Thoughts on Ryan Kalkbrenner, N’Faly Dante, and Jermaine Couisnard in the Second Round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament

March 24th, 2024

By Alan Lu

Yesterday, I took the time to watch Creighton and Oregon square off against each other in a second round matchup of the 2024 NCAA Tournament.  It was a very intense, competitive game that went to double overtime, and then Creighton went on a run to get the win over Oregon.  There were numerous strong performances of this game, most notably from Creighton’s Ryan Kalkbrenner, as well as from Oregon’s N’Faly Dante.  Here are my thoughts on how they and other various prospects fared in this game.

Ryan Kalkbrenner scored 19 points, and had 14 rebounds, and 5 blocks in his team’s double overtime win over Oregon. (Photo: Matt Freed/Associated Press, via The Colombian)

Ryan Kalkbrenner had a strong showing to help lead Creighton to a double overtime win over Oregon.  He thrived at making plays on both ends of the floor, and he also made a timely three-pointer in the second overtime to help seal the game for his team. Kalkbrenner did a decent job of scoring out of the post.  He would get deep position and score on powerful dunks.  He was able to catch a lob pass and score on a strong jam, and he also caught a high entry pass to score another time.  Plus, he also was able to score on a strong drop step move once.  He also was able to score on a put back off of an offensive rebound.  However, he tended to miss on contested sling hooks, especially when he would take shots from further out.

He also shot the ball well from beyond the arc.  Kalkbrenner was able to make an open, spot-up three off the catch to show his added shooting skills from long range.  Also, he showcased satisfactory playmaking skills.  He was able to throw a timely pass to find an open shooter to notch an assist.  He also set a solid off-ball screen to free up a shooter to help his team set up a score late in the game.

Also, Kalkbrenner did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was able to haul in numerous boards on both ends of the floor to help his team crash the glass.  Kalkbrenner also displayed satisfactory defense.  Plus, he also did a great job of rotating to block shots to help his team protect the paint, due to possessing good length, agility, and instincts.  He also would make plays when defending in the paint and contest shots to force some misses.  However, sometimes he would allow his opponent to get deep position, which would lead him to allow scores.  Other times, he would be late on his rotations, as he had some trouble defending opponents in the screen game.  Also, he would sometimes sag too far back as he would sometimes not guard shooters on pick and roll situations, which would lead his team to give up open jump shots.

Overall, Kalkbrenner excelled at making plays in the paint, and he also made a timely three-pointer late in the second overtime to help clinch the game for his team over Oregon.  He is an athletic, energetic center that is having a very good season, and Kalkbrenner could be a good find for an NBA team in the late first round of the 2024 draft.

Oregon’s senior center, N’Faly Dante scored 28 points and hauled in 20 rebounds in his team’s double overtime loss to Creighton yesterday. (Photo: Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports, via The Register-Guard)

N’Faly Dante also played very well in his team’s tough loss to Creighton.  He is a strong, athletic center that thrived at making plays in the paint to help his team on both ends of the floor, and he was able to make some impressively athletic plays at various times of this game.

Dante showed a knack for scoring on hustle plays.  He especially thrived at scoring on put backs off of offensive rebounds.  He was able to score on a strong put back slam early on, and he also threw down a thunderous put back dunk late in this game.  Plus, he also thrived at scoring on strong jams off of rolls to the rim.  He made a tough catch off of a roll to throw down a dunk once.  He also caught a lob off of a roll to score on a powerful, alley-oop another time.

Also, he showed off adequate low post scoring skills.  Dante would tend to score on drop steps and turnaround jump hooks, and he also threw down a dunk another time.  However, he tended to miss on jump hooks, as he would sometimes struggle to make shots when he would set up from too far away and he wouldn’t always get into a rhythm.

However, Dante was quite turnover prone on offense.  For the positives, Dante was able to find open shooters out of the post to notch assists. However, he would sometimes mishandle the ball in the post or struggle to handle it when pressured, which would lead him to commit ball-handling turnovers.  He also threw an inaccurate high pass out of a double team that ended up being dropped and intercepted another time.

