Thoughts on Shamorie Ponds, Mustapha Heron, and Markus Howard

January 4, 2019

by Alan Lu

On Tuesday, I caught the first half of the St. John’s-Marquette game that was played on New Year’s Day, as it featured two good college basketball teams that went head to head in a Big East conference game.  Though Marquette had a higher ranking than their opponent coming into this contest, they were no match for St. John’s, and Shamorie Ponds’ standout performance helped guide his team to a comfortable victory on this day.  Here’s what stood out to me from observing this contest.

St. John’s 6-1 junior point guard, Shamorie Ponds played really well as he did a tremendous job of knocking down shots and scoring the basketball, and he played well in virtually all facets of the game to help get his team the win.  Ponds did a great job of knocking pull-up threes to space the floor on offense, and he has a lot of range on his shot, as he can make them from well beyond the arc.  He also is a terrific scorer off of drives to the basket, and he possesses very good speed, strength, and body control to regularly finish plays at the rim.  He also was able to draw additional free throws after scoring on two offensive possessions, and he even managed to score on a reverse layup on one occasion.  Plus, Ponds can post up smaller players, and he was able to draw a non-shooting foul after attempting a fadeaway jumper.

As a playmaker though, he looked to be fairly average.  For the positives, Ponds will look to find the open man, and he can comfortably run the point when he plays under control.  He can find teammates on the move, and he can kick the ball out to shooters to set up scoring chances for them.  Plus, he also can use his speed to get the ball to his teammates out on the break.  However, Ponds was also quite turnover prone.  He tended to throw hasty passes, as he had a couple of them get intercepted, and he also had another that sailed out of bounds.  He also was called for a traveling violation, though it appeared as if he dribbled cleanly to the hoop on that occasion.

Plus, Ponds did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He would frequently come away with defensive boards, and he even drew a foul on an opponent when going up for another rebound on a separate play.  Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  He was able to guard a taller player in which he contested a three to force a miss.  However, he tended to be unfocused defensively.  He bit on a pump fake once, which led his man to score on a pull-up three.  On another play, he lost track of his man on a cut, which caused him to allow a score to his opponent around the basket.

In general, Shamorie Ponds put forth a great performance, as he scored 20 first half points, and he went on to score six more points as he also collected 7 rebounds and 5 assists in his team’s win over Marquette.  Ponds is an athletic, skilled point guard that can really shoot and score the basketball, and he could be a solid value pick for a team in the late first to the early second round range on draft day, as he could be a similar player to that of Detroit Pistons’ point guard, Reggie Jackson in the NBA.

St. John’s 6-5 junior guard, Mustapha Heron also played well, as he was able to help his team get a double-digit victory over Marquette.  He excelled at attacking the basket to garner scores for his team, and he also made two threes in this game as well.  He also excelled as a defender due to possessing good athleticism, instincts, and awareness to do so.  Heron managed to poke a ball away to get a steal.  Another time, he didn’t bite on ball fakes when defending in the post as he managed to block a shot off of an opponent out of bounds.  Heron was quite active in challenging shots, and he also made it difficult for his opponents to make plays in this game.  Overall, Heron had a solid showing in his team’s win as he played well in all facets of the game, and he could be a good find for an NBA team due to his ability to contribute in many different ways.

Unfortunately for Marquette’s junior point guard Markus Howard, he just did not play well at all against St. John’s.  He has had some very good games in college basketball before, and I was expecting him to turn in another strong performance like he has done in the past.  However, that did not turn out to be the case.  Instead, Howard missed early and often, as he tended to miss on runners off the dribble, and he struggled to knock down shots consistently.  He struggled to score against the length of the taller St. John’s players in traffic.  He also did not seem to make any noteworthy passes in this game.  Also on defense, he also ran into some foul trouble, as he struggled to defend his man off the dribble.

This was not a good game for Howard overall.  Though he is an above average athlete that handles the ball very well and shows promise as a scoring combo guard, he took some questionable shots, struggled with his jump shot overall, and was not a significant contributor in the other elements of the game.  He will need to bounce back from this lackluster showing that he had.  He will need to improve his playmaking skills and show that he can guard upper echelon players at his position, but if things break his way, he could end up being a Chucky Atkins type of player in the NBA.  Right now, Howard may project to be a borderline second round pick for the upcoming draft.

6-8 junior forward, Sam Hauser had an up and down game for Marquette.  He didn’t really do that much in the first half as he struggled with his jump shot and on the defensive end, but he was able to score on a turnaround, fadeaway jumper in the post.  He was able to knock down a couple of threes late in the second half.  Right now, Hauser may be a borderline second round candidate, and in a favorable scenario, he could project into a Matt Bullard type in the NBA.

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