Thoughts on Remy Martin, Christian Braun, and Brady Manek in the 2022 NCAA Championship Game
April 5th, 2022
By Alan Lu
Yesterday, I took the time to watch Kansas and North Carolina in the 2022 NCAA Championship game. It was a tale of two halves in Kansas’ title win in this game. North Carolina got off to a strong start early on, and they received a hot start from Armando Bacot, Brady Manek, and R.J. Davis in the first half. They also were limiting shot attempts from Ochai Agbaji, and Kansas’ other perimeter players really had trouble getting going in the first half. By the way things were going, it appeared as if North Carolina was going to run away with the victory (spoiler alert: they didn’t).
But then, the second half happened, and the tide shifted back in Kansas’ favor. Kansas started running and pushing the pace, and they were able to get numerous defensive stops and fast break baskets. The perimeter players that struggled for Kansas in the first half started making baskets, and Christian Braun and Jalen Wilson were able to do a much better job of scoring at the rim. Remy Martin knocked down jumpers, and he played tough, tenacious defense. Ochai Agbaji started being more aggressive and was able to score more off the dribble. Kansas also was able to get some key baskets and rebounds from David McCormack in the paint.
North Carolina in the meantime, suddenly had trouble making shots or passing the basketball, and they didn’t get Bacot or Manek nearly as many touches as they received in the first half. They received a strong performance from Puff Johnson off the bench, who provided energy and a spark for them in the second half, but that wasn’t quite enough to offset the poor shooting and decision-making skills that North Carolina’s guards displayed in the second half. In the end, Kansas was able to make enough plays in crunch time to get the win and to win the 2022 National Championship over North Carolina. Here are my thoughts on how various prospects fared in this game.
Remy Martin played very well in his team’s win over North Carolina. He thrived as a shooter, scorer, and defender, and when they let him play in the second half, he was able to consistently play well when he was on the court. Martin shot the ball very well, especially from beyond the arc. He showed a knack for making open, corner threes, and he also moved off the ball to make an open, bank three. Plus, he also made a smooth, step-back three to propel his team down the stretch. He also drove left off of a screen and accelerated to score over a taller player to show his ability to score off the dribble.
He showed off adequate playmaking skills. Martin is an agile, skilled playmaker that can create shots for himself and others. On the other hand, there was one play where he had a ball ripped away from him to commit a turnover. He also was able to haul in several defensive boards to help his team out on the glass. Martin also played good defense in this game. He blocked a shot off of a drive hard out of bounds. He was able to apply heavy ball pressure and play good ball denial defense. He also poked a ball away from an offensive rebounder to get a steal.
Overall, Remy Martin had a strong showing in this game, and he showed why he could be a sleeper prospect for the 2022 draft. He is an agile, skilled point guard that can shoot and score the basketball, and he also is a reliable playmaker that can play tough, hard-nosed defense. He may be undersized to play the point at the next level, but his ability to make shots and run the team could enable him to be a good pick for an NBA team in the second round on draft day.
Christian Braun had a solid showing in is team’s win over North Carolina. He struggled to score in the first half, but he consistently was passing and defending well as he made hustle plays, and he was able to get his shots to fall in the second half by being able to attack the hoop often to score the basketball. Braun thrived at scoring on hustle plays. He did a good job of scoring on quick drives in transition, and he also was able to utilize a Euro-step move to score swiftly on the break. He also managed to score on a quick tip-in after leaping up to get an offensive board. He did miss on a wild, off-balanced layup on a drive in transition, but generally Braun did a good job of scoring on off-ball, motion plays.
He also did an adequate job of scoring off the dribble. He was able to score on a strong, right-handed drive to the hoop. He would sometimes get his shots blocked, but he seemed to do a much better job of scoring in the second half. Braun also was able to spin to his right to score on a strong move in the post. On the downside, he had trouble knocking down his outside shots.
Also, he showed off satisfactory playmaking skills. Braun generally did a good job of throwing interior passes to set up numerous scoring chances for his teammates, and he tended to get good touch on his passes. On one play though, he threw an inaccurate entry pass that sailed out of bounds.
Plus, Braun did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He also was able to push the ball quickly off of a defensive board once. He also played very good defense. Braun was able to help trap an opposing ball handler, as they applied good ball pressure in this game. He also would actively contest threes to get stops, and he also contested a shot off of a drive to force a miss. Moreover, he played very good defense on Caleb Love, and he also would make quick rotations and contest shots to force a wealth of misses.
