Observing Milan Momcilovic, Arthur Kaluma, and Hason Ward

January 25th, 2024

By Alan Lu

Yesterday, I took the time to watch Arthur Kaluma and Kansas State play against Milan Momcilovic and Iowa State in a competitive Big 12 basketball game.  Kaluma has been making threes at a significantly higher rate than before, so I wanted to get a chance to watch him play this time around with an improved outside shot, and it was another opportunity to watch Momcilovic play, a skilled, versatile forward that is having a very good freshman season.  It was close for most of the game, but Iowa State was able to pull away to get the win.  Here are my thoughts on how Momcilovic, Kaluma, and other various prospects fared in this game, as well as how their games may translate to the NBA.

Iowa State’s 6-8 freshman forward, Milan Momcilovic scored 19 points, made 3 threes, and had 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 assist to help lead his team to a win over Kansas State last night. (Photo: Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press, via Idaho State Journal)

Milan Momcilovic had a strong showing to help lead his team to a double-digit win over Iowa State.  He is a crafty player that excelled as a shooter and scorer in this game, and he is a very skilled forward that excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor.

Momcilovic showed a knack for making threes and scoring out of the post.  He is a good low post scorer that would score on nifty, one-legged, fadeaway jumpers, and he possesses very good balance, footwork, and shooting touch to be able to do so.  He also excelled at making threes, as he showed that he can do so both off the catch and dribble.  Momcilovic was able to use a pump fake and a crafty side step move to make a three.  He also ran off the ball to knock down a three another time to showcase his shooting prowess.  He also almost scored on a timely tip-in off of an offensive rebound, but it was waved off because his teammate committed an offensive foul earlier on that play.

Also, Momcilovic showcased satisfactory playmaking skills in this game.  He is an unselfish player that would throw accurate passes and quickly move the basketball, and he did a good job of finding open teammates in this game.  He also was able to get his fair share of boards to help chip in on the glass.  He also defended well.  Momcilovic did a good job of intercepting passes to get steals.

In general, Milan Momcilovic played very well to help lead Iowa State to a win over Kansas State.  He is a skilled, sharpshooter that can make shots from all over the floor.  He doesn’t possess elite physical tools, but despite having seemingly only average athletic gifts, he is a cerebral scorer that excels at making plays on offense, and he could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the late first to the second round range of the 2024 draft.

Kansas State’s 6-7 junior forward, Arthur Kaluma scored 16 points and made 3 three-pointers in his team’s loss to Iowa State last night. (Photo: Kansas State Athletics, via Kansas State Rivals)

Arthur Kaluma had a decent showing in his team’s loss to Iowa State.  On one hand, it’s refreshing that he’s shown a much improved jump shot, especially off the catch.  However, he doesn’t seem to be as quick as before, as he often had trouble getting by opponents when looking to score off the dribble, and he had some defensive struggles in this game.

Kaluma showed a solid ability to knock down threes in this game.  He showed a knack for making spot-up threes off the catch, and he was able to make two of them from very deep.  On the downside, he often had trouble getting by his opponents, and he seemed to have trouble creating his own shot off the dribble, especially when guarding tightly by opponents.  For the positives, he was able to use a nifty behind-the-back dribble move to score on a running floater once.  On the other hand, he often had trouble getting separation, which would lead him to miss on awkward, contested jump shots.

Also, he displayed decent playmaking skills.  Kaluma is an unselfish player that would look to find the open man, and he was able to notch a pair of assists.  In this game, he did a good job of throwing interior passes to find teammates on the move to get them the basketball.  On the downside, he had some trouble getting his shot off when he would look to score off the dribble.  On one play, he tried to handle the ball on the baseline, but he ended up stumbling and losing the ball out of bounds.  He also threw a hasty skip pass that got intercepted another time.

Though Kaluma didn’t get many rebounds in this game, he was able to get a board on each end of the floor.  He especially looked to crash the offensive glass against Iowa State.  On the downside, there was one play where he was called for an over the back foul when going for an offensive rebound attempt.  Defensively, he looked to be fairly average.  For the positives, Kaluma would contest jumpers when in position, which would help him force misses.  His length would also make it more difficult for his opponents to get their passes through.  On the downside, he would tend to gamble too much, which would lead him to commit fouls.  Another time, he didn’t stay with a shooter off the ball as he got distracted and over-helped in the paint, which led him to be late to rotate and to give up a corner three score.

