Thoughts on Trayce Jackson-Davis and Daniel Oturu

February 19th, 2020

by Alan Lu

Recently, Minnesota’s sophomore center, Daniel Oturu has seen his draft stock rise rapidly, as he’s been considered to be a potential first round pick by numerous sites as he has put up strong numbers for his team in college basketball. At first glance, his production, especially for a player his age would make him seem to be a likely player to go in that range.

On the other hand, he’s a rather traditional low post player that doesn’t seem to possess elite lateral mobility or much of a jump shot, and his perimeter skills looked to be rather ordinary. As Oturu looks to be a traditional big man, the NBA has been moving towards versatility and positionless basketball, and so the question seemed to be if his game would fit today’s NBA. I decided to watch him play against a fellow big man in his conference in Trayce Jackson-Davis. Jackson-Davis was the star of this game, as he had a dominant performance to lift Indiana to a win over Minnesota, while Oturu’s struggles in the second half only raise more questions. Here are my thoughts on how both of those players fared, as well as how their games may project at the next level.

Indiana's freshman big man, Trayce Jackson-Davis had a tremendous showing as he helped lead his team's win over Minnesota.  (Photo: David Berding/USA TODAY Sports, via Indy Star.)
Indiana’s freshman big man, Trayce Jackson-Davis had a tremendous showing as he helped lead his team’s win over Minnesota. (Photo: David Berding/USA TODAY Sports, via Indy Star.)

Indiana’s freshman big man, Trayce Jackson-Davis had a stellar showing in his team’s win over Minnesota. Not only he did put up dominant numbers as he scored 27 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in his team’s victory, but he also made some impressive, eye-popping plays as he really stole the spotlight away from Oturu to be the definitive best player of this game.

Jackson-Davis showed a solid ability to score in the post. He possesses good footwork, strength, and shooting touch to score inside.  He would often score on smooth, turnaround jump hooks, and he also used a quick spin to get a strong score while drawing an extra free throw once. He also can quickly get to the hoop, as he possesses solid speed and strength to get past his man to regularly draw free throws.   He did have a stretch where he had his shots blocked when posting up, but Jackson-Davis generally excelled as a low post scorer due to possessing good mobility, a subtly good dribble game, and the scoring touch to get buckets in the paint.

Plus, he also did a good job of scoring on high post drives to the hoop. Jackson-Davis was able to use a spin move to score on a powerful dunk, and he also showed a knack for drawing fouls upon his defenders.

He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays. Jackson-Davis would often score on quick put backs after getting numerous offensive rebounds for his team, and he also made a nice backdoor cut to score on a towering, high-flying dunk over an opponent. Plus, Jackson-Davis also made an open long-two point shot off of a pick and pop play to show his shooting range late in this game, and he showed that he may have stretch big potential as a floor spacer for the next level.

As a playmaker, he looked to be fairly average. Sometimes, Jackson-Davis would pass the ball back out to shooters, and he can throw passes off the dribble to set up scoring chances for them. He also would set screens to try to help his teammates get open looks on offense. Sometimes though, he would struggle to protect the basketball, which would lead him to commit turnovers. He waited too long to make a move once in the post as he ended up getting tied up by a defender, and he also had a ball poked away off of a roll on a separate play.

Jackson-Davis also did a tremendous job of rebounding the basketball. He would leap up to get numerous boards on both ends of the floor, and he would chase down balls to help his team get rebounds in this game.

Defensively, he looked to be fairly average. For the positives, Jackson-Davis is an active help defender that would often block shots off of drives and in the post to help his team protect the paint. He has very good leaping ability, and he also has solid length and timing that allowed him to swat numerous shots in this game. He also successfully drew a charge when defending in the post, and he also contested a long two to force a miss another time. Sometimes though, he would tend to bite on pump fakes, which would cause him to be out of position to allow scores on drives to the hoop. He also would get backed down in the post, which would cause his team to commit fouls and allow scores. Other times, he would be late on his rotations, which would lead his team to allow scores around the basket.

