Observing Jalen Bridges, Ja’Kobe Walter, and Jaxson Robinson

January 10th, 2024

By Alan Lu

Yesterday, I took the time to watch Ja’Kobe Walter and Baylor play against Jaxson Robinson and BYU in a very competitive, non-conference basketball game.  It was another opportunity to watch the highly skilled and athletic Walter play, as he is projected to be a likely lottery pick, and it was also my first time watching Robinson play in a live game. Robinson is an athletic sharpshooter that has risen up draft boards.

Baylor’s senior forward, Jalen Bridges scored 25 points, made 3 threes, and had 5 rebounds and 2 assists in his team’s 81-72 win over BYU last night. (Photo: Gareth Patterson/Associated Press, via The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Jalen Bridges played very well to help lead his team to a win over BYU.  He is an athletic, skilled combo forward that excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor, and he had a solid all-around performance in this game.

Bridges shot the ball very well, especially off the catch.  He thrived as a movement shooter in this game, and he also showed a knack for making corner threes.  He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He was able to run in to score on an athletic tip-in, and Bridges would look to score off of put backs and in transition.

He also showed a satisfactory ability to score off the dribble.  He has a fairly solid first step, and he would make strong moves to score and get free throws.  Sometimes though, he would miss on tough shots around the basket.  Plus, Bridges is also an unselfish player that will make the extra pass, and he consistently find the open man to set up scoring chances for them.

Also, he did an adequate job of rebounding the basketball.  He also played satisfactory defense.  Bridges was able to jump a pass to get a steal, and he also blocked a shot in this game.  He would consistently contest shots both out on the perimeter and in the paint to force misses.  On the downside, he would sometimes be undisciplined defensively.  On one play, he was caught ball watching and was late to react, and he ended up allowing his man to score on a corner three.  Another time, he trailed his man on a cut to give up the basket.

In general, Jalen Bridges had a strong showing in his team’s win over BYU.  He especially had a strong second half, and he had a very good all-around game.  He’s flown under the radar, but he could be a solid pick in either round of the 2024 draft, and he could be a good find for the NBA that drafts him.  While his advanced age may suggest that he may not have much more upside left, he is a fairly polished prospect that could project to be a solid role player in the NBA.

Baylor’s 6-5 freshman guard, Ja’Kobe Walter scored 16 points and made 2 threes to help his team get a win over BYU on January 9th. (Photo: USA Today Sports, via Yardbarker)

Ja’Kobe Walter had a solid showing to help lead his team to a win over BYU.  He is an athletic, skilled guard that showed off versatile scoring skills, and he also made a more concentrated effort to guard opponents defensively to help his team get the victory.  Walter shot the ball well from the outside, and he showed a knack for making smooth, pull-up threes to provide floor spacing for his team.  However, he strangely tended to miss on spot-up threes, and he had trouble making standstill threes on motion plays.

He also did a good job of scoring off the dribble.  He showed a knack for making shots from the mid-range area, and he has good balance, body control, and shooting touch to do so.  He also would score on quick, strong drives to the hoop, and he can take on the contact to finish plays while getting fouled.

He displayed perhaps adequate playmaking skills.  On one hand, he didn’t really look to pass the ball that often, and when he did, he didn’t seem to be very accurate on his passes, and he also had zero assists against BYU.  On the other, he handled the ball well, and he did not turn the ball over once in this game.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds, Walter was able to get a board on each end of the floor.  He also played adequate defense.  He was able to rotate to contest a shot off the dribble to force a miss.  He also was able to help deflect a pass out of bounds to nearly get a steal.  However, he had trouble fighting through screens, which led him to allow a score once, and it also led him to foul a three-point shooter another time.

In summary, Ja’Kobe Walter played well in this game, especially in the first half.  He is a talented shot maker that can shoot and score the basketball, and he can get any shot he wants on the floor.  He will need to refine his skills in the other elements of the game, but he is a skilled guard that will likely be a lottery pick in the 2024 draft.

Jaxson Robinson scored all 10 of his points in the first half, but he did not score in the second half of this game as his team ended up losing to Baylor. (Photo: Mitch Harper/KSL Sports)

Jaxson Robinson had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Baylor.  He’s been having a very good season this year, but curiously, he came off the bench in a sixth man role despite being his team’s best player.  He is a talented prospect that had a very good first half, and a shoddy second half, and his inconsistent play leads me to think that the sixth man role would be his projected role in the NBA.

