Observing Cade Cunningham, Miles McBride, and Derek Culver

January 5th, 2021

By Alan Lu

Yesterday, I decided to take the time to watch Cade Cunningham and Oklahoma State play against West Virginia in a very competitive, Big 12 conference basketball game.  Oklahoma State got off to a fast start due to strong guard play early on, and it looked as if they would run away with the victory.  However, the game would take on a different turn, especially as West Virginia continually fought and battled throughout the night.

Things got very interesting when Cade Cunningham, who had been playing very well, suddenly got into unexpected foul trouble.  West Virginia was able to go on a huge run, as they played well on both ends of the floor, and the Mountaineers were able to climb back from a 19-point deficit to get a hard-earned, road win over Oklahoma State, as they were led by Derek Culver and Miles McBride, with several other players contributing along the way.  Here are my thoughts on how Cade Cunningham and other various prospects fared, as well as how they may currently rate as prospects for the NBA.

Cade Cunningham played very well in his team’s loss, as he scored 25 points, and had 9 rebounds and 3 assists before fouling out late against West Virginia.
(Photo:
Rob Ferguson/USA Today Sports, via Marietta Daily Journal)

Oklahoma State’s 6-8 freshman guard, Cade Cunningham played very well in his team’s loss to West Virginia.  He played well on both ends of the floor, and he scored 25 points and collected 9 rebounds in this game.  He did run into a bit of foul trouble in the second half that sidelined him for a bit and he fouled out late in this match, but he had a strong showing in this game, nonetheless.

Cunningham shot the ball well, as he excelled at knocking down jumpers to space the floor for his team.  He did a good job of making three-pointers, as he was able to do so off the catch and dribble, and he has a lot of range on his shot.  He also ran off the ball, and he was able to quickly make a mid-range jump shot from the left elbow.

He also did a great job of scoring on strong drives to the hoop.  Cunningham can use either hand to score, and he is a crafty player that can use subtle dribble moves, and he also has very good body control to regularly finish plays to score at the rim. He also excelled at scoring in the post.  Cunningham would frequently establish position down low, as he was able to score on a turnaround jumper, and he also used a spin move to scor on a turnaround layup.

Also, he displayed adequate playmaking skills, but he was also quite turnover prone on offense, especially late in this match.  Cunningham can throw solid passes off the dribble and out of the post, and he is an unselfish player that will look for the open man to set up numerous scoring chances for his teammates.  He also was able to drive in and find a cutter to notch an assist once.  He tended to commit some ball-handling turnovers, as he was called for a couple of charging fouls on aggressive drives to the basket.  Other times, he would occasionally struggle to handle the ball when faced with heavy ball pressure, as he would sometimes get it knocked away from him, and he also threw a pass that ended up getting intercepted.

Cunningham also did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He would frequently leap up to get boards on both ends of the floor, and sometimes he would push the ball up the court after getting defensive rebounds.

Defensively, he looked to be perhaps above average.  Cunningham is a long, rangy defender that can cover plenty of ground, and he generally played well on that side of the ball when he would avoid foul trouble.  He was able to pick off a pair of passes to get steals, and he also can pounce upon loose balls to help his team.  He also rotated to block a shot around the basket, and he was active in contesting shots to force misses.  He also was able to fight through a hard screen, and he was able to funnel his man into another defender, as his team was able to draw a charge on the play.

Sometimes though, he would be too aggressive in contesting shots or going for loose balls, which would lead him to commit fouls, and he was called for fouling an opponent on a jump shot twice.  He also would sometimes be caught ball watching and give up too much space, which would cause him to allow opponents to score on jumpers.  Another time, he had trouble guarding a quicker opponent, as his team ended up allowing an opponent to score from the mid-range.

Overall, Cade Cunningham had a strong showing in his team’s loss to West Virginia.  He especially excelled as a shooter, scorer, and rebounder in this game, and some of the fouls he committed in the second half looked to be rather questionable calls, as he seemed to have been punished for trying to actively contest shots on the defensive end.  Right now, he’s a lock to be a top 5 pick, and he is a solid contender to be the number one overall pick for the 2021 draft, as he likely will project to be a solid starter in the NBA.

Miles McBride played very well, and he was tremendous down the stretch, as he scored 21 points to lead West Virginia to a win over Oklahoma State.
(Photo:
Courtney Ray/Oklahoma State Athletics, via Rivals)

West Virginia’s 6-2 sophomore guard, Miles McBride put forth a very good performance in his team’s win, though he seemed to start off slowly at first.  He eventually found his stride in the second half, and he was able to shoot and score at will, and he ended up scoring 21 points, made 3 threes, and he also dished out 5 assists to help his team get a comeback win over Oklahoma State.

