Thoughts on Saddiq Bey, Naji Marshall, and Paul Scruggs

December 30th, 2019

by Alan Lu

Recently, I was going back and forth on deciding if I should watch Villanova play against Xavier, or if I should watch Paul Reed and DePaul square off against Myles Powell and Seton Hall in the following match on Fox Sports 1. Since it was reported that Powell might not play much because he’s recovering from a concussion, I opted to watch the former instead of the latter game to watch Saddiq Bey and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl play. It was only until much later that I found out that not only did Powell play heavy minutes, but he scored 27 points and helped Seton Hall get the victory, while his teammate, 7-2 redshirt senior center Romaro Gill excelled as a shot blocker and defender in that game.

So instead, I saw Saddiq Bey and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl square off against Xavier. Individually, neither of those two stood out, but Villanova made a lot of solid plays together as a team to get the victory. Here are my thoughts on various prospects that played in this game.

Villanova's sophomore forward, Saddiq Bey could be a second round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.  (Photo: Laurence Kesterson/The Associated Press, via The Register Citizen.)
Villanova’s 6-8 sophomore forward, Saddiq Bey didn’t quite dominate, but he made solid plays down the stretch to help his team get the victory over Xavier. (Photo: Laurence Kesterson/The Associated Press, via The Register Citizen.)

Villanova’s 6-8 sophomore forward, Saddiq Bey did not shoot the ball very well nor scored efficiently in his team’s win over Xavier, but he made a lot of solid team plays down the stretch, and he showed solid playmaking and defensive skills to help his team get the victory.

Bey flashed the ability to knock down jumpers to provide some floor spacing for his team on offense. Late in this contest, he used off-ball movement to get open, as he then scored on a quick, spot-up three off the catch. He missed on two other spot-up attempts from beyond the arc, as well as on a mid-range jumper another time, but Bey was able to make the three when his team needed him to do so.

He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays. Bey managed to score on a powerful, two-handed jam off of a cut to the hoop, and he also ran the floor to draw free throws on a dunk attempt on the break. He also showed a good ability to draw fouls when dribbling towards the hoop. However, he struggled to score on drives to the basket as he lacks an elite first step off the dribble, and he would tend to miss on wild, off-balanced layups in traffic. In addition, he had his shot blocked once after attempting to score in the post.

Also, Bey displayed decent playmaking skills. He is an unselfish player that will keep the ball moving, and he would find open shooters to set up scores for them. However, he also committed a couple of turnovers as well. He was called for setting a moving screen, and he also threw a ball away out of bounds after losing the handle on a pass on a separate play.

Plus, he was able to get his fair share of boards to help his team on the glass. Bey was able to get multiple boards on both ends of the floor to get his team some rebounds.

He also played decent defense. Bey is an active help defender that did a very good job of blocking shots in the paint, as he can rotate to swat them off of drives and in the post, and he tended to make good rotations defensively. He also stepped up to defend a cutter to help force a miss around the basket. Adding to that, he also was able to get his hands on an entry pass to help his team get a steal due to possessing good length, anticipation skills, and timing that time. However, he had some trouble defending opponents off the dribble, as he would get beat on moves, and occasionally give up too much space other times, which would lead him to allow scores. Bey also didn’t show much resistance once when defending in the post, as he got backed down to allow a score another time. On a separate play, he lost track of his man on a cut, which caused his team to allow an opponent to score on a dunk.

In general, Saddiq Bey did not have his best game, but he showed off a variety of skills to help his team seal the victory against Xavier. He is a well-round prospect that can contribute in many different ways, as he is a fairly good shooter that can make jumpers off the catch, he is a good passer, and he also is an active help defender that can get blocks and steals. Bey doesn’t seem to possess a great ability to create his own shots off the dribble, and struggled to defend on the ball, as he may not be especially quick. Still, he is an intriguing prospect that could project to be a 3 and D type of role player in the NBA, and he could be a solid value pick in the second round in the mold of a Jake Layman type in the association.

