Observing David Johnson, Carlik Jones, and Isaiah Jackson

December 27th, 2020

By Alan Lu

I decided to take the time to watch David Johnson and Louisville play against Kentucky in a game that took place on December 26th.  It was an in-state rivalry game that took place between two non-conference opponents, and it was a very competitive match.  David Johnson and Carlik Jones played well for Louisville, as they made shots and passed the ball well in this game, and Isaiah Jackson excelled as a defender for Kentucky.  Ultimately, Louisville was able to edge out Kentucky to get a narrow win at home, and Kentucky ended up dropping to 1-6 on the year.  Here are my thoughts on how Johnson, Jones, and other various prospects fared on this day, and where they may currently stack up as prospects for the NBA.

Louisville’s sophomore guard, David Johnson played a strong all-around game in his team’s win over Kentucky, and he is a first round prospect for the 2021 draft.
(Photo:
Andy Lyons/Getty Images, via Fansided’s Big Red Louie)

Louisville’s 6-5 sophomore guard, David Johnson played very well in his team’s win over Kentucky.  He played a strong all-around game, and he did everything well to help his team get the victory. Johnson did a great job of knocking down threes to provide floor spacing for his team on offense.  He was able to use a pump fake to make a three from way out, and he also made an open spot-up three off the catch.

Later on, he also used a nifty behind the back, crossover move as he pulled up to drill a three from well beyond the arc.  He also showed a fairly good ability to score off the dribble.  Johnson was able to drive hard right off of a screen to score, and he also showed a knack for drawing fouls upon his defenders.  Plus, he also managed to draw free throws after hoisting up a turnaround jumper in the post.  However, he tended to miss on fadeaway jumpers when posting up, and he would take tough shots that would not always go in.

He also was able to score on hustle plays.  Johnson used a drop step move to score on a strong put back, and he also was able to get an extra free throw afterwards due to possessing good strength and scoring touch around the basket.  Late in the game, he drove up the court in transition but stumbled, and he ended up missing a floater another time.

Also, he displayed decent playmaking skills.  Johnson is an unselfish player that can pass out of the post as well as off the dribble, and he can throw solid interior passes to set up scores for his teammates.  However, sometimes he would tend to telegraph his passes, as a few of them ended up getting intercepted.  He also carelessly lost the ball when handling it to commit another turnover, as the ball had slipped out of hands another time.

Plus, he also did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was quite active at crashing the glass in this game.  Johnson was able to leap up to get a strong offensive board midway through this match, and he also would chase down balls to defensive rebounds, as he would tend to bring the ball up afterwards.

Johnson also played solid defense in this game.  He is an active help defender that will play passing lanes to get steals and deflections, and he also was able to run in to intercept crosscourt pass early on.  He also did a good job of contesting jumpers to force misses.  Sometimes though, he can be over-aggressive on the defensive end, which can lead him to commit fouls and allow scores every once in a while.

Overall, David Johnson put forth a solid performance to help lead his team to a win over Kentucky.  He is a strong, physical player that can play multiple positions, and his ability to run the point or play off the ball can prove to be valuable at the next level.   He will need to cut down on the number of turnovers he commits, but he is a talented prospect that could be a good pick for an NBA team in the mid to late first round range of the 2021 draft.

Louisville’s redshirt senior point guard, Carlik Jones played well, as he scored 20 points to help lead his team to a close win over their in-state rival, Kentucky.
(Photo:
Louisville Athletics, via Kentucky Today)

Louisville’s 6-1 redshirt senior point guard, Carlik Jones had a solid showing in his team’s win over Kentucky.  He is a mobile, skilled scorer that can make shots from all over the floor, and he led all scorers with 20 points in this game. Jones showed a fairly good ability to score off the dribble.  He is a crafty, agile player that changes speeds well, and he would use hesitation moves to score on crafty layups and floaters in the lane.  He also was able to split a double team to score inside.  Sometimes though, he would take tough, contested shots that would lead to misses.

He also showed a penchant for drawing fouls upon his defenders, as he would push the ball up the court on the break, and he also was able to get free throws on a defensive rebound late in this game. Jones also showed the ability to knock down jumpers in this game.  He used a quick behind the back crossover move to make a nifty bank shot from mid-range, and he also made a spot-up three from way out.  However, he struggled to consistently knock down pull-up jumpers from the mid-range, and he didn’t take many threes in this game.  While he did make one of three three-point shots in this game, he also heaved up an air-ball from beyond the arc another time.

