high-motor plays.  He’ll need to improve his jump shot, but his strong athleticism and motor could enable him to project to be an effective role player at the NBA level.

Josiah James had a fairly solid game in his team’s win over Duke.  He didn’t shoot the ball very much, but he showed that he can score on dribble, mid-range jumpers, and he also moved off the ball to make an open three-pointer.  He also passed the ball well, and he is an unselfish player that will consistently find the open man.  Plus, he also defended well, and he would contest shots to force misses.  He struggled to consistently knock down outside shots, but James’ court sense and defensive skills, combined with his above average athletic gifts, could enable him to make his way to the NBA someday.

Jeremy Roach is an athletic combo guard that thrived at making outside shots.  He especially excelled at making threes, and he showed that he can make tough outside shots both off the catch and dribble.  He also made a nice drive and dish pass to get an assist.  He didn’t seem to stand out elsewhere, but he’s shown an improved jump shot that showed complement his solid driving game for the next level.  He may have improved his draft stock, and he could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the second round of the 2023 draft.

Dariq Whitehead had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Tennessee.  He excelled at scoring on hustle plays, and at making spot-up threes on offense.  He rotated to block a mid-range shot hard due to possessing good length, athleticism, and instincts, and Whitehead showed the potential to develop into a solid defender for the NBA.  However, he didn’t shoot the ball much or defend well in this game.  He would sometimes over-help and over-rotate, which would lead his man open, and he would wind up out of position defensively.  Other times, he would play too aggressively and misplay the ball, which would catch him off guard.

Overall, Whitehead is an athletic swingman that projects into a 3 and D role in the NBA.  He’ll need to improve his shot-creation skills and be a more disciplined defender in games, but his athleticism and jump shot could enable him to be a solid pick for an NBA team in the late first round of the 2023 draft.

Tennessee’s 6-11 sophomore center, Jonas Aidoo played fairly well in his team’s win over Duke.  He is a fairly athletic, energetic big man that showed that he can make hustle plays.  He ran in to score on an athletic tip slam.  He also made an open baseline, mid-range jumper, and he also passed the ball back on a dribble handoff to get an assist to show off some offensive skills.

He also rotated to block a shot hard off of a drive to showcase his shot-blocking prowess and interior defensive skills.  On the downside, he would sometimes get beat off the dribble, which would lead him to allow scores.  Overall, Aidoo played well in limited minutes, and he could project into a backup center role for the NBA.

Kyle Filipowski had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Tennessee.  He showed some versatility by being able to score out of the post and off the dribble, and he also passed the ball well.  However, he struggled to knock down outside shots, and he didn’t defend well at all.  He often would have trouble defending in screen situations, and he wouldn’t look to take anything away, and he would sometimes tend to get caught in no man’s land in those situations.  He also would tend to give up far too much space, which would lead him to allow three-point baskets.

Overall, Filipowski is a skilled, energetic big man, but he will need to improve his jump shot and defense.  He’s not super quick on the defensive end, and he hasn’t shown that he can consistently guard opponents out on the perimeter or in the paint.  He’s an offensively skilled big man that can score out of the post, as well as pass and handle the basketball, but adding a reliable three-point shot and improving his defensive skills could help him go for a long way.  Right now, his draft stock may be a tad inflated, but he could be an intriguing option for NBA teams to consider, especially if he’s available for them to select in the second round range of the 2023 draft.

Dereck Lively II didn’t play very well against Tennessee, as he played seemingly lethargically, and with a surprising low motor for most of this game.  Lively did not take a single shot on offense, despite playing for a whopping 36 minutes.  That he did not command the ball or take a shot once was extremely surprising, given that he is usually a strong finisher around the basket.

On one good play, Lively managed to block a shot when defending in the post to himself due to possessing very good size, athleticism, and timing.  However, he often wouldn’t step out to defend mid-range jump shooters, and he would allow them to score on open jumpers.  Lively also didn’t always effectively communicate screens to his teammates, and he also didn’t block out and allowed an opponent to score on a tip slam.

Overall, Lively has had his ups and downs this season.  When he’s playing well, he can prove to be an impactful, energetic shot blocker and defender that can be the backbone of his team’s defense.  When he’s not playing well, he can tend to loaf around on offense and disappear for stretches, and he can struggle to defend out on the perimeter. Duke really struggled to defend in this game due to their drop coverage scheme and inability to defend screens, and their big men especially didn’t seem to be very willing to defend shooters out on the perimeter.  Lively will need to be able to defend shooters and in screen situations, otherwise, he’s most likely a situational big man that may not be able to close games in big games such as playoff games, and in that case, he may be more of a late first to a second round prospect than a player that should go in the lottery.

All in all, those are my thoughts on how both of the games went.  Thanks for reading.

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