Dante also did a terrific job of rebounding the basketball.  He was frequently able to get boards on both ends of the floor.  He also played decent defense in this game.  Dante was able to block a three-pointer and a mid-range jumper to force misses, and he also would get his hands on passes to get steals.  However, sometimes he would allow his opponents to get too deep when defending in the post, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Another time, he sagged too far off of a shooter, which led him to give up a three-point basket.

In summary, Dante played very well, as he was able to consistently play well during regulation and in the first overtime.  He ended up scoring 28 points and hauling in 20 rebounds in his team’s double overtime loss to Creighton.  He is a strong, athletic center that thrives at making plays in the paint, and he could end up being a solid role player in the NBA.

Jermaine Couisnard scored 32 points on 13 of 33 shooting, as he made 6 threes, but did not get to the free throw line one time in his team’s double overtime loss to Creighton. (Photo: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images, via KOIN.com)

Jermaine Couisnard also had a fairly solid showing in his team’s loss to Creighton.  He scored a lot of points in volume, but he didn’t get to the free throw line very often, and he actually had more field goal attempts than points at the game’s end, as he got tired and really struggled to make shots in the second overtime.

Couisnard shot the ball very well from downtown.  He showed a knack for making spot-up threes off the catch, and he also would run quickly off ball screens to knock them down.  He has a lot of range on his shot, and he also pulled up to make a smooth, pull-up three another time.  He also excelled at scoring on strong drives in transition.  Plus, Couisnard was able to score on a drop step move out of the post.  He is a strong, athletic guard that has a solid first step, and he would outmuscle his opponents to score on strong drives to the basket.  However, he would tend to play too fast and rush his moves, which would often lead him to miss shots when driving to the rim, as he often would struggle to score in traffic around the basket, and he also had a couple of his shots blocked in this game. 

Also, Couisnard displayed decent playmaking skills.  He did a good job of throwing interior passes to roll men to find them on the move, and he also was able to throw an accurate lob pass once.  He generally passed and handled the ball well, but there was one play where he threw a hasty entry pass that got intercepted.

Also, Couisnard did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was able to haul in multiple boards on both ends of the floor.  He also played satisfactory defense in this game.  He was able to block a couple of shots, as he swatted one off of a drive and a three-point shot another time.  However, sometimes he would commit fouls due to over-aggressiveness.

Overall, Jermaine Couisnard had a very good tournament, and he is an athletic, shot-creating guard that can score the basketball.  He’ll need to improve his shot selection, but he is a second round prospect that could end up being a reliable role player in the NBA.

Baylor Scheierman had a solid showing to help lead his team to a win over Oregon.  He thrived as a shooter and facilitator to help his team on offense.  Scheierman showed a knack for making three-pointers to provide floor spacing for his team on offense.  He would run quickly off ball screens to make spot-up threes.  He also excelled at making corner threes.  Plus, he also was able to make a one-legged, step-back mid-range jumper once.  On the downside, he would sometimes take tough, rushed shots that would lead to misses, especially when he would look to drive to the hoop, but generally Scheierman shot the ball well.

He also displayed solid playmaking skills.  Scheierman would throw timely, patient passes to find open teammates to notch assists, and he also was able to throw an accurate interior pass when doubled to set up a score for a teammate down low.  On one play though, he threw a hasty pass that got intercepted.

Also, Scheierman did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  Defensively, he looked to be fairly average.  Scheierman would contest threes to force misses.  However, he would tend to commit touch fouls due to over-aggressiveness.  Another time, he was a bit late to contest a three, which led him to allow a score that time.

Overall, Scheierman had a solid showing to help lead his team to a double overtime win over Oregon.  He is a smart, skilled swingman that excelled at making plays on the offensive end.  He’s not overly explosive and will need to improve his defense, but his versatility, skill set, and feel for the game could enable him to be a solid second round pick for the 2024 draft.

Steven Ashworth had a decent showing in his team’s win over Oregon.  Though he struggled for most of the way, he really excelled in the second overtime, as he made a lot of shots late in the game to help his team get the victory. Ashworth did a good job of knocking down threes, as he was able to make them both off the catch and dribble.  He also ran quickly off the ball to make a quick three, and he showed that he can also excel as a movement shooter on offense.  He also was able to score on a floater off the dribble, but Ashworth usually struggled to score on pull-up jumpers in this game.

