Thoughts on Chet Holmgren, Jaylin Williams, and Au’Diese Toney in the Sweet 16 of the 2022 NCAA Tournament

March 25th, 2022

By Alan Lu

Yesterday, I took the time to watch Arkansas play against Chet Holmgren and Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 of the 2022 NCAA Tournament.  Gonzaga had been able to scrape by Memphis after struggling early on, but their first half woes seemed like a bad omen for things to come.  Arkansas really pushed the pace early on as they dictated the tempo, and they forced Gonzaga to get into a helter skelter, running match.  Drew Timme had played well early on, but Chet Holmgren ran into foul trouble, and Gonzaga’s guards were sped up and often missed too many shots and turned the ball over.  Arkansas was applying their tough defense, and it was working.

In the second half, Chet Holmgren played noticeably better, especially on offense, as he made a variety of shots, and he made strong hustle plays on both ends of the floor, but opponents kept driving at him, which got him to commit ticky-tack fouls.  Gonzaga’s guards really struggled to get going as they played uncharacteristically poorly, and Gonzaga couldn’t make many shots outside of Holmgren or Timme in the second half.  Jaylin Williams, Au’Diese Toney, JD Notae, and Trey Wade really put the pressure on Gonzaga by continually making shots and plays on both ends of the floor.  When Holmgren fouled out, Arkansas emphasized that they had taken virtually complete control of the game, and aside from making a few mistakes down the stretch, Arkansas was able to hold Gonzaga off to get the win over the favored Bulldogs.  Here are my thoughts on how Chet Holmgren, Jaylin Williams, and other various prospects fared in this match.

Gonzaga’s phenomenal freshman big man, Chet Holmgren (pictured on the right, wearing #34) scored 11 points, and had 14 rebounds and blocked 2 shots in his team’s stunning loss to Arkansas in the Sweet 16 of the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
(Photo:
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

Chet Holmgren played well in his team’s stunning loss to Arkansas.  He defended well throughout the game, but ran into foul trouble in both halves.  The first half caused him to miss plenty of time as a result, and he was held scoreless in the first half.  In the second half, he played much, much better, especially on the offensive end, but he picked up three controversial fouls (despite opponents largely initiating the contact) that caused him to foul out of the game.

Holmgren shot the ball well, as he generally excelled at knocking down jumpers to help his team space the floor on offense.  He was able to make an open three in transition, and Holmgren also made an open, mid-range jumper another time.  Though he was a bit streaky with his three-point shot, Holmgren was more confident and assertive in taking outside shots, and it showed as there were improved results this time around.  He also thrived at scoring on hustle plays.  He managed to draw free throws on a quick, backdoor cut.  He also scored on a quick put back off of an offensive rebound.

Plus, he also did a good job of scoring off the dribble.  Though he tends to favor handling the ball with his right hand, he has a nice spin move that he can use, and he can finish plays using either hand.  He used a spin move to score on a tough layup in traffic.  He also managed to drive off of a put back to score in traffic while taking on contact.  On another play though, he made a nice spin move, but he missed the layup as it rattled in and out.

He also showed off decent playmaking skills.  Holmgren is an unselfish player that can pass and handle the basketball, and he has solid court vision.  He threw a nice bounce pass to a teammate running off of a curl cut to notch an assist.  On another play though, he threw a low pass that a teammate dropped out of bounds, which led to a turnover.

Also, Holmgren did a great job of rebounding the basketball.  He was very active at crashing the glass to haul in boards on both ends of the floor, and he has a keen nose for the ball.  However, he was called for a loose ball foul on an offensive rebound attempt that led him to pick up his second foul of the first half, which caused him to sit for a while afterwards.

Also, Holmgren played solid defense in this game.  He did a very good job of blocking shots to his teammates to help his team protect the paint.  He would use his length to contest shots in the paint to force misses.  He also would deflect passes to nearly get steals on other occasions.  However, sometimes he would get outmuscled, as it led him to commit a foul on a drive.  Other occasions, he would rotate and defend straight up, but still would be called for committing fouls when stepping up to defend in the paint.  Early on, he was called for a blocking foul on a drive in transition, as he unsuccessfully tried to flop that time.

