Observing Bol Bol, Tyler Cook, and Ehab Amin

November 17, 2018

by Alan Lu

Recently, I decided to take the time to watch Bol Bol and Oregon square off against Iowa in a November 15th game in the 2K Empire Classic, which took place at the Madison Square Garden in New York.  I wanted to see Bol Bol play to get a glimpse of his strengths, weaknesses, and his potential as a prospect for the NBA, and he showed an interesting set of skills in this game.  Iowa shot the ball well and managed to get the win over Oregon, but here are my thoughts on Bol Bol’s prospects for the NBA, as well as how others fared on this day.

Oregon’s 7-2 freshman center, Bol Bol showed a diverse skill set, as he can help a team in a variety of ways when he is on the floor.  He is an excellent shot blocker that can shore up his team’s defense, and he also is a skilled big man that can shoot and handle the basketball.  Bol did a good job of scoring in the post.  He has solid shooting touch and footwork when operating down low, as he used a pivot move once to score on a jump hook, and he also can draw numerous free throws when looking to make moves on the block.  Sometimes, he can struggle to set up around the basket, as he may have trouble getting deep position when matched up against stronger players in the paint.

He also showed off a decent ability to shoot the basketball.  Bol was able to knock down a pull-up, baseline mid-range jumper to score on the break after bringing the ball up off of a defensive rebound.  He did miss on a couple of mid-range shots and he also missed a spot up three on other occasions, but generally Bol Bol showed a good stroke and some handles when he would look to take jump shots.  He also showed a decent ability to score off the dribble.  Bol drove aggressively to the rim once from the high post, and he managed to draw free throws on that possession.

Plus, he will also look to score on hustle plays.  Bol Bol cut to the hoop to get the basketball, and he managed to score on an emphatic, two-handed dunk.  Also, he was able to score on a tip-in after leaping up to get an offensive rebound.  However, he missed a couple of shots in transition despite running the floor hard to get the basketball and even in spite of catching a lob pass, as he can be prone to rushing his shots.

Bol also showed off adequate playmaking skills in this game.  He is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he can throw accurate bounce passes to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  He will routinely hit the cutter as he passes well from the post, and he possesses good patience and vision to do so.  Bol Bol handles the ball fairly well as he can bring the ball up, but sometimes his handle may not be the smoothest, as early on he dribbled the ball awkwardly prior to missing a pull-up, mid-range jumper.

He also did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  Bol was quite active at crashing the glass on both ends of the floor, and he also managed to box out an opponent in order to leap up and get a defensive board once.  He also tipped a ball to a teammate to help his team get an offensive rebound on another occasion.  There was one play where he lost a ball out of bounds when attempting to get a defensive board, but managed to show some emotions and was quite passionate about that afterwards.

Also, Bol Bol showcased fairly good defensive skills.  He defended very well in the first half, and in the early going, he was a shot-blocking machine due to possessing great length, mobility, and timing.  He showed a penchant for swatting shots off of jumpers, and he also can block shots off of drives and in the post, as he is a disciplined defender that did a good job of not biting on pump fakes.  He also managed to find a loose ball on a dropped pass to get a steal, and he will actively contest shots to force a wealth of misses, but he struggled a little bit with his position defense midway through and onwards.

He especially had some trouble defending in the post, as he would tend to get backed down and give up deep positioning, causing him once to commit a foul, and other times to allow scores down low.  Other times, he would shade too far towards one side and gamble too much, which can result in him getting beat on the play to allow a score around the basket.  Then, sometimes he would sag too far off his man and give up too much space, as he would allow three-point baskets to his opponent.

In general, Bol Bol put forth a fairly solid performance in his team’s loss to Iowa.  He didn’t dominate in this game, but he showed off some versatility on offense due to his ability to make shots in a variety of ways and create offense for himself and his teammates, and he also is a very good rebounder and defender.  His shot blocking prowess combined with his size, athleticism, and feel for the game could enable him to end up being a solid rim protector in the NBA, and he also is a skilled player that can help his team in a variety of ways on both end of the court.  Bol Bol looks to be a very good bet to go in the lottery, as he could end up being a solid player at the next level.

