Observations from the UCLA-Michigan Game in the Elite Eight of the 2021 NCAA Tournament

March 31st, 2021

By Alan Lu

Yesterday, I took the time to watch UCLA square off against Michigan in a tough, competitive Elite Eight game.  Michigan came in as the favorite, but UCLA’s sophomore guard and Kentucky transfer, Johnny Juzang came in with the Midas touch on offense, as he scored 18 points in the first half, and Juzang’s terrific shooting and scoring continued, as he scored 28 points overall.  He basically carried his team to a riveting and close win over Michigan, and Franz Wagner missed two threes late in this contest.  It was a terrific win for UCLA, and they will get to play Gonzaga on Saturday.  Here are my thoughts on how Juzang and the other prospects fared on this day.

UCLA’s Johnny Juzang had a magnificent game as he scored 28 points in his team’s Elite Eight win over Michigan. UCLA will play against Gonzaga on Saturday in the Final Four.
(Photo:
Michael Conroy/Associated Press, via Bleacher Report)

UCLA’s 6-6 sophomore swingman, Johnny Juzang had a tremendous showing, and he scored 28 points, made 2 threes, and he also had a pair of rebounds to help his team defeat Michigan to get to the Final Four. Juzang shot the ball really well in this game.  He excelled at scoring on mid-range jumpers, and he would frequently run off ball screens to knock down jumpers from inside the arc.  He also showed a knack for making spot-up threes off the catch, and he also used a pro move of being able to draw three free throws, as he was able to put his arms underneath a defender’s arms and then initiated the contact by raising the ball up to get the foul call.

He also did a very good job of scoring off the dribble.  He excelled at scoring on floaters, and he especially excelled at going to his right to do so.  He also managed to score on a quick backdoor cut another time.  On the downside, he missed on a fadeaway jumper when posting up once, and he also had a shot blocked on a drive in transition another time. Also, Juzang was able to swing the ball to a shooter to get the ball to him once, and he also set a hard, off-ball screen to help a teammate get a one-on-one scoring chance in the post.  He didn’t pick up an assist, but he did not turn the ball over either on offense.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds, Juzang was able to chase down balls to get a pair of defensive boards.  He did hurt himself after getting a defensive board once, as he had hurt his right ankle midway through this match, but he came back in this game, and he was still effective at making plays, especially as a shooter and scorer on offense. Defensively, he looked to be about average.  Juzang was able to contest a mid-range shot to force a miss.  On the downside, he can be late on his rotations, and he ended up allowing his man to score on a corner three another time.

UCLA’s Johnny Juzang had a red-hot start in the first half, and he scored 18 of his 28 points in the first 20 minutes of the game in his team’s Elite Eight win over Michigan.
(Source: Twitter/@marchmadness)

In general, Johnny Juzang had a terrific game, and he played extremely well in his team’s win over Michigan.  He is an athletic, skilled swingman that can shoot and score the basketball, and he is a sharpshooter that could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the late first round in the 2021 draft.  Juzang is playing really good basketball right now, and at the next level, he could end up being a solid role player similar to Toronto Raptors’ guard, Gary Trent Jr. in the NBA.

Michigan’s 7-1 freshman center, Hunter Dickinson had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to UCLA.  He scored 11 points in this game, and at times he excelled at scoring in the post, but he struggled to score or rebound down the stretch in this match. Dickinson showed a decent ability to score in the post.  He would use strong moves to score on turnaround, left-handed jump hooks, and he also scored on a fadeaway jump hook once.  He also showed the ability to draw free throws on strong moves down low.  On the downside, he struggled to score on jump hooks later on, and he particularly struggled to score with his right hand, which would lead to some bad misses.

He also excelled at scoring on rolls to the rim, and Dickinson was able to throw down a powerful dunk once.  On the downside, he was quite turnover prone on offense.  On one good play, he set an on-ball screen that helped his teammate score on a drive to the basket.   However, he struggled to handle the ball when heavily pressured.  He also committed a charging foul when posting up another time, and he also was called for setting a moving screen on a separate possession.

Dickinson did not grab many rebounds in this game, but he was able to get a board on each end of the floor.  He also played fairly good defense.  Dickinson was able to block a shot off of a drive, and he would often contest jump shots to force misses.  On the downside, there was one play where he sagged too far off of his man, which led him to allow an opponent to score on a mid-range jumper.