Overall, Chet Holmgren turned in a very good game in his team’s disappointing loss to Arkansas.  He made good decisions with the ball in his hands, and he generally defended well, but he struggled with foul trouble, as the officials called a handful of fouls on him, even though his opponents seemed to initiate most of the contact.  The jury is out on whether or not if Holmgren should be the top pick for the 2022 draft, as it is still a wide-open debate, especially now that Gonzaga, Auburn, and Arizona all have been knocked out of the tournament.  Still, there is no doubt that Holmgren is tremendously gifted, and he could unlock even more potential if he gets placed on a team that allows him to use more of his playmaking skills and allows him to take more outside shots.  His game is probably better suited to the NBA, and Holmgren would likely be a very good pick for an NBA team in the top 3 of the  2022 draft.

Arkansas’ sophomore big man, Jaylin Williams scored 15 points, and he hauled in 12 rebounds and dished out 3 assists in his team’s surprising win over Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 of the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
(Photo:
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

Jaylin Williams also had a strong showing in his team’s win over Gonzaga.  He is a tall, mobile big man that showed off versatile skills, and he had a very good, all-around performance in this game. Williams thrived at scoring on hustle plays.  He managed to score on a drive in transition off of a broken play.  He would run in to score on tip-ins, and he also managed to score on a thunderous dunk off of a roll to the rim. 

He also shot the ball very well.  Williams made a pair of open, spot-up threes off the catch, and he also dribbled to his right to score on a pull-up, mid-range jumper.  He took advantage of opponents giving him ample time and space to shoot and capitalized on those situations.  He also showed that he can draw fouls on strong drives to the hoop, but sometimes he would miss on tough, contested shots in the paint.

Also, Williams passed the ball well.  He was able to find a cutter to set up a score for his teammate, and he also threw a long inbounds pass to find a teammate down court to notch an assist late in this game.  He excelled at throwing crisp, accurate passes due to possessing good patience and court vision

Plus, he also rebounded the ball very well.  He especially thrived at collecting defensive boards, and he also threw a ball off of an opponent to help his team get a defensive rebound once.  Defensively, he looked to be about average.  For the positives, Williams did a very good job of drawing charges to get stops defensively, and he also would sometimes hold his ground when defending in the post to force misses.  On the downside, he also would tend to sag too far off of shooters to give up baskets to them, and he also would get beat on moves when defending in the paint, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Jaylin Williams played very well, and he turned in a strong showing to help get his team the victory.  He is surging at the right time, and he helped his team get a tremendous win in the 2022 NCAA Tournament.  His draft stock is on the rise, and he could be a good pick for an NBA team in the late first to the second round range in the 2022 draft.

Au’Diese Toney made a slew of highlight reel-worthy plays, and he also blocked 2 shots to help his team get the win over Gonzaga.
(Photo:
Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Arkansas’ 6-6 senior, Au’Diese Toney quietly played well in his team’s win over Gonzaga.  He is a very athletic swingman that thrived at making hustle plays, and he especially excelled defensively in this game.  Toney excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He managed to score on a thunderous dunk on a drive in transition, and he also scored on a put back.  Plus, he also managed to score on a backdoor cut while drawing an extra free throw.

On the downside, he struggled to consistently score off the dribble, as he would make strong moves but then rush his shots, which would lead to misses.  He also missed on his lone three-point attempt from beyond the arc.  He also showed adequate playmaking skills.  Toney would throw solid interior passes to get the ball to his teammates down low.

He also rebounded the ball well.  Toney showed a knack for grabbing offensive boards in this game.  He also played tremendous defense in this game.  He did a great job of rotating to block shots to his teammates to help his team protect the paint, and Toney made a wonderful chase down block to get a stop late in this match.  He also managed to intercept a pass, as well as to take a ball away from an opposing ball handler that lost his balance to help his team get steals.

Overall, Au’Diese Toney quietly put forth a magnificent game to help Arkansas get a stunning win over Gonzaga.  He’s a very athletic, energetic swingman that made winning basketball plays on the court, and he could project well into a defensive specialist role in the NBA.

Drew Timme had a solid showing in his team’s loss to Arkansas.  He generally thrived at making plays in the post and he showed that he was comfortable in scoring on mid-range jumpers, but sometimes he would get into trouble in the post, especially as his guards struggled to make shots, which would lead him to commit turnovers.

