Impressions from the Gonzaga-UCLA Game in the Final Four of the 2021 NCAA Tournament

April 4th, 2021

By Alan Lu

Yesterday, I took the time to watch Gonzaga square off against UCLA in the Final Four of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.  UCLA got off to a strong start early on, but Gonzaga battled and took the lead at the end of the first half.  It was a very hard-fought game in which both teams traded leads, and it went to overtime.  Johnny Juzang managed to tie it up at 90 all by scoring on a quick put back late in this game, but Gonzaga’s star freshman guard, Jalen Suggs drove up the court and made a game-winning bank three to win this game.  Here are my thoughts on how Suggs, Juzang, and other prospects fared on this day, as well as where they may currently rate as prospects for the NBA. 

Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs made the game-winning bank three late in overtime to help his team get a close win over UCLA, and he scored 16 points in this game. Gonzaga will play against Baylor in the National Championship game on Monday.
(Photo:
Michael Conroy/Associated Press, via Peninsula Daily News)

Gonzaga’s freshman guard, Jalen Suggs played very well to lead his team to an overtime win over UCLA.  He is a speedy, athletic guard that excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor, and he scored 16 points, and had 6 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block to help lead his team to get the victory. Suggs shot the ball well in this game.  He excelled at making deep threes, and he has uncanny range as he can make them from way out.  He also was able to make them both off the catch and dribble.  Plus, he also scored on a turnaround, fadeaway jumper from the mid-range.

He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  Suggs was able score on a quick backdoor cut to the hoop.  Plus, he also scored on a floater off of a speedy drive in transition.  Suggs also was able to draw fouls on aggressive fast break drives.  Sometimes though, he would struggle to score on quick drives to the hoop, as he would occasionally be prone to rushing. Although at the same time, that he was able to race up court to heave up and make a bank three helped him and his team to win this game in overtime.

Also, he showed off good playmaking skills.  Suggs showed a knack for throwing solid passes off the dribble, and he excelled at throwing interior passes to set up scores for his teammates.  He can aptly find them on the move, and he has good court vision to consistently get them the basketball.  He did commit one turnover though, as he was called for a charging foul on a drive to the hoop. He also was able to leap up to get his fair share of boards in this game.  He would chase don balls to get defensive boards, and sometimes he would push the ball quickly up the court.

Plus, Suggs also played satisfactory defense.  He is a rangy defender that can cover a lot of ground on this end of the floor.  Suggs rotated to make an impressive chase down block a shot on a dunk attempt off of a roll to the rim, and he also would poke balls away to get steals and deflections due to possessing great quickness and ball skills.  He also deflected a pass, and he also contested a three to force a miss.  On the downside, he would sometimes be too aggressive in trying to make plays, as he fouled a shooter on a long two, and he also committed a foul in trying to fight through a screener.  Sometimes he would be caught ball watching, which would lead him to trail opponents on drives, and he also allowed an opponent to score on an open corner three.  Other times, he would sometimes give up too much space when defending mid-range jumpers.

Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs hit a terrific, game-winning bank three to lift his team to a compelling overtime win over UCLA. Gonzaga will play against Baylor in the National Championship game on Monday.
(Source: Twitter/@marchmadness)

Overall, Jalen Suggs had a solid showing in his team’s overtime win over UCLA.  He had a relatively slow start early on, but he picked it up, and he was able to consistently make plays down the stretch.  He made winning plays on both ends of the floor, and he also made the game-winning bank three at the end of overtime.  He is a very talented prospect that could likely end up being a very good player in the NBA, and he should be a top 3 pick in the 2021 Draft.

UCLA’s Johnny Juzang played really well, as he scored 29 points in his team’s overtime loss to Gonzaga.
(Photo:
Darron Cummings/Associated Press, via The Los Angeles Times)

UCLA’s 6-6 sophomore swingman, Johnny Juzang had a tremendous showing in his team’s overtime loss to Gonzaga.  He especially excelled as a sharpshooter and scorer in this game, and he scored 29 points and made 3 threes, and he also had 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals in this game.

UCLA’s Johnny Juzang scored 15 of his 29 points in the first half, and he played very well in his team’s overtime loss to Gonzaga.
(Source: Twitter/@marchmadness)

Juzang shot the ball very well, as he excelled at providing his team with strong floor spacing skills on offense.  He showed a knack for scoring on jumpers from both the mid-range and from behind the three-point line, as he can do so off the catch and dribble, and he also showed good balance and the ability to move off the ball to score on jump shots.  He also would draw fouls on mid-range jumpers to get to the free throw line.  A few times though, he would struggle to score on floaters, as he would occasionally take contested shots, and sometimes he would over-dribble, which would lead to turnovers, but Juzang showed a very good ability to score both off the catch and dribble in this game.