McBride is a sharpshooter that shot the ball very well on offense.  He would often run off the ball to get open, and he would knock down corner threes to space the floor for his team.  He also was able to make a deep three-point shot from way out.  He struggled more to consistently make mid-range jumpers, but he was able to make them at the right time down the stretch, and he was able to drive towards the baseline to make a smooth pull-up jumper from the mid-range late in this game.

He also showed a decent ability to score off the dribble.  McBride was able to score on a strong, left-handed drive off the glass.  Plus, he also used a pump fake to get fouled on a drive in transition, and he made both of his free throws at the foul line.  He did attempt to score in the post, but he ended up missing on a contested, fade-away jumper.

He also displayed decent playmaking skills in this game.  McBride is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he was able to get the ball to his teammates in a variety of ways to set up scores for them.  However, he did commit a few turnovers on offense as well.

He also was able to crash the glass to help his team get plenty of rebounds.  McBride was quite active on the glass, and he was able to get multiple boards on both ends of the floor, and he was able to push the ball up the court off of one defensive board.

In summary, Miles McBride had a strong showing in this game, and he played excellent basketball late in the second half to help lead his team to a riveting, come from behind win over Oklahoma State.  He is a gifted shooter that can really put up points in a hurry.  He is an underrated prospect, as his scoring skills and solid athletic gifts could enable him to go in the first round of the 2021 draft, and he is a skilled player that could thrive as a role player in the NBA.

Derek Culver had a strong showing, as he scored 22 points and had 19 rebounds in West Virginia’s comeback win on the road against Oklahoma State.
(Photo:
Sue Ogrocki/The Associated Press)

West Virginia’s 6-10 junior center, Derek Culver also put forth a sterling performance to help lead his team to a win over Oklahoma State.  In this game, he scored 22 points, and he also had 19 rebounds and 2 blocks to help get them the victory.

Culver did a fairly good job of scoring in the post.  He would tend to get deep position, and he generally excelled at scoring on turnaround jump hooks.  He also was able to use a spin move to score on a very powerful dunk another time.  However, he tended to miss shots after using spin moves, as he would sometimes miss on tough, contested shots.

He also was very active at crashing the offensive glass, and he would often score and drew free throws on strong put backs after grabbing offensive boards for his team.  Sometimes though, his tendency to take tough, off-balanced shots when result in misses when he wouldn’t get foul calls on offense. Also, Culver did a good job of knocking down mid-range jumpers, and he showed a good feel for making those shots to help provide some floor spacing for his team.

In addition, he showcased fairly average playmaking skills.  Culver was able to throw a sharp interior pass to set up a scoring opportunity for a teammate, and he also set a firm, hard on-ball screen to help get a teammate an open driving lane another time.  However, sometimes he would throw inaccurate passes that would sail out of bounds, and his second turnover was a result of miscommunication because he thought that there would be a teammate in the corner when there wasn’t.

Plus, Culver did a tremendous job of rebounding the basketball.  He would often leap up to get strong boards on both ends of the floor, and he showed that he can haul in plenty of boards in traffic.  He was also effective at scoring off of put backs, and he was able to provide his team with plenty of second chance points.

He also played solid defense in this game.  He did a very good job of blocking shots in the paint, and he would forcefully send those shots back to get stops for his team.  He was quite active at contesting jump shots to force misses, and he also was able to deflect an entry pass out of bounds another time.  However, sometimes he wouldn’t quite be in position to contest shots in the post, and other times he would be late on his rotations.

In general, Derek Culver played very well, as he consistently made solid plays on both ends of the court, and his strong interior play helped his team get a tough road win over Oklahoma State.  He is an underrated prospect, as he is a strong, mobile big man that can take over a game with his ability to score and defend in the post, and he could project to be a solid role player in the NBA.

Oklahoma State’s 6-4 junior guard, Isaac Likekele had a solid showing in his team’s loss to West Virginia, and he started off playing very well.  He made his first 6 field goals, as he had 16 first half points, and he went on to score 22 points in this game.

Likekele did a good job of scoring off the dribble to get points for his team.  He would score on strong drives to the hoop, and he also excelled at driving up the court to score in transition.  He also can draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line, and he would tend to favor going to his left to score. 

Plus, he also did a good job of scoring in the post.  He would frequently establish getting deep position down low, as he would score around the basket.  He also spun to catch a ball, as he scored on a dunk another time.  Sometimes though, he would take tough, difficult shots that would lead to misses, especially when he wouldn’t get foul calls.

He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  Likekele was able to score on a backdoor cut from the baseline, and he also scored on a strong put back in traffic.  He didn’t look to take many shots from outside of the paint area, as he missed on a mid-range jumper once, and he did not take a single three-point shot in this match.

