Thoughts on Tristen Newton, Stephon Castle, and Zach Edey in the 2024 National Championship Game

April 9th, 2024

By Alan Lu

Yesterday, I took the time to watch UConn square off against Purdue in the 2024 National Championship game.  Purdue’s 7-4 center, Zach Edey had a tremendous start to the game, and he made impactful plays on both ends of the floor to keep it close in the first half.  But UConn had strong backcourt play from their guards, and Tristen Newton consistently played well as UConn’s sterling team play helped them get a double-digit win over Purdue to help them win the National Championship.   

UConn’s 6-5 senior point guard, Tristen Newton scored 20 points, made 2 threes, and had 7 assists and 5 rebounds in his team’s 75-60 win over Purdue last night to help his team win the National Championship. (Photo: Brynn Anderson/Associated Press, via Tampa Bay Times)

UConn’s 6-5 point guard, Tristen Newton had a sterling showing in his team’s win over Purdue.  He turned in a very good all-around performance, as he especially excelled as a shooter, scorer, and facilitator to help his team get the victory. He shot the ball well, especially from downtown.  Newton did a good job of making spot-up threes off the catch, as he was able to run off a ball screen to make a corner three, and he also made another one from way out.  Newton also showed a solid ability to score off the dribble, and he would score on crafty layups and floaters.  He also managed to score on a backdoor cut to the hoop.  He did sometimes take tough shots that would lead to misses,  but generally Newton showed a knack for making shots from anywhere on the floor.

Also, Newton did a very good job of distributing the basketball.  He would often throw timely passes, and he showed a knack for throwing accurate lob passes to roll men to set up scores for his teammates.  He would find open teammates in stride, and he would use his strong blend of size, passing skills, and court vision to rack up assists.  

Also, he showed a solid ability to rebound the basketball.  He also played satisfactory defense in this game.  He and UConn did a very good job of defending Purdue’s guards, especially in the second half to get stops.  He also would use his length and positioning to contest shots to force misses.  On the downside, there was one play where he struggled to defend a drive in which he committed a foul and allowed a score that time.

In general, Tristen Newton played very well to help his team win the National Championship.  He is a smart, skilled playmaker that consistently played well in this game, and he could be a good find for an NBA team in the 2024 draft, as his skill set, versatility, and high basketball IQ could enable him to be a solid role player in the NBA.

UConn’s 6-6 freshman guard Stephon Castle had 15 points, made a three-pointer, and had 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal in his team’s double-digit win over Purdue. (Photo: Brynn Anderson/Associated Press, via Chronicle Telegram)

Stephon Castle turned in a solid showing to help lead his team to a double-digit win over Purdue.  The UConn freshman swingman showed off versatile scoring skills as he’s shown an improved outside shot lately, and he passed and defended well to help his team get the victory.

Castle showed a knack for scoring on hustle plays.  He was able to score on a tip-in, as well as on a put back and off of a cut, and he would get strong scores on fast breaks.  Plus, he did a decent job of scoring off the dribble.  Though he struggled more to knock down outside shots in this game, Castle was able to move off the ball to make an open three-pointer off the catch on one possession.

Also, he displayed solid playmaking skills.  In this game, he passed the ball very well.  Castle did a good job of making passes off the dribble to notch assists, and he was able to find a cutter to set up another score for his teammate.  On one play though, he dribbled on the baseline but was called for steps that led him to turn the ball over.  Another time, he used an elbow to clear out on a baseline drive, which led him to commit an offensive foul and a turnover that time.

He also did a solid job of rebounding the basketball, and Castle was able to haul in multiple boards on both ends of the floor.   Castle also defended very well.  He was able to intercept an interior pass to get a steal.  He also would contest outside shots due to possessing solid length and positioning to force misses.  Overall, Castle turned in a solid showing to help lead his team to a win over Purdue, and he is an athletic, skilled guard that could be a likely lottery pick for the 2024 draft, and he is a high upside prospect that could end up being like a taller version of former Indiana Pacers’ guard, Victor Oladipo in the NBA.

Zach Edey scored 37 points, had 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks in his team’s loss to UConn as he may have erased a lot of doubts on his ability to translate his game to the NBA level. (Photo: Brynn Anderson/Associated Press, via Toronto Star)

Purdue’s 7-4 center, Zach Edey also had a solid showing in his team’s loss to UConn.  He had an especially strong start, and he ended up having 37 points and 10 rebounds. He was very impressive for the first fifteen minutes of this game, and he turned in a strong stat line at the game’s end. On the other hand, despite the gaudy stats, he did struggle a little bit at times in this game, and his team especially struggled on both ends of the floor in the second half, although some of the blame can be attributed to Purdue’s shoddy guard play.

