Over the weekend at the Drew League, it was supposed to be a match-up between incoming USC freshmen De'Anthony Melton and Jonah Mathews and sophomores Chimezie Metu and Bennie Boatwright. Unfortunately Boatright was a no-show and Metu ended up having to battle Miami Heat’s 7-foot center Hassan Whiteside, who recently signed a 4 year max contract worth around $98 million dollars.
Melton has had a great summer at Drew League, showing more of an offensive game and has seemed to get better each game out. He started for Scrapes & Gravel, coming off a 23 point game last week. He wasn’t much of a factor in the game as Scrapes & Gravel featured ex-NBAer Dorrel Wright and in addition to Whiteside brought in Will Barton of the Denver Nuggets and Jabari Brown of the D-League. Those three guys ended up taking the majority of the shots.
He had one sequence on Saturday where he got the ball cutting to the basket and finished in heavy traffic aggressively with his left hand. Melton has shown to be a bit further along than the higher ranked Jonah Mathews in this environment, but both will factor heavily in the rotation with Julian Jacobs leaving. Matthews did not play much with the influx of NBA guys on the roster, but he was coming off a solid game with 15 points.
Now getting the meat of the game, the match-up between the college sophomore to be Metu and NBA max contract player Whiteside. Metu, playing for the Clozers, has definitely added some muscle to his frame. He played as a freshman listed at 215 (he is probably in the 225 range now), so he was giving up around 40 pounds to the 265 pound Whiteside.
Metu seemed hesitant to go at Whiteside early on, settling for mid range face up jumpers, none of which fell. Then he got the ball near the 3 point line and with a crafty dribble went by Whiteside for a flush. Whiteside seemed a little disinterested in the game, not playing too hard on either end in the first half but he picked it up in the 2nd, mostly at the rim. He was way too big and too strong for Metu to contain inside once he caught the ball deep in the paint.
Metu started to get frustrated midway through the 2nd half with his team and the fact that Whiteside was pushing him around a bit. His body language told the story. He was subbed out late in the 3rd quarter and when he came back in he was more engaged and was more aggressive offensively. He had a really nice drive and finish over Whiteside and was fouled, taking a decent bump from Whiteside in the process. He blocked one of Whiteside’s face up jumpers, which led to his team getting an easy hoop. He also finally hit one of the mid range shots he was missing all first half. He ended the game making a 3, but it wasn’t enough as Melton’s team won going away. It might have been a different story if Boatright was there.
Here is a more in-depth look at Metu’s day.
1. He didn’t seem intimidated by a guy who just received a max contract from the NBA. For the most part (besides a period of the third quarter) he fought and battled with him at both ends. He even got the best of Whiteside offensively on a couple of plays
2. His feel for the game is very good for someone of his size. While his athleticism jumps off the charts, his ball handing and his ability to pass off the dribble and out of the post is quite good. He was able to go by Whiteside off the dribble at will and was able to find wide open 3 point shooters on the wing.
The not as good:
1. At this stage of his college career he is not a good rebounder. He relies far too much on his amazing athleticism to get rebounds instead of boxing out. That might work at times in college, but had no chance against an NBA player like Whiteside. USC really needs Metu to rebound well this season for the team to have success. He can be a force of the offensive glass, but needs to work harder on the defensive end rebounding.
2. He still doesn’t seem comfortable or willing to play with his back to the basket. Almost every time he got the ball in the post he would face up. He needs to develop a little baby hook or something that he can go to with his back to the basket. USC already has a face up big man in Boatright and for them to be successful they need some guys who can score in the paint or defenses will adjust.
3. He also showed as a freshman that when things start to not go his way he becomes emotional and checks out of the game mentally. This is going to go a long way towards his development as a sophomore. TWe saw this over the weekend when his teammates missed him for a couple lob passes and then when Whiteside started to score at will at the rim. He needs to become stronger mentally to take the next step in his development.
For more information on the Drew League, visit their website: http://www.drewleague.com/