Observing Jeremy Sochan, Kendall Brown, and Adam Flagler in the Baylor-Villanova Game

December 12th, 2021

By Alan Lu

I tuned in earlier today to watch Baylor play Villanova in an early afternoon game, and I expected Baylor’s freshman and former Sunrise Christian standout forward, Kendall Brown to dominate, as he had very good high school tape, and had put up strong numbers so far this season.  Unfortunately, he did not dominate, nor come anywhere close to that today, and it turned out to be a very poorly played game in which Villanova did an awful job of trying to shoot or score the basketball. 

There were a lot of missed jump shots, even when they had ample time and space to shoot the basketball.  Fortunately, there were several players that seemed to play well for Baylor, and the most interesting player that played well was Baylor’s other freshman forward, Jeremy Sochan from England.  Here are my thoughts on how Sochan, Brown, and Adam Flagler played, as well as how their games may currently stack up as prospects for the NBA.

Baylor’s freshman forward, Jeremy Sochan (wearing the jersey #1 on the right) played well off the bench in his team’s double-digit home win over Villanova.
(Photo:
Ray Carlin/Associated Press, via KWTX)

Jeremy Sochan had a good showing to help lead Baylor to a double-digit win over Villanova.  He showed off versatile scoring skills, and he is an athletic, skilled big man that showed off an intriguing set of skills as a prospect for the next level. Sochan did a very good job of scoring around the basket.  He received the ball in the post, and he used a spin move to score on a crafty, turnaround jump hook over a smaller defender.  He also ran the floor to score at the rim another time.  Plus, he also was able to draw free throws on a backdoor cut. Sochan also was able to make an open, corner three-point shot to showcase his shooting skills.  With his size, mobility, and ability to shoot from long distances, his ability to make outside shots could prove to be very advantageous for him, as it could allow him to create favorable mismatches that swing in his team’s favor.

On the downside, he was fairly turnover prone on offense.  For the positives, he did show some passing skills in this game.  He was able to throw a long outlet pass, and he then sprinted down the court to show his good running speed afterwards.  However, he would sometimes struggle to handle the ball in traffic, which would lead him to commit ball-handling turnovers.  He used a spin move in the post to try to evade a defender, but he then lost the ball out of bounds.  He ran the floor, but committed a charging foul that led him to commit an offensive foul and a turnover another time. Also, Sochan did a great job of rebounding the basketball.  He would chase down balls to get numerous boards, and he was able to multiple rebounds on both ends of the floor.  He would chase down balls to get offensive rebounds due to possessing a solid motor.   Sometimes, he can overdo it, and on one play, it led him to commit a reach-in foul when pursuing an offensive board.

He also played adequate defense in this game.  Sochan was able to get his hands on a pass to get a steal.  He also dove after a loose ball on the ground and tied up an opponent to nearly get another.  He also showed some mobility to defend out on the perimeter, and he was able to use his length and agility to contest a deep three to force a miss.  On the downside, he would sometimes tend to pick up quick fouls.  He dove on the ground to try to intercept a pass another time, but instead was called for a reach-in foul.  He also committed a blocking foul on a drive that led him to allow a score and an extra free throw, as he wasn’t fully set that time.  On one play, he was late to rotate and gave up too much space to a shooter, and he allowed his man to score on a deep three-pointer.

Overall, Jeremy Sochan is an athletic, skilled big man that played very well in his team’s blowout win over Villanova.  He showed some intriguing skills by being able to make shots from all over the floor.  He didn’t take many shots, but he was very efficient at scoring when he would take them on offense.  He hasn’t shot the ball nearly as well on the season, but his size and shooting skills could allow him to be a solid pick in the late first to the second round range, as he could project to be a stretch big similar to former Phoenix Suns’ Tim Thomas in the NBA.

Kendall Brown didn’t play nearly as well as expected, and his first half foul trouble was largely due to his inability to set a proper screen.  After scoring on a really good play early on, he struggled for the rest of the game. Moreover, he didn’t seem to know how to set a proper screen on offense.  He kept setting moving screens, and his second foul that he committed was especially ugly, as he ran to try to set one, but he tripped over and fell against the other team’s point guard in a failed attempt to set one from his teammate out on the perimeter.  It also didn’t seem to help that his guards seemed to try to rush to dribble off of those, so he didn’t seem to have as much time to set himself, but his inexperience in setting screens seemed to set the tone for his lackluster performance in this game.

