Observing Sharife Cooper, J.T. Thor, and Jeremiah Tilmon

January 27th, 2021

By Alan Lu

Yesterday, I decided to take the time to watch Auburn’s freshman point guard, Sharife Cooper play in a competitive, SEC basketball game against Missouri.  He played very well in this game as he thoroughly dominated the competition, and he led his team to get a well-deserved win.  The other standout performers of this game were Jeremiah Tilmon, J.T. Thor, and Dru Smith.  Here are my thoughts on how Cooper and the others fared, as well as how their games may translate to the NBA.

Sharife Cooper had a stellar performance in his team’s win over Missouri, and he scored 28 points, had 8 rebounds and 7 assists, and he also drew 21 free throw attempts in this game.
(Photo:
John Reed/USA Today Sports)

Auburn’s freshman point guard, Sharife Cooper had a strong showing in his team’s win over Missouri.  He scored 28 points, had 8 rebounds and 7 assists, and he also drew a whopping 21 free throw attempts, and made 18 of them when he was at the foul line.  He is a speedy playmaker that showed a knack for scoring the basketball and dropping dimes, and his team was exponentially better with him on the floor than off of it.

Cooper did a very good job of scoring on quick drives to the basket.  He is a speedy, fleet-footed guard that can consistently get to the lane to score on tough, crafty layups, and he would frequently draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line.  He has very good foot speed and quickness that enables him to split defenders to get to the hoop.  However, sometimes his tendency to take tough, difficult shots would lead to misses, and he had several of his shots blocked.  Sometimes, he would struggle to score against taller opponents, but his foot-speed, agility, and scoring skills would often enable him to score and draw free throws when driving hard to the paint.

He also flashed the ability to knock down jumpers.  Cooper was able to dribble off of a screen to make a pull-up jumper from the mid-range.  He didn’t take many threes, but he missed on both of his three-point attempts in this game.

Also, Cooper displayed solid playmaking skills.  He is a very quick guard that would dart into the lane, and he excelled at throwing interior passes to set up scores for his teammates.  He showed a knack for throwing accurate lobs, and he also can find them consistently off of cuts and in transition.  He tended to throw good passes off the dribble, and he would push the pace and crank up the tempo to make things difficult for his defenders.  However, sometimes he would get careless with the ball, as he had it knocked a couple of times.  He also threw a rushed behind-the-back pass that got intercepted. 

Plus, Cooper did a terrific job of rebounding the basketball.  He would leap up to get numerous defensive boards to help his team, and he would also swoop in to help his team on the glass.  He also would tend to push the ball up the court after grabbing defensive rebounds.

Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  On one good play, Cooper was able to successfully draw a charge on a drive to help his team get a stop.  He also would look to stay in front of his man to contest jump shots to force some misses.  However, sometimes he would gamble too much defensively, and he also often would struggle to guard taller players.  On one play, he bit on an overhead ball fake, and allowed an opponent to score on a floater.  Other times, he struggled to defend opponents off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  There was another play where he didn’t fight over a screen or contest a three-point shot, which led him to allow his opponent to score that time.  Whenever he would guard a taller player in the post, he would have trouble and call for a double team, but his team would still give up baskets.

In general, Sharife Cooper played very well in this game, and he put forth a sterling performance to lead his team to get the win.  He is a speedy point guard that made solid, impactful plays on both ends of the floor, and he consistently was the best player on the floor in this game.  He will need to improve his jump shot and defense, but his terrific offensive skills combined with having very good foot-speed and upside could make him a solid pick for an NBA team in the mid to late first round range for the upcoming draft.

Auburn’s freshman forward, J.T. Thor played well, as he scored 12 points, made 3 three-pointers, and had 4 blocks in his team’s win over Missouri.
(Photo:
Sara Palczewski/The Opelika-Auburn News)

Auburn’s freshman forward, J.T. Thor had a solid showing in his team’s win over Missouri.  He shot the ball very well, and he also played solid defense, as he consistently played well on both ends of the court in this game. Thor did a very good job of knocking down open, spot-up threes off the catch.  He also used a pump fake move to score on a floater from around the right elbow.  However, he struggled to score from inside the arc, and he missed a couple of tough, contested layups on rolls to the rim. He also was able to collect his fair share of boards to help his team on the glass.  Thor would leap up to get plenty of defensive rebounds, and he was able to bring the ball up once.

Plus, he also played solid defense.  He did a great job of blocking shots in this game.  He would rotate to swat shots off of drives, and he also blocked a corner three due to possessing a very good wingspan, length, and timing.  He excelled at contesting outside shots as well as shots off the dribble to force misses.  On the downside, there was one play where he was late to get to defend a shooter off of a screen, which led his team to allow an opponent to score on a three-point shot that time.

