The Life of a Freelance Basketball Scout

Game 2 of the Season

November 12 – Manhattan @ UMBC


 Once again it was raining on my trip to a game. Annapolis and now in Catonsville or Baltimore County. UMBC is only 20 minutes from my house so it’s not bad, even while driving an old ’94 Ford F-150.

 UMBC has really stepped its game up this past year and no I’m not talking about being the only #16 seed to ever defeat a #1 in NCAA tournament history. I am talking about their facility, the UMBC Event Center. It opened last year when they were crushed by Vermont late in the season. They of course got their revenge with a Jairus Lyles buzzer beater in Vermont to send the Retrievers to the NCAA tourney. More specifically though I am referring to the pregame spread. It was a taco/fajita/salad bar. It was solid, catered food. Now this doesn’t seem like much to some people in the media, but as far as I know there other gym did not have a spread….. Now I could be wrong, but my only experience out of the three years I have attended games there was meandering my way to a small crowded media room the size of the break room at a small paper company (yes, picture the break room from Scranton’s finest Dunder Mifflin). When I arrived there was an empty container of cookies. All of UMBC’s media staff had already consumed them, and yes famous UMBC Twitter guy was one of them…….

 So needless to say they have come a long way! The media staff does a great job there for sure. In the old gym as well as the new. Shoutout to Mr. Steve Levy.

 As for the game it was a one sided affair. UMBC handled Manhattan for majority of the game, with a final of 75-52. UMBC was shooting lights out from three. They were 13-29. Its very difficult to beat any team that makes 13 three’s. Coach Steve Masiello and the Jaspers didn’t have a chance to match the firepower of Coach Ryan Odom and the Retrievers. These are two really solid head coaches too. I wonder how long Odom will stick around. His coaching style and teams style of play will be very intriguing for many high major universities.

 For UMBC the star player of the game was, K.J. Jackson. Jackson, a JUCO transfer from Texas, struggled to run the offense early and played tentative. The 6’2 180 lb. point guard started playing with more decisiveness and conviction and quickly turned the game around. He finished with 20 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds. Jackson is a tough player to stop when driving from the perimeter and he see’s the floor pretty well. He made 4-7 from three and was not taking shots out of the offense. Jackson is going to be one of the guards to watch in the America East Conference.

The other two veterans for UMBC that played well as expected were Arkel Lamar and Joe Sherburne. Lamar, a 6’5 235lb. junior guard/forward, may be the most important player on the squad. Lamar is a knockdown three-point shooter and has the ability to pull up or drive to the rack. Lamar has expanded his overall game. He see’s the floor better than years past and he also seems to be taking more of a leadership role on the floor. Lamar finished with 15 points. Joe Sherburne, a 6’6 220lb. senior shooting guard, provided his steady play. He played well in the high post and at the foul line. Sherburne’s calming presence is what holds this team together. The sharpshooter finished with 13 points, 4 assists and 5 rebounds.

For Manhattan it was not pretty on offense. They lacked continuity and a purpose most of the time. Freshman Elijah Buchanan lead the way with 10 points. Senior guard Thomas Capuano chipped in 9 points and senior guard/forward Samson Usilo had 7 points and 7 rebounds. This team is going to struggle to score. They seemed to be lacking a playmaking point guard and they are a very young team. Masiello will have some work to do.

 Fan of the game goes to the random UMBC fan that was yelling at all of Manhattan’s players by name and telling them they suck and they all need shape-ups. Very entertaining sir.

 UMBC had a decent crowd there. I guess the interest garnered from the NCAA tourney upset over #1 seeded Virginia is starting to generate some more profit.



Walton Jr. And Michigan Start Cinderella Run Early

Walton Jr. And Michigan Start Cinderella Run Early



The Michigan Wolverines defeat the Wisconsin Badgers by a final score of 71-56. Derrick Walton Jr. and Michigan completed an unlikely run to a Big Ten title in the nations capital. The Michigan Wolverine’s overcame an unfortunate plane accident during takeoff on Wednesday and seized the opportunity that lay ahead in running the table at the Big Ten tournament. This Wolverine squad is clicking on all cylinders and poses as a real threat to make a run in the NCAA tournament. Walton was named Big Ten tournament MVP and has been the catalyst for Michigan’s late season surge. The Wisconsin Badgers were playing well coming into the title game, but they really struggled from the floor only shooting 39% on the day.


Derrick Walton Jr. has shown a capability to lead his team to a level that many didn’t think was possible just a couple of weeks ago. Walton, a stat sheet stuffer as a point guard, finished with 22 points, six rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Walton is an elite level penetrator and when he may struggle with his shot at times he seems to always create other opportunities for his teammates. Walton will be the most important player for the Big Ten champs heading into next weeks NCAA tournament.