Naji Marshall could potentially be the best prospect that played in the Villanova-Xavier game.  (Photo: Laura Topp/Xavier Athletic Communications, via Xavier.)
Xavier’s 6-7 junior forward, Naji Marshall made some dazzling plays, as he scored 19 points in his team’s loss to Villanova. (Photo: Laura Topp/Xavier Athletic Communications, via Xavier.)

Xavier’s 6-7 junior forward, Naji Marshall had a fairly solid showing in his team’s loss to Villanova. In a game that was devoid of shooting, Marshall showed a solid ability to score whenever he would take his shots inside the arc, and he also looked to possess a good set of all-around skills in this game.

Marshall did a very good job of scoring in the post. He possesses good strength, footwork, and scoring touch to score often on the block, as he would tend to score on turnaround, fadeaway jumpers. He also managed to score on a quick reverse layup off of a cut to the hoop.

Plus, he also showed a decent ability to score on drives to the basket. Marshall has a solid first step to the hoop, and he has a good set of ball handling moves that he can use to get past his man. He would tend to go to his right to score layups off the glass, but sometimes he would miss on contested floaters in traffic when he wouldn’t get all the way to the rim.

However, he will need to improve his ability to space the floor on offense. He missed all of his three-point attempts, and he had trouble making pull-up jumpers in this game. Marshall did make a pull-up, mid-range jumper, but he was unable to connect on any of his threes that he hoisted up from beyond the arc.

Marshall also displayed fairly good playmaking skills. He is an unselfish player that sees the floor well, and he has good court sense that allows him to set up scores for his teammates. He showed a knack for finding cutters, as he also can do so from the post to rack up assists for his team. However, he also committed a couple of turnovers. He threw a hasty pass when trying to kick a ball out to a shooter that ended up being intercepted, and he also was called for a charging foul when taking the ball to the basket another time.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds, Marshall was able to get a couple of defensive boards, as he was able to push the ball up the court on one rebound that he hauled in.

Defensively, he looked to be about average. For the positives, Marshall is an athletic, energetic player that will look to challenge shots to force misses. He ran back once to make a chase down block, as he swatted a shot out of bounds to help his team protect the paint. He also ran in to contest a three to force his man to miss a shot from beyond the arc on a separate play. However, he can tend to be caught ball watching, as he can to be late to defend shooters or on cuts, which can lead him to commit fouls and allow scores. He also bit on a pump fake another time, which led him to trail his man and foul an opponent on a drive to the basket.

Overall, Naji Marshall played fairly well in his team’s loss to Villanova. He excelled at attacking the basket to garner scores, and he also made some solid passes and plays on the defensive end in this match. However, he really struggled with his three-point shot, and he tended to have lapses when defending on the ball. He is a talented playmaking swingman that can score and pass the basketball, but he will need to improve his jump shot and defense. Right now, he may be a second round prospect, but if he can hone his game, he could end up being an effective role player in the association.

Xavier’s junior guard, Paul Scruggs had a decent showing in his team’s loss to Villanova. Though he didn’t always assert himself on offense, he excelled at scoring off the dribble as well as in the post, and he excelled as a facilitator when he was on the court.

Scruggs really excelled at scoring in the post. He used a pivot move to score on a reverse layup off the glass. On a separate play, he backed his man down, and used a nifty step back move to score on a fadeaway jumper. Scruggs possesses very good strength, footwork, balance and shooting touch that enabled him to thrive as a scorer on the block in this game.

He also showed a fairly good ability to score off the dribble. He can use either hand to score on strong drives to the hoop, and he has good foot-speed that enables him to quickly get to the hoop. Scruggs can also score and draw free throws on strong left-handed drives, and he also used a step back move to score on a pull-up mid-range jumper. Scruggs also attempted a three-point shot, but missed that time from beyond the arc.

Also, he displayed fairly good playmaking skills. Scruggs is a patient player that possesses good court vision, and he can pass off the dribble to find teammates on the move to set up scores for them. He throws good interior passes, as he can find teammates in stride, and he also can find open shooters to get them the basketball. He did commit a few turnovers, though. He was called for setting a moving screen after hooking his arm once, and he also threw a desperate, long inbounds pass that was picked off in the final play of the game.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds against Villanova, he was able to get several defensive rebounds, as he would sometimes chase down balls to get them, and leap up to get others. Defensively, he looked to be about average. Scruggs managed to get a steal off of an opponent’s bad pass to force a turnover. However, he can tend to have lapses defensively. One one play, he lost track of his man on a cut, which led his team to allow a score, and he also was called for fouling an opponent when defending in the post on a separate play.