Overall, Braun put forth a solid performance in his team’s win over North Carolina. He didn’t seem to make spectacular plays, but he made plenty of solid, winning team plays in the second half to help his team down the stretch. Braun is an agile, skilled forward whose versatility and skill set could make him a very good pick for an NBA team in the late first to the second round range of the 2022 draft.
Brady Manek had a solid showing in his team’s loss to Kansas. He played well on both ends of the floor, and he is a uniquely skilled big man that made threes and blocked shots at high rates in this game. He did a great job of shooting the basketball to provide floor spacing for his team on offense. Manek showed a knack for making open, spot-up threes, and he also was able to make one off of a pin-down. He also ran in to score on a quick tip-in off of an offensive board late in this game.
However, he didn’t shoot the ball nearly as often, especially in the second half, and his team didn’t try hard enough to get him more open looks in crunch time. On the other hand, he was a bit turnover prone in this game. He brought the ball down once, which led him to get the ball poked away. He also threw an inaccurate pass that sailed out of bounds another time.
He also did a great job of rebounding and blocking shots. Manek played satisfactory defense in this game. He was tremendous at blocking shots to help his team protect the paint, and he also intercepted a pass to get a steal early on. However, he also had some trouble defending in one-on-one situations. He would tend to get outmuscled when defending in the post, and he also would get beat off the dribble other times.
Overall, Brady Manek played well in this game, and he is a tall, mobile big man that can shoot the basketball. He doesn’t project to be a player that will consistently create his own shots at the NBA level, but Manek is a very good spot-up shooter. His size and shooting skills could make him a good pick in the second round of the 2022 draft.
Armando Bacot had a satisfactory showing in his team’s loss to Kansas. He played very well in the first half, and he was able to notch a double-double to help his team get off to a big lead. However, he didn’t get many touches in the second half, and he ended up hurting his ankle on an unfortunate play, which seemed to hinder his team’s ability to compete down the stretch.
Bacot generally thrived at scoring on hustle plays. He showed a knack for scoring on drawing free throws off of offensive rebounds. He ran in to score on a tip-in while drawing an extra free throw, and he also would draw free throws on strong put backs. He also drew free throws after running the floor to get the ball on the break. Sometimes though, he would force the issue too much, which would lead to the occasional miss.
He struggled more to consistently score in the post. He was able to score on a fadeaway jump hook, and he also used a spin move to score inside. He also would draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line due to possessing good strength, footwork, and the body control to do so. However, he also missed on his fair share of shots in the post, and he didn’t always show much lift or shooting touch when posting up on the block. He also attempted an open long two, but missed that time.
He also was a bit turnover prone on offense. Bacot is an unselfish player that will make the extra pass, and he was able to find a cutter out of the post to notch an assist. On the downside, sometimes he would struggle to handle the ball when pressured. He was called for a charging foul when posting up once. He also slipped on the floor on a drive and lost the ball, which led him to hurt his ankle late in this match. On another play, he dropped an entry pass out of bounds.
Bacot did a tremendous job of rebounding the basketball, and he was a chairman of the boards once again in this game. Defensively, he looked to be about average at beset. For the positives, he would ably use his length, strength, and timing to contest shots to force misses when in position. He also managed to emphatically block a shot in the post. However, he tended to give up too much space to shooters, and sometimes he wouldn’t actively contest shots, which would lead him to allow scores. Other times, he would be too aggressive, as he would bite on pump fakes, and commit aggressive fouls when defending in the paint.
Overall, Armando Bacot is a strong, mobile center that had a very good NCAA Tournament overall. He is an old school, throwback type of big man that can score and grab rebounds in the paint. However, he will need to improve his outside shot and lateral mobility to be able to defend quicker players at the next level. If he decides to enter the draft, he will most likely be a second round pick on draft day. While he may not be the most dynamic big man, his ability to make plays in the paint could enable him to be a solid rotational big man in the NBA.
David McCormack put forth a fairly good performance in his team’s win over North Carolina. He is a strong, mobile, battle-tested big man that competed hard on both ends of the floor, and while he sometimes struggled in this game, there were times where he looked dominant as the man in the middle for his team in this match.