He also showcased satisfactory playmaking skills.  Ashworth would make patient passes to find open shooters, which enabled him to get some assists.  However, there was one play where he threw an inaccurate pass that sailed out of bounds.  He didn’t grab many rebounds, but he was able to get a few defensive boards.   However, there was one play where he pushed off on a defensive rebounding attempt, which led him to commit a foul that time.

Overall, Steven Ashworth had his ups and downs, but he saved his best for the second overtime in this game. While he doesn’t possess elite size or physical tools, he is an offensively skilled point guard that can shoot and pass the basketball, and he could project to be a fairly solid backup point guard in the NBA.

Trey Alexander had his ups and downs in his team’s win over Oregon.  He struggled with his jump shot for most of the game, but he hit his stride at the right time, as he was able to make key shots in the second overtime to help seal the victory for his team.

Despite not shooting the three-ball well on the season, Alexander did a great job of making threes in this game.  He’s shown that he can still knock down threes despite not being a high percentage shooter on the season.  Alexander excelled at making open, spot-up threes, and he also ran off the ball to knock one down early on.  On the downside, he struggled to consistently make mid-range jumpers or score off the dribble.  On the bright side, he was able to make a couple of step-back mid-range jumpers, but he usually struggled to make pull-up jumpers, and he tended to take a lot of tough, contested shots that would lead to misses.

He also displayed perhaps above average playmaking skills.  For the positives, Alexander was able to make patient drive and kick passes to find the open man.  However, he also would tend to throw hasty passes that would intercepted.  He also was called for traveling on a drive another time.

Also, he did a decent job of rebounding the basketball.  Defensively, he looked to be fairly average.  For the positives, Alexander would get his hands on passes to get steals.  However, he had some trouble defending opponents off the dribble, especially when guarding stronger opponents, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Trey Alexander is an agile, skilled combo guard that had his ups and downs, but he saved his best for the second overtime to help get his team the win.  He’ll need to improve his shot selection and will need to take smarter shots in games, but he is an offensively skilled guard that could end up being a second round pick in the 2024 draft.

Kwame Evans didn’t play very well at all in his team’s loss to Creighton.  At first, it was interesting to see how well he would match up to Creighton’s players and team due to his length, athleticism, and upside, but it became readily apparent that Evans was struggling considerably and didn’t really bring anything to the table offensively in this game.  

Evans was held scoreless, and he struggled mightily on offense. It got to a point where it became baffling as to why Evans and Brennan Rigsby were out there in overtime, as they played a lot but were both scoreless in this game, and neither players were scoring threats on offense in this game. Considering that Evans had some dominant games in some big, high profile high school games, it was extremely disappointing that Evans did not play well at all in this game.

Evans missed both of his threes, and he even threw up a comical, airball miss when left open on a corner three that led his teammate to score on a put back.  Another time, he drove to the hoop, but had his shot blocked out of bounds. On the downside, he was turnover prone in this game.  For the positives, he is a willing passer, and would sometimes find the open man.  However, he tended to commit ball-handling turnovers with the ball in his hands.  He mishandled the ball to lose it once.  He was called for a charging foul after colliding into a defender another time, and he also stepped out of bounds on the baseline later on.

He also was able to get his fair share of rebounds to help his team chip in on the glass.  Defensively, he looked to be fairly average.  Evans was able to use his length to contest a mid-range shot to force a miss.  However, another time, he got beat on a backdoor cut and ended up fouling his man that time.  

Overall, Evans didn’t play very well, and it reached a point where it was kind of puzzling that he kept playing in this game, despite having made no major contributions on offense in this game, and that he didn’t seem to make a noticeable impact defensively, either.  He couldn’t shoot, create his own shot, and he didn’t really look to move off the ball that much on offense.  Evans may be a much more unpolished prospect than previously thought, and he will need more seasoning and time to hone his game.  If he decides to enter the 2024 draft though, he could possibly end up being a mid to late second round pick as an upside pick, but the NBA team that decides to select him will need to be very patient with him to develop his overall game.

All in all, those are my thoughts on how Kalkbrenner, Dante, and other various prospects fared in this game.  Thanks for reading.

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