In summary, Arthur Kaluma did some things well, as he shot the ball well, especially down the stretch, but he also struggled in the other areas that he was previously known for, such as shot-creation and making hustle plays.  He seems to have added a lot more strength, but he seems to be not nearly as quick or explosive as he was before.  Still, he seems to be closer to playing to his likely role in the NBA, as he would likely project into a 3 and D role at that level, and he is a skilled combo forward that could be a solid pick in the second round of the 2024 draft.

Iowa State’s 6-9 senior big man, Hason Ward had a solid showing in his team’s win over Kansas State.  Hailing from Barbados, he is a very athletic, high-motor player that was at his best in making hustle plays, especially on offense.  Ward especially thrived at scoring on short rolls, as he would dribble in to score and get free throws, and he also threw down a thunderous dunk early on.  Plus, he also ran in to score on a high-flying, tip slam.  Ward generally excelled as a finisher, and he also made all of his free throws in this game.

He also is an unselfish player that would look to make the extra pass, and Ward was able to notch a pair of assists in this game.  Ward also was able to get his fair share of rebounds, and he was active at crashing the offensive glass.  Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  On one good play, he was able to poke a ball off of an opponent out of bounds to get a steal, and Ward almost was able to block shots, except he was called for a ticky-tack foul once, was called for a goaltend another time, and his teammate was called for a foul on a separate instance.  On the downside, Ward tended to play too aggressively when he would look to contest shots, which would lead him to be foul prone.  He fouled a three-point shooter as he landed on his opponent that time.  He also rotated to cover for a blown teammate on a drive, but wound up fouling him and allowing the score instead.

Overall, Ward played well in his team’s win over Kansas State.  Though he was sometimes plagued because officials would call some ticky-tack fouls on him, Ward was able to make some really athletic dunks in this game.  Ward looked to be the most athletic player in this game, and he is a terrific athlete whose ability to make hustle plays could enable him to project into a rotational big man role in the NBA.

Keshon Gilbert had a solid showing to help lead Iowa State to a win over Kansas State.  For Gilbert, it was like a tale of two halves.  He struggled to make shots in the early going, and he got off to a slow start.  But he did a very good job of making shots and grabbing rebounds in the second half, and he proved to be instrumental in helping his team secure a double-digit victory in this game.

Gilbert excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He was able to dribble in to score on a put back.  He also managed to score on an aggressive drive in transition while getting fouled.  Plus, he also did a adequate job of scoring off the dribble.  He was able to score on a floater, and Gilbert has a solid first step to the hoop.  However, sometimes he would take tough, rushed shots in traffic, as he had a couple of his shots blocked.  He also was unable to make any of his threes that he took from beyond the arc.

As a playmaker, he looked to be about average at best.  For the positives, Gilbert showed that he can make passes off the dribble to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  On the downside, he also was fairly turnover prone.  On one play, he shuffled his feet when he looked to handle the basketball, which led him to be called for a traveling violation.

Plus, Gilbert did a tremendous job of rebounding the basketball.  He also played adequate defense.  Gilbert has quick hands, and he is an agile defender that would quickly poke balls to get steals and deflections.  On the downside, his lack of size would sometimes make it difficult for him to contest shots, and there was one play where he allowed a three-point basket to a taller shooter.  Another time, there was a play where he got beat off the dribble to allow a score.

Overall, Keshon Gilbert played well to help his team get the win, and he especially excelled at making plays in the second half.  He’s a quick, agile combo guard that can score and defend, but he will need to improve his jump shot and decision-making skills in the meantime.  Still, he has shown that he can play at a high level, and he may have what it takes to make it to the NBA someday. 

Kansas State’s 6-10 redshirt sophomore center, Jerrell Colbert played very well in his team’s loss to Iowa State. He is an athletic, energetic big man that showed a knack for making hustle plays, and he also showed off some playmaking skills.

Colbert excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He was able to score on a roll to the rim, and he also ran the floor to score on a fast break dunk.  Plus, he would draw free throws after getting the ball around the basket.

He also displayed perhaps adequate playmaking skills.  Colbert was able to throw a bounce pass to find a cutter to notch an assist.  However, he was called for setting a hard, moving screen that led him to commit an offensive foul and a turnover that time.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, Colbert was able to get his fair share of boards to help chip in on the glass.  Colbert also defended very well.  He would often rotate to block shots off of drives to help his team protect the paint, and he was able to nab a pair of steals.  Overall, Colbert is a strong, athletic big man that excelled at making hustle plays, and he could project to be a solid rotational big man in the NBA.

