Observing Landry Shamet, Jo Lual-Acuil Jr., and Conner Frankamp

December 5, 2017

By Alan Lu

Recently, I received a suggestion to evaluate the Wichita State-Baylor game that was played on December 2nd.  I had not caught the game live, so I proceeded to watch it online with thanks to my friend, who sent me the link YouTube via Americans Sport.  As for the game itself, it was quite competitive throughout.

Early on, Wichita State were playing a solid inside-outside scoring attack, as Shaquille Morris was especially dominating down low, while Baylor’s senior point guard, Manu Lecomte was really excelling as a shooter from beyond the arc, but later on, Wichita State received strong guard play from Landry Shamet and Conner Frankamp and played solid defense as the game progressed, as they were able to hold off Jo Lual-Acuil Jr.’s second-half scoring outburst and Baylor, as the Shockers were able to get the win.  Here are my thoughts on how the various prospects played in this game.

Wichita State’s redshirt sophomore point guard, Landry Shamet played a solid all-around game to help lead his team to a narrow victory over Baylor.  He excelled as a shooter, playmaker, and defender when he was on the floor.  Shamet showed a very good ability to knock down jumpers against Baylor.  He was able to make a pull-up three after dribbling off of a screen, and he also excelled at making spot-up threes off the catch.  He can quickly run to spots to get open, and he moves well off the ball.  He did miss a couple of mid-range shots and he struggled more to score off the dribble, but he did also use a pump fake move to score on a stepthrough leaner on nifty drive to the basket.

He also displayed solid playmaking skills.  Shamet is a patient player that tends to play a mistake-free brand of basketball, and he did a very good job of finding open shooters and throwing entry passes to set up a wealth of scores for his teammates. He also showed the ability to hit cutters and roll men on the move.  His only turnover was when he was called for setting a moving screen on offense.  He also showed a decent ability to rebound the basketball.  He hauled in multiple boards on both ends of the floor, and he would leap up to get some defensive rebounds for his team.

Also, Shamet played solid defense.  He was able to heap on a loose ball to help his team get a steal, and he also managed to deflect a pass.  Shamet did a great job of contesting jumpers to force a wealth of misses.  Even though he may not posssess elite lateral quickness, Shamet is a smart defender that will position himself well, and he does a very good job of contesting shots to get his opponents to miss on them. 

He may have had only one notable mistake on the defensive end.  On one play, he got caught on a screen, and he was late to rotate, which led his team to allow a three-point basket.  On that play, he trailed the play too much, so he probably should have decided to shoot the gap in order to be in a better position to contest the shot when defending the screen, though his teammate, Darral Willis Jr. didn’t communicate to him where the screener was, leading Shamet to briefly get caught on the pick.

In this game, Landry Shamet played a solid basketball game overall, and he is a smart, skilled player that consistently has played well, especially against top-notch teams.  He may not be the flashiest player, but he has a wide range of skills and he plays cerebrally, and he could be a potential first round pick for the upcoming draft.

Baylor’s 7-0 senior center, Jo-Lual Acuil Jr. had a slow start in this contest against Wichita State, but he played significantly better as the game wore on, especially in the second half.  He showed that he can score the basketball in a variety of ways in the paint, and he has continued to show that he can make some solid plays as a help defender, but Acuil was not very consistent in his play overall, as he would have good and bad moments throughout the match.

Acuil did a good job of scoring in the post.  He is an athletic, agile big man that possesses good footwork and shooting touch to garner scores down low, as he can use a pivot move to quickly score on a reverse layup, and he can also use a drop step to throw down a thunderous dunk.  In addition, Acuil showed a good ability to score off the dribble in this game, as he was able to score on a patient left handed drive to the basket.

Also, Acuil generally excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He managed to cut to the hoop, as he pivoted before scoring on a jump hook, and he also drew throws after going up strong around the basket another time.  But he did miss on a tough reverse layup on a put back attempt, but he struggled with his jump shot, as he missed an open three-point shot off the catch, and he missed both of his mid-range jumpers.