Overall, J.T. Thor is a very athletic, energetic combo forward that excelled as a shooter and defender in his team’s win over Missouri.  On the season, he will need to be a more consistent shooter, but it’s encouraging that he’s shown that he can ably make spot-up threes to space the floor for his team.  He’s an intriguing prospect whose strong athletic gifts, combined with his versatility could make him a solid pick for an NBA team in the second round range of the 2021 draft.

Missouri’s senior center, Jeremiah Tilmon played very well, as he scored 21 points, and he also had 10 rebounds and 6 blocks in his team’s loss to Auburn.
(Photo:
John Reed/USA Today Sports, via FOX Sports)

Missouri’s 6-10 senior center, Jeremiah Tilmon had a very good game in his team’s loss to Auburn.  He scored 21 points, and he also collected 10 rebounds and 6 blocks in this game. Tilmon did a good job of scoring in the post.  He would often get deep position, as he would use drop step moves to score inside, and he also would score on powerful, two-handed dunks.  He also was able to score on a turnaround jumper, and on a reverse layup another time while getting an extra free throw afterwards.  He also excelled at drawing fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line.  Sometimes though, he would use dribble moves, but end up missing on off-balanced shots in traffic.

He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  Tilmon was able to score on a quick put back, and he also ran in to score on a tip-in off of another offensive rebound. He also displayed average at best playmaking skills.  Tilmon was able to pass out of the post to find an open shooter to notch an assist.  However, sometimes he would commit turnovers due to carelessness.  He was called for traveling when attempting to score on a put back once.  He also dropped a catchable entry pass out of bounds another time. Plus, Tilmon did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He especially excelled at crashing the glass to get offensive boards, and he was able to provide his team with numerous second chance points.

Also, he played solid defense in this game.  Tilmon did a tremendous job of blocking shots, as he would swat shots hard when defending off of drives and in the post to help protect the paint for his team.  He also would get his hands on passes to get steals and deflections.  He did a good job of contesting jump shots, and he would get his opponents to take tough angle shots to force misses.

In summary, Jeremiah Tilmon played very well, and this was one of his best performances of the season.  He consistently played well on both ends of the floor.  His size, strength, and scoring touch made it difficult for opponents to guard him down low, and he also was very effective as a rebounder, shot blocker, and interior defender.  Though he’s struggled to consistently play well in his first three seasons, he is quietly having a solid senior season.  Right now, he may be a borderline second round candidate, but even if he goes undrafted, he could end up being a fairly solid rotational big man similar to former Los Angeles Lakers’ center, Tarik Black in the NBA.

Auburn’s 6-6 sophomore swingman, Allen Flanigan had a decent showing in his team’s win over Missouri.  He was quiet in the first half, but he played fairly well in the second half, and he also threw down a scintillating dunk on the break late in this game.

Flanigan excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He was able to catch a lob pass to score on an alley-oop layup off of a backdoor cut.  Flanigan also drove in transition and threw down a thunderous dunk on the break later on.  Plus, he showed a knack for drawing fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line.

He also did a adequate job of scoring off the dribble.  He was able to go to his left to score on a crafty, off-balanced leaner.  However, he missed on a tough shot when going to his right.  He tried to score when he was around the basket, but he ended up getting his shot blocked.   However, he missed on all of his three-point shots, and he especially struggled to make pull-up jumpers from beyond the arc.

He also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  Flanigan is an unselfish player that will make the extra pass to find the open man, and he was able to dribble off of a screen and throw an accurate interior pass to set up a score for a teammate on a roll to the rim.  However, he also committed a few turnovers due to carelessness.  Sometimes he can struggle to handle the ball when pressured, and he also threw an inaccurate pass that sailed out of bounds.

He also did a decent job of rebounding the basketball.  Flanigan was fairly active at crashing the glass, and he was able to get his team his fair share of boards in this game.

Overall, Allen Flanigan didn’t dominate or take over this game, and for long stretches, he seemed to fade into the background.  He did seem to play better down the stretch, and he was able to drive in to score on a terrific jam on the break.  He is a very athletic guard that can play either backcourt position, and he looks to be a fairly solid offensive player.  He will need to be a more consistent shooter in games, but he could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the second round range of the upcoming draft.

Missouri’s 6-2 junior point guard, Xavier Pinson started out playing well, but he ultimately had a disappointing showing in his team’s loss to Auburn.  Among the players on his team, he is certainly the fastest player on his team, and his blazing speed and scoring ability makes him intriguing as an NBA draft prospect.