Edey showed a knack for scoring on hustle plays.  He excelled at scoring on tip ins, and he was able to run in to score on a powerful tip slam late in the game.  He also would catch lobs off of rolls to the rim to score on strong, alley-oop dunks. Also, Edey showcased satisfactory low post scoring skills.  He would frequently use the left shoulder to score on sling hooks and drop step moves, and sometimes Edey would score on powerful dunks at the rim.  He especially seemed to take advantage whenever he would be matched up against a smaller, skinnier defender.  He also was able to use an overhead ball fake to score on a nifty, up-and-under, stepthrough move while getting fouled once.  

However, Edey would rarely ever go over the right shoulder when posting up, so the Connecticut defenders would sit on his left shoulder, and Edey would try to stubbornly force up difficult shots over his left shoulder with a defender overloaded on that side.  Therefore, Clingan and other defenders were able to force him to take tougher shots than he did against other opponents, and Edey ended up missing some sling hooks rather badly.  In addition, Edey would not look to face up or take outside shots. On the downside, he was fairly turnover prone.  On one good play, he was able to pass out of the post to find the open man.  He also would set hard screens to help create open driving lanes for his teammates.  However, he would sometimes be called for traveling when he would look to operate out of the post.  He also threw an inaccurate pass back out when doubled in the post, which led to an over and back violation.

Also, he did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  Edey was able to haul in multiple boards on both ends of the floor.  Defensively, he looked to be about average.  For the positives, he did a very good job of using his size, length, and instincts to block shots to protect the paint for his team, and he also was able to swat two shots consecutively.  However, he tended to sag too far off of shooters as well as on ball-handlers in pick-and-roll situations, which would lead him to allow opponents to score on open jumpers.  He also would tend to be too late to defend the roll men, which would lead his team to give up dunks.  He also would bite on pump fakes, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores, and he also would get beat off the dribble to allow scores other times.

Overall, Zach Edey put up great raw counting numbers, but he took tougher shots than necessary at times, and he really struggled on the defensive end in the second half of this game.  Despite having a tremendous career, there are some concerns about his ability to translate his skills to the next level, as he’ll need to be more comfortable in using his right shoulder when he’s on the block, and he’ll have to add a reliable jumper and improve his ability to defend in space.  Still, he showed that he can hang with more athletic opponents in games and that he can use his vast size to his advantage, and he will most likely be a first round pick in the 2024 draft. Edey had a very good season this year, and in an optimistic scenario, he could end up being similar to former Indiana Pacers’ All-Star center, Roy Hibbert in the NBA.

Donovan Clingan also played fairly well in his team’s win over Purdue.  Though he didn’t rebound the ball very well and ran into some foul trouble, he was efficient as an inside scorer, and he seemed to do a better job of defending Edey than most of the other players that guarded him in this tournament. Clingan showed a satisfactory ability to score in the post.  He would often go up strong to score on layups and dunks in the post, and he also would score on jump hooks.  On the downside, he missed easy open layup once, and he doesn’t really have advanced low post moves.  He did attempt a three-pointer once, but he missed that time from beyond the arc.

Though he didn’t grab many rebounds, he was able to get a few in this game.  He also played fairly solid defense.  Clingan was able to rotate to block a shot in the post, and he would tend to force Edey to take difficult shots in the post, as he was able to hold his ground and force his fair share of misses.  On the downside, he would tend to bite on pump fakes, which would lead him to be out of position and to commit fouls and allow scores.  He tended to play too aggressively, which led him into foul trouble.  Other times, he didn’t force his opponent to use his right shoulder enough when defending in the post, as he also gave up his fair share of baskets when defending down low, even though he was guarding a tough opponent in his game.

Overall, Donovan Clingan had a decent showing in this game, and while it wasn’t his strongest performance, more importantly, he was able to help his team get a win to help them win the National Championship.  Clingan had a very good season overall, and he will likely be a lottery pick in the 2024 draft, as he could end up being like a more athletic version of Steven Adams in the NBA.

Alex Karaban turned in a strong defensive performance in his team’s win over Purdue.  He didn’t shoot the ball very well in this game, but he played smart basketball to help his team get the victory. Karaban didn’t shoot the ball very well, but he was able to make an open corner three in this game.  He also managed to score on a powerful dunk off of a backdoor cut.  Plus, he also passed the ball very well.  He would throw interior passes to find open teammates, and he can throw long, accurate passes to find them in stride.

Alex Karaban recovered nicely to swat a three-point shot to himself on this play, and his defensive instincts were on point in this game.
(Source:
Twitter/@MarchMadnessMBB)

Also, he did a solid job of rebounding the basketball.  He also defended well.  He did a great job of blocking shots in this game.  Karaban was able to hustle back to swat a shot in transition to a teammate.  He also blocked a three-point shot to a teammate another time, and he possessed very good timing to do so.  He also would play angles and contest shots in the post to force some misses.  On the downside, sometimes he would struggle to defend taller players in the post, which would lead him to allow scores.