McCormack did a decent job of scoring in the post. He would often get deep position on the block, and he would score on jump hooks and drop step moves. He was able to use a shot fake to score on a strong move inside, and he can make hook shots using either hand. However, sometimes he would take shots from too far away, which would lead to misses. He also wasn’t always able to consistently get the lift and the shooting touch against North Carolina’s big men, but McCormack was able to knock down shots in the post when he would.
He was able to make an open mid-range jumper off the catch to show his shooting skills. McCormack also managed to catch a lob to score on a powerful, alley-oop dunk off of a roll to the rim, which proved to be one of the highlights of this game. As a playmaker, McCormack looked to be fairly average. He was able to set a good, firm on-ball screen to help get a teammate an open jump shot. However, he once received a ball too deep in the paint, as he received the ball seemingly at an awkward angle, and he ended up losing his balance to commit a turnover that time.
Also, McCormack did a very good job of rebounding the basketball. He would hustle to help his team get boards on both ends of the floor, and he also dove for a loose ball to get it on the defensive end once. However, he was called for a loose ball foul on an offensive rebounding attempt once, and his team didn’t always do a great job of blocking out their opponents in this game.
He also played decent defense in this game. McCormack was able to block and alter shots in the post to get stops for his team, and he was able to swat a shot to a teammate. He also has great strength, which would enable him to hold position well to get stops when defending in the post. He also poked a ball away to get a steal another time. Sometimes though, he would be late on his rotations, and he would occasionally struggle to defend quicker opponents off the dribble.
Overall, David McCormack has had a very good NCAA Tournament this year, and this could help his draft stock. He is a strong, mobile center that could project well into at least a backup center role in the NBA, and he can provide low post scoring, rebounding, and some interior defense. He’s been inconsistent in the past, and there may be questions about his lateral mobility and ability to defend quicker players at higher levels. Still, he showed a lot of poise and tenacity, and he is a proven winner that has shown that he can be a solid interior player. McCormack had a good season overall, and he could be a good pick for an NBA team in the second round of the 2022 draft.
Ochai Agbaji has had some tremendous games this year, as he turned in a terrific showing by scoring 29 points in his team’s season opener against Michigan State, and he also was terrific by making 6 threes in his team’s Final Four victory over Villanova. However, he was generally quite passive on offense in this game, and questions about his passivity and ball handling that have persisted could potentially prevent him from being considered a lock to go in the top 10 in the 2022 draft.
Agbaji did a good job of scoring off the dribble. While he didn’t look to score often in the first half, he was much more aggressive in the next half. He did a good job of scoring on strong drives to the hoop overall, and he showed that he can do so using either hand. He also would draw free throws on strong, straight-line drives to the hoop. However, he had a shot blocked once around the basket, and he also was called for a charging foul another time after clumsily handling the ball in traffic.
He didn’t shoot the ball quite as well in this game. Agbaji was able to dribble off of a screen to make a pull-up three early, and it seemed like he was going to have another dominant game. However, he ended up passing a lot, and while it did seem like he had space to shoot threes, he wasn’t nearly as wide open as he was in the Villanova game. His defenders did a better job of closing out on him, which would often get Agbaji to pass the basketball. He was able to run off the ball to get it and draw three free throws on a quick, spot-up three. However, his tendency to pass too often and not shoot the ball in the flow of the offense seemed to hurt his ability to make outside shots in this specific game, and he ended up struggling to make threes off of pin-downs.
He also was able to dribble to his left to score on a smooth, pull-up, mid-range jumper. As a playmaker, Agbaji looked to be about average at best. He was able to pass the ball to a teammate on a give and go to create a scoring chance for him on the break. He also was able to make a drive and kick pass once. However, Agbaji generally struggled to pass the basketball on the move, and he didn’t always handle the ball well, either. He threw an inaccurate lob off of a drive that got intercepted. He also was called for a charging foul on a drive, and had that call not been made, it appeared as if he would’ve dribbled the ball off his leg for it to go out of bounds anyways.
Though he didn’t get many rebounds in this game, Agbaji was able to get boards on both ends of the floor. However, there was one play where and his teammates didn’t properly box out an opponent, which led to a put back score. Agbaji also played satisfactory defense. He is a very athletic swingman that can cover plenty of ground on the defensive end to make plays for his team. He would get his hands on passes to get steals and deflections. Agbaji also hustled back to make a chase down block, as he was able to swat the ball to his teammate. However, sometimes he would be late on his rotations, or over-rotate, which would lead his team to give up open three-point baskets. Another time, he and his team over-helped in the paint, which led his team to give up a dunk to a cutter.