Pinson is a speedy, fleet-footed guard that can quickly score on quick drives to the hoop.  He was able to score on quick floaters, and he also drew free throws on a drive in transition.  However, sometimes he would go too fast and out of control, which would lead him to miss shots in traffic. He also didn’t shoot the ball very well.  Pinson was unable to knock down any of his threes, and he struggled to consistently knock down his jumpers in this game.

He also displayed decent playmaking skills.  Pinson is a fast guard that can quickly get into the lane, and would drive and dish it off to his teammates to set up scores for them around the basket.  He also is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he also was able to throw a sharp entry pass to set up a scoring chance for another teammate.  However, sometimes he would inaccurate passes that would go astray, and he also committed a charging foul on a drive that led to another turnover.

Also, Pinson did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  However, he struggled defensively.  He tended to gamble for steals, which led him to commit lots of reach-in fouls as a result, and he ended up fouling out of this game.  He is a very fast combo guard whose scoring skills could make him Missouri’s best long-term prospect.  However, he will need to considerably improve his jump shot and defense for the time being.  He will likely need to stay in school another season to hone his skills.  If he can continue to improve and reach his full potential, he could perhaps end up being an effective role player similar to Earl Watson in the NBA.

Missouri’s 6-3 senior point guard, Dru Smith played well, as he scored 21 points and made 3 threes in his team’s loss to Auburn. He excelled as a shooter and scorer in this game.  He shot the ball very well from downtown, and he was able to make threes effectively from both off the catch and dribble, and he also can run off ball screens to do so.  He also showed that he can make threes from well beyond the arc.

He also was able to score on crafty drives to the basket.  Smith was able to use a pump fake to score on a step-through move in traffic.  He also was able to score on a drive in transition, and he did a decent job of getting to the free throw line.   However, he also struggled to score in traffic when he wouldn’t get foul calls, as he missed on a floater once, and he also had his shots blocked a couple of other times.

Also, he displayed adequate playmaking skills in this game.  Smith is an unselfish player that can pass off the dribble and in transition to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  He did commit a couple of turnovers, but he also passed the ball fairly well in this game.

He also did a decent job of rebounding the basketball.  Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  Smith was able to contest a three to force a miss.  However, he would be too aggressive in trying to make plays defensively, and he was prone to fouling opposing ball-handlers.

Overall, Dru Smith is a skilled, crafty combo guard that can shoot and score the basketball.  He may only be an average athlete, but he is a skilled shooter that has a solid basketball IQ.  He might be a long shot to be drafted, but his jump shot and feel for the game could enable him to compete for a roster spot in the NBA next season.

Devan Cambridge played well in his role for Auburn in his team’s win over Missouri.  He especially excelled at scoring on the break.  He was able to score on a double-pump, acrobatic layup on a quick drive in transition.  He also ran the  floor and caught a lob pass to score on an alley-oop dunk.  Cambridge didn’t make a three-point shot, but he showed off very good athleticism and motor with his ability to score on fast breaks. Also, he was able to show his defensive potential by blocking a shot off of a put back.  Plus, he also rebounded well, and he was quite active at crashing the glass to help his team get defensive boards.

Overall, Devan Cambridge is a very athletic swingman that can make hustle plays on both ends of the floor.  He will need to make more jump shots consistently, especially from beyond the arc, but if he can continue to hone his game and progress as an overall player, he could project to be a 3 and D role player in the NBA someday.

Auburn’s 6-6 freshman forward, Chris Moore played very well off the bench in this game.  He excelled at making spot-up threes off the catch, particularly from the corners.  He also ran in to score on a tip-in after leaping up to grab an offensive rebound.

Moore scored 11 points in 14 minutes off the bench, and he made all 4 of his shots, and 3 of his three-pointers.  He is a skilled, mobile forward that can really shoot the basketball.  He will need to play more in games, but if he can continue to progress as an overall player, he could project to be a 3 and D role player in the NBA someday.

Missouri’s 6-5 junior swingman, Javon Pickett also played well off the bench in his team’s loss to Auburn.  He excelled as a shooter and scorer in this game, and he also was able to score in the post on a drop step, reverse layup.  He excelled at scoring on drives to the basket, and he was able to throw down a powerful dunk.  He also was able to make a corner three.

Overall, Pickett was very effective as a scorer and rebounder in this game, and he is an athletic, energetic swingman that was able to score 13 points on 6 of 10 shooting for Missouri in this game.  He will need to continue to improve his outside shot and his defense, but his scoring skills combined with having solid athletic gifts could make him a prospect to watch in the future.

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