In general, Trayce Jackson-Davis is an athletic, skilled big man that can score, rebound, and defend in the paint as he excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor to help his team get the victory. He is an underrated prospect that quietly has been having a very good season this year, and he could end up being a good find for an NBA team in the late first to the second round range of the 2020 draft.

Minnesota's sophomore center, Daniel Oturu had his ups and downs as he initially played well, but then struggled significantly in the second half in his team's loss to Indiana.  (Photo: Jerry Holt/Star Tribune.)
Minnesota’s sophomore center, Daniel Oturu had his ups and downs as he initially played well, but then struggled significantly in the second half in his team’s loss to Indiana. (Photo: Jerry Holt/Star Tribune.)

Minnesota’s sophomore center, Daniel Oturu has seen his draft stock rise recently in the past couple of months, even though there may be significant concerns of whether or not his game would fit today’s modern NBA. Unfortunately, he did not play very well overall in his team’s loss to Indiana, despite getting off to a good initial start, and his lackluster performance seemed to only raise more questions than answers after he performed poorly in the second half of this game.

Oturu possesses very good strength, and it’s clear that he seems to be the most comfortable in posting up to garner scores. He would back down his man to score on turnaround jump hooks, as he would benefit by getting deep position on the block, and he also managed to get an extra free throw once. His strong start enabled him to draw fouls down low later on. However, he then started getting his shots blocked in the post, and he also would miss shots that were around the basket. Sometimes he wouldn’t get deep enough, and other times, he would get enough lift or finishing ability to score around the basket.

He also possesses the ability to take bigger players off the dribble to get scores around the basket. Oturu was able to drive right past De’Ron Davis to get the score, and he was able to patiently maneuver past him while getting an extra free throw. He showed a knack for drawing fouls upon his defenders, but sometimes he would miss shots in traffic, as he missed a floater, and had a shot blocked another time.

He also flashed the ability to score on hustle plays. Oturu was able to catch a lob pass off of a roll to the rim to score on a quick, alley-oop layup off the glass once. He also managed to draw free throws on a strong put back after getting an offensive rebound. However, there was another play where he got the ball on a roll to the rim, but ended up having his dunk attempt blocked by Jerome Hunter early in this contest.

On the downside, Oturu struggled to knock down jumpers consistently. Early on, he was able to make a face-up, mid-range jumper from the baseline. However, he missed on a turnaround jumper from the baseline later on, and he also missed a three-point shot despite using a pump fake to get his shot off. It’s encouraging that Oturu has shown a willingness to take jumpers, but he will need to show that he can consistently knock them down to provide NBA teams with ample floor spacing at the next level.

Oturu also displayed adequate playmaking skills. He is a fairly unselfish player that would look to find the open man, and he also can pass out of the post to set up scoring chances for his teammates. He also will set screens and roll off of them. However, he also tended to commit offensive fouls that also would lead him to turn the ball over, as he was called for setting a moving screen once, and he also was called for a charging foul in the post another time. Sometimes he can struggle to protect the basketball, as that nearly led him to commit additional turnovers.

Also, Oturu did a great job of rebounding the basketball. He would often chase down balls to get numerous boards to help his team on the glass, and he was able to get many rebounds in this game. However, he did commit one foul on a defensive rebounding attempt, as he was called for pushing off with his arm to try to get the board.

He also seemed to play fairly average defense. For the positives, Oturu is a good shot blocker that would often swat shots when defending in the post due to possessing good length and timing, and he would be well positioned to make those blocks. He also ran down a loose ball to help his team get a steal, and he also managed to contest a three to force a miss another time. On the downside, he tended to struggle more to defend opponents in space. He would sometimes be prone to being late on his rotations, as he would commit fouls and allow scores when defending opponents on rolls to the rim, and he also was late to guard a shooter that caused his team to allow an opponent to score on a long two-point shot. Another time, he hedged out on a screen, but still managed to get beat by a quicker guard on a drive to allow the score.

In summary, Oturu had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Indiana. He’s received plenty of hype lately, but it’s uncertain if he’s done enough to warrant it. He doesn’t seem to have enough perimeter skills or mobility to be a worthwhile selection in the first round, as he struggled more to score when he would take jumpers outside of the paint area, but he also struggled to score in the post against taller, more athletic players or to defend opponents off of screens late in this game. Oturu is a tough, physical post player that can get scores in the paint and can block shots, but he will need to improve his skill set and show that he can hang against taller, quicker players in games. Right now, he may be a second round prospect for the upcoming draft, as he could project to be a backup center in the NBA.

