Iowa State faced TCU in one of the season’s best games of the year: an overtime thriller that ended with an 81-79 victory for TCU. The game featured 4 NBA prospects, highlighted by Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton and TCU’s Desmond Bane, as well as Kevin Samuel on TCU and George Conditt of Iowa State. It’s quite rare to see every prospect have a great game in unison, but that’s exactly what happened on Saturday.
Tyrese Haliburton finished the game with an elite stat-line of 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists, along with 3 steals on 7-17 shooting (3-7 from 3). George Conditt fed off of Haliburton’s production with 19 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block on 6-12 shooting and 7-11 from the free throw line. For TCU, Kevin Samuel had 16 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, and 6 blocks on 8-11 shooting, and Desmond Bane recorded 16 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal on 6-13 shooting, including 4-6 from 3. These stat-lines were all just the surface of what each prospect brought to the table Saturday night, which calls for an individual breakdown of each of the four prospects’ performances:
Haliburton was the best player on the court Saturday night, and he impacted the game in every way possible. He defended the passing lanes, impacted shots, created open looks for teammates, hit jump shots, showed off his athleticism, displayed good touch around the rim, and showed his ability to thrive in the pick & roll.
Haliburton doesn’t always use his athleticism to beat players, which is a testament to how skilled he is, given that Haliburton stands at 6’5 with excellent burst and explosiveness. Haliburton knows how & when to use his athleticism, which is rare at this stage of a player’s career.
Another area where he dominated was the pick & roll. The P&R has become one of the most common sets in the NBA, and Haliburton is a master in that department. He sees the floor very well with his size, and has a deep understanding of where his teammates are and will be. The one area offensively that Haliburton has to improve is in the jump shooting department. His form is unconventional, but he has great touch on his jump shot. He’s a good shooter from a standstill – highlighted by 42.5 3P% and shooting 75% from the free throw line – but must improve shooting off the dribble. In the last clip above, Haliburton airballed his lone 3 off the dribble. His shot off the dribble will largely impact how good of an offensive player he becomes in the NBA.
Lastly, Haliburton’s defensive skill is almost unmatched in this draft. He’s long and has a great defensive IQ, plus he possesses the athletic tools to stay in front of any player on the perimeter. Haliburton is just as good in the passing lanes as he is off-ball, and this was showcased Saturday night by how many deflections he had and how many players had to alter their passes and shots because of his defensive efforts. Look for Haliburton to be a lottery pick come June, and potentially a top 10 pick.
Bane had a marvelous first half, which is where most of his damage was done, due to foul trouble in the second half. Bane showed flashes of his jump shooting upside as well as being a capable passer with plus vision.
Shown below includes: good footwork on 3 point attempts multiple times, deep range on the catch & shoot with consistent form, good vision, and a quick defensive read to force a turnover.
As previously written regarding his performance in the Pro Basketball Combine, Desmond Bane has one of the best shots from a standstill in the country, and virtually every stat backs it up. Although he has a limited frame with a 6’5 wingspan, Bane is strong and one of the best athletes in the country, which helps make up for his frame defensively. His NBA role is likely to be similar to that of Justin Jackson: 3 point specialist with defensive ability, plus occasional finishing at the rim. The difference between the two, however, is that Bane is a much better athlete, and is a great cutter and an aerial threat in transition. Bane also makes several difficult reads look like easy passes each game, but are not always converted into assists.
Conditt has flown under the radar some, and may be a long term prospect beyond the 2020 draft. Tonight, he did most of his damage in the pick & roll with Tyrese Haliburton around the rim. His athleticism is very good for someone that stands at 6’10. He also showed off range in his jump shot during warmups, but did not attempt a 3 point shot in this game. Conditt has only taken three 3 pointers throughout the whole season, but his form might suggest that he can make them in the future.
Samuel made an impact on this game from the very first play. He was dominant offensively around the basket, highlighted by his 8-11 outing, and he also collected 4 offensive rebounds. He thrived as a roller in the pick & roll, which led to him having multiple open dunks. On the other end, the Cyclones were unable to drive at Samuel without heavily having their shots altered or blocked. Samuel had 6 blocks, including one chasedown block:
Samuel is still somewhat raw, and is limited outside of the paint offensively. If he can improve his shooting mechanics, he may have potential in the NBA as an energy big. His shot blocking ranks up there with the best of the Big 12, as highlighted by his 6 blocks Saturday night.
This matchup showed lots of NBA upside, and provided one of the most entertaining games of the NCAA season. Although not considered a major prospect, RJ Nembhard of TCU was the most important player in this game, recording 31 points on 10-15 shooting, including a deep 3 to force overtime. Nembhard is a good slasher and a very good athlete. If he can refine his jump shot form and consistently become a knockdown shooter, he could pave the way towards an NBA career.