Observing Prospects in the Maryland-Butler Game

November 16, 2017

by Alan Lu

I decided to take the time to watch a game that was played between Maryland and Butler, as this featured two talented teams as well as several prospects, with Terrapins’ sophomore forward Justin Jackson receiving some mention to be a potential first round pick by some across the web.  At the conclusion of this match, Maryland had defeated Butler by double digits, as they played a solid all-around game to do so.  Here are my thoughts on various prospects, as well as how they may fare in the NBA.

Maryland’s 6-0 sophomore point guard, Anthony Cowan had a tremendous showing, as he helped lead his team to a win over Butler.  Cowan is a quick playmaker that can shoot and score the basketball, and he is a tough, gritty player that is quite active on the boards as well as on the defensive end. Cowan shot the ball very well, as he was able to make numerous, tough pull-up threes from beyond the arc.  He was able to utilize a step back move to knock one down, and he can make a deep three from way out.  Cowan plays with great confidence, and he was able to make the shots that he made look effortless.

He also showed a good ability to garner scores off the dribble.  Cowan is an agile player that can quickly get into the lane, and he can maneuver his way to garner scores and free throws.  He possesses good body control and shooting touch when he is in the paint, and he will also convert on many of his free throws.  Also, he was able to make a nifty, fallaway jumper off of a drive in transition to get the score, and he also managed to draw an extra free throw afterwards.

Cowan primarily looks to score first, but he did seem to show adequate playmaking skills when he was on the floor.  He is a good ball handler that can deftly break a press.  Also, he also managed to find a cutter to set up a score on a separate play.  However, he did have a ball poked away from him once, which led him to commit a turnover. He also rebounded the ball really well.  Cowan has great ball location and skills, and he was able to haul in many boards when he was on the floor.

Plus, he also showed off adequate defensive skills.  Cowan showed a knack for forcing turnovers, as he was able to rip a ball away from an opponent in the post, and he also got a hand on a pass and tipped it to a teammate to help his team come away with another steal.  However, he occasionally struggled to defend drives, as he would commit fouls on occasion, and he also allowed a score in the post another time.   Overall, Anthony Cowan had a strong all-around game, and he especially excelled as a shooter and scorer when he was on the floor.  Cowan is a skilled, agile guard that can make a wide range of shots for his team, and he could end up being a very good find for a team in the NBA draft.

Maryland’s 6-7 point guard, Kevin Huerter put forth a fairly good showing, as he played an integral role in helping to lead his team to cruise to a win over Butler.  He is a smart, skilled playmaker that can deftly run the point, and he also shoots the ball well.  He may not possess great athletic gifts, but his offensive skills combined with his basketball IQ have enabled him to thrive at the collegiate level.

He played very well in the first half, as he showed the ability to make threes both off the catch and dribble, and Huerter excelled at throwing interior passes to set up scores for his teammates.   He also was able to score on the move off of a curl cut.  Plus, he rebounded the ball well, and he would contest shots to force misses. However, he later had trouble with turnovers, as he would be inaccurate with his passes, and he also threw a pass out of bounds after being trapped by multiple defenders.

Huerter also struggled with his jump shot in the second half, as he even had a three blocked by the much shorter Kamar Baldwin.  Huerter also had trouble getting all the way to the hoop consistently off the dribble, and he would have trouble turning the corner off of pick and rolls.  Also, he had some trouble defending players off the dribble, as he would end up committing fouls. Huerter eventually fouled out, but he had a solid first half, as he was able to help Maryland continue to grow their lead until they were able to eventually win by double digits.  In all, his below average athletic gifts may limit his upside as a prospect for the NBA, but Huerter’s offensive skill set could maybe enable him to develop into being an effective role player at the next level, as at best, he could end up being a Greivis Vasquez type if everything works out for him.

Maryland’s 7-1 senior center, Michal Cekovsky had a fairly good showing in his team’s win over Butler.  He played very well early, as he is a mobile big man that seems to have good hands, and he played with a lot of energy, as he threw down numerous dunks, and he also blocked shots to provide an interior presence for the Terrapins. Cekovsky primarily excelled as a finisher around the basket.  He would roll hard to the basket, and he would catch high entry passes to throw down emphatic dunks to garner scores.  He also managed to catch a high pass in the post to score on a dunk another time.  While he did make a few good passes, he also committed a couple of turnovers, as he set a moving screen once, and he also had a ball ripped away from him when posting up.