Overall, Ochai Agbaji has had a very good season overall, and despite some lingering questions about his game, there is still much to like about him as a prospect for the NBA. He’s a terrific athlete, and he’s a very good shooter that has shown that he can be a solid defender in games. He may be a bit too passive to be a go-to scorer in the NBA, which might be enough to keep him out of the top 5 of the 2022 draft. On the other hand, Agbaji’s strong blend of athleticism, shooting, and defensive potential could make him a solid bet to be a late lottery pick on draft day.
Puff Johnson is an athletic, 6-8 sophomore swingman that turned in a strong showing in his team’s tough loss to Kansas. He was really productive off the bench, as he showed a knack for hitting big shots, and he also played satisfactory defense to give his team a boost in the second half of this game.
Johnson thrived at scoring on hustle plays. He showed a knack for scoring on put backs, cuts, and on fast breaks. He would score on quick, acrobatic put backs off offensive rebounds. He also threw down an emphatic dunk off of a backdoor cut. He also ran the floor and was able to score on an aggressive drive in transition in traffic.
He also managed to make an open, corner three off the catch to show his shooting skills. Defensively, Johnson managed to successfully draw a charge to prevent an opponent from being able to make a play off the dribble. He also got beat off the dribble another time, which led him to foul and allow a score, but Johnson was able to draw a charge in the second half of this game.
Overall, Puff Johnson turned in a very good performance in the 2022 NCAA Championship game. He did have some conditioning issues late in the second half, as he was playing far more than he was accustomed to, and the game was played at a fairly hectic pace. Still, Johnson did a tremendous job of making plays, especially on offense to keep North Carolina in the game. Johnson has the skills to be a solid starter next year at North Carolina, or at least be a solid role player for them in extended playing time, and he could be an interesting prospect to watch next season in 2023.
Jalen Wilson had a decent showing in his team’s win over North Carolina. He seemed to struggle with his jump shot and defense early on, but that didn’t deter him from competing and making hustle plays to help his team on both ends of the floor in the second half.
Wilson may not have shot the ball well from the outside, but he did a great job of scoring on hustle plays. He did struggle to score off the dribble in the first half, but he thrived at running the floor to score on fast breaks in the second half. Wilson also was able to score on a strong drive in transition while getting an extra free throw, and he also ran in to score on an athletic tip-in off of an offensive board.
Also, he showed a satisfactory ability to pass and handle the basketball, and he was able to make swift drive and kick passes to get the ball to open shooters. He didn’t grab many rebounds overall, but he was able to get boards on both ends of the floor. On one play though, he didn’t box out an opponent as he got outmuscled on the play, and his teammate ended up fouling on a put back.
Also, Wilson played adequate defense in this game. He is a solid athlete that plays with verticality, and he did a good job of using his length and timing to contest shots. He blocked a mid-range sot to a teammate, and he would contest shots in the paint to force misses. Sometimes though, he would struggle to defend quicker players off the dribble or stronger players in the post, and he had some trouble defending opponents in one-on-one situations.
Overall, Jalen Wilson had his ups and downs, but he played well in the second half to help lead Kansas to defeat North Carolina in order to win in the 2022 NCAA Championship game. He’s an athletic, energetic combo forward that has struggled to consistently knock down his outside shots, but he is a high-motor player that has shown he can score as a slasher, and he is an unselfish player that rebounds well and seems to play fairly solid team defense. What he does in the offseason is up to him, and he’ll have to decide if he should stay at Kansas for another year, or leave to go pro. He may need to stay in school for another year to work on his outside shot, but he is also talented enough to be considered for a spot in the 2022 draft, and could end up signing with an NBA team on a two-way contract at the minimum. Wilson could project into a defensive specialist role in the NBA, and if he declares, he will probably be a second round prospect for the 2022 draft.
R.J. Davis had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Kansas. He played well early on, but he really struggled to make shots down the stretch. Davis was at his best when scoring on strong drives, and he also showed that he can knock down smooth, mid-range jumpers off the dribble. However, he tended to take too many pull-up jumpers, and he had trouble knocking down outside shots, especially from beyond the arc.