Also, he displayed satisfactory playmaking skills.  Likekele is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he can get the ball to his teammates in a variety of ways to set up scores for them.  He also can throw solid passes off the dribble as well as in transition.  However, he also would commit some turnovers when operating out of the post.  He had a ball poked away from him once, and he also was called for an offensive foul off the ball as he threw an elbow when jostling for position another time.  He also threw an inaccurate pass that was dropped out of bounds, and he also caught a ball in the corner but stepped out of bounds on a separate possession.

Also, Likekele did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He would swoop to get plenty of boards on both sides of the ball.  He also played fairly good defense.  Likekele was able to block a three-point shot, and he also successfully drew a charge when defending on a drive.  Plus, there was another time when he contested a shot in the post to force a miss.

Overall, Likekele is a strong, athletic combo guard that excelled as a scorer and defender in the paint, and he may be one of the best post-up guards in the country.  He will still need to improve his outside shot and be more comfortable in taking shots from long range.  Right now, he is a second round prospect for the 2021 draft, and he could project into a defensive specialist role in the NBA.

West Virginia’s 6-7 junior swingman, Emmitt Matthews Jr. had a decent showing in his team’s win over Oklahoma State.  He had a better game than the box score indicated, as he was able to make some highlight reel worthy plays on both ends of the floor, and he also defended well. Matthews excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He was able to run in to score on a tip slam off of an offensive rebound early on, and he also ran the floor to score on a thunderous dunk on the break.

He also flashed the ability to score off the dribble.  Matthews was able to drive in from the high post to score on a dunk another time.  However, he struggled to knock down jumpers, as he would tend to miss on threes and mid-range jumpers, and he would occasionally miss shots on drives to the hoop due to rushing.

He also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  Matthews is an unselfish player that will make the extra pass to keep the ball moving, and he was able to find an open shooter to get an assist.  However, there was another play where he was able to get the ball on a cut, but then lost the ball that led him to commit a turnover.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds, he was able to leap up to get an offensive board once.  Matthews also played solid defense.  He hustled back on defense and made a nice chase down block to prevent an opponent from scoring on the break.  He also was able to back-tap an opposing ball handler in the post, and he also intercepted a pass to help his team get steals.  He also was able to deflect a pass another time, and he is an athletic, rangy defender that can get numerous stops for his team.

Overall, Emmitt Matthews Jr. is a very athletic, energetic swingman that could project to be a defensive specialist in the NBA someday.  He was able to make a number of highlight-reel worthy plays, and while he will need to improve his jump shot, his athleticism and defensive potential could enable him to be a second round pick for the 2022 draft if he can continue to make strides as an overall player.

Oklahoma State’s 6-4 freshman guard, Rondel Walker played fairly well in his team’s loss to West Virginia.  He is a very athletic combo guard that showed off versatile scoring skills, as he was able to spot up to make a couple of corner threes off the catch, and he showed that he can score on aggressive drives to the hoop.  He was a bit streaky with his shot, but he generally did a good job of scoring and drawing free throws for his team. He also played fairly good defense.  He would get his hands on passes to get steals and deflections, and he also fought through a screen to stay in front of an opposing ball handler another time.

Overall, Rondel Walker is an athletic guard that can knock down shots, but he will need to improve his playmaking skills in the meantime.  He may need to stay in school another season to hone his game, but he could be a prospect to watch in the future, as he could project to a microwave type of scorer off the bench for a team in the NBA.

West Virginia’s 6-3 redshirt junior guard, Kedrian Johnson also played well off the bench to help his team get the win.  He had a solid, all-around game, as he would score quickly off the dribble, and he also made a deep three from way out.  He also showed a knack for drawing fouls to get to the free throw line.

He also passed the ball well, and he also was active on the boards to help his team get some rebounds.  Johnson defended very well, as he would rotate to block and alter shots off of drives in transition, and he is a rangy defender that would apply heavy ball pressure and contest shots to force misses.  He also managed to successfully draw a charge when defending a drive another time to get a stop for his team.

Overall, Johnson played very well off the bench, as he was able to help his team get a comeback win over Oklahoma State.  He hasn’t played much this year, but he could be a prospect to watch next season if he can continue to play well at West Virginia.

West Virginia’s 6-4 senior guard, Taz Sherman played well in this game, as he scored 20 points and had 4 rebounds in his team’s win over Oklahoma State.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, as he showed that he can knock down spot-up threes off the catch, and he also was able to score on quick layups off the dribble.  He also managed to score on a quick tip-in off of his miss due to possessing solid athleticism and motor to do so. He also crashed the glass to get his team some rebounds, and he also took a ball away to get a steal.  While he didn’t get many assists, he was able to kick a ball out to a shooter in transition to set up a score for his teammate.

Overall, Sherman is a skilled combo guard that can shoot and score the basketball, and while he will likely need to improve his playmaking skills, his ability to knock down jump shots could enable him to compete for a roster spot in the NBA next season.

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