He showed a decent ability to score in the post.  Timme has solid footwork and shooting touch, and he would use spin moves to get past his man to score around the basket.  He also has a wide array of moves, as he scored on an up and under move, as well as on a crafty, step-through move.  He also would make strong moves to draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line.  Sometimes though, he would take tough shots that would lead to misses, and he didn’t always have his balance when taking them.

He also did a good job of knocking down mid-range jumpers.  He also hoisted up a three, but he missed on his lone three-point attempt of the game. As a playmaker, Timme looked to be about average at best in this game.  For the positives, he is an unselfish player that would find open teammates out of the post, and he was able to find a cutter to notch an assist.  He also would set screens to help his teammates get open driving lanes and jump shots.  On the downside, sometimes he would struggle to handle the ball in post-ups when pressured, which would lead him to commit turnovers.  Another time he threw a errant pass that sailed out of bounds due to miscommunication, and he also dropped a low pass out of bounds another time.

He didn’t get as many rebounds as anticipated, but Timme was able to haul in his fair share of boards on both ends of the floor.  Defensively, he looked to be fairly average in this game.  He would contest shots in the paint to force misses, and sometimes he would contest outside shots to get stops for his team.  On the downside, sometimes he would sag too far off of shooters and over-help off his man, which would lead him to be late to rotate or to get back, and he would allow opponents to score on numerous open corner threes.

Overall, Drew Timme played well in this game, and neither he nor Holmgren received the help they needed from their other teammates down the stretch.  Timme has had a very good season this year, and he is a very productive center at the collegiate level.  He’s proven that he’s a reliable low post scorer and player in college, but questions about his athleticism, outside shot, and defense remain.  Currently, he projects to be a second round prospect whenever he decides to enter the NBA draft.

Trey Wade played very well in his team’s win over Gonzaga.  He thrived as a shooter and scorer in this game, and he played smart, sound basketball throughout this match.  He showed a knack for making open corner threes off the catch to provide floor spacing for his team on offense.  He also utilized a pump fake to score on an open mid-range jumper on the baseline.

Plus, he also did a good job of scoring on hustle plays.  Wade managed to score on an emphatic dunk off of a backdoor cut.  He also scored on a drive in transition.  Sometimes though, he would miss shots in traffic, especially when going up against taller defenders in the paint.  Wade also defended well, and he managed to jump a pass to get a steal.  Overall, Wade had a strong showing to help his team get a decisive win in this game, and he is a 3 and D type of role player that could carve out a playing career in professional basketball.

JD Notae may not have shot the ball very well in this game nor was particularly efficient in this game, but he helped his team in other ways to get them a stunning, decisive win over Gonzaga.  He’s a very athletic shot creator that puts pressure on defenders, and his aggressive, attack mentality enables him to often get past his man, which will force a rotation that can get him either an open shot in the paint, could allow him to find an open teammate, or to draw a foul against help defenders.  On top of that, he played solid defense, as he made rangy, athletic plays on the defensive end to get stops for his team.

Notae was at his best when driving hard to the hoop.  He tended to favor going to his left, but he also managed to go to his right to score on a speedy runner off the glass.  He was able to drive the baseline to score in traffic another time, and he can draw fouls to get to the free throw line. 

He also was active at scoring on hustle plays.  Notae was able to score on a backdoor cut.  He also would score on speedy drives in transition, and he was able to score on a thunderous breakaway dunk early on.  Sometimes though, he would rush his shots when driving up the court, which would lead to some wild misses around the basket.

He was very streaky as a shooter in this game.  Notae was able to make a corner three, as well as a step-back three while leaning in another time, but he would often miss his threes, step-back threes in particular.  While he did use a step-through move to score on a mid-range leaner off the dribble, Notae also would often miss on rushed, pull-up, mid-range jumpers.

He also showed off adequate playmaking skills.  Notae is a speedy combo guard that can quickly get into the lane, and he can throw accurate passes off the dribble and make an assortment of passes to get assists.  He was at his best when probing the defense, which would enable him to make kick out passes and drop-off passes to set up numerous scoring opportunities for his teammates.  Sometimes though, he would be careless when handling the ball, as he mishandled and lost it once, and he held the ball too long and had it poked away another time.  Other times, he would throw hasty passes that would get intercepted.

