Corey Brewer plays outstanding on both ends of the floor, helping his team to the National Championship. Al Horford shuts George Mason down inside and on the glass. Jordan Farmar shows the poise and confidence of a true leader in dismantling LSU. Those and much more in our ninth installment of the NCAA Tournament stock watch.
A look at the prospects who helped and hurt themselves the most in the ninth day of action in the NCAA tournament, the Final Four.
Corey Brewer plays outstanding on both ends of the floor helping his team to the National Championship. Al Horford shuts George Mason down inside and on the glass. Jordan Farmar shows the poise and confidence of a true leader in dismantling LSU. Those and much more in our ninth installment of the NCAA Tournament stock watch.
Elite Eight, Sunday Games, Stock Up, Down and Neutral prospects
Elite Eight, Saturday Games, Stock Up, Down and Neutral prospects
Sweet 16, Friday Games, Stock Up, Down and Neutral prospects
Sweet 16, Thursday Games, Stock Up, Down and Neutral prospects
Round of 32, Sunday Games, Stock Up, Down and Neutral prospects
Round of 32, Saturday Games, Stock Up prospects
Round of 32, Saturday Games, Stock Down and Neutral prospects
Round of 64, Thursday Games, Stock Up, Down and Neutral prospects
Round of 64, Friday Games, Stock Up, Down and Neutral prospects
Corey Brewer, 68, Sophomore, Small Forward, Florida
19 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 assist, 6 turnovers, 6-11 FG, 3-6 3P, 4-5 FT
He started off by showing off the part of his game that has shown the most notable improvement over the last two months of the season: his perimeter shot. Brewer is 11-22 from behind the arc in five NCAA tournament games so far, upping his percentages here from the high 20s to a more respectable 34.2% on the season. Many of his 3-pointers in this tournament came off the dribble, and this game was no exception. Considering his mechanics, work ethic and the confidence he shows in his shot, there is no reason to think that Brewer wont at least become a respectable outside shooter as an NBA player down the road.
Brewer then used the threat of his perimeter shot to take his man off the bounce and work his way to the hoop, throwing a beautiful head-fake at one point to get his defender in the air and then blow right past him for an impressive finish off the glass.
His ball-handling, clearly the weakest part of his game right now, again looked shaky for the most part, as his six turnovers would attest. He exposes the ball to his defender by dribbling high and too far in front of himself, and then makes things worse at times by trying to make moves that are clearly out of his element like spin-moves, crossovers and other wild forces of this sort.
What can always be expected from Brewer every single time he steps out on the floor is outstanding perimeter defense on whoever he is asked to guard. He forced George Mason into numerous turnovers, whether it was making a simple in-bounds pass, bringing the ball up the floor after a made basket, or picking his mans pocket in half-court sets. Like all Florida players in this game, Brewer did a fantastic job switching and hedging on screens, trapping players in the corner, rotating beautifully to cover for a teammate, and constantly putting pesky pressure on George Masons weak ball-handlers. He was in fact the best player on the floor for either team in the first half, keeping Florida in the game with his perimeter shooting and defense.
If Floridas other two frontcourt starters, Joakim Noah and Al Horford, decide to put their name in the draft following this outstanding tournament run, dont be surprised to see Brewer follow them out the door. Hes really the only one of Floridas sophomores that doesnt come from a family of former pro athletes with comfortable financial situations, and probably has done enough this year to secure a spot in the 1st round. As a long and super athletic pure 6-8 wing with outstanding defensive instincts and an improving jump-shot, hell be viewed as a bundle of upside.
Al Horford, 69, Sophomore, PF, Florida
6 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 turnovers, 2-7 FG, 2-3 FT
Defensively, Horford used his length and athleticism to pester his own man and also make some great contributions with team defense. He wasnt credited for any blocks in the box score, but Horford altered a countless number of shots with his length, possibly getting a graze on a few of them. He made all his necessary rotations and helped double-team in the post on a few occasions. He used his length to block passing lanes and force opponents to change their shot. He also showed his excellent mobility for a big man, frequently showing on the perimeter and recovering in more than enough time. When matched up with the overpowering Jai Lewis in the post, Horford countered Lewiss strength with his length and strong hands, poking at the ball and causing discomfort.