In the first half, Robinson showed off a variety of scoring skills.  He was able to dribble off of a screen to make a smooth, pull-up three to show off his shooting prowess.  He also scored on a quick, backdoor cut.  He even used a crossover move to score on a strong, acrobatic drive to the hoop while getting fouled.  Robinson preferred to go to his left to score, as that seemed to be his dominant hand.

However, he really struggled to make shots in the second half.  He struggled to make threes, even though that’s his calling card for the NBA, and he struggled to make threes both off the catch or dribble.  He also took some questionable shots, as he tended to miss on step-back, mid-range jumpers, as well as on tough shots in traffic.  He’s not particularly quick, so he would often struggle to get all the way to the rim, and opponents could force him into taking difficult shots.  Robinson ultimately didn’t shoot or score very well, and he will need to be a more consistent shooter moving forward.

He also displayed decent playmaking skills.  Robinson did a good job of throwing accurate outlet passes to find open teammates on the break.  He also was able to make a pass out of the post to notch an assist.  Sometimes though, he would force the issue a bit too much, which would lead to some turnovers.  He threw an ill-advised skip pass that ended up getting picked off.  When posting up another time, he ended up having the ball poked away from him to turn the ball over.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds, Robinson was able to get a pair of boards in this game.  He also played adequate defense.  He defended fairly well in the first half, but not nearly as well in the second half.  For the positives, Robinson is an active defender that was able to make some plays on the defensive end.  He was able to run in quickly to get his hands on a loose ball to get a steal.  He also managed to contest a drive to force a miss.  On one play, he ended up getting beat off the dribble to allow a score.  Another time, he closed out too hard and wound up fouling a three-point shooter to put his opponent on the free throw line.

Overall, Jaxson Robinson had a good start to this game, but he then struggled to make plays in the second half.  He will need to be a more consistent player in games, but even still, he is an athletic, skilled forward that projects into a 3 and D role in the NBA.  Currently, he projects to go in the late first to the second round range, and if everything pans out for him, he could end up being a reliable role player similar to Houston Rockets’ veteran swingman, Reggie Bullock in the association.

Langston Love played very well to help lead his team to a win over BYU.  He especially thrived as a shooter and scorer in this game.  He showed a penchant for making threes, as he can do so both off the catch and dribble.  He also was able to use a hesitation move to score on a quick drive to the hoop, but he also missed his fair share when looking to score inside the arc.  Love seemed to be at his best when taking and making corner threes off the catch.  Overall, he is an agile, skilled combo guard, and he could project to be a microwave type of scorer in the NBA.

Jayden Nunn had a solid showing in his team’s win over BYU.  He especially excelled at making plays on the offensive end.  He showed a knack for making spot-up threes, particularly from the corners, and he also did a adequate job of scoring off the dribble.  He also was able to make a quick drive and kick pass to notch an assist.  He also was active in getting rebounds and steals in this game.   Overall, Nunn played well in this game, and he is an agile, skilled combo guard that may have the skills to make it to the NBA in the future.

Aly Khalifa also played fairly well in his team’s loss to Baylor.  He is a strong, skilled center that thrived as a passer on the floor.  He did a very good job of making passes to his teammates, as he would often find cutters, and he would throw accurate passes out of the post to get assists.  He would make the extra pass to find the open man, and he would set firm, on-ball screens to help get his teammates open jump shots.  He didn’t commit many turnovers, but he did commit a couple of them.  One was where he tried a bounce pass to a cutter, but it went out of bounds.  Another time, he was called for setting a moving screen.

He didn’t take many shots in this game, but Khalifa was able to move off the ball to make an open three off the catch to show his shooting skills.  Surprisingly, he didn’t grab any rebounds in this game.  Defensively, he looked to be about average.  For the positives, Khalifa would compete to make plays defensively, and he would play angles to help his team on this end.  He was able to rotate to contest a drive to force a miss.  He also deflected a pass out of bounds another time.  However, he doesn’t possess great lateral mobility, which would lead him to be foul prone.  In this game, he would struggle to defend quicker opponents off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls.

Overall, Aly Khalifa had a decent showing in this game.  He is a skilled center that primarily excelled as a facilitator, and he did a terrific job of passing the basketball.  He’ll need to improve his mobility and be a more consistent shooter and defender on the floor, but he is a cerebral playmaker that could potentially end up making it to the NBA someday.

