Thoughts on Taylor Hendricks, Kevin Cross, and Jaylen Forbes

January 17th, 2023

By Alan Lu

Recently, I took the time to watch UCF’s 6-9 freshman forward, Taylor Hendricks play in a January 13th, 2023 game against Tulane.  Hendricks is a tall, athletic shooter that has been having a strong freshman season, and he can really shoot it from deep.  In this game, Hendricks consistently made solid plays, especially in the second half, but Tulane had strong, all-around team play, as they were able to get a win over UCF.  Here are my thoughts on how Hendricks and other various prospects fared in this match.

Taylor Hendricks is an athletic, sharpshooting forward that may be one of the fastest risers up draft boards, and he could be a first round pick in the 2023 draft.
(Photo:
Jason Beede/Orlando Sentinel)

Taylor Hendricks had a solid showing in his team’s loss to Tulane.  He is a tall, athletic forward that thrives as a spot-up shooter, and he can make energetic hustle plays to help his team on both sides of the ball.  He is a good shooter that will make opponents pay for leaving him open, but he also can mix it up to score inside, and he is also an active and alert defender that played good team defense.

Hendricks did a good job of knocking down outside shots in this game.  He was able to make an open, trail three in transition, and he also made a wide-open corner three another time.  He also was able to run off the ball to make a quick mid-range jumper off the catch.  He didn’t make a three in the first half, but he found his shooting stroke from the outside in the second half, as he would take advantage when he would get ample time and space to get his shot off. 

He also thrived at scoring on hustle plays.  Hendricks ran the floor and caught a lob pass and got fouled, which enabled him to draw free throws on that play.  He also ran in and leapt up to score on an athletic tip slam off of an offensive rebound.  He also showed some post-up skills by using a power dribble move to score on a running floater.  Hendricks didn’t look to take opponents off the dribble very often, but he was effective in making shots, as he was able to do so both inside and out.

Plus, he also did a good job of passing the basketball.  Hendricks is an unselfish player that would make the extra pass to find the open man, and he especially thrived at passing out of the post to get the ball to shooters.  He also was able to throw an accurate entry pass to notch an early assist, and he also pushed the pace off of a steal and showed some handles another time.  He didn’t seem to handle the ball for extended stretches, but he took very good care of the basketball, and he did not commit a single turnover in this game.

Also, Hendricks did a very good job of rebounding the basketball.  He was able to get plenty of boards on both ends of the floor, and he also would tip balls to his teammates to help them get extra boards.  On another, he got boxed out, and committed an over the back foul when going for an offensive board once.  He also defended well in this game.  Hendricks did a very good job of blocking shots, as he was able to swat shots in the paint to prevent opponents from scoring on the move, and he also swatted a three-point shot due to possessing good length, timing, and instincts. 

He would tend to be in the right spots, as he would make good rotations and actively contest shots inside to force numerous misses, and he also closed out on a three-point shot to get a stop late in this match.  Sometimes though, he can be late on his rotations or allow opponents to get too deep in the post, which can lead to some defensive breakdowns.  Another time, there appeared to be a communication breakdown between him and his teammate when they were defending on a cut, which led to their team to give up a basket midway through.

In general, Taylor Hendricks quietly played well in his team’s loss to Tulane.  He is a good spot-up shooter that thrives at making threes, especially when left open, and he also showed the potential to be a movement shooter.  He also is an athletic forward that can finish plays above the rim, and he is a good shot blocker that defended well.  He may need to show that he can consistently create his own shot off the dribble, but his size, athleticism, and ability to shoot, score, and defend could enable him to be a solid pick for an NBA team in the mid to late first round of the 2023 draft.

Tulane’s 6-8 senior forward, Kevin Cross had a solid showing in his team’s win over UCF.  He is a smart, skilled playmaker that operates well out of the post, and he also would throw timely passes to rack up assists.  He didn’t take or make a three-point shot and also committed his fair share of turnovers, but Cross made numerous team plays to help Tulane get the win.

Cross showed a solid ability to score out of the post.  He has good strength to back his man down, and he would score on drop steps and turnaround jumpers.  He also managed to throw down a dunk off of a roll early on.  Sometimes, he would miss shots in traffic when rolling to the rim, and he would sometimes struggle to finish when matched up against length and athleticism.  He generally was active in looking to score on hustle plays, as he was able to use a drop step to score on a strong put back, and he also scored on a floater in transition another time.

He also showcased fairly solid playmaking skills.  Cross is a very unselfish player that thrived at making long skip passes and finding cutters to set up scores for his teammates.  On the downside, sometimes he would throw inaccurate passes that would get dropped or intercepted, and he also would sometimes try to do too much with the ball in his hands, which would lead him to commit ball-handling turnovers.