Plus, he excelled as a scorer in the post.  He has a good shooting touch, as he would score on turnaround jumpers, and he also ran off of a curl cut and drove in to score off the glass. He also showed a knack for scoring on hustle plays.  Juzang managed to score on a turnaround jumper after getting the ball on a backdoor cut, and he also scored on a quick put back off of his own miss late in this game.

He also displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  Juzang is a talented shot creator that can get shots up, but he also can find the open man to set up scores for his teammates.  He dribbled in and threw an interior pass to set up a score down low, and he also set an on-ball screen to help a teammate score on a jump shot another time.  On the downside, he would sometimes struggle to handle the ball when heavily pressured.   Sometimes, the opposing team would blitz him and send two guys on him to crowd him.  This led him to get balls poked away, and it also led to a shot clock violation.  He also tried to score on a drive late in regulation, but was called for an unfortunate charging foul.  He also threw a hasty entry pass that got intercepted on a separate play. Also, Juzang showed a solid ability to rebound the basketball.  He was quite active at crashing the glass, and he was able to get boards on both ends of the floor.

Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  For the positives, he is an active, help defender.  Juzang managed to intercept a long pass to get a steal, and he also ran in to pounce upon a loose ball to get another.  He also contested a three to force a miss.  On the downside, he can be a bit too aggressive at times on the defensive end.  He would tend to bite on pump fakes, which would lead him to be out of position when defending in the post or off the dribble, and it would lead his team to commit fouls and allow scores.  Another time, he trailed his man on a cut, and he also would sometimes give up too much space to shooters.

In summary, Johnny Juzang played very well, and he did a great job of shooting and scoring the basketball in his team’s loss to Gonzaga.  He is a gifted scorer that can knock down shots, and he could be a very good find for an NBA team in the late first to the second round range in the 2021 draft.

Gonzaga’s Drew Timme scored 25 points to help lead his team to an overtime victory over UCLA.
(Photo:
Darron Cummings/Associated Press, via KY3)

Gonzaga’s sophomore center, Drew Timme also played very well in his team’s overtime win over UCLA.  He excelled as an inside scorer, facilitator, and defender, and he scored 25 points in this game. Timme did a good job of scoring in the post.  He showed good footwork and scoring touch to consistently score on the block.  He scored on a crafty up and under move, and he has a nice pump fake move that would allow him to score and get extra free throws.  He also managed to score on a turnaround jump hook, and he also scored on strong drop step moves.  Sometimes though, he would miss on turnaround jump hooks, but he generally excelled as a scorer down low.

Gonzaga’s Joel Ayayi retrieves a loose ball to get a steal and he threw a nice pass to Drew Timme, and Timme scores on a powerful dunk on the break.
(Source: Twitter/@marchmadness)

Plus, he excelled at scoring on strong rolls to the rim, and he also was able to throw down a powerful dunk off of a roll once.  Timme also ran the floor to score on a strong dunk in transition another time.  He also managed to draw free throws after looking to get an offensive board.  He missed an open three, but he was very effective as a scorer around the basket.

Also, he passed the ball well in this game.  Timme has good court vision, and he was pass out of the post to find cutters to notch assists.  He is a good passer out of the post, and he also did not turn the ball over once on offense. Though he did not grab many rebounds in this game, Timme was able to get boards on both ends of the floor.  On the downside, he also committed a foul on an opponent’s put back attempt another time due to over-aggressiveness.

He also played satisfactory defense.  Timme would deflect passes to help his team get steals and deflections, and he did a good job of contesting shots in the post and mid-range jumpers to force misses.  He also rotated to blitz a ball-handler to help force a shot clock violation.  Late in regulation, he also successfully drew a charge due to being in good position to do so.

On the downside, sometimes he would get beat on moves to the hoop when defending in the post to allow scores.  Sometimes though, he would sag too far off of shooters to allow opponents to score on mid-range jumpers.  Another time, he rotated to foul an opponent on a mid-range jumper. In general, Drew Timme had a strong showing in his team’s win over UCLA.  He is an underrated center and he has a high basketball IQ, and he could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the 2021 draft.

Gonzaga’s 6-5 junior guard, Joel Ayayi played very well in his team’s overtime win over UCLA.  He made his first eight field goals, and he scored 22 points, as he made 2 threes, and he also had 6 assists, 2 assists, and 2 steals in this game. Ayayi generally excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He would run the floor to score in transition, and he also scored on a speedy drive on the break another time.  He also managed to score on a backdoor cut, as well as on a quick put back.  On the downside, he would sometimes pull up to take quick, mid-range floaters on the break that would wind up missing.

He also showed a knack for scoring on three-point shots.  He dribbled off of a screen to make a pull-up three, and he also ran off the ball to make another from beyond the arc.  He also managed to back his man down to score in the post, and he also excelled at scoring on quick, aggressive drives to the hoop.