Overall, Paul Scruggs put forth a fairly good performance in his team’s loss, as he excelled at scoring in the paint, and he also made good passes throughout this contest. He is a skilled combo guard that can play either backcourt position. He will need to improve his jump shot and focus on the defensive end. Right now, he looks to be a second round prospect for the 2020 draft, and if he can continue to hone his game, he could end up being a reliable role player in the NBA.

Villanova’s freshman forward, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl was the one of the main reasons why I decided to watch this game against Xavier, and though he played well early on, he seemed to fade into the background, as he didn’t seem to be much of a factor in his team’s win over the Musketeers.

Robinson-Earl didn’t take many shots, but he showed a decent ability to shoot the basketball when he did hoist them up. Robinson-Earl was able to make a wide open, spot-up three off the catch, but he also missed on a corner three another time.

He also showed a good ability to score in the post. He used a quick ball fake then backed his man down before using a pivot move to score on a drop step off the glass. Robinson-Earl also utilized a pump fake when driving right to the basket another time, but he ended up missing his shot too hard off the glass.

Also, he displayed adequate playmaking skills. Robinson-Earl looked to pass the ball often, and he can find cutters and pass out of the post to set up scoring chances for his teammates. He is a very unselfish player, as he will look to pass, sometimes to a fault, but he will make the extra pass to keep the ball moving. He also set a good on-ball screen to free up a shooter that led to a score for his teammate. On the other hand, he also committed a slew of turnovers. He can tend to be too fancy with his passes, as he threw an inaccurate pass that was dropped out of bounds, and he also tried to throw a no-look bounce pass to a cutter from the post that was also dropped by his teammate another time. Robinson-Earl also had a ball poked away from him when posting up on a separate occasion, and he can sometimes struggle to protect the basketball.

He also was able to get his fair share of boards to help his team on the glass, and Robinson-Earl was able to get rebounds on both sides of the ball.

Plus, Robinson-Earl played adequate defense. He showed a penchant for intercepting passes to nab steals for his team, and he also contested a shot in the post to force a miss another time. However, he really had trouble defending in the post, as he would give up deep position and allow easy catches, and sometimes he would get beat on moves to the hoop, which would cause him to commit fouls and allow scores. Other times, he may tend to have lapses defensively. He also committed a reach-in foul when defending an opposing ball handler another time, and he also didn’t rotate in time to defend a cut on a separate play that led his team to allow a score.

In summary, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is a talented player that has a variety of skills that can help his team on both ends of the floor, but he will need to be a more assertive player on offense. He can tend to be too passive in games, but he is an athletic combo forward that can make positive contributions on both sides of the ball. Right now, he may project to be a second round prospect, as he is a player that could project to be a solid role player similar to former Los Angeles Clippers’ veteran forward, Luc Mbah a Moute in the NBA.

Other Notes:

Villanova’s 6-7 junior forward, Jermaine Samuels played very well in his team’s win over Xavier. He is an athletic swingman that excelled at scoring off of cuts and drives to the hoop, as he was able to score on a high-flying, two-handed dunk off of a cut, and he has good body control to score on strong drives to the basket. Though he struggled to make three-point shots, Samuels was able to draw three free throws on a three once, and he also used a jab step to make a pull-up, mid-range jumper.

He also showed adequate playmaking skills. He was able to kick a ball out to a shooter off the dribble to get an assist, but he also shuffled his feet to commit a traveling violation another time.

Samuels also did a good job of rebounding the basketball. Plus, he also played decent defense. He is an active help defender that will intercept passes to get steals, and he also rotated to block a shot off of a cut to a teammate. Also, he managed to draw a charge when defending in the post.  Sometimes though, he can tend to have lapses, as he lost track of a man on a cut to allow a score once. He also had some trouble defending opponents off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls on drives to the hoop.