He also displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  Though he looked to score quite often, Jones can also run the point.  He is a patient player that can get balls to his teammates, and he can find them in stride to set up scores for them.  He is a good passer off the dribble, and he also can throw interior passes to find his teammates on the move.  However, he would sometimes go too fast when handling the ball, which would cause him to lose it to commit turnovers.  He also threw a hasty entry pass that ended up getting intercepted on a separate play.

Jones did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was able to leap up to get plenty of defensive rebounds to help his team out on the boards.  However, he will need to improve his defense.  For the positives, he was able to successfully draw a charge when defending a baseline drive once.  However, he would tend to commit tepid reach-in fouls when rotating to drives, which would lead his team to allow scores and extra free throws.  He also would tend to over-help in the paint and leave shooters open, which would lead him to allow opponents to score on three-point shots.

In summary, Carlik Jones is a smart, skilled playmaker that is a versatile scorer, and he can capably run a team at the point.  He doesn’t possess overwhelming foot-speed or quickness, but his ability to make shots and also be an effective game manager at his position could enable him to thrive in a backup point guard role in the NBA sometime down the road.

Kentucky’s freshman center, Isaiah Jackson put on an impressive defensive performance, as he made a number of terrific blocks and steals early in the second half, but his and his team’s offensive woes continued as they lost a close one to Louisville.
(Photo:
UK Photo, via Northern Kentucky Tribune)

Kentucky’s 6-10 freshman center, Isaiah Jackson also played fairly well in his team’s loss to Louisville.  He is a very athletic, rangy defender that excelled as a defensive player in this match, and he really excelled at doing so in the second half.  However, he struggled more offensively, and he especially had trouble posting up, even against smaller defenders, as his lack of strength or post-up skills hurt his ability to produce on offense in this game.

Jackson played solid defense in this game.  He did a great job of blocking shots to help his team protect the paint due to possessing very good length, athleticism, motor, and timing.  He was able to swat a floater to himself, and he also blocked a put back out of bounds.  He also managed to block a drive off of an opponent out of bounds to help his team get a defensive board.  Plus, he also did a very good job of picking off passes to get steals, and he even managed to intercept a lob pass to do so once.  In addition, he provided an intimidating interior presence to the point where he caused an opposing post player to commit a traveling violation.  However, sometimes he would struggle to defend opposing ball handlers out on the perimeter, which would cause him to allow them to score on jumpers.  He also would sometimes commit touch fouls due to over-aggressiveness.

He also did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was quite active at crashing the glass, and he especially excelled at leaping up to get offensive boards, as he would then score to provide his team with second chance points.  However, he will need to add strength, as there was one play where he got outmuscled and ended up following an opponent on a put back that led his team to allow a score and a free throw that time.

Jackson also excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He was able to sprint down court to catch a lob pass, as he then threw down a high-flying alley-oop dunk on the break.  He also ran in to score on a tip slam off of an offensive rebound, and he also can draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line.  However, he struggled more to score in one-on-one situations.  He had trouble scoring on turnaround jump hooks in the post, and he even threw up one unsightly air-ball even when attempting to score against smaller defenders on the block.  He also missed on a runner when taking the ball to the hoop, and he also missed on a mid-range shot off of a pick and pop play.

Also, he was quite turnover prone on offense.  For the positives, Jackson is an unselfish player that would throw outlet passes to his teammates on the break to set up scores for them, and he can handle the basketball when he is not facing heavy ball pressure.  However, he tended to commit charging fouls when posting up or looking to score off the dribble, and he tended to struggle more when he would suddenly get doubled.  He also tried to post up another time as he initially drove in, but he then threw a hasty crosscourt pass when doubled, which led his pass to get intercepted by a defender.

Overall, Isaiah Jackson is a very athletic, energetic big man whose defense is ahead of his offense right now.  He is a rangy defender that can cover a lot of ground on that side of the ball, and he could project to be an elite rim protector in the NBA one day.  However, his offense needs a lot of improvement.  He’s not very good at creating his own shot, and he really struggled to operate out of the post. 