Also, Notae did a very good job of rebounding the basketball, and he would actively crash the glass to haul in numerous boards on both ends of the floor.  He also defended well in this game, especially early on.  Notae was able to emphatically block a shot off of a drive in transition to get a stop for his team.  He also rotated to poke a ball away and also picked off a pass to get steals.  He also flew in to contest a mid-range jumper to force a miss.  Late in this game though, he committed a silly foul by fouling a three-point shooter on a very deep three, which could’ve been costly if his team hadn’t already basically sealed the win by then.

Overall, JD Notae didn’t seem to have his best game, but he had a stronger showing than how it looked on paper.  He’s a very athletic guard that create shots for himself and others, and he also is a high-motor player that made a slew of strong defensive plays to help his team in this match.  He has had a solid senior season, and he could be an intriguing option for teams to consider in the mid to late second round range of the 2022 draft.

Julian Strawther put forth a fairly uneven performance in his team’s loss to Arkansas.  He shot the ball well early on, but he struggled to make shots in the second half, and he had trouble getting shots to fall late in this contest.

He thrived at scoring on hustle plays.  Strawther was able to score on a backdoor cut while making an extra free throw.  He also ran off of a curl cut and managed to score on a mid-range floater.  Plus, he also made a deep three to show his shooting skills, and he also drew three free throws on a very deep pull-up three towards the end of the game.  However, Strawther struggled to consistently knock down his outside shots, as he would tend to miss on spot-up threes and pull-up, mid-range jumpers.  On the plus side, he did a good job of drawing fouls on aggressive, left-handed drives to the hoop.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, he was able to get boards on both ends of the floor, and he was able to leap up to get a strong offensive board once.  Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  Strawther was able to poke a ball away back to his opponent to nearly get a steal.  However, he had trouble defending his man, and he would tend to give up too much space to them.  He allowed an opponent to score on a mid-range jumper, as well as on a turnaround jumper from the post another time.

Overall, Julian Strawther had a fairly solid season this year, and he’s a mobile swingman that can score the basketball in a variety of ways.  He’s not an overwhelming athlete, but he can really aid his team when he’s knocking down shots.  He likely projects into a 3 and D role at the NBA level, and he’ll need to be a more consistent shooter and defender in games.  Currently, he projects to be a second round prospect for the upcoming draft.

Andrew Nembhard had an atrocious showing in his team’s loss to Arkansas.  He didn’t seem to play well until near the very end, which was only when Holmgren had fouled out of the game.  Nembhard was sped up, and he took a lot of shots early on, and he tended to either miss open shots or miss them wildly around the basket, and he also committed a lot of turnovers.  He seemed to be trying so hard to desperately prove that he’s an athletic point guard that it completely took him out of his game, and it completely disrupted and hindered the flow of the offense.

Nembhard really struggled to shoot and score on offense, but he was able to fake a pass to make a smooth, mid-range floater early on, and he also made an off-balanced, pull-up three in transition late in this game.  However, he tended to miss too often on mid-range floaters, and he really struggled to score off the dribble.  He often would miss on speedy drives in transition, as he would really accelerate to the hoop, but would then just not finish around the basket, as he would miss the shot.  He also tended to take a handful of tough, off-balanced shots off the dribble, and he really struggled to score in traffic.

He also didn’t do a great job of taking care of the basketball in this game.  For the positives, he would get the ball to Timme on short rolls, and he would sometimes find the open man to set up scoring opportunities for them.  However, Nembhard didn’t look to pass the ball or to set up his teammates nearly enough, and he committed way too many turnovers.  He committed a five-second inbounding violation early on.  Sometimes, he would be recklessly when handling the basketball, which led him to get the ball stolen away a couple of times, including one possession where he lost his balance and fell.  Other times, he would throw careless, lazy passes that would get intercepted.

On the plus side, Nembhard did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  Defensively though, he struggled.  For the positives, he was able to jump on a loose ball that an opposing ball handler lost to get a steal, and he also would pick off passes to get other steals.  However, he tended to get beat off the dribble due to lacking elite lateral quickness, which would lead him to give up baskets.  Other times, this would lead to scramble situations that would put his teammates at risk for fouling.  He also would give up too much space to shooters, and his inability to guard taller players would allow opponents to make jumpers over him. Overall, Andrew Nembhard did not play very well in this game, and he brought forth a very disappointing performance in his team’s loss to Arkansas.  He will need to be  a more consistent shooter in games, and he will need to play more under control and improve his defense.  Currently, he is a borderline second round candidate for the 2022 draft.

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