Other Notes:

Minnesota’s 6-2 sophomore point guard, Marcus Carr had a solid showing in his team’s loss to Indiana. He’s an athletic playmaker that can quickly get to the hoop to get scores and free throws on aggressive drives to the hoop. He did a tremendous job of barreling his way to the hoop to get to the foul line, but he will need to improve his ability to make free throws. He also made a quick spot-up three, but struggled to make long-range shots consistently in this game.

He also displayed decent playmaking skills. Carr would tend to throw solid interior passes, as he can find teammates on the move to set up scores for them. He threw an accurate inbounds pass to find a cutter to notch an assist, and he also threw a crisp lob pass to a roll man to collect another assist. He also can find teammates on the break to get them the basketball. Sometimes he would commit turnovers due to carelessness. Occasionally, he would throw inaccurate passes that would go astray, and he also was called for a push off when taking the ball to the rim another time to commit an offensive foul.

He also did a fairly good job of rebounding the basketball, as he would actively look to crash the glass to help his team get some boards.

Carr seemed to play average at best defense in this game. On one good play for him, he ran in to tie up an opponent in the post to get a steal. However, he also had some trouble guarding quicker players off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores.

Overall, Carr is an athletic, skilled player that can score and facilitate to help his team on offense, and he could be an intriguing prospect to follow in the future. Right now, he will need to improve his jump shot and on-ball defense, but if he can make strides to improve his game, he could end up being a potential second round pick sometime down the road.

Minnesota’s 6-9 freshman forward, Isaiah Ihnen quietly played well in his team’s loss to Indiana. He excelled at making open, spot-up jumpers, as he made a long two from the corner and a three in transition to provide floor spacing for Minnesota on offense. He also is an unselfish player that would move the ball to set up scoring opportunities for his teammates, and he also was able to get a few rebounds to help his team on the glass. Defensively, he looked to be about average at best. On one good play, he managed to poke a ball away to get a steal. Sometimes though, he can be out of position, which can lead him to commit fouls. He also would sag too far off of his man and be late to contest shots, which would cause him to allow opponents to score on three-point shots.

Overall, Ihnen is a tall, athletic combo forward that can shoot and score the basketball. He might potentially be Minnesota’s best long-term prospect as he has good size, athleticism, and jump shooting skills. He will need to be more confident on offense as he will need to trust his shot more to take it more often. Once he does that, he could quickly find his footing in college basketball, as he could project to be a shooting specialist in the NBA.

Indiana’s 6-3 senior guard, Devonte Green played very well in his team’s win over Minnesota. He excelled at knocking down threes to space the floor for his team, and he showed that he can do so off the catch or dribble. He also managed to find a cutter to notch an assist. Overall, he shot the ball well to help his team get the victory, and he is a fairly athletic, skilled combo guard that may have the skills to land on an NBA team’s summer league roster later this year.

Indiana’s 6-8 redshirt sophomore forward, Race Thompson also played well, as he came off the bench to provide inside scoring, rebounding, and interior defense to help his team get the win over Minnesota.

On offense, he primarily excelled at scoring in the post as well as on hustle plays. He was able to score on a sweeping hook shot in the post, he also made a face-up mid-range jumper from the baseline, and he also scored on a strong roll to the rim while getting an extra free throw later on. He also was very active at crashing the glass to get his team numerous rebounds, and Thompson also managed to block Oturu’s shot in the post on defense.

Overall, Thompson is a strong, mobile big man that has a very good motor, and he made solid plays on both ends of the floor to help his team get the win. As for his prospects for the NBA, he is an undersized big man that will likely need to show that he can consistently knock down jumpers and be able to guard players out on the perimeter. Most likely, he will need to stay in school to hone his game, but if he can continue to progress as an overall player, he could end up having a good collegiate career at Indiana and then eventually compete for a roster spot in the NBA.