Observing Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack, and Christian Braun in the Kansas-Villanova Final Four Game

April 3rd, 2022

By Alan Lu

Yesterday, I took the time to watch Ochai Agbaji and Kansas square off against Villanova in the Final Four of the 2022 NCAA Tournament.  I had been hoping to see Kansas play against Arizona, as Arizona has a slew of highly rated prospects, but Arizona had lost to Houston in the Sweet 16.

Still, it was an entertaining basketball game in which Kansas was able to jump on Villanova to get the early lead, and while Villanova made runs to keep the game competitive, Kansas was able to run away with the victory.  Kansas had strong performances from Ochai Agbaji and David McCormack, and Agbaji’s tremendous shooting and McCormack’s terrific low post play helped them get a sizable win over Villanova.  For Villanova, they had solid performances from Collin Gillespie and Brandon Slater, as both of them shot the ball well, especially as the game wore on.  Here are my thoughts on how Agbaji, McCormack, and other various prospects fared in this match.

Kansas’ Ochai Agbaji scored 21 points and made 6 three-pointers to help lead his team to a double-digit win over Villanova in the Final Four of the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
(Photo:
David J. Phillip/Associated Press)

Ochai Agbaji had a fantastic showing in his team’s win over Villanova.  He did a tremendous job of shooting and scoring the basketball, and he made threes at will in this game.  He also passed and defended well, and Agbaji and his teammate, David McCormack were absolutely dominant as they willed their team to get the victory.

Agbaji did a terrific job of knocking down threes in this game.  He did a terrific job of making open, spot-up threes, and he also is a very athletic swingman that would run quickly off ball screens to make threes off of pin-downs.  He also moved off the ball to get it, and he was able to pull up to make a smooth three off the dribble.  He also showed that he will go hard to the hoop, as he was able to draw free throws on an aggressive, left-handed drive as well as in transition.  He didn’t look to shoot nearly as often when covered, and there was a stretch run when he wouldn’t take shots midway through this match, but he did show an improved ability to create his own shot off the dribble.

He also showed off satisfactory playmaking skills.  Agbaji is an unselfish player that made good passes off the dribble, and he was able to make an assortment of passes to set up plenty of scoring chances for his teammates.  He also threw good interior passes, and he can find teammates on the move to get them the basketball.  On one play though, he tried to handle the ball up the court, but he ended up being called for traveling violation.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, he was able to leap up to get a pair of defensive boards, and he was able to quickly push the ball up the floor once.  Also, Agbaji played satisfactory defense.  He was able to block a three-point shot due to possessing good athleticism, timing, and instincts.  He also successfully drew a charge on an opposing ball handler to get a stop for his team.  Agbaji also would get his hands on passes to help his team get steals and deflections.  However, he would tend to get overpowered when defending in the post, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Another time, he gave up a bit too much space to a shooter, which led him to give up a three-point basket.

In general, Ochai Agbaji put forth a strong, all-around performance to help lead Kansas to get the win over Villanova to get to the 2022 NCAA Championship game.  He is a very athletic, skilled sharpshooter that did a terrific job of shooting and scoring the basketball, and he also consistently played well throughout this game.  He is a very talented prospect that easily has been one of the best players in college basketball this year, and Agbaji could be a surefire bet to be a lottery pick in the 2022 draft.

Kansas’ starting center, David McCormack scored 25 points and had 9 rebounds, and he also absolutely posterized a defender on a ferocious dunk he threw down to help lead his team to a double-digit win over Villanova.
(Photo:
Charles Fox/The Philadelphia Inquirer)

David McCormack also put forth a tremendous performance to help lead his team to a double-digit win over Villanova.  He is a very strong, mobile center that absolutely dominated in the paint to score and rebound the basketball, and like Agbaji, McCormack was unstoppable, as his opponents simply couldn’t guard him, and he was too big, powerful, and talented for them to be able to match up to him.

McCormack did a terrific job of scoring in the post.  He would often get deep position down, and he would use spins and drop step moves to often score on turnaround jump hooks.  He has great strength as well as a very good scoring touch to often score around the basket.  He would tend to favor going to his left hand, but McCormack can score using either hand.  He also was able to score on a ferocious dunk midway through this match.  Plus, he also would make strong moves to draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line.

Plus, he also thrived at scoring on hustle plays.  McCormack showed that he can score on rolls, put backs, and on fast breaks, and he did a very good job of finishing plays at the rim.  He also showed off adequate playmaking skills.  McCormack was able to pass out of the post to find an open shooter in order to notch an assist.  Another time though, he had a ball poked away when trying to handle it in the post another time, which led him to turn the ball over.

Also, McCormack did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He showed a knack for crashing the glass to get boards on both ends of the floor.  Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  McCormack was able to get his hands on a pass to get a steal.  He also contested a mid-range jumper to force a miss.  However, he had trouble defending opponents in one-on-one situations at times, as he would get beat on moves, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Other times, he would wander too far into the paint and sag too far off of shooters, which would lead him to allow opponents to score on three-point shots.

