Some Evaluations from Monday’s Second Round Games of the 2021 NCAA Tournament
March 22nd, 2021
By Alan Lu
I tuned in to watch several of the second round basketball games that were played in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. While I watched the Florida State-Colorado game and analyzed that in-depth, the USC-Kansas game was far more fun both on a personal level and as an evaluator. The Mobley brothers dominated in USC’s blowout win over Kansas, and they are both very good players that could take their team far in this tournament. First, I’ll start with the USC-Kansas game, then I’ll give you my assessments of how other players did in the other games.
I was thoroughly impressed with the way USC won against Kansas, and they look ready to compete against Oregon in their Sweet 16 matchup that will happen in their next contest. USC dismantled Kansas in every which way possible, and they shot the lights out to get a blowout victory in the second round. The Mobley brothers played extremely well, and USC was making threes whenever and wherever possible to get a double-digit win.
USC’s freshman center, Evan Mobley also had a solid showing in his team’s win over Kansas. He did a good job of scoring in the post, and he also scored on a tip dunk. Plus, he also excelled as a playmaker, and he was able to make a nice, wraparound pass to set up a score for a teammate in the post. He also is a good ball handler that can get smooth scores and assists to help his team on offense.
He also rebounded and defended well, and he would actively challenge shots to force misses. Mobley played outstanding defense in this game. He did a very good job of blocking shots, as he would make it tough for opponents to get their shots up. In this game against Kansas, Mobley scored 10 points, and he also had 13 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 blocks in this game. He had a very good all-around game, and he looks to be a lock to be a top 5 pick in the 2021 draft.
USC’s sophomore forward, Isaiah Mobley played really well, and he had a strong all-around showing to help lead his team to a blowout win over Kansas. He really excelled at making three-pointers to provide floor-spacing for his team on offense, and he also made a nifty, step-back three midway through this match. He also showed off solid playmaking skills.
He was running the point late in this contest, and he was able to get drive and kick assists to his teammates. He handles the ball well, and he can find open teammates down low, as well as get the ball out to shooters. Also, he rebounded and defended well when he was on the court. Overall, Isaiah Mobley scored 17 points, and he had 8 rebounds, and 4 assists in this game. He definitely had a strong showing in his team’s win over Kansas, and he could be a solid pick for a team in the late first to the second round range on draft day.
Isaiah White and Tahj Eaddy did a great job of knocking down threes in this game, and Isaiah White is an athletic, energetic forward that would make energetic plays to help his team on offense. White scored 13 points and made 3 threes, and Tahj Eaddy scored 12 points and made 2 threes in this game.
For Kansas, I didn’t really pay as much attention to them, because they were really bad in this game. To me though, Ochai Agbaji stood out as one of their better performers in this game. Agbaji played solid defense, and he was very active on that side of the ball. He was able to draw a charge on a drive, he also would poke balls and get his hands on passes to get steals. He showed that he can deftly knock down spot-up threes, and he also made a mid-range jumper.
He struggled a lot more when he would try to create his own shot off the dribble, which would sometimes lead him to get his shots blocked. His struggles to consistently create his own shot may sometimes lead to the chagrin of his team’s hardcore fanbase, as his lack of a solid dribble game may make him ill-suited to being a go-to scorer. That said, if he’s used creatively on offense though, he can help a team’s offense as a spot-up shooter, and scorer in transition and off-ball motion plays.
In this game, he still didn’t play well overall, but Agbaji was engaged defensively, and he was able to make some impressive plays throughout this game even when he was struggling with his jump shot. This likely makes him Kansas’ most promising prospect for the draft due to his intriguing combination of athleticism, shooting ability, and defensive skills, though Marcus Garrett and Jalen Wilson might not be far behind him right now in terms of talent.