Overall, Samuels is an athletic, talented swingman that can help his team in a variety of ways, as he made positive contributions to help lead Villanova to a win over Xavier. He excelled at scoring in the paint, and he also played a fairly good all-around game. He will need to improve his jump shot and be a more focused on-ball defender, but he could end up being a good find for a team in the NBA, as he could end up being an effective role player in the league.

Xavier’s 6-9 senior center, Tyrique Jones played fairly well in his team’s loss to Villanova. He showed a good ability to score in the post, as well as on off-ball motion plays, and he was able to score on several thunderous dunks around the basket. He did miss on some easy shots around the basket, which include a missed dunk early on, and he also occasionally struggled to score in traffic.

He did rebound the ball well, and he also intercepted a pass to get a steal on the defensive end. Sometimes though, he would make careless mistakes, as he lowered his shoulder when posting up to commit a charging foul on offense, and he also committed an over the back foul when going for an offensive board another time.

Overall, Tyrique Jones had an adequate showing in this game, as he is an athletic, energetic big man that can score and rebound to help shore up the interior. He might have been the most athletic player that played in this contest, and Jones has great strength to go along with possessing solid all-around athletic gifts. Right now, he will need to cut down on the number of mental mistakes he makes in games, and find more ways to stay on the floor, but it’s clear that his team really benefits when he is on the court. Right now, he looks to be a borderline second round candidate, but is a player that may have the skills to make an NBA team’s roster at the next level.

Villanova’s 6-3 junior point guard, Collin Gillespie also played well to help get his team the win over Xavier. He did an adequate job of scoring on crafty drives to the hoop, and he has good foot-speed that allows him to quickly get to the rim. He can score with either hand, but he also tended to miss shots in traffic. He also showed an adequate ability to knock down jumpers, as he can make spot-up threes, and he also pulled up to make a long two, but he missed plenty of long range shots late in this contest.

He also did a good job of passing and handling the basketball. Gillespie would probe the defenses before patiently kicking balls out to shooters, and he can throw crisp interior passes to find cutters and roll men to get assists. Sometimes, he would commit turnovers, as he had a ball poked away after he over-dribbled, and he also threw a hasty pass that got intercepted.

Plus, he also played good defense. Gillespie would play passing lanes to get steals and interceptions, and he would fight through screens to stay with opposing ball handlers. He also successfully drew a charge when defending a bigger player on a drive. He did commit one foul, as he was called for a reach-in foul when defending an opposing ball handler due to over-aggressiveness.

Overall, Collin Gillespie is a smart, skilled playmaker that makes sound decisions with the ball in his hands, and he is a gritty player that can make solid plays on both ends of the floor. He is a cerebral player that may have the skills to end up being a backup point guard in the NBA, and he could be a second round prospect in 2021, as he may have a similar game to current Chicago Bulls’ point guard, Ryan Arcidiacono in the league.

Xavier’s senior point guard, Quentin Goodin had some good moments in his team’s loss to Villanova.  He played well in the first half, as he scored on quick, aggressive drives to the hoop, and he also showed off some defensive skills by poking a ball away to get a steal before scoring on the break. However, he seemed to fade into the background in the second half, as he also ended up committing careless turnovers on offense.   Right now, he will need to be a more consistent player in games, but he is a talented playmaker that has the skills to make an NBA team’s summer leaguer roster in 2020.

Bryan Antoine’s performance was incredibly forgettable. So much so, that he played in just one measly minute, and he picked up two quick fouls in this game against Xavier. On the second foul that he committed, Antoine bit on a pump fake, and he fouled an opponent on a drive after trying to aggressively block the shot. On the plus side, he is a good athlete that possesses good footwork, and he looked to be one of the best athletes among players that played in this game. On the other hand, Antoine just didn’t do a very good job of staying on the floor, and he didn’t really do anything on the offensive end.

Coming into the season, he was a highly touted recruit that enrolled at Villanova, but he hasn’t played very much at all this year. Right now, Antoine is a project player that will need to stay in school to hone his game, but he could end up being a prospect to watch in the future if he can make significant improvements over time.