Brown did a decent job of scoring off the dribble.  Early in the game, he used a pump fake, drove hard to the hoop, used a pivot move, and he scored on a tough, turnaround scoop layup.  On another play, he rushed to go to his left, but he ended up having his shot swatted that time.  He seemed to exclusively try to go left in the few times he looked to score, so his unwillingness to go to his right may raise concerns about his ball-handling and ability to score or make plays with his off-hand.

He also pushed the ball up the court to score on a quick, left-handed drive in transition.  On another play, he ran the floor to get the ball, but he missed on a tough, off-balanced reverse layup.  Brown was reluctant to take shots in this game, especially from beyond the arc.  He passed up plenty of opportunities to take shots in this game.  He did take one three-point shot, but it missed completely, as he threw up an unsightly air-ball from downtown.

Also, Brown was fairly turnover prone on offense.  For the positives, he can make long, accurate drive and kick passes to find open shooters in order to set up scoring chances for them.  He also was able to find a cutter to set up a scoring chance another time.  On the downside, because Brown did such a poor job of setting screens in this game, mostly due to rushing and also due to inexperience, he ended up committing offensive fouls and turnovers, and it led him to some early foul trouble in the first half.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, Brown was able to chase down a ball to get a defensive board once.  He also played satisfactory defense in this game.  He didn’t seem to display great defensive techniques, as he would give ample space to shooters, he would sometimes not actively challenge shots, and other times he would over-pursue opposing ball handlers when defending out on the perimeter. 

Still, Brown was very effective as a defender in despite that.  He seemed to exude the confidence and carry himself like he was a standout defender, and his length and presence allowed him to get his opponents to continually miss shots.  As a result, he was able to defend both out on the perimeter as well as in the post to help his team get stops.  On the downside, he would sometimes not move his feet as well as he should have, and there was one play where he committed a foul on an opposing ball handler out on the perimeter.

Overall, Kendall Brown is an athletic, energetic combo forward that has played well this season, but he didn’t have a great game in his team’s win over Villanova.  Still, he was able to showcase his strengths as a driver when he looks to score on offense, and he also proved himself as a worthy position defender when he was on the court.  He will still need to improve his outside shot and be more assertive on offense, but he is a talented prospect that could project to go in the mid to late first round range on draft day, and he could has the skills to develop into a solid role player similar to San Antonio Spurs’ forward, Thaddeus Young in the association.

Adam Flagler had a decent showing in his team’s win over Villanova.  Though he struggled with his three-point shot, he did a good job of scoring the basketball in crunch time, and he was able to make timely shots, and timely plays on both ends of the floor to help his team get the victory. Flagler did a good job of scoring on mid-range jumpers.  He showed a knack for scoring on fade-away jumpers and floaters, and he also was able to score on a fade-away bank shot off the glass.  He also was able to score on a finger roll layup on a right-handed drive to the hoop.  On the downside, he ended up missing on all of his three-point shots, as he wasn’t able to knock one down from beyond the arc.

He also showcased solid playmaking skills in this game.  Flagler is an unselfish player that would consistently find open shooters, and he showed that he can make passes off the dribble and in transition to set up scores for his teammates.  When pressured in the backcourt once, he threw a very long and accurate outlet pass to a teammate ahead to set up a score for him on the break.  He did commit one turnover though.  On one play when handling the ball, he slipped and fell and had the ball stolen away from him that time. Though he didn’t grab many rebounds, Flagler was able to get a defensive rebound in this game.  He also played satisfactory defense.  Flagler was able to poke a ball away and tie up an opposing ball handler to get a steal.  On another play though when he was defending on a drive to the hoop, he ended up committing a foul.

Overall, Adam Flager played fairly well in his team’s win over Villanova.  He made timely shots down the stretch, and he especially excelled as a mid-range shooter in this game.  He’ll need be a more consistent three-point shooter, but his ability to score and knock down shots could make an option for NBA teams to consider in the second round range of the 2022 draft.

James Akinjo also played well in this game.  He showed off a variety of skills, and he ended up leading all scorers with 16 points in this game.  He showcased versatile scoring skills, and he is a crafty playmaker that can reliably run a team’s offense. Akinjo showed a satisfactory ability to score off the dribble.  He can finish plays using either hand, and he was able to maneuver his way to score around the basket.  He also managed to score on a speedy drive in transition after using a hesitation move to get around the defense.  He also showcased some shooting skills, despite struggling to make outside shots off the dribble.  Akinjo was able to knock down pull-up jumpers both from the mid-range and from three-point land, but he also struggled to make threes or mid-range jumpers consistently in this game.