BYU’s 6-5 sophomore guard, Richie Saunders also played fairly well in his team’s loss to Baylor.  He excelled at attacking the basket to score and pass the basketball.  Saunders was able to score on a strong drive to the hoop.  He also scored in transition as well as off of a backdoor cut.  He also drove up court and threw an accurate lob pass to set up a score for a teammate on the break.  

He also rebounded well and played adequate defense.  He was able to get a steal and a block in this game.   However though, there was one play where he struggled to defend an opponent on a drive, as he fouled his man on a floater and also allowed the score that time.  Overall, Saunders had a solid showing in this game, and he didn’t seem to get enough playing time, but he is a fairly athletic, skilled swingman that could project into a 3 and D role at the NBA level.

BYU’s 6-5 senior guard, Spencer Johnson also had a solid showing in his team’s loss to Baylor.  He shot the ball really well, and he showed that he can make corner threes as well as pull-up threes in this game.  He also scored on a tough, fadeaway jumper out of the post, and he showed a decent ability to score off the dribble.  

He didn’t seem to make any noteworthy passes, but threw a hasty pass once that got intercepted that led to a turnover.  He was able to get his fair share of boards in this game.  He also ran in to tie up an opposing ball handler to help force a turnover on the defensive end.  Though he may only be an average athlete, Johnson is a crafty scorer that can shoot the basketball, and he could end up making his way to the NBA someday.

BYU’s 6-5 junior guard, Trevin Knell played well in this game.  He excelled at making spot-up threes off the catch, and he also ran off the ball to make one early on.  He also was able to score off of a cut as well as off the dribble other times. Though he may only be an average athlete, Knell is a crafty scorer that can shoot the basketball, and he could end up making his way to the NBA someday.

Fousseyni Traore played well in limited minutes in his team’s loss to Baylor.  He is a strong, mobile forward that excelled at scoring from the post.  He would often get deep position, which would enable him to score on right-handed, jump hooks.  He also would use his strength to draw fouls upon his opponents to get to the free throw line.

He also showcased decent playmaking skills.  He showed a solid ability to find cutters from the high post, which enabled him to get an assist once.  He also would use his wide frame to set solid, firm screens, which helped free up a shooter to get open late in this game.  On one play though, he didn’t get deep position, and he ended up losing the ball to commit a turnover that time.

On the downside, he didn’t grab many rebounds, and he was a bit foul prone relative to the amount of time he was on the floor.  Overall, Traore did a good job of scoring the basketball and making decisions on offense.  He’ll need to improve his rebounding and defense, and he’s an undersized power forward whose game may be built much more for college than the NBA, but his strength and offensive skills could enable him to compete for a roster spot in the NBA sometime down the road.

BYU’s 6-4 sophomore guard, Dallin Hall also played well in this game.  He scored in a variety of ways to help his team on offense.  He ran the floor to score on a powerful dunk.  He was able to score on a cut, off of a drive, and he also made a deep three another time.  On the downside, he would sometimes miss on aggressive drives to the hoop.  

Defensively, there was one play where he struggled to defend a drive as he didn’t cut off the penetration, which led him to commit a foul and allow a score that time.  Overall, Hall excelled as a scorer in this game.  He’s an above average athlete and can score the basketball, and while he may be undersized to play the shooting guard position, Hall’s athleticism and scoring skills could enable him to compete for a roster spot in the NBA someday.

Yves Missi didn’t make a huge impact on this game.  He was held scoreless, as he struggled to make shots off the dribble, and he didn’t take many of them either.  He was able to set a solid on-ball screen to help his teammate get an open three-point shot to score on that play.  But another time, he was called for setting a moving screen.

He was didn’t grab many rebounds, and his activity on the glass was bafflingly low.  His defense was okay.  Missi would contest threes to force misses, and he also deflected a lob pass to break it up another time.  However, he often struggled to defend in the post, and he would get overpowered, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Overall, he didn’t have a great game, and he didn’t play well in his team’s win over BYU.  Though he was a non-factor in this specific game, Missi’s played well on the season though, and he is an athletic big man that could project to be a backup center in the NBA.

All in all, those are my thoughts on how Bridges, Walter, Robinson, and other various prospects fared in this game. Thanks for reading.

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