He also played adequate defense.  Cekovsky used his length and timing to swat and alter shots off of drives to force misses.  However, sometimes he can struggle to defend in the post, as he may commit fouls or allow a score on occasion.  Also, he did not rebound the ball very well, as he came away with just one board in this game. In general, Michal Cekovsky had a good game, as he played a pivotal role in helping his team get a double-digit win over Butler.  He has only put up relative modest numbers even as a senior, but as he is a mobile 7-1 center that can make some solid plays above the rim, Cekovsky could be a candidate to end up on an NBA summer league roster either in 2018 or sometime down the road.

Butler’s 6-0 combo guard, Kamar Baldwin is an athletic combo guard that can make some tough shots, and he also is an active defender that can provide solid help defense when he is on the floor.  However, he also can tend to take too many questionable shots, and he also can be prone to having too many lapses on the defensive end. One of the first and foremost things is that Baldwin is quite a chucker.  For an athletic playmaker that can get into the lane and knock down shots, he will hoist up a lot of questionable shots.  He tended to take shots quite often, and he would tend to shoot a lot of contested, pull-up jumpers off the dribble.  His shot selection is spotty at best, and that is probably the main reason that is preventing from excelling as a shooter on the court.

Even so, he did do a good job of making threes when he would take them.    Baldwin can make spot-up threes off the catch, and he can also move to open areas to get the ball.  He also was able to a knock down a deep, spot-up three from well beyond the arc. However, Baldwin will take a lot of pull-up, mid-range jumpers, and he did a terrible job at trying to make them.  He did make one early on, as he utilized a quick crossover to knock down a contested, pull-up shot, but he would continually miss on those types of shots as the game went on.

Baldwin did show the ability to score off the dribble, as he used a quick pump fake to score on a floater off the glass, but he missed floaters a couple of other times. He did do a good job of scoring in the post, however.  He managed to back down a smaller guard, and he pivoted to score on a drop step move.  For a player that has a slight build, Baldwin has good strength for someone his size.   He also managed to score on a cut as well.  However, Baldwin would also play too wildly at times, as he would miss shots wildly in traffic on the break. Baldwin showed off fairly average playmaking skills.

He did not seem to set the table nearly enough for his team, as he may possess too much of a score-first mind set to be able to effectively run the point consistently, but when he did look to distribute the ball on offense, he would spread the ball around and find open shooters.  However, Baldwin had a couple of his passes intercepted, and he also got tied up on a drive once early in this game. He also displayed a decent ability to rebound the basketball.  Baldwin managed to haul in his fair share of defensive boards, though he eventually fouled out by committing a foul when going after an offensive rebound.

Plus, he also showed off adequate defensive skills.   For the positives, Baldwin is a solid help defender that can collect numerous steals and blocks due to possessing very good athletic gifts.  He would rip balls away from ball handlers to obtain steals, he managed to get a hand on a pass to force another turnover, and he also blocked a three-point shot.  Plus, he also showed a decent ability to defend in the post despite being undersized to play the point, as well as to contest jump shots. However, Baldwin struggled to defend drives, as he would get beat off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls, or to a teammate to commit a foul instead.  Also, he tended to be foul prone, as one came when the opponent was on the break, and he also committed another one off the ball on the defensive end.

Overall, Kamar Baldwin may be a potential second round prospect for the 2018 NBA Draft, and he may be a similar player to former NBA player, Josh Selby.  He is a very athletic combo guard that has some scoring and defensive skills, but his heavy score-first mindset combined with generally having poor shot selection could make it tough for him to transition well into the NBA, especially at first.  He will need to improve his shot selection considerably and work on being more of a facilitator when he is on the floor.  If he can work to improve his weaknesses, he could perhaps end up being a solid role player in the NBA.

Kelan Martin did not play very well for Butler, but he is a swingman that could potentially fit into a 3 and D type of role at the next level due to his skill set.  He did a decent job of knocking own jumpers when he was on the floor.  Martin can make threes both off the catch and dribble, and he even made a deep three from well beyond the arc.  Martin also was able to make an open, pull-up mid-range jumper. He also possesses a decent ability to score off the dribble.