In the short-view, his performance looks bad, but there are positives that can be taken away from his play in this game, and he kept competing hard on both ends of the floor throughout the contest. Though Agbaji struggled to consistently make shots against USC, Kansas has to be pleased that Agbaji still made 38% of his threes this season, and still averaged over 14 points per game. He is an athletic, energetic swingman that showed enough skills and played with the necessary grit to maybe get drafted by an NBA team in the second round on draft day. He’ll need to be a more consistent player in games, but if he can carve out a niche role in the NBA, he could be an effective role player similar to former Houston Rockets’ forward, Chase Budinger in the association.
Also, USC’s senior forward, Chevez Goodwin provided solid athleticism and energy or his team, and he scored 10 points off the bench. Ethan Anderson did a good job of scoring off the dribble and he showed a solid mid-range jumper, as he scored 9 points off the bench. Kansas’ senior guard, Marcus Garrett scored 15 points, and he had 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals, as he quietly filled up the stat sheet, despite having an off shooting night in this game.
Kansas’ 6-7 junior swingman, Tyon Grant-Foster looked to have played well late in this game, and he is an athletic swingman that showed a fairly solid ability to score off the dribble, and he also was able to knock down a spot-up three late in this game. He didn’t play much this season, and it’s unclear how much playing time he will get next year, or if he will need to transfer altogether to get a starter’s workload next season. Grant-Foster will definitely need to improve his jump shot, especially at the free throw line and from beyond the arc, but his ability to thrive as an athletic slasher on offense could likely allow him to get a bigger role on Kansas’ team next season.
Overall, USC put on a shooting clinic in their blowout win over Kansas, and they steamrolled them, as they played well in all facets of the game. USC shot the three-ball really well, they moved the ball well, and they were able to consistently score around the basket. They also played stifling defense, as Kansas had trouble generating consistent offense from any of their players. Even though Kansas’ junior center, David McCormack was able to get a couple of solid scores in the post, he only was able to hoist up 4 shots in this game, and Kansas really had trouble defending the Mobley brothers. Kansas had just one player score in double figures in this contest. USC completely dominated Kansas, and the Sweet 16 matchup between USC and Oregon should be a fun one to watch.
The Florida State-Colorado Game:
I also decided to take the time to watch Scottie Barnes and Florida State square off against McKinley Wright and Colorado in a second round matchup of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. I was pondering whether to analyze this game in depth or the USC-Kansas game, but I figured that this game would be more competitive. On the other hand, Scottie Barnes sat on the bench for long stretches, especially in the first half, and though he did make some solid plays in this game, I was far from satisfied from what I saw in this game. Regardless, Florida State’s athleticism, length, and defensive prowess really bothered Colorado, and Florida State was able to run away with a double-digit win over their opponent.
Florida State’s 6-9 freshman forward, Scottie Barnes had a decent showing in his team’s win over Colorado. He didn’t shoot the ball very much, but it turns out that he didn’t really need to, as he excelled as a facilitator and defender when he was on the court. Barnes didn’t shoot the ball very often, but he excelled as a scorer on fast break drives. He managed to go coast to coast to score on a switch of hands layup, and he also took long strides to effortlessly score on a left-handed drive in transition another time. He almost scored on a pull-up, mid-range jumper after using a pump fake to get his shot off, but he was called for traveling instead. Barnes did not take a single three-point shot, but he did draw a couple of free throws, in which he made both of them when he was at the foul line.
Also, Barnes displayed good playmaking skills. He is an unselfish player that would often throw sharp interior passes to swiftly get the ball to his teammates, and he has impressive court vision that would allow him to rack up assists. He did a great job of finding his teammates on the move, and he also threw a precise lob pass to a cutter to set up a score another time. Sometimes though, he would throw inaccurate passes that would go astray, and he was called for traveling another time.
Though he didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, Barnes was able to chase down a ball to help his team get a defensive board. He also played solid defense in this game. Barnes was able to get his hands on passes and poke balls away to get a plethora of steals, and he also would actively contest plenty of jump shots to force misses. Sometimes though, he would over-play the ball, which would sometimes lead him to be out of position or to commit fouls. Another time, he got beat off the dribble in transition to allow a score.