He also showed a solid ability to rebound the basketball.  Sometimes, Cross would look to push the pace off of defensive boards in this game.  He also played solid defense in this game.  He did a good job of blocking shots to help his team protect the paint, and he would contest shots both out on the perimeter and in the paint to get stops.  He also did a good job of contesting mid-range jumpers to force misses, and he would sometimes be able to cut off penetration to prevent opponents from getting all the way to the basket.  However, he would sometimes struggle to defend quicker players and get beat off the dribble, which would lead him to give up baskets.

In summary, Cross played well in Tulane’s win over UCF, and he was almost able to get a triple-double in this contest.  He is a solid playmaker that generally made good passes to help his team on offense, and he also was comfortable operating out of the post to score the basketball.  He will need to improve his outside shot and face-up game, and he’ll need to show that he can guard quicker players out on the perimeter.  Still, he is a high IQ basketball player, and his playmaking skills and solid production could enable him to find a way to make it to the NBA someday.

Tulane’s 6-5 senior guard, Jaylen Forbes also played very well in his team’s win over UCF.  He is an agile, skilled combo guard that thrived as a shot maker, especially in the first half.  He is a sharpshooter that also can score on off-ball motion plays, and he also generally defended well.

Forbes shot the ball well, especially from deep.  He showed a knack for making corner threes, and he also has a lot of range on his shot.  He also was able to use a nifty, rip-through move to draw three free throws on a spot-up three another time.  He was a bit streaky with his outside shot, but he was at his best when taking and making corner threes.

He also was active in scoring on hustle plays.  Forbes thrived at scoring off of cuts, and he also managed to score on a put back.  He also showed some post-up skills by being able to score on a fadeaway jumper from the baseline.  On the downside, he struggled more to score off the dribble, and he had trouble making pull-up jumpers from around the mid-range.

He displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  Forbes showed that he can throw timely passes to find the open man, and he can throw interior passes to set up scoring chances a for his teammates.  On one play though, he threw a bad pass that got intercepted.  He also stepped out of bounds on a baseline drive, but would’ve scored if that call had not been made.

Also, Forbes showed a solid ability to rebound the basketball.  Forbes also played decent defense in this game.  He did a very good job of jumping passes to get steals.  He also would tend to stay in front of opposing ball handlers, which would enable him to contest shots when defending both out on the perimeter and around the basket.  He also was able to apply ball pressure to help force a ball-handling turnover another time.  Sometimes though, he would get beat off the dribble, which would lead his team to give up scores.  Another time, he sagged too far off his man and didn’t contest a mid-range shot in transition, which led his team to give up an open basket that time.

Overall, Forbes is a fairly athletic, skilled combo guard that can shoot the basketball, and he thrived at making shots, especially in the first half.  He’ll need to show that he can ably create his own shot and defend against upper-echelon teams, but his ability to make shots combined with having above average athletic gifts could enable him to make his way to the NBA someday.

Tulane’s 6-0 junior point guard, Jalen Cook had a decent showing in his team’s win over UCF.  He is an athletic, skilled playmaker that showed off versatile scoring skills, and he also defended very well.

Cook showed a decent ability to score off the dribble, and he particularly thrived at going to his left.  He also was able to make a couple of threes, as he can do so both off the catch and dribble.  He even made a nifty step-back three in this game.  However, he would sometimes take tough, off-balanced shots that would lead to misses, and he also had trouble making dribble, three-point shots consistently as he was quite streaky with his jump shot in this game.

He also showcased perhaps adequate playmaking skills.  He was able to throw an assortment of passes, and he particularly thrived at throwing timely passes to find roll men on the move.  However, sometimes he would throw inaccurate passes that would go astray.  When dribbling into the paint once, he waited too long to pass, as he was called for a three seconds in the key violation.

Also, Cook was able to get boards on both sides of the ball to chip in on the glass.  He also played good defense in this game.  He showed a knack for swiping balls away from opposing ball handlers to get steals and deflections, and he also hustled back to back tap a ball handler to get a steal once.  He would apply heavy ball pressure, and he thrived at forcing numerous ball handling turnovers in this game.  On the downside, he would sometimes get beat off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Jalen Cook had his ups and downs in this game.  He played well in the first half, but he struggled to consistently knock down his outside shots, and he also didn’t get enough assists on offense.  Still, he’s an agile, skilled scorer that can make shots, and he played tough, pesky defense when he was on thee floor.  He’ll need to improve his jump shot and show that he can guard taller players on a consistent basis, but he is a skilled point guard that could compete for a roster spot in the NBA someday.