In summary, David McCormack had an excellent showing in his team’s double-digit win over Villanova.  He did a tremendous job of scoring in the post, and his opponents couldn’t guard him in this game.  He’ll likely face tougher, more athletic big men at the NBA level, but McCormack’s tremendous performance in the Final Four in this game was a step in the right direction, and he could be a sleeper pick for an NBA team in the 2022 draft.

Christian Braun had a solid showing in his team’s win over Villanova.  He had a slow start early on, but he made shots in the second half, and he especially thrived as a facilitator and defender to help his team in this game. Braun excelled at attacking the hoop to score the basketball.  He was able to score acrobatically on a backdoor cut, and he also managed to score on a smooth, switch of hands, mid-range floater.  He also did a decent job of shooting the basketball.  Braun was able to make a pair of open threes, but he was also streaky with his jump shot, as he had trouble knocking down threes in the first half.

He also passed and handled the ball well.  Braun did a very good job of throwing entry passes to notch assists, and he also would throw swift, accurate drive and kick passes to consistently find open shooters.  On one play though, he threw an inaccurate entry pass that sailed out of bounds.

Though he didn’t get many rebounds in this game, Braun was able to get several defensive boards, and he was able to push the ball up the floor off of a defensive rebound once.  He also played satisfactory defense.  Braun managed to block a shot off of a drive to a teammate due to possessing solid athleticism, timing, and instincts.  He also managed to cut off penetration when defending a drive, and helped force a ball-handling turnover.  On another play, he was late to rotate to defend a shooter, which led him to give up a three-point basket.

Overall, Christian Braun played well, and he helped his team in a variety of ways to help them get the win over Villanova.  He has had a good season this year, and he is an athletic, skilled forward that could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the late first to the second round range on draft day.

Brandon Slater also had a solid showing in his team’s double-digit loss to Kansas.  He is an athletic, high-motor forward that played well on both ends of the floor, and he especially thrived as a shooter in this game.

Slater did a good job of knocking down threes from beyond the arc.  He especially showed a knack for making open, spot-up threes off the catch.  However, there were a couple of times in the second half where he passed up wide-open threes, which led to a charging foul off the dribble, and he also ended up pump faking and passing it to a teammate who later had his three-point shot blocked.  Slater was a bit too hesitant at times, but aside from that, he shot the ball very well in this game.

He also was active as a scorer on hustle plays.  Slater was able to score on a strong put back dunk.  He also received the ball on a cut and drove in to draw free throws.  However, he struggled to consistently score off the dribble, and he would sometimes rush his shots, which would lead to misses.

As a playmaker, he looked to be average in this game.  For the positives,, Slater can pass out of the post to set up scores for open shooters.  However, he tended to struggle to handle the ball under duress, and it’s very possible that maybe he’s just not a very good ball handler.  He was called for a traveling violation off of a drive, and he also committed a charging foul after passing up a three another time.  Later on in this match, he drove recklessly to the hoop and lost the ball out of bounds.

Also, Slater did a fairly good job of rebounding the basketball, and he would often crash the glass to get offensive boards.  He also played good defense in this game.  Slater was able to hustle to poke a ball off of an opponent to get a steal.  He also helped trap an opposing ball hander, as he managed to get his man to pick up his dribble and call a time out.

Overall, Brandon Slater played well in his team’s loss, and while his decision-making looked to be suspect at times, he shot the three-ball well, and he also played good defense in this game.  Though he has flown under the radar this year, Slater turned in a good performance in the Final Four this year, and he could project well into a 3 and D role in the NBA.

Collin Gillespie also played fairly well in his team’s tough loss to Kansas.  His team was definitely undermanned due to having lost Justin Moore to an unfortunate knee injury, but they played hard, and he excelled as a shooter, ball handler, and defender in this game.

Gillespie did a great job of shooting and scoring the basketball.  He showed that he can make threes off the catch and dribble, and he also would run off ball screens to score on pin-downs.  He thrived at making threes and mid-range jumpers, but he also had his shot blocked on a drive when trying to go all the way to the hoop once.

As a playmaker, he looked to be about average at best.  Though he didn’t get any assists, Gillespie was able to take charge of his team’s offense, and he also managed to make a swift drive and kick pass to create a scoring chance for his teammate.  On the downside, he had some trouble handling the ball when pressured.  He lost the ball when posting up once, and he had a ball poked away when handling it on the break to lose the ball another time.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, Gillespie was able to get a pair of defensive boards.  He also played solid defense in this game.  Gillespie would get his hands on passes to get steals and deflections, and he also managed to break up a lob pass to help force a turnover.  He also was able to rotate to poke a ball away to get a steal another time.

Overall, Collin Gillespie had a solid showing in this game.  He shot the ball well, and he was able to force a handful of turnovers when he was on the floor.  He will need to show that he can effectively match up against more athletic opponents at higher levels, but he is a smart, seasoned point guard whose skill set and feel for the game could enable him to make his way to the NBA next season. 

