Observing Cam Whitmore’s Season Debut Against Oklahoma

December 3rd, 2022

By Alan Lu

Today, I took the time to watch Villanova’s freshman forward, Cam Whitmore play in his college basketball season debut against Oklahoma in a non-conference, college basketball game.  Whitmore had missed time due to a lingering knee injury, so there was much anxiety and anticipation to see how he would play today.  Oklahoma got off to a strong start due to the hot shooting of the Groves brothers and Grant Sherfield early on, but Villanova played tough defense, received a sterling performance from Caleb Daniels, and they rallied on to get a comeback win.  Cam Whitmore had his ups and downs in this contest, but was able to make some solid plays in this match.  Here are my thoughts on how he and other various prospects fared in this game.

Villanova’s freshman forward, Cam Whitmore had his ups and downs in his season debut, but he had some strong moments in his team’s win over Oklahoma.
Matt Slocum/Associated Press, via Connecticut Post)

Cam Whitmore had some good moments, but his performance overall was a mixed bag in his team’s win over Oklahoma.  He came off the bench aggressively and ready to make plays.  He was inconsistent as a shooter and scorer overall today, but he generally defended well, and he was able to make a slew of strong plays on both sides of the ball.

Whitmore looked to take outside shots early and often, and while he struggled to make them consistently, he made one nice crossover, step-back three smoothly during the middle of this match.  He wasn’t able to make open spot-up threes off the catch nearly as well, but he showed that he can make a credible shooting threat from beyond the arc.

He also showed that he can ably score on strong drives to the hoop.  He was able to go hard to his left, and he was able to take on contact to score due to possessing good strength, finishing ability, and scoring touch around the hoop.  He didn’t always look to finish in traffic though, and he missed an off-balanced right-handed drive early on. Whitmore was able to make a quick backdoor cut to get the ball along the baseline, and he then utilized a power dribble move to score.

He didn’t look to be a natural playmaker as he didn’t seem to make decisions quickly in the offense or to look for his teammates very often.  Tendency wise, he would often look to scan the defense in attempts to try to isolate and get one-on-one scoring chances, and he didn’t look to move off the ball or cut to the hoop nearly as often as he should have.  Whitmore was able to throw a solid entry pass to a teammate.  However, he would sometimes over-dribble and try to force the issue too much, as he did so once, leading him to throw an awkward jump pass while falling out of bounds in mid-air, which led him to throw a weak pass that got intercepted.

Also, Whitmore was active at crashing the boards, and he was able to haul in plenty of defensive rebounds.  He also defended well.  He was able to jump on a loose ball that a ball-handler lost to get a steal, and also thrived at jumping passes quickly to get other steals.  He didn’t always stay in front of his man when defending on the ball, but he generally showed fairly solid footwork and would funnel his man into the help if he needed to.

In general, Cam Whitmore put forth an okay performance in his team’s win over Oklahoma.  After he turned in very strong performances at the high school All-Star games, there were lofty expectations for him heading into the season.  They might have been too lofty, but Whitmore still was able to make some solid plays on both ends of the court, and he also looks to be a solid defender.  He will need to be a more consistent shooter, but he showed that he can ably create his own shot, knock down the occasional jumper, and defend, and he seemed to show an immense amount of potential despite having an inconsistent overall performance.  There will be more games that will be need to be seen in order to determine his true upside, but Whitmore is a talented prospect that could contend for the lottery in the 2023 draft.

Other Notes:

Grant Sherfield is an agile, skilled playmaker that played well for Oklahoma in their tough loss to Villanova.  He did a very good job of shooting and scoring the basketball, and he thrived at scoring on quick pull-up jumpers.  He was able to make some from way out.  He also generally passed the ball well, and he would make drive and kick passes to get shooters the ball to get assists.  Overall, he played very well, especially early on, and he could end up being a reliable backup point guard in the NBA.

Caleb Daniels did a good job of shooting and scoring the basketball in Villanova’s win over Oklahoma.  The 6-4 senior is a solid post-up guard that showed good strength, scoring touch, and footwork to score consistently out of the post.  He would back down his man to score, and he also showed that he can score on bigger opponents.  He also shot the three-ball well, and he showed that he can ably knock them down off the catch or dribble.  Overall, he thrived as a shooter and scorer for Villanova, and he is a skilled combo guard that could end up making a team’s roster in the NBA.

Jacob Groves also had a solid showing in Oklahoma’s loss to Villanova.  He shot the ball well, and he showed a penchant for making open corner threes to provide floor spacing for his team on offense.  He also used a behind-the-back dribble move to knock down a pull-up, mid-range jumper smoothly.  He also showed a satisfactory ability to finish plays around the basket.  He slowed down as the game progressed in the second half, but he is a mobile, skilled wing player that could project into a shooting specialist role in the association.

Tanner Groves did a good job of scoring out of the post and off rolls to the rim, and he is a strong, big man that has a good scoring touch around the basket.  He even caught a lob to score on an impressive, alley-oop dunk off of a roll to the rim.  He’s still mostly a below the rim player and he looked mostly to score around the basket, and he missed all of his threes, including one where he missed a three very awkwardly very late in the shot clock. 

On the bright side, he passed the ball well, and he would make timely passes to get assists.  Overall, he will need to improve his mobility and be a more consistent outside shooter, and he will need to show that he can guard more athletic opponents.  His jump shot could get him looks from NBA teams, but he will need to show that he can consistently make plays against upper-echelon players and opponents to be able to succeed at the NBA level.

Mark Armstrong is an agile, skilled combo guard that also played fairly well for Villanova.  He was able to make a couple of pull-up, mid-range jumpers, and he also made a three-point shot.  He is a mobile, ball handler that can get to where he needs to go on the floor.  He didn’t seem to play a lot down the stretch or take enough shots, but he is a shot maker that may have the potential to develop into a reliable role player in the NBA in the future.

Anyways, those are my thoughts on how Cam Whitmore and other various prospects fared in this game.  Thanks for reading.

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