On the offensive end, Horford put himself in position to score on many occasions, but had trouble finishing at the rim. He showed flashes of a face-up and post-up game, though wasnt able to capitalize on either. He was able to use his court awareness and unselfishness to find an open teammate on many occasions, though, racking up 4 assists in the process, a few of them resulting in dagger three pointers by Lee Humphrey. Hes a very good passer both out of the post and to his partner in crime Joakim Noah. Horford also did very well running the floor both with and without the ball. On three or four occasions, Horford dribbled the ball from one free-throw line to the other, looking fairly comfortable and fluid. He even made a crossover on one of the drives. He wasnt able to turn any of these exhibitions into easy baskets, but its still a rare skill for a PF to have that level of ball-handling.
Horford was all over the place on the boards, using his length to get to rebounds he was in no position to get. His mobility allows him to easily chase down long rebounds even when initially stationed near the basket.
On the negative side, Horford made four turnovers in various situations, including an inbounds pass and facing up his man. He also had a few lapses on defense, letting George Mason forward Will Thomas move right past him in the post on one occasion, partially due to foul trouble.
Horfords lack of polish on the offensive end is evident, but he shows a lot of promise in that he frequently puts himself in high-percentage shot situations. He also is able to contribute in many other areas of the game, while competing with ferocity and playing intelligently. He says he intends to return to Florida next season, though that may change if they win the national title. Horford could definitely use the extra polish he would gain in another season of college, but with his natural ability and versatile game, he should be able to get minutes in the NBA immediately, even if he was drafted this season. Its hard to tell where hed project to be drafted, but the lottery is certainly not out of the picture with his total package and prototypical PF build.
Jordan Farmar, 62, Sophomore, Point Guard, UCLA
12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 turnovers, 4-9 FG, 3-6 3P, 1-2 FT
Farmar is a very hard player to stop when his three point shot is falling, which was the case tonight, as he can use the threat of the shot to drive into the lane. His superior court vision aids him in picking up assists while driving to the hoop. Farmar had some very impressive passes, including a lob to Ryan Hollins for an alley-oop dunk from the top of the key. The weakest part of Jordan Farmars game is on the defensive side of the ball, where he was beat off the dribble too many times again today. Despite this flaw, his great pro potential as a rare pure playmaker was on display throughout the game. Before the NCAA Tournament, the consensus seemed to be that Farmar should return to UCLA for his junior season, but he could vault his draft stock and declare this year if he comes through with one more solid performance in the national championship game.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, 67, Freshman, Small/Power Forward, UCLA
17 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals, 5-9 FG, 7-8 FT
Mbah a Moute is one of those rare players that can play two positions equally well. While he started the season as more of a rebounding specialist PF, he is clearly developing into a player capable of playing the wing. Mbah a Moute has a great understanding of how to exploit matchups, using his athleticism and toughness in the paint, but also looking comfortable facing the basket out on the perimeter. He doesn't have an array of go-to moves yet, but is very productive as a blue collar style of player from all areas of the court. He understands how to play defense, and has the footspeed to guard on the perimeter. As he improves his ballhandling and adds range on his jumper, Mbah a Moute should develop into a very formidable NBA small forward prospect.
Joakim Noah, 6-11, Sophomore, PF/C, Florida
12 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 turnovers, 4 blocks, 1 steal, 5-11 FG, 2-2 FT, 26 minutes
It was evident that this wasnt going to be Joakim Noahs game early on in the first half when he started off with two semi-forced misses from mid-range. His much smaller defender backed off him and would not allow him to use his ball-handling skills to slash to the basket, and the entire team defense was focused on denying him the ball in the post. This in turn opened up the floor for numerous wide open looks for Floridas shooters on the perimeter, and the Gators capitalized to score half of their points from behind the 3-point arc on 48% shooting.
Noah only scored 4 points in the first half, both of them fairly impressive moves, but did an outstanding job cleaning up the glass and blocking shots. He had 7 rebounds and 3 blocks in the first half, showing off his length, tenacity and leaping ability on one particular occasion bouncing up and down off the floor to reject his matchup in the paint twice in the span of a few seconds.
He was less of a factor in the 2nd half, sitting out in certain stretches with foul trouble in favor of Chris Richard who was playing well, but still scored some key baskets in transition, off a pick and roll and once again with his jump-hook shot high off the glass.
What Noah showed here is that even when he isnt at his absolute best, he still finds ways to contribute in many different facets of the game.
Ryan Hollins, 70, Senior, Center, UCLA
6 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block, 17 minutes, 2-2 FG, 2-2 FT, 4 fouls
Jai Lewis, 67, Senior, PF, George Mason
13 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steals, 1 turnover, 5-13 FG, 3-3 FT, 0-1 3P
When matched against someone with above average length and athleticism, such as Florida PF Al Horford, Lewiss offensive game is really exposed. Lewis wasnt able to do anything against Horford when he wasnt using his brute strength. With no advanced post moves to go to, Lewis had great trouble putting up high-percentage shot attempts when matched against Horfords length. And this is talking about a college sophomore he was going against. Hell be even more overmatched when up against the more experienced players in the NBA.