For Iowa’s 6-9 junior big man Tyler Cook, his performance was a mixed bag, but he is an athletic basketball player that showed off some intriguing skills.  He is tough, physical player that jumps and rebounds well, and he also is a good ball handler that can deftly maneuver where he needs to go with the basketball.  Cook showed an adequate ability to get scores off the dribble.  He is an aggressive shot creator that can get to the hoop to score with either hand, and he can powerfully finish plays above the rim.  Cook can draw numerous fouls upon the opposition, and he also used managed to throw down a powerful dunk off of a right-handed drive.  However, sometimes he can struggle to score in traffic, as he ended up having his a couple of his shots blocked around the basket.

However, he struggled more when attempting to score on jumpers or when he was in the post.  On the one occasion where Cook would have made a pull-up mid-range jumper once, he was called for traveling due to taking too many steps on offense, but although he handles the ball well, especially for a player his size, Cook will still need to improve his playmaking skills.  For the positives, he is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he is a fluid ball handler that can deftly dribble around in the open court.  However, he also was quite turnover prone.  Cook tended to be careless on offense, as he dropped a catchable ball, and he also was called for setting a moving pick.  He also threw an ill-advised pass in the backcourt that ended up getting intercepted, and he also traveled after attempting to score on a high post drive.

He also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  Cook was very active at hauling in boards for his team, especially on the defensive end.  He managed to tip a ball out ferociously to a teammate to help his team get an offensive board once, and sometimes he would bring the ball up off of defensive rebounds.  Defensively though, he looked to be about average at best.  For the positives, Cook was able to run in to intercept an entry pass to get a steal, and he also contested a corner three to force a miss.  However, he can tend to be foul prone, and sometimes he doesn’t move his feet very well when defending either inside or out on the perimeter.

In general, Tyler Cook is a mobile, physical big man that can be a bruiser in the paint, but he also has some handles for a player his size.  He will need to improve his jump shot and decision-making skills on offense, and he will have to show that he can guard more athletic players on the defensive end.  Right now, he may be a second round prospect, and if he continues to hone his overall game, he could end up being a reliable role player at the next level.

Ehab Amin played very well for Oregon in his team’s loss to Iowa.  He is a skilled 6-4 combo guard that will compete on both ends of the floor, and he showed off versatile scoring skills and he also played solid help defense in this game.  Amin did a very good job of knocking down three-point shots to space the floor for his team.  He made a bank transition three early on, and he excelled at knocking down spot-up threes from beyond the arc.  He has a lot of range on his shot, and he also can use off-ball movement to get open.  Plus, he also showed a knack for making corner threes.

He also was able to score on an open layup after initially cutting to the basket, in which he caught an under-thrown lob pass from a teammate.  Plus, he also showed a decent ability to get scores on drives to the hoop.  Amin excels at scoring on aggressive left-handed drives, and he also managed to score on a reverse layup once.  He did a good job of drawing free throws when taking the ball to the rim.  However, he didn’t seem to use his right hand much, and he at times when struggle to score in traffic, as he would be quite predictable in favoring drives to his left.

However, he may need to improve his playmaking skills on offense.  Amin didn’t look to pass much in this game, but he can find the open man, especially when he dribbles up court in transition.  He did seem to be a bit turnover prone though, as he can be too careless on offense at times.  He stepped out of bounds on a baseline drive, threw a loopy entry pass that ended up being intercepted, and he also had a ball poked away on a right-handed drive to lose it to the opposition.  He didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, but Amin was able to grab an offensive board, and he also tipped a ball to a teammate to help his team get a defensive board on another possession.  But on one play, he was called for an over the back foul when going for a defensive rebound due to over-aggressiveness.

Amin also played solid defense.  He does a very good job of jumping on loose balls to get steals, and he also caught an errant pass and pushed the ball up the floor another time.  He is an aggressive, instinctive defender that can rack up steals, and he also will poke balls away and deflect passes to make it tough for his opponents.  He also will actively contest shots and make timely rotations to force misses, but he did have a few miscues.  He committed a foul while pressing an opponent in the backcourt due to being too aggressive that time.  On a separate play, he was caught ball watching before losing track of his man, as he ended up getting beat on a cut, causing his teammate to rotate to commit a foul inside.