Also, Ayayi displayed satisfactory playmaking skills.  He would throw good interior passes to find teammates on the move to set up scores for them due to possessing good court vision.  On the downside, he was called for traveling shortly after trying to corral an offensive rebound early on.  He also threw an inaccurate pass that sailed out of bounds another time.

He also did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  Ayayi would chase down balls to get boards on both ends of the floor.  On the downside, there was one play where he ended up committing an over the back foul when going for an offensive board. Plus, he also played decent defense in this game.  Ayayi was able to get his hands on a pass to get a steal, and he also chase down a loose ball to get another due to possessing a good motor.  On the downside, there was one play where he sagged too far off his man, which led him to allow his man to score on a mid-range jumper.

Overall, Ayayi put forth a very good performance in his team’s win over UCLA. He had a strong, all-around game, and he especially excelled as a scorer in this game.  He is an athletic, high-motor player whose versatility, high basketball IQ, and skill set could make him a good pick for an NBA team in the late first to the second round range in the 2021 draft.

UCLA’s 6-6 sophomore forward, Jaime Jaquez Jr. also played very well in his team’s overtime loss to Gonzaga.  He had a solid all-around game, as he shot the ball well and made good hustle plays on both ends of the floor, and he scored 19 points, and had 5 rebounds, and 4 assists in this contest.

Jaquez excelled at scoring on open corner threes to provide floor spacing for his team.  He also showed a knack for scoring in the post, as he would score and drew free throws on turnaround jumpers.  He has a good set of dribble moves, which would allow him to get around defenders and draw fouls upon them to get to the free throw line. Plus, he also scored on a backdoor cut to the basket.  Another time though, he had his shot blocked when driving to the hoop in transition.

He also displayed a satisfactory ability to score off the dribble.  Jaquez was able to score on a strong, left-handed drive to the hoop while getting an extra free throw.  He also split a double team and drew free throws on a powerful dunk attempt after having taken off from pretty far out.  He did miss on a drive another time due to rushing, but he showed that he can ably create his own shot in this game, even when facing athletic wing defenders.

He also showcased adequate playmaking skills in this game.  Jaquez is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he also was able to make a smart drive and kick pass to set up a score for a teammate on another play.  Sometimes though, he would struggle to handle the ball in traffic, as he would get balls poked away, and he also dribbled off of his own foot, which led to a few turnovers.

Also, Jaquez was able to leap up to get his fair share of boards to help his team on both ends of the floor.

He also played satisfactory defense.  He was able to intercept a pass to get a steal.  He also would apply considerable ball pressure to hound opposing ball handlers, and he also would contest jump shots to force misses.  He also managed to deny Timme the ball in the post once.  On the downside, sometimes he would be too aggressive and gamble a bit too much on the defensive end.  He was called for a reach-in foul when guarding an opposing ball handler.  Another time, he got beat off the dribble, which led him to allow a score that time. Overall, Jaime Jaquez Jr. had a strong showing in his team’s loss to Gonzaga.  He had a solid all-around game, and he is a smart, skilled swingman that could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the second round in the 2021 draft.

UCLA’s 5-11 sophomore point guard, Tyger Campbell played very well in his team’s overtime loss to Gonzaga.  He showed a knack for scoring on pull-up jumpers from the mid-range, and he also excelled at scoring on speedy drives to the hoop.  He also made an open corner three, but he also missed on two other occasions from beyond the arc. He also passed the ball well in this game.  Campbell is a quick guard that would get drive and kick assists, and he did a good job of throwing interior passes and passing off the dribble.  On the other hand, he did get a ball poked away when handling it, as that led him to commit his lone turnover of this match.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds, he was able to leap up to get a defensive board once.  He also played adequate defense.  Campbell was able to poke a ball away to get a steal, and he did a great job of drawing charges when defending drives to get stops for his team.  He also managed to deflect a pass out of bounds another time.  On the downside, he had some trouble defending players off the dribble.  He got outmuscled to allow a score in the post, and he also got beat off the dribble to allow a score on another possession.  Another time, he sagged too far off his man, and he ended up allowing a taller shooter to make a three-point shot over him.

Overall, Tyger Campbell is a speedy playmaker that had a strong showing in his team’s overtime loss to Gonzaga.  He scored 17 points and had 7 assists, and he really excelled as an offensive player in this game.  He definitely helped himself by playing well in the NCAA Tournament, and he could be an intriguing option for NBA teams to consider in the second round in the 2021 draft.

Gonzaga’s 6-7 senior forward, Corey Kispert had a decent showing in his team’s overtime win over UCLA.  He struggled to consistently knock down shots, but he threw down an amazing dunk off of a cut, and he also defended well when he was on the court.  He scored 15 points, and he also had 5 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block in this game.

Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert threw down a tremendous dunk off of a backdoor cut in this game.
(Source: Twitter/@marchmadness)

Kispert generally excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He was able to throw down a thunderous dunk off of a backdoor cut.  He also scored on a quick put back after grabbing an offensive rebound.  On the downside, there was another play where he ran the floor to get the ball, but he ended up missing on a reverse layup. He also was able to score on a strong drive to the hoop.  Kispert also drew free throws on a turnaround jumper that he hoisted up in the post.

Also, he ran quickly off of a pin-down to score on a long, two-point shot.  He was able to make a couple of quick, spot-up threes, and he can run off ball screens to knock down long-range jumpers, but he struggled to make spot-up threes consistently in this game. He also exhibited satisfactory playmaking skills.  Kispert is an unselfish player that would look to find the open man to notch assists.  On the other hand, there was one play where he lost the ball on a drive to commit a turnover.

He also was able to leap up to get his fair share of rebounds, as he was able to haul in boards on both ends of the floor.  Kispert played above average defense in this game.  He did a good job of poking balls away from opposing ball handlers to get steals, and he also jumped on a loose ball and also deflected a pass to his teammate to help his team get other steals.  He also successfully doubled in the post to help force an opponent to commit a ball-handling turnover.  On the downside, he would sometimes over-help in the paint and be late to rotate back to his man, and he would allow shooters to score on three-point shots.  Other times, he would struggle to defend opponents off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls.

Overall, Corey Kispert didn’t quite shoot the ball as well as he normally did, but he still made solid team plays, as he threw down the dunk of the game, and he also played solid defense to help his team get the overtime win.  He has played very well all season, and he currently projects to be a lottery pick in the 2021 draft.

Gonzaga’s junior point guard, Andrew Nembhard had a solid showing in his team’s overtime win over UCLA.  He scored 11 points, and he also had 8 assists in this game.

Andrew Nembhard’s made step-back three on Cody Riley late in overtime showed that he has some nice handles, and he made a key shot to helped his team get a close win over UCLA.
(Source: Twitter/@marchmadness)

He did a decent job of knocking down jumpers in this game.  He pulled up to make a long two, and he also made a nifty, step back move over Cody Riley to score on a pull-up three in overtime. He also was able to score on strong, right-handed drives to the hoop, and he displayed good body control and scoring touch to score and draw free throws.  He would sometimes be inconsistent with his shot, as he also missed on a couple of floaters and threes, but Nembhard is a skilled ball handler that can make shots from all over the floor.

He also passed and handled the ball well.  Nembhard would look to find the open man to rack up assists.  He also lead the break and found a teammate ahead on the break to set up a scoring chance for him.  Sometimes though, he would be a bit reckless when driving to the hoop, which would lead him to commit a couple of ball-handling turnovers. He also looked to be fairly average at best as a defender.  Nembhard was able to jump on a loose ball to get a steal.  Sometimes though, he would struggle to guard his man, which would lead his team to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Andrew Nembhard is a smart, skilled playmaker that can reliably run the point, and he also hit a big, step-back three in overtime late in this game.  He will need to be a more consistent outside shooter in games, but his ability to run the team and make plays on offense could enable him to be a solid role player in the NBA.

UCLA’s 6-9 junior big man, Cody Riley also played well in his team’s overtime loss to Gonzaga.  He scored 14 points, and he also had 10 rebounds, and 5 assists in this game. He did a great job of knocking down mid-range jumpers, and he is a smooth shooting big man that especially excelled at making shots from that range.  Riley also showed a solid ability to score in the post.  He was able to throw down a powerful dunk, and he also used a quick drop step and spin move to score another time.  Sometimes though, he would miss shots around the basket, and he also ended up missing on a couple of put backs after grabbing offensive rebounds.

Riley also passed the ball very well.  He is a good passer from the post, and he also was able to find a cutter to notch an assist.  Plus, he also did not turn the ball over on offense in this game. He also did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  On the downside, he hooked an opponent’s arm and took him down when going for an offensive board, which led him to commit a Flagrant 1 foul.

He played decent defense in this game.  Riley was able to block a shot off of a drive out of bounds.  He also would hold his ground when defending in the post to force misses.  He also managed to successfully challenge a three-point shot to get another stop.  However, he can struggle to defend opponents out in space.  He was late to get back to a roll man, and he committed a foul and allowed a score simultaneously.  Late in overtime, he got beat badly on a step-back move, and he ended up being nowhere near his man as he allowed Nembhard to score on a step-back three down the stretch.

Overall, Cody Riley is an athletic, energetic big man that played well in his team’s loss to Gonzaga.  He excels at making high-motor plays on both ends of the floor, and he can finish plays above the rim.  He also showed a strong ability to make mid-range jumpers in this game.  He could project to be a solid rotational big man in the NBA, and if he ends up declaring to enter the draft, he could be a solid candidate to go in the second round range on draft day.

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