He’s a skinny big man that doesn’t hold position well at all, and he couldn’t even score even when smaller, wing defenders such as Quinn Slazinski would be tasked to guard him on the block.  Jackson’s best bet to thrive on offense right now would be to be an effective rim runner, ball mover, and screen setter, and anything more than that would be gravy for him on offense.   Jackson may be a high upside prospect, but his lack of polish on offense is what’s holding him back as a player right now.  Right now, he would be best suited to go in the late first to the second round range as he would project to be a solid rim protector in the NBA, but he could potentially be a lottery pick if he can really develop his game on offense sometime down the road.

Kentucky’s 6-7 freshman swingman, B.J. Boston did not have his best game, but he is an athletic, high-motor player that was able to make some solid hustle plays at times in his team’s loss to Kentucky. Boston generally excelled at scoring on hustle plays in this game.  He showed a knack for scoring on tip-ins after leaping up to grab offensive rebounds, and he also drew and made two free throws after getting another offensive board.  He also drove in to score on the break while getting an extra free throw, and Boston would outwork his opponents to help his team get buckets around the basket.

On the downside, he just did not shoot the ball very well at all.  Boston has a penchant for taking lots of mid-range jumpers, but he did not make many of them, despite using very good dribble moves to get his shots up.  He did run off a ball screen and got fouled on a mid-range shot, and Boston did a good job of getting fouled to get to the free throw line.  He did take several three-point shots, but he missed all of his long-range attempts from beyond the arc.

As a playmaker, he looked to be about average at best.  He was able to drive and kick a ball out to a shooter to notch an assist.  However, he also would commit ball-handling turnovers due to recklessness.  Boston was called for traveling off of a drive due to going too quickly that time.  He also tried to barrel his way to the hoop, but he ended up committing a charging foul that led him to commit an offensive foul and a turnover. Boston did a great job of rebounding the basketball.  He would often leap up to get offensive boards, and he excelled at outworking his opponents on the glass to get numerous rebounds for his team.

He also played satisfactory defense in this game.  Boston did a good job of getting his hands on passes to get steals and deflections, and he also actively contested a three to force a miss.  There was one play though where he got beat on a drive in transition to allow a score to his opponent.

Overall, B.J. Boston didn’t play very well, but he still was active as scorer and rebounder around the basket, and he also played tough, stingy defense in this game.  He will definitely need to improve his outside shot, especially from long range, and he will need to work on playing more under control to cut down on his turnovers.  He hasn’t had a great season, and he will need to significantly improve his three-point shot, but he is a very athletic, high-motor swingman whose versatile skill set and upside could enable him to thrive as a role player similar to current Indiana Pacers’ swingman, Jeremy Lamb in the NBA.

Kentucky’s 6-7 freshman forward, Terrence Clarke was said to have been nursing a sore ankle when he was playing in this game against Louisville, which may have helped answer questions as to why he was coming off the bench, and also why he was simply so bad in this game.  Clarke was held scoreless, as he missed on all of his three-point shots, and he also missed on a floater off the dribble.

He is a point forward that can handle the ball, as he would sometimes bring the ball up.  However, he threw an inaccurate pass that got deflected out of bounds.  He also lost the ball on a drive that led him to commit a turnover another time.  Even worse, he did not grab a single rebound in this match.

Defensively, he looked to be okay against Louisville.  He would contest jumpers to force misses, but there was one play where he got beat off the dribble on a second move to the hoop, which caused him to allow a score to his opponent.

Overall, this was easily Clarke’s worst game of the year, and yes, it was even worse than his dreadful performances against Kansas and the North Carolina game where his entire team basically imploded late in the second half.   Clarke looked healthy enough to move around and handle the ball, but if he really was hurt and had a sore ankle, his team should’ve taken an extra precaution to sit him out of this game to let his ankle heal. 

Instead, Clarke had another terrible game, which caused his shooting percentages to take another hit.  NBA scouts and teams have been high on Clarke all year, but it’s getting increasingly harder to justify his or Boston’s presence on draft boards lately, and maybe they are just not the first round prospects that we thought they were coming in.  Clarke especially has shot the ball poorly, and he has not rebounded nor taken care of the ball very well this season, and he may need an extra season to hone his game. 

He will need to make more shots efficiently and he will especially need to improve his outside shot, but if he does end up getting picked by an NBA team with a solid infrastructure in place, he could still end up being a solid role player at that level someday.  Most likely, he could project to be a backend rotation player similar to former NBA journeyman, Antoine Wright in the association.