Martin does not possess an elite first step, but he is a crafty player that can use a spin move to catch defenders off guard to garner scores around the basket.  However, he is not an explosive athlete, and he can struggle to finish plays at the rim in traffic even after using ball fakes and spin moves.  He did not do a good job of scoring in the post, however.  Despite having very good strength and size to play the small forward position, Martin missed on a jump hook after getting the ball on the block.  Also, he did not draw any free throws despite having the size to do so. Martin showed average playmaking skills at best.  He did not look to pass often, but he did show the ability to pass out of the post as well as off the dribble to find open shooters when he would elect to move the ball, but he did commit a couple of turnovers, including one where he simply just lost the ball after dribbling in one place for a rather long time.

He also did an decent job of rebounding the basketball.  Martin would crash the defensive glass to help his team come away with boards.  However, he would forget to block out his man, which would lead him to allow put back scores.  Also, he showcased adequate defensive skills.  Martin has good hands, as managed to poke a ball away when defending a high post drive to obtain a steal.  he also will hold his ground when defending the post, and he also will contest shots to force misses.  He doesn’t possess elite lateral quickness, but he can stay in front of his man when defending drives. In this game, Kelan Martin did not have a great showing, but he may have the skills to develop into a 3 and D type of role player in the NBA if he is willing to fit into that role in professional basketball.

From watching this game, Kelan Martin seems to have a skill set that may be similar to current Charlotte Hornets’ swingman, Treveon Graham.  Martin may not be the most dynamic or athletic player, but he could end up being in the NBA if he can make threes and defend his opponents regularly at that level.

Maryland’s sophomore combination forward, Justin Jackson had a rather uneven performance in his team’s double-digit win over Butler.  On one hand, Jackson seems to be a high motor player that generally rebounded and defended well, and he would score on hustle plays, but on the other, he would not take enough shots or show the ability to make jumpers or score off the dribble, and he committed too many turnovers and fouls in this game.

Jackson may be getting mention as a possible first-round prospect, but he didn’t really do much to stand out on offense in this game. Jackson can score off of hustle plays.  He managed to score on a fast break drive after getting a steal, and Jackson can score on drives when he has a wide-open court to operate.  Plus, Jackson also managed to score on a strong put back, and he also drew free throws off of a cut to the hoop.  However, Jackson had trouble making threes.  He missed one off of a curl, and he also threw up an air-ball despite being wide open for a three-point shot in the corner.

He also had lots of trouble with turnovers.  For the positives, Jackson played unselfishly, as he would throw passes to open shooters, and he also would throw an outlet pass.  However, Jackson struggled to handle the basketball, as he lost it once when posting up, and he had it poked away off of a drive.  Another time, he fell on a drive, and had his pass deflected and intercepted as he attempting to throw one from the ground.  Also, Jackson committed a charging foul another time on a drive in transition, as he does not possess great lateral quickness to maneuver past his man. Jackson did rebound the ball really well.  He hauled in many defensive boards, as he would leap up to get numerous tough rebounds, and Jackson would display good athleticism, motor, and instincts to collect them for his team.

He also played good defense.  Jackson managed to jump passes to obtain steals, and he would contest jumpers to force misses.  However, he would play too physically at times, which would lead him to commit fouls. Right now, Justin Jackson may be a second round prospect for the upcoming draft.  He possesses the ideal size to play the small forward position, but his lack of shot creation skills combined with his reluctance to take shots and lack of lateral quickness may limit his upside.  But if he can improve his offensive skill set and mobility, he could help increase his chances to succeed in the NBA, as his skill set could allow him to thrive as a role player in the mold of a Mike Scott type in the association.

Other Notes:

Maryland’s 6-4 freshman combo guard, Darryl Morsell had a very good game, as he is an athletic player that can make spot-up threes, and he also managed to throw down a powerful dunk off of a drive in transition.  He also defended well, as he would heap on loose balls to get steals, and he also blocked a shot off of a drive.  Morsell is a high motor player that plays bigger than his size, and he could be a player to watch in the future. Overall, I decided to check out this game to watch Maryland’s Justin Jackson, as well as Kamar Baldwin and Kelan Martin for Butler.  However, I came away impressed not with their play, but with how Maryland played as a team.  Maryland played a solid all-around game as they seem to be a talented team that has depth up and down their roster, and they thoroughly outplayed Butler.

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