Cam Spencer had a decent showing in his team’s win over Purdue.  Though he didn’t shoot the ball nearly as well as he had in other games, Spencer is a crafty combo guard that played the game with an excellent motor, and he was able to make some sterling passes and defensive plays in this game. Spencer showed a satisfactory ability to score off the dribble.  He would score on patient drives to the hoop, and he showed good balance, scoring touch, and change of direction skills to be able to do so.   He showed a solid ability to finish plays around the basket, and he was able to score on an acrobatic scoop layup once.  He also was able to make a couple of dribble, mid-range jumpers, but he was inconsistent at knocking those down.   Spencer had trouble making the three-ball in this game, but he was able to run off a ball screen to make a spot-up three off the catch once.

He also showed off satisfactory playmaking skills.  Spencer is an unselfish player that has solid court vision, and he was able to make passes off the dribble to notch assists.  On oen play though, he threw a hasty, inaccurate pass that got intercepted once. Also, Spencer did a great job of rebounding the basketball.  He was able to haul in many boards, but there was one play where he was called for a loose ball foul when going for a defensive board once.  He also defended well.  Spencer was able to poke a ball off of an opponent’s leg and deflected a pass off of an opponent out of bounds to force turnovers, and he also managed to block a three-point shot.  He also was able to deflect a pass another time.  He also quickly doubled in the post and forced an opponent to throw an inaccurate pass that led to an over and back violation.  On the downside, he would sometimes play too aggressively, which would lead him to commit reach-in fouls.

Overall, Cam Spencer had a fairly solid showing, and while he didn’t shoot the ball very well from the outside, he excelled at making other plays in this game, and he is a cerebral, skilled combo guard that could end up being a solid role player in the NBA.

Samson Johnson also had a fairly solid showing in his team’s win over Purdue.  He’s a very athletic big man that played well on offense.  He was able to catch lobs off of rolls to the rim to score on a couple of high-flying, alley-oop dunks.  He also was able to pass out of the post to find a cutter to notch an assist.

Samson Johnson was able to do what he does best in half-court sets: roll to the rim, catch lobs, and finish with a nice alley-oop dunk to give UConn a boost on offense.
(Source:
Twitter/@MarchMadnessMBB)

However, he was quite foul prone.  He set a moving screen to commit an offensive foul and a turnover once.  He would get outmuscled when defending in the post, which would lead him to commit fouls, and he also would commit aggressive fouls when going for rebounds.  Another time, he went for a steal attempt when defending in the post, which led him to give up a dunk.  Though he didn’t grab many rebounds, Johnson was able to get an offensive board once.

Overall, Samson Johnson had a solid NCAA Tournament, and he is a very athletic big man that has shown that he can score on off-ball motion plays, and he is a strong finisher that can finish plays above the rim.  He’ll still need to expand his skill set offensively, improve his rebounding, and be a more disciplined defender in games, but his immense athleticism and considerable upside makes him an intriguing prospect, and he could be a solid pick for an NBA team in the second round of the 2024 draft.

Purdue’s 6-7 freshman forward, Camden Heide made his presence felt midway through this match by running and flying in to grab an offensive rebound, as he promptly then threw down a thunderous tip slam afterwards.  

Camden Heide had one terrific, holy cow moment where he went from a complete unknown to draft prospect, all seemingly on one play in this game.
(Source:
Twitter/@CBBcontent)

He is a very athletic combo forward, but unfortunately, he didn’t do anything else that was impactful after that.  Still, Heide showed that he may possess considerable upside, and he could be a prospect to watch for the 2025 draft.

Hassan Diarra had a solid showing to help lead Uconn to a double-digit win over Purdue.  He is an agile, skilled combo guard that showed off versatile scoring skills.  He showed that he can score on aggressive drives to the rim, and he also managed to score on a backdoor cut.  Also, Diarra was able to knock down an open corner three once.  On the downside, he was very foul prone, as he would play too aggressively and get caught out of position, which would lead him to foul opposing ball handlers.

Overall, Diarra played well in this game, as he was able to give his team a boost off the bench by excelling at shooting and scoring the basketball on offense.  He’ll likely need to show NBA teams that he can reliably run the point at higher levels and will need to be a more disciplined defender in games, but his above average athletic gifts and scoring skills could allow him to make his way to the NBA someday.

All in all, those are my thoughts on how Tristen Newton, Stephon Castle, Zach Edey, and other various prospects fared in this game.  Thanks for reading.

NBA Scouting Live
error: Content is protected !!