On the defensive end, its the same story with Lewis. Beyond his strength advantage, theres not really much to rave about. Hes adverse to making lateral movement, so all you really need to do is dribble or spin to get around him. He wont move his feet and hell watch as you lay the ball in the basket. He wouldnt stand a chance against the inside-out power forwards in the NBA.
On the positive side, Lewis made some nice passes out of double teams and showed pretty good awareness on the offensive end. He is very strong, and he rebounds pretty well. He also has a decent touch around the basket and is able to take advantage of his strength to get in good post position. The problem is a lot of this wont translate to the NBA and his weaknesses are so glaring that they wont be overcome. Theres nothing about Lewis game that makes him stand out against the likes of J.P. Batista and Marco Killingsworth, two other 67 power forwards with tremendous strength, both of whom are fringe second round picks. Those two would have an uphill battle finding a niche in the NBA, so theres not much hope for Lewis either.
Glen Davis, 68, Sophomore, PF/C, LSU
14 points, 7 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 turnover, 5 fouls, 5-17 FG, 4-10 FT
Whether it was getting beat down the floor time after time by UCLAs big men, settling for fadeaway jump-shots or showing terrible touch around the rim with his non-existent back to the basket game, Davis was completely outplayed on both ends of the floor.
The most concerning part of this game was probably the complete lack of conditioning that the hefty Davis showed almost immediately after the opening whistle. Davis was clearly laboring as he lumbered up and down the floor already after the first 7 or 8 minutes, sucking wind uncontrollably and tugging on his shorts with his hands on his knees in every dead-ball. He could not open up his mouth wide enough to get enough oxygen in while shooting free throws, and missed numerous opportunities around the rim that he should have converted easily. Davis was completely neutralized by UCLAs either small or extremely skinny frontcourt players, all considered average prospects at best, bothered by their length and being rejected embarrassingly time after time at the rim. On the defensive end things were just as bad, not a surprise considering what weve seen all season long, as Davis could not stay in front of anyone when pulled out of the paint and made numerous mistakes by failing to rotate or being outhustled on the glass.
Davis helped his overall stat-line by scoring 9 points in his last 8 minutes on the floor, all in garbage time when the deficit had swelled in the 20s midway through the 2nd half, but the overall negative impression was just far too much to overcome. Tonight more than ever Davis showed that he has no shot of landing in the 1st round before he takes off significant weight in the form of 40-50 pounds, and also shows that he is able to keep that weight off.
Tyrus Thomas, 6-9, Freshman, Power Forward, LSU
5 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks, 1 steal, 1 assist, 3 turnovers, 4 fouls, 17 minutes
He actually started off the game extremely well, showing amazing quickness capturing the baseline and converting off the glass, and then working with his back to the basket and scoring impressively plus the foul. He also rebounded the ball and blocked shots the way he always does, but one offensive foul early on and then another picking up his 2nd right underneath the basket after an offensive rebound by Mbah a Moute sent him to the bench for the rest of the 1st half. UCLAs lead swelled to 15 by the end of the 1st, and there was nothing Thomas could do about it while sitting on the bench.
Thomas did not play very well in the 2nd half, picking up two more cheap ones in the first 8 minutes of the 2nd half, sending him again to the bench, this time for the rest of the game. Thomas showed the ability in the past to play through foul trouble (for example against Duke where he played with 4 fouls for the last 8 minutes and still sparked his team to victory), but for some odd reason Coach John Brady decided he doesnt need his best defender and rebounder on the floor anymore. Brady was later quoted saying that Thomas wasnt as mentally sharp as they needed him to be in this game. Thomas did not sound like he was very happy about the decision after the game, saying: he (Brady) didn't want to put me back in when I had four fouls earlier, and we weren't really chipping away at their lead like he thought we would." Some will wonder whether Brady was trying to send a message to Thomas and the NBA scouts in attendance, possibly trying to convince him to stay at LSU for another year. Brady has been more vocal than any other coach in the NCAA this year about his disdain for NBA scouts (they think because a big guy can run and dunk he is ready for the NBA. What a shame.), and has said on numerous occasions that Thomas should definitely stay another year, despite being projected as a top 5 draft pick. If this was just another way to hammer that point across, it appears highly unlikely that he will succeed.