He also may have only displayed average playmaking skills at best in this game.  For the positives, Acuil showed some ball handling skills when he scored on a left-handed drive past an opponent, and he also set good ball screens to free up shooters to help set up scores for them.  He also showed a willingness to pass from the post.  However, Acuil ended up committing some turnovers, as he had a ball poked away once, and he was called for traveling as a score was waved off after a quick high post drive.  Plus, he fell another time when trying to set up in the post, though his teammate also threw an inaccurate pass that sailed out of bounds.

In this game, Acuil did not do a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He did box out to get an offensive board, and he would leap up to get some defensive rebounds, as he managed to grab one in traffic, but he would be out of position when going for boards sometimes, as one led to his team to allow a put back score, and Acuil did not collect nearly enough rebounds for his team in this game.  He also displayed fairly average defensive skills.  Acuil showed a good ability to collect steals and blocks.  He can poke balls away and rip balls away from opposing ball handlers to force turnovers, and he can also block and alter shots when defending the post to force misses.  Also, he has the feet to trap opponents, as he was able to do so once to help force a tie up, in which the ball went back to his team.

However, he had trouble defending in the post, particularly when he was guarding Shaquille Morris in the first half.  Acuil would tend to give up deep position, and he would tend to allow scores as a result, but when he wouldn’t give up much ground when defending the post, he would position himself in better spots to force misses.  Also, he also tended to be late to rotate on jumpers, and there was one play where he hung back too far when defending a screen, as this would lead his team to allow scores on those plays.  In addition, Acuil had some trouble defending drives particularly against quicker players.  He also tended to commit reach-in fouls at times, as sometimes this would lead his opponents to getting the score and an extra free throw all in one play.

In general, Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. had his highs and lows in his team’s loss to Wichita State.  For the positives, he is an athletic big man that showed some promise to develop into a two-way player at the next level.  On the other hand, he still tends to make mental mistakes, and he will still have his lapses on both ends of the floor.  Under the right scenario and with continued development, he could perhaps end up thriving in the NBA, but right now, he may be a borderline second round candidate for the upcoming draft.

Wichita State’s senior guard, Conner Frankamp played really well, and he made a lot of tough three-point shots to help propel his team to a win over Baylor.  He also showed off some playmaking and defensive skills when he was on the court.  Frankamp did a great job of knocking down three-point shots when he was on the floor.  He especially excelled at making pull-up threes, as he can knock them down from way out, as well as after dribbling off of screens.  He also was able to make a spot-up three in the corner.   He did have trouble trying to score off the dribble when he would look to score inside the arc, but still, he showed a terrific ability to knock down jumpers in this game.

Also, he generally threw crisp, accurate passes when he would look to do so.  He managed to make a nifty pass off of a drive to find a teammate in transition, and he also can throw entry passes.  Plus, he also hauled in his fair share of boards against Baylor.  In addition, Frankamp was able to rotate, as he leapt up to make an impressive shot block to prevent an opponent from scoring on a pull-up, mid-range shot due to possessing solid timing and recovery skills.  He did struggle to defend his opponents on drives however, as he may struggle to guard quicker players.

In general, Conner Frankamp shot the ball really well, as he was able to make many tough threes from beyond the arc.  However, he may still be a long-shot to be drafted, as his lack of size or ideal physical tools could make it difficult for him to end up being a draft pick at the next level.  Still, he is a smart, skilled player that can shoot the basketball, and he plays for one of the best teams in the country, and he would likely be a good addition to an NBA team’s summer league roster.

Baylor’s senior point guard, Manu Lecomte played really well in the first half, as he was making tough threes from beyond the arc, and he also showed a knack to garner scores off the dribble.  He also generally passed the ball well, as he would let plays develop and display patience and court vision to get it to his teammates in the right times to set up scores for them, but Wichita State played tougher defense on him in the second half, and Lecomte was not able to provide as many points for Baylor down the stretch.