Overall, Scottie Barnes didn’t have his best game, but he played a smart, team-oriented game, as he didn’t make too many mistakes, and he helped lead his team to get the win over Colorado. He didn’t play or shoot the ball much early on, and that could have easily sent him into a tailspin or towards the snowball effect. Instead, he kept plugging away, and was looking to make sound basketball decisions throughout the game, as he operated as a savvy point forward when he was on the court.
Scottie Barnes is a talented, versatile player that can play multiple positions, and the strongest areas of his game are his playmaking and defensive skills. On the other hand, he still struggles to consistently create his own shot, especially in the half court, and he doesn’t seem to trust his outside shot enough to be a reliable threat from beyond the arc. Right now, Barnes is still a likely bet to go in the lottery, and he could end up being a solid player, as he may possess a similar game to former Los Angeles Lakers’ forward, Metta World Peace in the NBA.
Florida State’s junior forward, RaiQuan Gray had a relatively good showing in his team’s win over Colorado. Box score wise, it didn’t look great, but he showed some solid scoring and playmaking skills that looked to go beyond the box score. Gray did a decent job of scoring off the dribble. He can finish plays using either hand, and he can use solid dribble moves to score on smooth layups. He also managed to draw free throws on a put back attempt after grabbing an offensive rebound. However, he tended to miss on tough, contested mid-range jumpers, and he also occasionally would miss shots around the basket.
He also displayed adequate playmaking skills. Gray is a solid passer and ball handler, and he is an unselfish player that would throw crisp, interior passes to set up scores for his teammates. He also can throw solid passes off the dribble as well as out of the post. However, sometimes he would struggle to handle the ball when pressured, which would lead to ball-handling turnovers, and he also threw an inaccurate pass that sailed out of bounds.
Also, Gray did a fairly good job of rebounding the basketball. He was able to leap up to haul in plenty of boards on both ends of the floor, and he was quite active at crashing the glass. He also played satisfactory defense. Gray was able to intercept a pass to get a steal, and he also contested a step-back three to force a miss. On the downside, he sagged a bit too far off of a shooter to allow a three-point score another time.
Overall, RaiQuan Gray played relatively well, as he was able to show some intriguing skills in his team’s win over Colorado. He is an athletic, skilled combo forward that can play all three frontcourt positions, and he could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the second round, as he could end up being a solid role player in the NBA.
Colorado’s senior point guard, McKinley Wright struggled in his team’s loss to Florida State. If his strong showing against Georgetown was his case in why an NBA team should draft him, his poor showing in this game against Florida State may be equally compelling to teams about why maybe they shouldn’t draft him. In this game against Florida State, Wright scored 10 points on 4 of 12 shooting, he had 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist, and 1 block, but he missed all of his threes, and he also turned the ball over 5 times in this game.
Wright did a decent job of scoring off the dribble. He showed that he can finish plays using either hand, and he showed a knack for scoring on crafty floaters. He also managed to score on a tip-in late in the first half. Sometimes though, he would take tough shots that would lead to misses, and he had a couple of his shots blocked. He also missed on all of his three-point shots, and he really struggled with his outside shot in this game.
He also was unusually turnover prone on offense against Florida State. For the positives, Wright would show solid court vision every once in a while, as he would quickly get into the lane to get drive and kick assists. However, he tended to throw inaccurate passes that would get intercepted, and he also threw a ball that went out of bounds. He also tended to commit ball-handling turnovers. He committed a charging foul that took a score off the board on one of his drives. He also took too long to bring the ball up another time, and it led to a ten-second violation, which was an unforced error on his behalf.
Also, Wright did a good job of rebounding the basketball. He was active at crashing the glass, and he was able to get multiple boards on both ends of the floor. He also played solid defense in this game. Wright would intercept passes and poke balls away to get steals, and he also blocked a mid-range shot to himself due to possessing solid athleticism and timing. He also was able to contest a mid-range shot to help force a shot-clock violation. He also managed to successfully draw a charge due to good positioning. On the downside, every once in a while, he would struggle to defend taller players, which would lead him to commit touch fouls.