In summary, Hunter Dickinson had some good moments at times in his team’s loss to UCLA, and he showed glimpses that he can be a dominant low post scorer at the collegiate level when dialed in.  On the other hand, he will need to work on his off hand, and he will need to extend his shooting range and take better care of the basketball.  Right now, he may need to stay in school for another season to expand upon his skill set, but he would project to be a borderline second round candidate if he ends up declaring to enter the NBA draft.

Michigan’s sophomore forward, Franz Wagner previously had been having a strong NCAA Tournament prior to this game.  The line of thinking was that his stock would be permanently adjusted to the lottery range due to his strong performance in his team’s win over Florida State.  However, with his abysmal performance in his team’s loss to UCLA, perhaps his draft stock might get adjusted back down to the mid first round range instead.  Against UCLA, Wagner scored just 4 points on 1 of 10 shooting, but he did have 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block in this game.

Wagner did a decent job of scoring off the dribble.  He scored on a right-handed drive early on, and he showed a knack for drawing fouls upon his defenders.  He also managed to draw free throws on an aggressive, switch of hands layup.  However, sometimes it would take him awhile to get all the way to the hoop, and he also missed a couple of shots as he would run out of steam by then.

He also missed wildly on a backdoor cut.  Wagner also really struggled to knock down jumpers in this game.  He threw up a couple of air-balls, one from the mid-range, and another from beyond the arc late in this contest.  He really struggled with his three-point shot, as he has been quite inconsistent with his three-point shooting throughout his collegiate career, which could be a significant source of concern.

Also, he displayed fairly average playmaking skills in this game.  Wagner can throw solid passes off the dribble, and he has solid court vision.  He also can throw accurate interior passes to find teammates on the move.  On the downside, he can struggle to handle the ball when heavily pressured, as he committed a charging foul on a baseline drive, and he also was called for traveling another time.  He also caught a pass but landed out of bounds that led to another team turnover.

Plus, Wagner did a great job of rebounding the basketball.  He would often leap up to get boards on both ends of the floor.  He also played fairly good defense.  Wagner was able to block a shot off of a drive, and he also managed to get a couple of steals.  He also showed a knack for contesting mid-range jumpers and jump shots to force numerous misses.  On the downside, he would sometimes struggle to defend opponents off the dribble.  He bit on a pump fake once and committed a foul on a put back.  He also got beat off the dribble to allow a score another time.  On another play, he sagged too far off of his man, which led him to allow his man to score on a long two.

Overall, Franz Wagner had his ups and downs throughout the 2021 NCAA Tournament.  He had a really good game in his team’s win over Florida State, and he had a really bad game in his team’s loss to UCLA.  He’s struggled with his outside shot, but he is an athletic, versatile forward that can ably create his own shot and for others on offense.  Currently, Wagner may project to go in the mid first round range, and he could end up being a solid role player in the NBA, as he could be like a slightly shorter version of Phoenix Suns’ big man, Dario Šarić in the association.

UCLA’s 5-11 sophomore point guard, Tyger Campbell had a decent showing in his team’s win over Michigan.  He scored 11 points, and he also had 2 assists, and 2 steals in this game. He showed a knack for scoring on jumpers, especially from the mid-range.  He excelled as a pull-up shooter from that range, and he also made an open corner three.  He also managed to score on a quick, left-handed drive to the hoop.  Campbell did seem to take a bit too many mid-range jumpers, but he was quite successful at knocking them down.

He also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  He is a fleet-footed guard that can throw passes off the dribble to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  On the downside, he also committed a couple of turnovers, and he threw a low entry pass that his teammate dropped that led to a tie-up where the possession arrow went to the other team. Campbell also played adequate defense.  He was able to jump a pass to get a steal, and he also drew a charge on a drive.   On the downside, he committed a foul on a drive in transition, and there was one play where he didn’t contest a three-point shot, which led his team to allow the score that time.

Overall, Tyger Campbell has played well in the NCAA Tournament, and he is an agile, skilled playmaker that can reliably run the team.  He will need to be a more consistent shooter on the floor, but he has been a pivotal role player for his team, and he could be a prospect to watch in the future.

Michigan’s senior swingman, Chaundee Brown played fairly well in his team’s loss to UCLA.  He scored 8 points and made 2 threes, and he also had 9 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal in this game. He excelled as a spot-up shooter from beyond the arc as he shot the three-ball well, and he also managed to score on a put back.  However, on a drive in transition, he used a Euro-step move but ended up getting his shot blocked from behind.