Kentucky’s 6-3 redshirt senior guard, Davion Mintz played very well in his team’s loss to Louisville.  He did a great job of making threes from beyond the arc.  He handles the ball well, as he can pull-up to knock them down from way out, and he also can make spot-up threes off the catch.  Mintz also was able to use a crossover move to score on a strong drive when getting an extra free throw, and he can absorb the contact to get plenty of free throws.  However, he would sometimes take tough, difficult shots, which would lead him to miss shots in traffic.

As a playmaker, he looked to be fairly average.  He is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man to set up scores for his teammates.  However, he threw a wildly inaccurate entry pass that sailed out of bounds once, and he also lost the ball on a drive that led to another turnover.

Mintz did a very good job of rebounding the basketball, as he was quite active at crashing the glass.  He was able to get multiple boards on both ends of the floor, and sometimes he would bring the ball up off of defensive boards.  Defensively, he looked to be fairly average.  Mintz did a good job of getting steals, and he would jump passes to do so.  He also dove for a loose ball to nearly get another.  However, he would sag too far off of shooters, which would cause him to allow opponents to score on three-point shots.  He also tended to commit fouls when guarding his opponents due to hand-checking.

Overall, Mintz had the best game out of all of the Kentucky players that played on this day against Louisville, and he especially excelled as a shooter, scorer, and rebounder for his team.  On the season, he will need to improve his ability to make two-point shots and free throws, and he will need to take better care of the basketball.  Still, he is a fairly athletic combo guard that can knock down outside shots, and that will likely allow him to compete for a roster spot in the NBA next season.

Kentucky’s 7-9 sophomore forward, Jacob Toppin played very well in his team’s loss to Louisville.  He excelled as a scorer in the post, and he also did a good job of making mid-range jumpers.  He showed good footwork and scoring touch to consistently score, and he also scored on a put back due to possessing a very good motor.

Toppin did a good job of rebounding the basketball, and he was able to help his team get some tough boards.  He also would set good screens to help his teammates get open jump shots, and he also contested a shot in the post to force a miss.

Overall, Toppin played very well in his team’s loss to Louisville, and this was likely his best game of the season to date.  He scored 10 points and grabbed 6 rebounds off the bench, and he thrived as a scorer and rebounder on the floor.  He will need to extend his shooting range out to beyond the arc moving forward, but this game could be a good building block for him, and he could be a prospect to watch sometime down the road.

Louisville’s sophomore swingman, Samuell Williamson didn’t have his best game, but he was able to score on a fadeaway jumper from the mid-range, and he also ran the floor to score on the break.  He was fairly active on the glass to get boards, and he also ran in to poke a ball away to get a steal.  However, he tended to be undisciplined defensively at times, as he bit on a ball fake once to allow a mid-range basket and also committed a foul due to hand-checking.  He also struggled to consistently shoot or score in this game, and he committed a traveling violation in which he would’ve scored on an emphatic dunk otherwise if that call had not been made.

Overall, Williamson is an athletic, high-motor player that was able to make a few good plays in this game, but he didn’t stand out otherwise in his team’s win over Kentucky.  He’ll need to stay in school and work on his outside shot, and he will need to be more assertive on offense.  In a favorable scenario, he could project into a 3 and D role in the NBA sometime in the future if he can put more time to work on his offense in the future.

Louisville’s 6-8 freshman forward, Jae’Lyn Withers played fairly well in his team’s win over Kentucky.  He didn’t shoot the ball very much, but he was extremely efficient in scoring in the limited touches he had on offense.  He was able to score around the basket and on a roll to the rim, and Withers also ran the floor and caught a lob pass to score on an alley-oop dunk. He did a very good job of rebounding the basketball, and he also was able to successfully draw a charge on a drive, but he also sometimes struggled to stay on the floor, as he would pick up quick fouls at times.

Overall, Withers excelled in his role in this game.  He will need to improve his face-up game to improve his odds to make it to the NBA, but he is playing very well in college basketball this year.  He’s in between forward positions, as he is undersized to play the four, and lacks the perimeter skills to play the small forward position at the next level, and he will likely need to stay in school for several years to hone his game.  In a favorable scenario, he could potentially make an NBA team’s roster as a defensive specialist at that level one day.

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