Lecomte showed a very good ability to knock down threes from beyond the arc.  He made a couple of quick threes after running off of curls, as he runs off of screens well, and he even caused a defender to wipe out and fall on the floor prior to catching the ball off of a pin down.  Plus, he also managed to make a quick-step back, pull-up three.  He had a tougher time trying to consistently connect on shots from beyond the arc in the second half, but generally Lecomte excelled as a shooter when he was on the floor.

Also, he did a good job of getting scores off the dribble.  Lecomte was able to use step back moves to score on pull-up, mid-range jumpers, and he also was able to score on a floater.  There were a few times when he missed shots when looking to score on drives to the hoop, but generally Lecomte did a good job of scoring the basketball, although he did not draw any free throws in this game.

Lecomte also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  He showed a good ability to find open shooters, and one time he probed the defenses as he dribbled around prior to kicking it out to a shooter to set up a score that time.  Also, he showed a good ability to hit cutters, but he did commit a couple of turnovers due to carelessness, as he committed a charging foul on a drive, and he threw an inaccurate high entry pass that sailed out of bounds another time.

He did not grab many rebounds against Wichita State, but he did showcase perhaps above average defensive skills.  Lecomte was able to heap on a loose ball to help his team collect a steal, and he also stayed with his man on a drive to help force a miss.  However, he would occasionally be late to contest jump shots, which would lead his opponents to score on three-point shots.  In general, Manu Lecomte seemed to have a good game, as he generally shot the ball well and showed some facilitation skills when he was on the floor.  His lack of size or ideal athletic ability could likely prevent him from being drafted, but his offensive skill level and feel for the game could enable him to be a good addition to an NBA team’s summer league roster.

Shaquille Morris had an up and down game in his team’s win over Baylor.  He seemed to play far better than what the box score may have indicated, as he showed great strength when he would get scores in the post, showed off a solid jump shot, as well as a good ability to pass the basketball, but despite that, he did occasionally struggle with his shooting touch on the block, as well as with turnovers, and he had trouble rebounding or defending well consistently when he was on the floor.

Morris showed a decent ability to score in the post.  He is a strong, physical player that has great strength, and he can back his man down at will to consistently get his shots up around the basket.  He has a strong spin move, and he can also score on jump hooks, turnaround jumpers, and drop step moves.  Plus, he also managed to throw down a powerful dunk after a pivot move, while also getting an extra free throw on the play. 

He also showed good footwork and agility for a player his size, as he also managed to score on a reverse layup after being open to get the ball around the basket, but sometimes, Morris can struggle to find his touch on jump hooks and turnaround jumpers.  Also, he may have trouble finishing plays in traffic at times, as he may not always show a great lift when looking to score from the block.

Also, Morris showed a good ability to knock down jumpers when he was on the floor.  Morris was able to make an open three off of a pick and pop play after setting a screen for his team, and he also flashed the ability to make mid-range shots off the catch, but he may have only displayed fairly average playmaking skills at best in this game.  For the positives, Morris tended to throw good passes, even if they went unaccounted for in the box score.  He was able to hit a cutter from the high post, and he tended to throw accurate passes to his teammates.  Also, Morris was able to set a good on-ball screen that helped free up a shooter to set up a score for his teammate.  However, Morris had trouble protecting the basketball in this game, as he would get the ball poked away numerous times, and he also was called for traveling another time even though he had appeared to commit an offensive foul instead on that play.

Though Morris did not grab many boards in this game, he was able to leap up to get several defensive rebounds when he was on the floor.  However, he didn’t seem to get up very high on the boards he did collect, and he was able to obtain them consistently against Baylor.  Moreover, he displayed only average at best defensive skills against Baylor.  For the positives, Morris was able to block a shot convincingly to prevent an opponent from scoring on a put back.  He did a good job of contesting put back attempts to force misses.  He also hedged on a screen quickly once, which allowed his teammate to get to his man, as that helped his team force an opponent to miss a three-point shot. 

On the other hand, Morris generally had trouble defending drives.  In this game,  he tended to get beat off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Also, sometimes he would be too aggressive in trying to make a play defensively, as he would end up committing fouls.  Another time, his team allowed a dunk in the post after he missed on a hasty steal attempt when he tried to front in the post.