Overall, McKinley Wright did not play very well in his team’s loss to Florida State. Over the course of the season, he’s been making a strong case to help his draft standing, but this was not one of those nights. He is usually a steady playmaker that provides very good defensive skills, but he struggled to knock down shots and was turnover prone in this game. Currently, he projects to be a borderline second round candidate, but if things pan out for him, he could end up being a solid backup point guard in the NBA.
Florida State’s 6-6 junior swingman, Anthony Polite had a terrific showing in his team’s win over Colorado. He excelled as a shooter and scorer, as he would knock down spot-up threes and mid-range jumpers. He also managed to score on a smart backdoor cut, as well as on a tip-in due to possessing a good motor. Also, Polite passed the ball well, as he would find open shooters to get assists, and he also drove up court and threw a lob to set up a score for a teammate in transition. He also did a fairly good job of rebounding the basketball. He also defended very well, as he would jump passes and take balls away from opposing ball handlers to get many steals in this game.
Overall, Polite played very well to help his team get a win over Colorado. He scored 22 points, made 4 threes, and he also had 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals to help his team get the victory. He’s flown under the radar as a draft prospect, but he could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the second round on draft day.
Florida State’s senior guard, M.J. Walker played fairly well in his team’s win over Colorado. He didn’t shoot the ball very much, but he ran the floor to score on a powerful alley-oop dunk on the break, and he calmly scored on a turnaround, mid-range jumper. He also showed that he can draw fouls on aggressive drives to the hoop, but he also missed on a mid-range jumper another time. Adding to that, he did not take a single three-point shot in this game.
Walker threw good passes, as he would throw crisp, accurate interior passes to roll men to set up scores for them. He also received the ball on a cut, and quickly passed the ball back to a shooter to notch an assist. Walker passes the ball well on the move, and he also passes well off the dribble due to possessing solid playmaking skills and court vision.
He also was able to get a board on each end of the floor. Walker also played solid defense. He was able to get his hands on a pass to get a steal, and he also successfully drew charges on drives to get stops for his team. He also contested a long to force a miss another time. Overall, Walker played fairly well in his team’s win over Colorado. He didn’t take many shots, but he made solid plays on both ends of the court, and he was able to make good team plays to help his team get the victory.
Colorado’s 6-8 junior forward, Evan Battey had a fairly solid showing in his team’s loss to Florida State. He is a strong, low post scorer that ran the floor fairly well, and he would use strong moves to get scores and free throws. He also managed to score on a reverse layup when getting the ball down low. Plus, he also showed the ability to score on put backs. He did miss on a three-point shot, and he didn’t get the ball nearly enough on offense, though.
However, he was quite turnover prone, and his struggles with turnovers may have been a major reason why he didn’t get the ball more, that along with foul trouble. Battey did throw a solid pass to find a cutter to notch an assist. However, he had trouble handling heavy ball pressure, which would lead him to commit numerous ball-handling turnovers. He was very active as an offensive rebounder, but he was not able to get any defensive rebounds. Defensively though, he struggled in this game. On one good play, Battey was able to contest a mid-range shot to force a miss, but he struggled with foul trouble, as he had trouble defending in space and in one-on-one situations.
Overall, Evan Battey played fairly well in his team’s loss to Florida State. He excelled as a low post scorer when they would get him the ball, and when he would be able to get shots up. However, his team had trouble getting it to him consistently on the block, and Florida State would hound him to get him to commit ball-handling turnovers. He will need to improve his outside shot and playmaking skills, but if he works hard to improve his overall game, he could improve his draft standing next season.