He also displayed solid playmaking skills.  He is a patient playmaker that would get the ball to his teammates to set up scores for them.  He showed a knack for finding his teammates on the move, and he also did a good job of making drive and kick passes.  Sometimes though, he would over-dribble, which would lead him to commit ball-handling turnovers.  When handling the ball once, he committed a charging foul.  Another time, he ended up losing the basketball.

Also, Akinjo showed a knack for grabbing defensive rebounds, and he excelled as a rebounder in this game.  He also played satisfactory defense in this game.  He did a very good job of poking balls away to get steals.  He also managed to successfully draw a charge to get a stop for his team.  On one play though, he bit wildly on a pump fake and fouled his opponent, but it was a non-shooting foul, so it didn’t really matter that much in the long run, if at all.

Overall, James Akinjo had a solid performance in his team’s blowout win over Villanova.  He did a good job of running the team and controlling the tempo, and he had a solid all-around game.  He is a smart, skilled playmaker that could be an option for NBA teams to consider in the second round range of the 2022 draft.

Matthew Mayer had an interesting game of sorts, even if he didn’t shoot the ball particularly well on offense.  He didn’t excel as a shooter or scorer, but he defended well, and he really hustled to make plays to help his team on the defensive end. On offense, he didn’t play well at all, but neither did Villanova, so Mayer’s inability to score didn’t really hurt Baylor that much.  He struggled to make shots all game, as he had trouble making shots off the catch or dribble, but he did use a crossover to score on a nice, step-back three-point shot.  He also was able to pass to a roll man to set up a scoring chance another time.

Mayer was able to get several defensive rebounds to help chip in on the glass.  Defensively, he was terrific.  He was able to intercept an errant pass to get a steal.  He also hustled back to steal the ball away from an impending three-point shot, and he flew in to scoop the ball out of his opponent’s hands.  Mayer also managed to block a three-point shot to a teammate.  He also helped force a ball handling turnover when defending in the high post.  Mayer did a great job of getting blocks and steals, and he especially thrived at defending three-point shots to get stops for his team.

Overall, Matthew Mayer had a fairly solid showing, even though he didn’t play nearly as well as expected on offense.  He was a standout on the defensive end, as he made spectacular, high-flying plays, and his chase down steal on Gillespie’s would-be three-point attempt was the most memorable moment of the game for me.  Mayer is an athletic, energetic swingman that could project well into a 3 and D role, as he’s also posted good shooting percentages throughout his career, even though he didn’t see much playing time in his first two seasons at Baylor.  Mayer is a talented prospect, and he could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the second round range of the 2022 draft.

Of all of the Villanova players that played well in this game, there may be one player that remotely had a decent showing in their ugly loss to Baylor, and that would be their 6-4 junior guard, Justin Moore.  He was the only Villanova player that held his own in this game.  While everyone else on his team was missing open threes or layups, or were getting balls stolen away from them at will, Moore turned out to be his team’s most consistently productive performer against Baylor.

Moore showed a solid ability to score off the dribble.  He would score on strong drives to the hoop, and he showed a knack for scoring in traffic.  He also would be able to absorb the contact to draw fouls upon his defenders in order to get to the free throw line.  He also was able to use a nice hesitation move on a drive in transition to score another time.  Moore struggled more to knock down outside shots, and he especially struggled to make mid-range jumpers, but he was able to score on a couple of pull-up threes.  He even was able to get a defender to fall to score on a nifty, step-back three-pointer early on.

He also was able to swing the ball to a shooter to notch an assist.  He also did a solid job of rebounding the basketball, and he crashed the glass to haul in multiple boards on both ends of the floor.  Overall, Justin Moore put forth an adequate performance in his team’s loss to Baylor.  While everyone else on his team shot the ball terribly, Moore proved his worth by consistently scoring throughout the game, and he also showed some passing and rebounding skills. 

Honestly, from what I saw in this game, Moore was the only Villanova player that looked remotely like a future NBA player on this year’s Villanova team.  While that might not necessarily be enough to firmly put himself on the map as a legitimate draft prospect, Moore is an agile, skilled combo guard that proved his mettle in this game, and he is a competitive player that showed the fire and the drive to be able to make it to the NBA someday.