In general, even though this was not Shaquille Morris’ best game, he did have some very good moments when he was on the floor.  He is a strong, physical specimen that can excel as a low post scorer, and he did a good job of knocking down jumpers.  He did a good job of playing in the team system.  At the next level, he will have to show that he can play well against longer, more athletic players, but with his skill set, he would likely be a good addition to an NBA summer league roster, as he may have the skills to battle for a roster spot at the next level.

Other Notes:

Rashard Kelly quietly had a good game for Wichita State.  Though the 6-7 senior forward didn’t look to score often, he showed a knack for scoring on quick high post drives, and he excelled as a facilitator for his team.  Kelly did a very good job of rebounding the basketball, and he also would deflect passes, contest shots, and he also drew a charge, as he played solid defense.  He has an interesting skill set, as he does not look to shoot or score often, but he has been excelled as a distributor and rebounder, and it would not be surprising if he ended up on an NBA summer league roster due to his ability to help his team in a variety of ways.

Darral Willis Jr. excelled at scoring on hustle plays, and he was able to throw down an emphatic dunk in transition.  He also generally rebounded and defended well, as he would collect steals, and he leapt up to swat a shot on a drive due to possessing good length, athleticism, and timing do so.   He did commit some turnovers due to carelessness, but generally Willis played well on both ends of the floor, and he is a high motor player that has been a valuable contributor to the Shockers.

Wichita State’s 6-6 senior guard, Zach Brown did not look to score often, but he generally defended well.  He was able to come away with some boards, and he also managed to stay with his man on a cut to jump a pass to get a steal.  Brown has solid lateral footwork, and he looks to be a good defender on and off the ball.  Occasionally, he may commit fouls, though in those cases it was because he had to rotate to cover for a teammate that was away from his man.  Offensively, he did not stand out for most of the game, but he did manage to throw down a thunderous dunk off of a cut to the hoop.

It wasn’t Rauno Nurger’s best game, but he made plays for Wichita State when they counted.  He struggled to consistently score in the post, but he was able to score on a jump hook when they needed him to do so.   He also managed to score on a put back as he made a good hustle play to get the offensive rebound and basket.  He also was able to help out on the glass, as he came away with several boards when he was on the floor.

King McClure had his moments in Baylor’s loss to Wichita State.  He showed a knack for scoring on aggressive drives to the basket, and he rebounded the ball quite well for a player his size.  He also showed some ball handling skills, as he would push the ball up the floor off of boards.  He did struggle with his jump shot, and he had trouble defending shooters defensively.   In all, he is an athletic combo guard that could be worth watching if he continues to improve his overall game.

Mark Vital and Tristan Clark are athletic freshman forwards that both made hustle plays on both ends of the floor, as they would get tough rebounds, and get scores by finishing plays around the basket.  Clark started off well, but Vital ended up having the better game among the two, as Mark Vital also would score on drives in transition, he was able to force turnovers to get steals, and he also managed to make a solid chase down block in transition.  As both are high motor players that possess good physical tools, they could be players to keep an eye on down the road, especially if they expand upon their skill sets offensively.

Overall, this was an interesting game to watch.  It was close all the way until the end, but the game wasn’t really decided until late.  Both teams shot the three-ball well at times, and their top scoring big men from each team both had good and bad moments throughout the contest, but in the end, Wichita State made more plays consistently, and it was their ability to shoot, move the basketball, and defend that helped them get the win over Baylor.  Wichita State is a smart, talented team that has a deep roster, and they are playing like they could be a top 4 seed for the 2018 NCAA Tournament, and Baylor looks to be a good team, too. 

As for as the draft prospects on both of these teams, Landry Shamet may be the safest bet to succeed among the players that played in this game, as his combination of smarts, skills, and intangibles could give him a good chance to be an effective role player in the NBA.  This was an entertaining game, especially towards the end.  Thank you for reading.

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