He also didn’t make great decisions over the course of this game. He would tend to over-dribble, which led him to get tied up, and to get a ball stripped away from him to commit turnovers. He did show some ability to make passes off the dribble, but Davis tended to try to force the issue too often, as he would take quick, rushed shots, and he would be reckless in his drives, which would lead to misses and turnovers.
On the bright side, Davis rebounded the ball really well. He did a great job of crashing the glass to get boards on both ends of the floor, and his athleticism, motor, and instincts enabled him to save a ball to help his team get an offensive board once. He also played fairly solid defense. Davis would deflect passes, and he also hustled back to contest a drive in transition to force a miss.
Overall, R.J. Davis is an athletic combo guard that can score in bunches, and he has occasionally shown the potential to run the point. However, he’s been too inconsistent at times, which was evident during his freshman season as well as in this game. He forced up a lot of tough, difficult shots that ended up hurting his shooting percentages, and he just doesn’t seem to have the court vision to be able to get teammates open looks consistently on offense.
Davis is most likely a borderline second round candidate whenever he enters the NBA draft. He is a fleet-footed guard that can score the basketball, and he plays at a very good school at North Carolina, but he’s very undersized for the point guard position, he’s entirely too streaky of a shooter, and he seems to play too recklessly to be trusted to run the point full time. Most likely, he should stay in school at North Carolina to improve his jump shot and ability to run the point. If he can improve and hone his game and turn in a strong season next year, he could move up draft boards significantly in 2023.
Caleb Love didn’t play very well in this game. He had been having a terrific NCAA Tournament prior to this game against Kansas, but he followed up his strong performance against Duke with a very disappointing one in his team’s loss to Kansas. He just didn’t seem to be able to get anything going on offense. He kept trying to shoot the basketball, but he tended to miss in spades. He kept attacking the hoop to try to score the basketball, but he would miss a lot of layups wildly. He also didn’t really do a great job of passing the basketball, and he would telegraph his passes that would get intercepted.
The spectacular shots he made against UCLA and Duke just weren’t really there in this game against Kansas. Love tried to go for the heroics that helped get his team wins in prior games, but this was not his night at all. While he still was able to knock down an open three, a couple of pull-up mid-range jumpers, and a couple of speedy drives, he often missed contested outside shots, and he would also drive in too fast and miss layups at the rim.
A major concern moving forward, in addition to his tendency to keep shooting regardless of whether or not if he’s making shots or is in a terrible slump, is that he didn’t do a very good job of running the point in this game. He tended to telegraph his passes that would get picked off by his defenders. Other times, he would rush his moves on drives to the hoop, which would lead to careless ball-handling turnovers. He didn’t make good decisions often with the ball in his hands, but every once in a while, he would score on a speedy layup or make a drive and kick pass to find an open shooter.
He also was able to haul in boards on both ends of the floor to chip in on the glass. He also played adequate defense. Love rotated to block a shot hard off of a drive due to possessing good athleticism, timing, and instincts, and he also was able to contest a shot in the post to force another miss. However, he got outmuscled on a drive to allow a score. He also whiffed on a steal attempt when defending down low, which led him to be out of position and to give up a basket to a taller opponent.
Overall, Caleb Love did have a very good NCAA Tournament overall, even though he shot the ball poorly in his team’s loss to Kansas. However, we may need to pump the brakes on his draft stock, on the idea of Love being a legitimate first round prospect. On one hand, he is a very athletic combo guard that can score in bunches, and he’s really good when he’s making his shots. He has shown when he’s on his game, he can be as good as anyone in college basketball.
On the other hand, his shot selection still looked to be kind of spotty, and he still tends to take a lot of contested, questionable shots. The former McDonald’s All-American is a score-first combo guard that tends to run hot and cold, but he really struggled in his team’s loss to Kansas, as it looked eerily reminiscent to how he played for most of his freshman season. He also doesn’t seem to show great court vision, and it’s questionable if he can consistently get the ball to his teammates in prime spots on offense. Love is a talented prospect, though, and his athleticism, shooting and scoring abilities, and defensive potential could enable him to be a solid role player in the NBA. If he decides to declare and remain in the draft, he’ll need to go to a patient team that’s willing to develop his skills and allow him to have the growing pains in order for him to succeed at the next level. Despite the streakiness and his inconsistent play over the years, he may still be a prospect worth taking in the late first to the second round range, and he could be a solid pick in the second round of the 2022 draft.