Also leading the charge for Michigan was fellow senior guard Zak Irvin. Irvin tallied 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists. The lengthy guard has been shooting at a high level recently and is extremely effective from the mid range or when driving the lane. Irvin will be a huge part of Michigan’s offense and defense if they plan on continuing their magical run late into March. The other bright spot for the Wolverines was junior power forward D.J. Wilson. Wilson played a solid tournament and was an anchor in the post. The solidly built forward (6’10 240) is a physical player with an ability to stretch the floor as well. He provided a toughness that was definitely needed against a scrappy Wisconsin squad. Wilson finished with 17 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.


Wisconsin struggled to get any offense going during the contest. They had 15 turnovers and only shot 39% on the day. They had zero points from their bench. Wisconsin is normally a team that spreads the ball around and gets contributions from everyone to some extent. That was not the case Sunday. Wisconsin was completely out of rhythm and ran into a buzz-saw in Michigan. Nigel Hayes had 14 points, eleven rebounds and two blocks. Ethan Happ had 14 points, eleven rebounds and three assists. Senior point guard Bronson Koenig scored 15 points.


The all tournament team was as follows


Ethan Happ

Nigel Hayes

Bronson Koenig

Zak Irvin

Derrick Walton Jr. – Most Outstanding Player

NCAA Tournament Schedule


Michigan will be a 7 seed in the Mid West Bracket and face 10 seed Oklahoma State Friday at 12:15 p.m.

Wisconsin will be an 8 seed in the East bracket and face 9 seed Virginia Tech Thursday at 9:40 p.m.


Wisconsin – The Definition Of Grit


Wisconsin had its way with Northwestern in the Big Ten semifinal matchup today. The Badgers cruised to a 76 to 48 beat down. Northwestern struggled from the opening tip and never got any resemblance of offense going during the contest. Wisconsin out rebounded them 36-27, and shot 47% compared to the 35% of the Wildcats.


Leading the way for Wisconsin were its two post players Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes. Ethan Happ continues to be super-efficient and productive. He is always in the right spot at the right time. Happ has elite footwork in the post and is much stronger than he appears. He continually is around the ball and comes up with 50/50 balls at a rate that I have never seen. Happ had 16 points on 4 of 6 shooting, while also hitting 8 of 11 at the foul line where he normally struggles. He chipped in eight rebounds and kept countless possessions alive with his hustle. Happ may not look like the most intimidating or impressive specimen but he is a natural basketball player. His smarts and court awareness are already at a high level. Senior forward Nigel Hayes had one of his most effective games of the season. He ended up with 18 points, ten rebounds and two assists. Hayes was working the mid-post game to perfection. Northwestern had no answer for him. He is an extremely physical player and if he can be consistent with his outside shot he has a good chance to succeed in the NBA. Hayes provides versatility with his size (6’8 240) that is a match-up nightmare at the collegiate level. He is stronger than some centers and also has the ability to put the ball on the floor and create for himself or kick out to open teammates. While senior point guard Bronson Koenig struggled on the night the rest of the Badgers squad stepped up. Zak Showalter chipped in ten points and Vitto Brown tallied eight points and eight rebounds.


If Wisconsin can handle business tomorrow against a hot Michigan team it could be in line for a four or five seed in the NCAA tournament. Wisconsin’s tough and gritty style of play is a tough matchup for any team, but a team that might stand a chance is a team with an up tempo style of play like Michigan. Tomorrow should be a solid game to decide who will win the 2017 Big Ten Tournament.


Walton Jr. Leads Michigan To Big Ten Title Game

Walton Jr. Leads Michigan To Big Ten Title Game


Derrick Walton Jr. won the battle of the point guards against Nate Mason. Walton led Michigan with 29 points as the Wolverines defeated the Golden Gophers 84-77. Mason chipped in 23 points in the loss.


Michigan will continue its surprising run tomorrow against the winner of Wisconsin and Northwestern. Michigan got off to a huge start in the first half, but Minnesota eventually tied it 55 all midway in the second. That is when Derrick Walton Jr. took over. Walton used his elite quickness and burst to get into the lane and finish at will. He also made several pull up clutch three’s. This was all Michigan needed to pull away late in the game. Walton showed why he is considered one of the best point guards in the Big Ten. He set up his teammates on several occasions. He also has the ability to elevate and chip in on the glass with the big boys. Walton finished with 29 points, nine assists, five rebounds and two steals. Walton will be a huge factor if Michigan looks to make a run next week in the NCAA tournament.


Mo Wagner also provided stability in the post as well as on the perimeter. The 6’11 sophomore power forward made six of seven shots, including two from three. Wagner had 17 points and four rebounds, all of this in just 18 minutes of action due to foul trouble. The other factor for the Wolverines was 6’6 senior shooting guard Zak Irvin. Irvin is at his best when attacking the lane hard, using his athleticism and length to his advantage. He has an ability to hit the three but has been inconsistent this season. Irvin finished with 13 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals.


Michigan is a very dangerous team on offense. The question for them going into the tournament will be can they stop the other team from scoring. Today they did a decent job until the game opened up at the end and Mason got several free lay ups. They will be in line for an eight or a nine seed depending upon how they do in the title game. That will provide them with yet another tough matchup in the first round, and especially if they advance from there. But hey, at least they will avoid Dayton this time….