In summary, Ehab Amin had a solid showing as he played well in many different facets of this game.   While he may lack ideal size or physical tools at the shooting guard position for the next level, Amin is a very competitive player that can knock down shots, and he also is a very active help defender.  He could be a likely candidate to end up at Portsmouth and at the NBA summer leagues, and if he plays well there, he could perhaps end up being an effective role player in the NBA.

Other Notes:

Iowa’s 6-1 junior point guard, Jordan Bohannon did a very good job of finding open shooters to rack up assists, and he made timely shots off the dribble to get scores for his team.  He showed a knack for knocking down pull-up jumpers on offense, and he also was active at crashing the glass and jumping on loose balls to get steals.  While he may only be an average athlete at best, Bohannon is a smart, skilled player that could be a prospect to watch for the 2020 draft.

Iowa’s 6-11 sophomore big man, Luka Garza did a good job of scoring in the post, used a pump fake to make a three, and he generally showed off versatile scoring skills.  He also excelled as an interior defender as he managed to rotate to block a shot off of a drive to himself, and he also rebounded the ball well.  Garza is a skilled big man that has been having a solid season so far, and he could be a player to watch down the road, as he has a game that may be similar to former Los Angeles Lakers’ forward, Brian Cook.

Oregon’s 6-9 senior forward Paul White had his ups and downs in this game.  He struggled to consistently make shots, but he showed off some solid ball movement, rebounding, and defensive skills.  He is a good facilitator, as he can throw crisp interior passes, and he managed to throw an accurate lob pass on the break to set up a scoring chance for a teammate.  Plus, he will crash the glass to get defensive boards, and he managed to bring the ball up on one play.

White also played good defense. He excelled as a help defender, as he can swat shots on drives and direct them to his team due to possessing good length, timing, and positioning.  He also will play passing lanes, and he was able to jump up to intercept an entry pass to get a steal.  White will deflect passes and poke balls away to make it difficult on his opponents, and he also will actively contest shots to force misses.  Plus, he was able to draw a couple of timely charges on drives to get his opponents to commit offensive fouls, but he also can tend to sag too far in the paint, as he may give up too much space to shooters, which would lead him to allow three-point baskets to his opponents.  White also committed a foul on a high post drive another time, as he struggled to move his feet on that play.

In this game, White struggled to shoot or score the basketball, as he had trouble knocking down jumpers or scoring off the dribble.  But White did show some low post scoring skills, as he backed down a bigger player, and used a pivot move to score on a crafty, stepthrough move.  Plus, he excelled as a finisher in transition, as he runs the floor well, and he also can dribble in to score on the break.  Overall, Paul White had a fairly mediocre showing in his team’s loss to Iowa, as he really struggled to knock down shots, but he excelled in the non-shooting or scoring related categories of this game.  He is a fill-in-the-blanks type of player that can help his team in a complementary role, though he may not be outstanding in any one area.  Right now, he might not be a likely candidate to be drafted, but White is a skilled combo forward that could end up on an NBA team’s summer league roster, as his versatility could enable him to potentially latch onto an NBA team’s roster in the league.

Unfortunately for Oregon’s 6-9 sophomore big man Kenny Wooten, he did not have a great game.  He did score on a tip dunk, but he failed to establish himself as a reliable scoring threat on offense in this game.  While he did show the ability to contest shots around the basket due to possessing solid length and athleticism, he struggled to defend opponents off of drives or in the post, as he would struggle to move his feet laterally or guard stronger players on the block.  Though Wooten excelled as a rebounder, he was ineffective in all of the other elements of the game, as he did not play well against Iowa on that day.  Still, he could be a player to keep an eye on in the future, as he could be a second round prospect in a future draft, as his skills may be reminiscent to that of former Miami Heat forward, Jarvis Varnado.

Payton Pritchard did not play well overall for Oregon, but he did do a good job as a ball mover and rebounder against Iowa.  However, he struggled to consistently make shots, as he had trouble knocking down jumpers or finishing plays around the basket.  He also struggled with his position defense, and his less than ideal size and athletic limitations made it tough for him to guard taller opponents on jumpers or off of drives.  The best case scenario for him would be if he could develop into a reliable game managing backup point guard in the NBA akin to Chicago Bulls’ point guard Ryan Arcidiacono, but Pritchard’s lack of ideal physical tools may make him a fringe prospect for the NBA for the time being.

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