Iowa State’s 6-1 sophomore point guard, Tamin Lipsey didn’t have his best game, but he is an agile, skilled playmaker that was able to make a variety of shots, and he was able to make some plays happen on both ends of the floor. Though Lipsey struggled to consistently knock down outside shots, he seemed to be at his best when making shots off the catch.  He was able to make a corner three after getting the ball in a spot-up opportunity.  He also was able to get a running start to knock down a mid-range jumper.  

However, he struggled to consistently knock down shots off the dribble, especially when he would look to score in the half court.  He was able to split a double to score on an aggressive drive while getting fouled once.  He also showed a better ability to score on drives in transition, and he is a fairly athletic guard that can score when driving downhill in the open court.  However, Lipsey generally struggled to score in traffic, as he would sometimes be prone to take tough, rushed shots that would lead to misses.

He also showcased perhaps adequate playmaking skills.  Lipsey is an unselfish player that was able to make an assortment of passes to get assists, and he is a creative passer that plays well when he operates under control. However, he would also tend to throw hasty passes that would go astray, and he also had a ball poked off of himself when handling it that went out of bounds another time.

Though he didn’t get many boards in this game, Lipsey was able to get boards on both ends of the floor.  He also played perhaps adequate defense.  Lipsey would poke balls and deflect passes to get deflections for his team.  He also would apply considerable ball pressure.  However, he would sometimes play too aggressively, which would lead him to commit touch fouls.

Overall, Tamin Lipsey didn’t have a great game, but he is an agile, skilled playmaker that can make some solid plays on both ends of the floor when he’s focused.  He doesn’t possess ideal size or physical tools, but he’s played very well this season, and he could project well into a backup point guard role at the NBA level.

Kansas State’s 6-3 junior guard, Cam Carter had his ups and downs in this game.  He is an athletic, energetic combo guard that can score the basketball, but he also was quite turnover prone.  He did a good job of making threes, as he was able to do so off the catch and dribble, and Carter was able to make a smooth, stepback corner three once.  He also was able to score on an athletic dunk off of a cut.  He also showed a solid ability to score off the dribble.  On the downside, he would sometimes look to do too much when looking to make plays off the dribble, and he would over-dribble and commit turnovers.  He was called for a push off once, and he also had a ball poked away from him.

He also was able to get his fair share of boards to help his team on the glass.  He played fairly average defense.  Carter was able to intercept a pass to get a steal.  Sometimes though, he would play too aggressively, which would lead him to commit reach-in fouls when guarding opposing ball handlers.  Overall, Carter is an athletic scoring guard that can put the ball in the hoop, but he will need to improve in the finer points of the game.  He may need to reliably show that he can run the point at higher levels, but his athleticism and scoring skills could enable him to make it to the NBA someday.

Iowa State’s 6-4 senior guard, Curtis Jones also played well to help lead his team to a win over Kansas State.  He shot the ball well, especially from the outside, and he is an agile, skilled guard that showed a knack for running off ball screens to make corner threes.  He also was able to drive to the hoop to score on a mid-range, floater.  He also defended well, as he would contest threes to force plenty of misses.  Overall, Jones quietly had a good showing in this game, and he is an agile, skilled guard that may have what it takes to make it to the NBA someday.

Iowa State’s 6-10 senior center, Robert Jones had a fairly solid showing to help his team get the win over Kansas State. He is a strong, fairly athletic, energetic big man that thrived at making hustle plays.  He also was able to score on a floater off of a short roll, and he generally excelled at scoring as a finisher around the basket.  He also was able to roll to the rim to get the bal, and passed back to notch a crafty assist.

He didn’t grab many rebounds, but was able to get a board on each end of the floor.  Jones also defended very well.  He was able to get his hands on passes to get steals and deflections, and he would rotate to block and contest shots to force misses.  Overall, Robert Jones quietly had a good showing in this game, and he could end up being a solid rotational big man at the NBA level.

Omaha Biliew played very little in his team’s win over Kansas State.  He was able to leap up to grab an offensive rebound.  He also was able to draw and make two free throws as a result of an opponent’s unsportsmanlike foul.  Defensively though, he closed out too hard and got beat off the dribble, which led his team to commit a foul and allow a score that time.  Overall, Biliew came into the season as a highly touted recruit, but he hasn’t played much so far, and he didn’t play enough nor got meaningful minutes in this game.  Therefore, he will need time to get acclimated to college basketball.  If he can work hard over time to improve his game, as he will especially need to improve his jump shot, Biliew could end up projecting to be a reliable role player at the NBA level.

All in all, these are my thoughts on how Milan Momcilovic, Arthur Kaluma, and other various prospects fared in this game.  Thanks for reading.

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