Jalen Wilson also had a solid showing in his team’s win over Villanova.  He didn’t shoot the ball very well, but he fared much better in the non-shooting or scoring-related elements of the game. Wilson wasn’t particularly efficient as a scorer in this game, but he was able to score on a turnaround jumper in the post, and he was fairly effective at driving to his left to score the basketball.  He also managed to score on a put back, but he also would miss on tip-ins due to rushing.  He was able to make an open three, but he struggled to knock down outside shots consistently on offense.

He also passed and handled the ball well in this game.  Wilson made good passes off the dribble, and he would get his teammates the ball to notch assists.  He also did a good job of getting the ball to open shooters.  However, he lost the ball when handling it on the break once to turn the ball over.

Plus, Wilson did a terrific job of rebounding the basketball.  He did an exceptional job of crashing the glass, and he would often get offensive boards to help his team to get rebounds.  He also played adequate defense.  Wilson also managed to block a shot off of a drive to himself due to possessing solid athleticism, timing, and instincts.  He also managed to contest a shot in the post to force a miss.  Sometimes though, he would get overpowered when defending opponents in one-on-one situations, which would lead him to allow scores.

Overall, Jalen Wilson played fairly well in his team’s win over Villanova.  He struggled to consistently knock down his outside shots, but that was expected, since he’s not really a shooter.  He also did a very good job of passing and rebounding the basketball.  He may need to stay in school for another season, but he could project into a defensive specialist role in the NBA.

Dajuan Harris also played very well in his team’s win over Villanova.  He thrived as a spot-up shooter on offense, and he would often make open threes off the catch.  He also played unselfishly, and he would make the extra pass to find the open man to notch assists.  He also threw good interior passes in this game.  He also played adequate defense in this game.  Harris did a good job of poking balls away to get steals and deflections.  However, sometimes he would take bad angles and struggle to defend drives, as he would sometimes get beat off the dribble to allow scores.

Overall, Harris quietly had a good showing in his team’s win in this game.  He shot the ball very well, and he had a good all-around game to help lead his team to get the victory.  He may need another year to prove that he has what it takes to be a reliable role player in the NBA, but Harris’ strong performance in this game was a step in the right direction, and he could be poised to have a good season next year.

Jermaine Samuels put forth an uneven performance in his team’s loss to Kansas.  He wasn’t very effective in the first half, and he generally didn’t shoot the ball very well from the outside.  He played better in the second half, and he was able to make some solid plays when posting up to help his team late in this match.

Samuels showed a solid ability to post up.  He would get deep position on the block, and he would overpower his opponents to score and draw free throws.  He was able to use a spin move to score, and he also scored on a strong, fadeaway jumper while getting an extra free throw afterwards.  He has solid strength and shooting touch, and he would take advantage of posting up the other team’s wing players to score on the block.

He didn’t shoot the ball nearly as well from the outside, but Samuels was able to make an open three off the catch.  However, he struggled to knock down outside shots consistently, and he especially struggled to score on pull-up, mid-range jumpers.

He also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  Samuels showed a solid ability to make an assortment of passes to get assists, and he would swing the ball to find open shooters.  However, sometimes he would commit careless turnovers, as he dribbled off his foot out of bounds once, and he also threw a pass that got intercepted another time.

Samuels showed a solid ability to rebound the basketball.  However, he also was called for a loose ball foul when going for an offensive board another time.  He also played satisfactory defense in this game.  He was able to jump on a loose ball to help his team get a steal.  He also held his ground when defending in the post to force a miss, and he also successfully challenged a mid-range jumper another time.  He also was called for fouling an opponent in the post on a separate possession, though.

Overall, Jermaine Samuels didn’t have his best game, but he looked to be at his best when he would post up on the block.  On the downside, he is a small forward who would not likely get post plays run for him at the NBA level.  He will need to be a more consistent shooter, and he will need to improve his ball-handling, but he could project into a 3 and D role in the NBA if he can make those improvements to hone his game.

Caleb Daniels put forth an uneven performance in his team’s loss to Kansas.  For the positives, he is a shot creator that was able to score on some tough plays, and he showed off a variety of scoring skills in this game.  However, he also didn’t shoot very well from the outside, and he wasn’t efficient as a scorer overall in this contest.

Daniels did a decent job of scoring off the dribble.  He tended to favor going to his left, and he was able to score on a tough reverse layup, and he also managed to throw down an emphatic dunk another time.

Plus, he also was able to make a pair of quick, spot-up threes off the catch, and he also pulled up to make a long two another time.  However, Daniels struggled to make pull-up, mid-range jumpers or threes consistently in this match.

Daniels was able to get his fair share of rebounds in this game.  He also played adequate defense in this game.  He was able to help trap an opposing ball handler, as he helped get an opponent to pick up his dribble and call a timeout once. Overall, Caleb Daniels didn’t have his best game, but he’s a scorer that can score on aggressive drives to the hoop.  He will need to be a more consistent shooter in games, but if he can play well against upper echelon opponents, he could project to be a 3 and D type of role player in the NBA.

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