Engel Evaluations

Patrick breaks down a trio of SMU hoops prospects in his Engel Evaluations.

Jayce Johnson

2016 C, Santa Monica High School (Santa Monica, Calif.)

Scoring: The first thing that sticks out about Johnson is his frame. He has great size for a center at 7-0, 235. His sturdy body brings upside, and his best scoring move is a jump-hook. He’s a natural lefty and turns over his right shoulder for the jump hooks easily, but he’s capable with his right arm and turning over the left shoulder too. Outside of the jump-hook, Johnson is a bit limited as a post scorer. He has nimble feet, but tends to play below the rim. That’s not to say he can’t play with his back to the basket. But the move he relies on in those spots is mostly the jump-hook and not a more aggressive, post-up, to-the-basket move. Johnson’s ability to stop quickly, dribble once and get the hook shot off is impressive, especially for his size. His touch on the hook shots is also very good, and it has become a great weapon for him. Johnson will even step out and hit a jumper from out to the free throw line, and is already a solid shooter from the charity stripe. Scout’s 15th-ranked center for 2016 hasn’t quite grown into his body yet either, but when he does he should gain a little more athleticism and get comfortable going 1-on-1 more often in the post. If he gains a little more leaping ability, he’ll become a better rebounder too.

Defense: Being seven feet tall helps a lot on the defensive end. Johnson can block shots from all over the court. He’ll come from behind, step in and stuff a shot from the post. The four-star prospect is also a good rim protector; he can stick his hands up and alter a shot from a smaller player or force an off-balance shot. His feet are quick enough to avoid guard blowing by him to the basket.

Projection: Johnson may not be ready to play a lot of minutes when he steps on a college campus, since he’ll probably still need to grow into his frame at a higher level. But he’s a good fit in a deliberate, structured offensive team and can become a physically imposing center with some refining. A system that is fast up and down the floor, runs a lot and has less structure may not be the best fit for Johnson.

Offers: Arizona State, California, Utah , Washington State, Gonzaga, UNLV, SMU, Tulsa, Boise State
HT: 7-0
WT: 235 pounds

Jayce Johnson Highlights

Jethro Tshisumpa

2016 C, Mountain Mission Academy (Grundy, Va.)

Scoring:Given Tshisumpa’s defensive prowess and overall rawness, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot offensively before I watched the tape. But his offense is much further along than I thought it would be. He still has progress to make, but his great leaping ability helps him produce a little bit on the offensive end. It especially makes him a lob weapon. He has some basic offensive skills that post players need: jumping ability and the ability to above the rim, although his footwork and speed aren’t as refined yet. His long arms help him offensively too. A couple times in his tape, the four-star prospect set a screen on a pick-and-roll, got the ball and scored on a hook shot, although his footwork was a bit choppy. He looks like he’s starting to get comfortable turning over his right shoulder. But I think his offense will have improved a bit more by the time he arrives on a campus.

Defense: The native of Congo burst onto the scene at the NBPA Top 100 camp in late June, and his defense is the reason why. He’s a highlight reel of blocks. He leaps out of the gym and has long arms, two attributes that make an elite shot blocker. He was the best shot-blocker at the camp and is arguably one of the better ones in the nation. Tshisumpa jumps straight up to block shots and avoids lunging into his opponents, so the fouls are fairly low when goes up for a block. Scout’s 80th-ranked prospect for 2016 does toe the goaltending line a few times, since he can block shots even when he’s not right next to the shooter. It’s not an area of concern, but he’ll always need to be conscious of it. While he’s a prototype rim protector, he also will challenge opposing post players and back them out off the block when they realize they can’t get the shot off over him.

Projection: Tshisumpa’s recent breakout has proven he can be a high-major player. He’s a true rim protector who can become a 30-plus minute per game player if he’s able to become more of a force offensively. He’d fit in most any offensive and defensive scheme, but smaller, faster teams would especially like a big man who runs the floor well and plays with an up-tempo attitude like Tshisumpa does.

Offers: SMU, Arizona State, interest from Georgetown, Georgia Tech, West Virginia
HT: 6-foot-9
WT: 260 pounds

Jethro Tshisumpa Highlights

Aaron Thompson

2017 PG, Paul VI Catholic High School (Fairfax, Va.)

Scoring and playmaking ability: Thompson is a scoring point guard who gets to the basket with either hand and finishes well. He’s a strong dribbler with both hands and is an adept ball-handler, especially when he’s driving to the hoop. He’s smart with the ball in his hands, shown by his solid 1.1 turnovers per game. He’s a great athlete for the point guard spot and explodes by defenders. And at 170 pounds, he’s not afraid of contact, but he sometimes doesn’t finish above the rim. Thompson doesn’t have as good a jump shot though. He’s an inconsistent shooter, but because of his ability to find the basket, it’s not a horrific problem. He’s not a threat as a three-point shooter at all, but point guards don’t need to be. However, Thompson sees the court very well and makes the smart pass. Even though he’s not a jump shooter, he’ll create open shots by driving toward the hoop and then passing to an open teammate who can knock down a jumper. He’s a quick and decisive passer in transition. Thompson relentless style of play and explosiveness is a big reason why he’s a playmaker on both ends of the court.

Defense: Thompson can be a pesky perimeter defender because of his active hands and all-out, fearless attitude. He’ll deflect passes and pick an opposing guard’s pocket, part of the reason he averaged 1.4 steals per game on the EYBL circuit this spring. He has good length for the point guard position at 6-2 with long arms, and can press a bit too if asked. His high-energy attitude occasionally works against him when it causes him to go too hard and pick up too many fouls.

Projection: Thompson is already a definite high-major point guard. He’d be able to contribute right away thanks to his explosiveness, defensive ability good basketball knowledge. Without a good jumper, he probably will not lead a team in scoring, but will still threaten for double-digit points each game and be a reliable defender.

Offers: SMU, Miami (Fla.), Georgia Tech, Penn State, Richmond, Rice
HT: 6-2
WT: 170 pounds

Aaron Thompson Highlights

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