UCF’s 6-5 senior guard, C.J. Kelly played fairly well in his team’s loss to Tulane.  He is a skilled sharpshooter that thrives at knocking down threes off the catch, to.  He also showed that he also can take it to the hoop to score the basketball.  He showed a knack for making spot-up threes, and he has a lot of range on his shot.  He also showed a satisfactory ability to score off the dribble, as he has a solid first step to the hoop, and he especially would excel at driving to his right to score and draw free throws.

He also showed that he can make aggressive, drive and kick passes to find open shooters, especially in transition.  However, sometimes he would telegraph his passes, which would get intercepted.  Other times, he would commit careless turnovers, and he had a ball stolen away off of a drive once.

Also, Kelly was able to get boards on both ends of the floor to help his team get some rebounds.  Defensively, Kelly looked to be fairly average.  He was able to get his hands on a pass to get a steal.  When defending a drive, he blocked a shot hard to a teammate.  He also contested a long two to force a miss due to possessing solid length and positioning.  However, he tended to get beat off the dribble as he had trouble staying in front of quicker players, which would lead his team to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, C.J. Kelly had a solid showing in this game.  He shot the ball well, especially when he would be given the time and space to shoot it from the outside, but he is also a surprisingly quick guard that can consistently get to the hoop, and he was able to split a double team when driving to the hoop once.  He’ll need to take better care of the basketball and be more assertive on offense, but his ability to score in a variety of ways combined with having solid size and athleticism for the shooting guard position could enable him to make his way to the NBA someday.

UCF’s 6-6 redshirt junior, Tyem Freeman is a strong, mobile swingman that thrived as a scorer, rebounder, and facilitator in this game.  He is an aggressive scorer that showed a knack for scoring on strong drives in both the half court and transition, and he showed good balance, footwork, and finishing ability to score around the basket.  He also would score off of curl cuts.  He didn’t take many threes, but he was able to make a three-point shot once, and he also drew three free throws when taking a three another time.

Freeman also showcased solid playmaking skills.  He would make an assortment of patient patient passes off the dribble to set up scoring chances for his teammates.  He did a good job of finding the open man and getting his teammates the basketball.  On one play when posting up, he ended up losing the ball that led him to commit a turnover.

Also, he did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  In this game, he struggled on the defensive end.  For the positives, he was able to successfully draw a charge on an opposing ball handler once.  On the downside, he had some trouble defending quicker players off the dribble, which led him to commit fouls and allow scores.  Other times, he would over-help off his man and give up way too much space to shooters, which would lead him to allow three-point baskets to his opponents.

Overall, Freeman played well in his team’s loss to Tulane.  He hasn’t gotten much playing time on the season, but he arguably was able to put forth his strongest game yet.  He’ll need to show that he can knock down outside shots on a consistent basis, but his ability to attack the basket and create off the dribble could make him an intriguing prospect to watch down the road, and he could end up competing for a roster spot in the NBA someday.

UCF’s 6-11 freshman center, Thierno Sylla had a decent showing in his team’s loss to Tulane.  He is a tall, athletic big man that showed a promising jump shot, and he is an energetic shot blocker that would swat numerous shots to help his team protect the paint.  He did a great job of blocking and altering shots both in the paint and out on the perimeter to get stops, and he would often direct those balls to his teammates.  He also was able to intercept a pass to get a steal.

On offense, he didn’t make nearly as many impressive plays, but it’s encouraging that he would look to take threes from beyond the arc.  Sylla didn’t make any of his three-point shots, but he had good shooting form on his shot.

Overall, Thierno Sylla is a defensive-minded big man that could develop a promising outside shot for the future.  He will need to significantly improve his offensive skills and look to score more on fast breaks and rolls to the rim, but he is an energetic player that could project to be a backup center in the NBA if he can continue to improve as an overall player.

Tulane’s 6-5 senior guard, R.J. McGee is a very athletic swingman that was able to make some highlight reel worthy plays in this game.  He was able to drive up court to score on a high-flying jam on the break.  He also managed to score on a powerful dunk off of a cut.  He also defended very well.  He would apply pressure and get his hands on balls to help his team get steals, and he also got back to contest a shot in transition to force a miss once. 

On the downside, he didn’t make a three-point shot nor take many shots on offense, but McGee was able to make some some really impressive plays above the rim, and he may be the most athletic player amongst the participants that played in this game.  Overall, McGee will need to improve his shooting and playmaking skills, but his athleticism and motor could enable him to compete for a roster spot in the NBA someday.

All in all, those are my thoughts on how Taylor Hendricks and other various prospects fared in the January 13th game that took place between UCF and Tulane.  Thanks for reading.

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