Colorado’s senior forward, D’Shawn Schwartz played fairly well in his team’s loss to Florida State. He excelled at making open, spot-up threes, and he also did a good job of rebounding the basketball. He also played unselfishly and would find open shooters to get assists. On the downside, he would tend to commit turnovers, as he ended up committing a couple of careless ball-handling turnovers, and he also threw a hasty pass that got intercepted. In this game, he scored 13 points, as he made 3 threes against Florida State, and he could project into a 3 and D role in the NBA if things break his way.
Florida State’s 6-6 junior swingman, Sardaar Calhoun was able to throw down a couple of riveting, highlight-reel worthy dunks in this game. He managed to catch a lob off of a backdoor cut to score on a thunderous, alley-oop dunk. He also ran the floor and scored on a powerful, one-handed jam. However, he missed on an acrobatic, reverse layup off of a drive, and he had a three-point shot blocked another time. Overall, Calhoun is a very athletic, energetic player that showed that he can finish plays above the rim on off-ball motion plays, but he will need to get more playing time and continue to work on the other elements of the game. If he stays in school, he could be a potential second round pick in 2022 if he ends up having a strong senior season.
Thoughts about the Other Games:
Oregon had a really convincing win over Iowa, and they look to be a very underrated team. They shot the ball really well, they played fast and outran their opponents, and they looked to have a solid defensive game plan, as they shut down pretty much everyone except for Garza, and Oregon’s fast-paced play combined with their strong ability to knock down jump shots helped them get a double-digit win over Iowa in the second round.
Oregon’s 6-6 senior swingman, Chris Duarte played very well, as he had a strong all-around game in his team’s win over Iowa. He scored 23 points, and he had 7 assists and 3 rebounds in this game. He excelled as a scorer and facilitator, and Duarte is a very good passer that has strong court vision. He is an athletic guard that ran the floor well to make highly energetic plays on both ends of the court.
Chris Duarte and Eric Williams Jr. look to be much more athletic than initially thought, they were flying around and throwing down dunks in transition. Will Richardson and L.J. Figueroa also did a great job of knocking down three-pointers to space the floor for their team on offense.
Iowa’s senior center, Luka Garza did a very good job of scoring in the post. He was virtually automatic as a scorer down low, and he also excelled as a shooter, as he made 3 threes in this game. He scored 36 points, and he had 9 rebounds, as he shined in his team’s loss to Oregon.
I also saw some of the Gonzaga-Oklahoma game. Oklahoma seemed to take it to Gonzaga early on, but Gonzaga responded, and their strong all-around play on both ends of the court helped them get a second round win over Oklahoma. Here are some of my thoughts.
Gonzaga’s freshman guard, Jalen Suggs did a great job of driving to the hoop to score the basketball, and he also played unselfishly to get assists. He also played solid defense, as he was very active defensively, and he also would jump passes to get steals. He scored 16 points, and he had 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals to help Gonzaga get the victory. Suggs has played terrific basketball all season, and he looks to be a lock to be a top 5 pick in the 2021 draft.
Gonzaga’s sophomore center, Drew Timme did a great job of scoring in the post, and he also showed a solid ability to score off the dribble and knock down mid-range jumpers. He also passed the ball well and excelled as a rebounder in this game. He scored 30 points, and he had 13 rebounds and 4 assists to help his team get a 2nd Round win over Oklahoma. Certainly, Timme dominated in his team’s win over Oklahoma, and his tremendous performance in this game may serve to help his draft standing significantly this year.
Oklahoma’s senior guard, Austin Reaves played very well in his team’s loss to Gonzaga. He played a sound, all-around game, as he scored on mid-range jumpers, and floaters, and he also made a spot-up three off of a kickout. He was quickly getting into the lane in the first half, and he also was getting drive and kick assists. He also played satisfactory defense, and he showed a knack for drawing charges to get stops for his team. Against Gonzaga, Reaves scored 27 points, and he is a second round prospect that certainly helped his draft standing by having a strong showing in his team’s second round matchup in the NCAA Tournament.
Corey Kispert also played very well, and he did a great job of knocking down threes to shoot and score the basketball. He scored 16 points, and he made 4 threes to help his team get the win.