Collin Gillespie had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Baylor.  He had his moments at times, but he wasn’t able to consistently play well, as he really struggled to find his footing on offense in this game.  He didn’t shoot the ball well, and he was astonishingly bad as a shooter off the catch.  However, he was able to make a couple of pull-up threes, and he showed that he can use either hand to score from long range. 

On the downside, he’s not very fast or athletic, and his athletic limitations seemed to be painfully clear in his team’s lopsided loss to Baylor.  Gillespie often had trouble shaking off defenders, and sometimes a defender would swoop in from the blind side to prevent him from being able to get his shot off.  When handling the ball once, he had a ball poked off of himself that went out of bounds.  Gillespie also had a would-be three-point shot stolen away from his grasp, as Mayer just flew in like a hawk and took it right out of Gillespie’s hands. Gillespie did seem to play decent defense in this game.  He intercepted a pass to get a steal.  He also managed to jump on a loose ball to get another steal.  Sometimes though, he would struggle to defend quicker players, and he ended up fouling an opponent on a mid-range floater.

Overall, this was supposed to be a game in which Gillespie would assert or re-assert himself as one of the best point guards in college basketball.  Instead, he ended up getting overmatched by Akinjo, and overwhelmed by the length and athleticism of Baylor’s defenders in this game.  He had trouble consistently knocking down jumpers, and his inability to consistently make plays seemed to have a really bad effect on his team. 

There are plenty of ways to interpret Gillespie’s lackluster performance in his team’s loss to Baylor.   One could chalk this up to simply a bad game that was just not his night.  Or, it could be surmised that he just may not have the athletic ability or the dynamic playmaking skills to be able to punch above his weight class against tougher, more athletic opponents, and his inability to make plays against Baylor could be a sign that he would not transition well into a backup point guard role in the NBA.  Whatever the case is, he played dismally in his team’s loss to Baylor in this game.  On the other hand, Gillespie is a decorated college player that has been productive throughout his entire career, so he could carve out a solid playing career in the G-League or overseas, even if he doesn’t make it to the NBA one day.

Jermaine Samuels had a terrible game in his team’s loss to Baylor.  He really had trouble handling the basketball, and it seemed like every time he dribbled, he’d almost lose the basketball, or would commit a ball-handling turnover.  He just seemed clumsy in trying to handle the ball, and he ended up tied for having committed the most turnovers in this game.  He also shot the ball terribly, and he really struggled on offense.

Samuels did show a decent ability to score in the post.  After grabbing an offensive rebound, he used a drop step move to score on a smooth, finger roll layup off the glass.  He missed on a fade-away, turnaround jumper another time.  He also tried to score on a left-handed drive, but he ended up missing wildly off the glass.  He also was unable to knock down any of his three-point shots, and he also had a three-point shot blocked once.  He also looked to be too tentative on offense.  On one play, he passed a wide-open layup or dunk opportunity, as he was wide open, but instead, he pump faked and passed out to another player, who ended up missing the shot later in that possession.

He also was quite turnover prone on offense.  For the positives, he showed some passing skills in this game, and Samuels can make some good passes from the post.  He was able to find a cutter to set up a scoring chance for him, and he also is an unselfish player that would look to get the ball to his teammates down low.  On the downside, he would tend to get balls poked away off the dribble and in the post to commit turnovers.  He also drove to the hoop another time, but ended up committing a charging foul.  On top of that, sometimes Samuels would throw hasty, inaccurate passes that would go astray.

On the plus side, Samuels did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He especially did a great job of crashing the glass to get offensive rebounds, and he would tend to leap up high to do so.  He also seemed to play satisfactory defense in this game.  Samuels showed good agility to stay with an opponent off of a drive, and he then leapt up to block the shot hard out of bounds due to possessing solid athleticism, timing, and instincts.  He also was able to contest a shot when defending in the post to force a miss.

Overall, Jermaine Samuels did not play well in his team’s lopsided loss to Baylor.  He struggled to handle the basketball, he did not shoot well, and he was just too tentative on offense for most of this game.  Samuels was expected to compete and play reasonably well, but he ended up being a massive disappointment in this game.  He needs to improve his shooting, and he especially needs to work on his ball-handling skills.  I’m not sure if he has what it takes to make it to the NBA, but Samuels played fairly well last year, and he could end up carving out a lengthy playing career in either the G-League or overseas, even if he doesn’t make it to the NBA one day.

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