He also showcased adequate playmaking skills.  Brown is an unselfish player that managed to notch a pair of assists, but he also had a ball poked away in the backcourt to commit a turnover. Plus, Brown did a tremendous job to jump on a loose ball to get a steal, but he was called for committing a foul when trying to fight through a screener another time. Overall, Brown played well in his team’s loss to UCLA, and he probably should’ve played more in this game.  He is an athletic, skilled swingman, and while he didn’t get the ball enough this year, he is an interesting prospect, as he could project into a 3 and D role in the NBA.

Michigan’s senior guard, Eli Brooks had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to UCLA.  He excelled at scoring on agile drives to the hoop, and he also drew free throws on a mid-range floater, but he struggled to score on hustle plays or on three-point shots.

He passed the ball well, and he would push the ball up the floor and throw solid interior passes to get assists.  On the downside, he threw an inaccurate pass where his teammate caught the pass out of bounds, and he also committed a charging foul another time.  Defensively, he did not play well on that end, and he committed a reach-in foul that led his opponent to get three free throws on a three-point shot.

Overall, Brooks is an agile, skilled combo guard that showed that he can capably score off the dribble and pass the basketball, but he will need to improve his outside shot and defensive skills.  He may be a long shot to be drafted, but he could end up making it to either the G-League or overseas even if he doesn’t end up making it to the NBA.

UCLA’s 6-6 sophomore swingman, Jaime Jaquez Jr. did not play very well in his team’s win over Michigan.   After thoroughly dominating Alabama, especially in overtime in the Sweet 16, he was likely the focal point of Michigan’s gameplan.    He himself did not play well against Michigan, as he scored just 4 points on 1 of 6 shooting, but he also helped out in other areas, as he had 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block in this game. Jaquez showed a knack for scoring on put backs, and he is a high motor player that will grab offensive rebounds and then proceed to score on second chance points. On the downside, he struggled to score on jumpers, or off the dribble.   He also would take tough shots in the post that would lead to misses.

He also passed the ball well.  Jaquez is a good passer, especially off the dribble, and he can drive and kick balls out to shooters to notch assists.  He also was able to find a cutter to set up a score for his teammate due to possessing good court vision.  He also set a hard on-ball screen another time.  He did throw an inaccurate pass that went out of bounds, but Jaquez generally passed the ball well more times than not.

He also showed a solid ability to rebound the basketball.  Also, Jaquez played satisfactory defense.  He hustled back to make a chase down block on a drive in transition.  He also would poke balls away and intercept passes to get plenty of steals.  He also would hold his ground when defending in the post, as he contested the shot to force a miss.  On the downside, he can struggle to guard quicker players, as he would get beat off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Jaime Jaquez Jr. has had a good NCAA Tournament, as he played really well in his team’s win over Alabama, especially in the overtime of that game, and he still made some solid team plays despite not shooting the ball well in his team’s win over Michigan.  He is a tough, gritty swingman that competes hard on both ends of the floor, and he seems to have the knack for making winning basketball plays.  Currently, he projects to be a second round prospect, and he could project into a 3 and D role at the next level, as he could end up being a solid role player similar to Milwaukee Bucks’ forward, P.J. Tucker in the NBA.

Michigan’s Brandon Johns Jr. played fairly well in his team’s loss to UCLA.  He excelled as a scorer off the dribble, and he drove in from the baseline to throw down a powerful, two-handed jam.  He also defended well, as he was able to jump a pass to get a steal, and he also blocked a shot hard off of a drive in transition. Overall, Johns is an athletic, energetic forward that can score and make hustle plays on both ends of the floor, but he will need to be more assertive on offense, trust his outside shot more, and improve his playmaking skills.  He could be due for getting a lot of playing time next season, and he could be a prospect to watch in 2022.

UCLA has really surpassed expectations by continuing to win games in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. They had a terrific performance from Johnny Juzang, and the Bruins hung on to defeat Michigan in a hard-fought basketball game in the Elite Eight. They will play against Gonzaga on Saturday in the Final Four, and they will have their hands full, as Gonzaga will be heavily favored to win that game. I had fun watching the Elite Eight games, and it will be interesting to see how it will all unfold next week.

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