The first night of Peach Jam action featured 12 opening games. VUSports was in attendance for a 66-65 Team Final (PA) loss to BABC (MA), an over-time win for the Rens (NY) over E1TI (FL), and a 75-56 drubbing of the Albany City Rocks by California Supreme.
Here are evaluations of several Villanova prospects from these games (as well as prospects considering other Big East / Big Five schools).
Class of 2017 Verbals
The, 'Nova-bound, forward played a solid game in a losing effort. Perhaps he needed to get some more touches on offense given the efficiency with which he scored the ball. "DaDa" converted 6-9 FGs on his way to 12 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, and 3 blocks in 25 minutes. All of his points came in the paint. He scored on three lay-ups, a put-back lay-up, a power dunk in transition and a pull-up, 12 foot jumper from straight-away. One of the lay-up came after he helped to break full-court pressure and then used a two-bounce dribble move to get to the rim. On a later lay-up he received the ball on the perimeter and drove past his man with a two-bounce dribble move to get to the basket. "DCR" was active on the offensive boards in addition to being solid defensively on the glass. He is a quick leaper with good timing and instincts - both rebounding the ball and blocking shots. He had a great block where he timed the jumper of a wide-bodied opposing center and an athletic block that he swatted with authority among his three blocks. The last one was a well-timed response to a pump-fake. On defense he whacked out well on three-point shooters but later was caught cheating off a shooter to help join a potential block party in the lane - only to leave the three-ball shooter long enough to drop in a dagger.
Class of 2017 Prospects
This was another game in which Walker looked great in stretched but then faded in others. In 31 minutes, he produced 11 points on 5-13 FGs, 0-2 FTs, and 1-5 3PFGs to go with 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 turnovers and 3 steals. All of his points came in the first half as he scored in a spot-up, wing three-pointer, a steal that he converted into a lay-up at the other end, a drive on a secondary break that he finished in traffic with an "and one" a strong drive with a right-handed finish in traffic another strong drive past a defender that he finished with the left hand, and another steal - this one converted into a lay-up, and one. He was generally quite active on defense and getting into passing lanes. He willingly dove on the floor a couple times to save loose balls. He made a nice drive-and-dish dribble move with a pass to DCR - but the shot was not converted. Later, he showed quality court vision to make a pass into the low post to a cutter for an easy deuce. All six of is three-point attempts were from the right side - four from the wing and two from the corner. The make was a spot-up jumper. His decision-making can vary in level of quality throughout a game - he was aggressive in the first half taking the ball to the basket but hardly drove the paint in the second half.
Stats were unavailable from his game at the time of the article. Wright did make a handful of quality plays. He drained a 10-ft fade-away jumper off a post-up move, made a great crossover dribble move, and later broke pressure off an inbound play and took the ball cost-to-coast for a lay-up. Wright demonstrated a good handle but the form on his deep jumper was not particularly impressive. He tried a 16 foot jumper off a jab step, separation dribble move but that proved unsuccessful. Wright made a highlight reel dunk where he met the opponent at the apex of his jump and forced him to fall to the ground under the force of the block. Though he did a good job competing on the glass, the leading 2017 big man in the country, Deandre Ayton was able to throw his 7-1 frame around enough to make it very hard for Wright to defend him.
Anthony Gaines, 6-4, 190 lbs, New Hampton School, Kingston NY
Gaines is being recruited by Providence, Butler and Temple, among others. He is a physical, quick, tough guard with good size who, regardless of which program he attends, will have the opportunity to under-study for a bit prior to taking on a lot of minutes. Gaines scored primarily by getting to the basket off the dribble. Villanova continues to evaluate him. He has a good handle and is an okay passer. He didn't shouldn't the ball frequently enough to garner a good feel for just how good a shooter he is. Gaines has the size and athleticism to be a contributor early in his career at the BIg East level. He plays with a great motor and a bit of a sense of recklessness. On one play, he bolted towards the corner and dove to save the ball to his teammates and keep his team in the hunt late.
Kevin Knox is a prolific scorer because of is versatility on offense. This evening, he scored 28 points on 8-16 FGs, 11-13 FTs, and 1-5 3PFGS. Throw in 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 5 turnovers1 steal and 3 blocks and you have quite a gaudy box score. Villanova has made some traction with Know but would love to get the highly ranked forward on campus over the next two months to see about making some significant headway. Knox did foul out (in is 32 minutes of play) - which made things even harder for his team in the OT session. He needs to improve his handle despite the fact he demonstrated some great hesitation dribble moves in the contest. Knox scores from mid-range, by getting to the rack and shooting the deep ball - all of that skill makes him hard to guard.
Tucker didn't shoot the deep ball as well as he did when we saw him play several weeks back. In 33 minutes, he was 3-12 from the floor, 3-6 from the line, and 1-6 from beyond the three-point arc for a total of 10 points, Additionally, he was able to post 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals - off-set partially by only 1 turnover. Tucker isn't an athlete athlete but he has hesitation and step-back moves that can create adequate separation for him to get off his normally, rock solid jumper. It was great to see Tucker getting dirty under the rim and hustling to make plays on both ends of the floor. He looks to have shed the label of floating at times. Tucker made a strong reverse lay-up past two defenders, made a clever, tip-rebound to a teammate to fuel a fast-break and a crafty spin move to create a first-half basket.
Nwora is being pursued by Marquette, Seton Hall, and Xavier, among others. He was on fire early in this game with 17 first-half points. Overall, in 30 minutes he would score 25 points on 9-16 shooting, 4-5 from the stripe and 3-8 from deep. He has range past the three-point line and some ability off the bounce. Nwora can also use his rugged frame to drive to the lane with some frequency. When he gets there he finishes with regularity. Nwora executed a nice two-bounce dribble move down the baseline. His passing and handle can use some improvement. Nwora is a good athlete who lacks speed and first step quickness.