So, You Think You Can Dance? | The Weekend Warrior
"The Big Dance" is here. Who has rhythm? Who has two left feet? Let's dish.
Presenting: The Weekend Warrior!
Welcome, everyone, to the momentous inauguration of what will be a weekly weekend get-together with me, Stephen Gillaspie. I am honored and thrilled to be contributing to this talented group of evaluators at No Ceilings, and I’m even more excited to expand the incredible content our crew will be bringing you all. That’s right, everyone, you’ll now have six days worth of NBA Draft-related written work delivered directly to your inbox, courtesy of your friends at No Ceilings.
We’ll recap some of the biggest storylines, reveal the “Warrior(s) of the Week,” and have some fun along the way. And what better time of year to kick this new venture off than to debut during March Madness? I may be so bold as to say there is no better time to discuss the game and prospects that we all love. Now that the introductions and pleasantries are done, let’s talk shop.
There are two types of beings in the universe: those who dance, and those who do not.
- Drax, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Many “coming of age” movies can feature some relatable moments that almost anyone can relate to. There is the girl that is hiding in plain sight that, once she takes off her glasses and brushes her hair, is asked to prom by the school’s quarterback only to find out that her dorky best friend was the dude she was meant to be with. There’s also the seemingly normal, but socially awkward, high school boy that has to endure some sort of extraordinary sequence of events to muster the confidence in order to ask out the most popular girl in school to the big dance.
March Madness, or “The Big Dance” as they call it, is an entirely different story. Sure, there are some “pretty” teams that we’ve seen throughout the year. Once we see them in the right lighting, some teams have a unique quality about them that we can appreciate. We have even seen some of these teams go through remarkable events, stand in the face of danger, and figure out that they had all that they ever needed all along; they just needed to look within themselves. However, the movie isn’t over; the credits don’t roll just because these teams walk into gyms decorated with balloons and streamers. They now have to show that they have rhythm, or they’re going to trip over their own feet.
We’ve seen a few games so far, so let’s take a look at some of the lesser-known prospects to see if they’ve made the most of their chance to dance or not.
Andre Jackson, UConn:
I took UConn to make a deep run, mainly because I thought they were a stout defensive team that could throw different looks at their opponents. I’d seen Jackson discussed on multiple platforms, and I had remained fairly low on him due to his lack of offense. I was looking forward to watching some more of his game to see what I was potentially missing. While playing New Mexico State, Jackson looked to be that impactful defender he was billed to be, but he would eventually foul himself out of the game. Offensively, he was 2-of-3 from the floor and finished with six points. He also flashed some solid playmaking on his way to four assists, tying the team-high. It’s unfortunate to see Jackson and his team bounced from dancing so early, but there’s a chance that we will see them again next season.
Jamaree Bouyea, San Francisco:
San Francisco was another team I chose to advance, though I felt they and Murray State were teams that should have drawn more well-known schools—only for them to both upset their big-name opponents. The Dons’ matchup against Murray State was one of—if not the—best opening night matchups in this tournament. Bouyea finished with a game-high 36 points on 13-of-26 scoring, hitting several clutch buckets down the stretch. His ability to shift gears in the halfcourt was impressive. Whether it was slithering past defenders on the perimeter or trading bombs with Tevin Brown in regulation and even into overtime, Bouyea proved that he and his team were quality participants to go dancing.
Baylor Scheierman, South Dakota State:
The Jackrabbits were looked at as a popular “upset” selection by many (not me, but I know some people) to make some early noise in the Tourney—in large part due to the talented Baylor Scheierman. South Dakota State kept the game close throughout, with the game up in the air until the last two minutes or so. Scheierman led the game in scoring (18 points) and rebounding (10 total), and he was tied for the most assists (three). The stellar sophomore shot 7-of-17 from the floor, 3-of-8 from deep, and 1-of-2 from the Free Throw line. While his shooting acumen proved to be enticing, he also was able to thrill the audience with some flashy playmaking. The Jackrabbits couldn’t get past the Providence Friars, but Scheierman was able to impress out on the floor.
Micah Peavy, TCU:
Peavy isn’t likely to make a lot of headlines, but he was a player who I personally was looking to see in terms of what sort of impact he could have in this game. Peavy’s path to the dance took an interesting turn as he transferred to TCU from Texas Tech after the season last year. His defensive ability has been impressive his Sophomore season, and it was indeed a factor against Seton Hall. He was able to see possessions lined up across from Kadary Richmond, Jared Rhoden, and Myles Cale. He didn’t defend them all at once, obviously, but he was a nuisance no matter the assignment. As far as stats go defensively, he only logged a block and a steal apiece, but his impact was evident. Peavy’s Horned Frogs held the Pirates to the lowest-scoring first half in their school’s history. On offense, Peavy was a perfect 3-of-3 from the floor on his way to scoring six points. While future NBA player Mike Miles was the star of the night, Peavy’s performance was special in its own right.
Dalen Terry :
The significance of a player’s performance during March Madness is a polarizing point of discussion. In one corner, you have those who do their best Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson impression by saying: “IT DOESN’T MATTER” how good/bad your game is! In the other corner, you have those who believe that the significance of headline matchups can tell you everything that you need to know about these players. Just to briefly touch on how I view these games, I’ll explain why they do matter for some players—players like Dalen Terry.
Playing behind Kerr Kriisa and Bennedict Mathurin, Terry had excelled in a role off of the bench; he averaged close to eight points, five rebounds, and four assists per game while playing great defense. With Kriisa missing time due to a sprained ankle, Dalen Terry gave the Arizona Wildcats a scary new look. He put up 12 points, four rebounds, and three assists against the Colorado Buffaloes in the Pac-12 Conference Tournament and would follow that up with an electric 15-7-7 showing in the Conference Championship game against UCLA.
In his opening bout against Wright State, Terry played with contagious effort and energy, as he dropped 16 points, grabbed seven rebounds, made four assists, and had one steal and one block. Terry’s ability to create chaos on the defensive end was a problem for the Raiders most of the night, and his offense made everyone’s lives much easier.
“The Big Dance” is an excellent opportunity for a player like Terry to prove his quality simply because there is opportunity. The sophomore was already garnering second-round buzz in a simplified role but, as I discussed with my cohost Nathan Grubel, Terry could be taken higher than anyone could have initially imagined if he can continue to show that his production can remain consistent with an uptick in usage against significant competition.
Memphis Tiger freshman Emoni Bates made a somewhat puzzling return to play in Memphis’s tournament opener against Boise State.
Bates had missed significant time prior to his return. He suffered a back injury in January that caused him to miss 12 games. It was no secret that Bates was participating in team activities, but making his return against the Broncos caught me (and a lot of other folks) off guard. Memphis had been on a run, riding on the heels of a 10-2 stretch coming into the tournament, but Coach Penny Hardaway threw Bates into the mix of 12 players to get playing time in the first half.
Bates would also get minutes in Memphis’s final game of the tournament against Gonzaga. He finished with five points on 2-of-7 shooting, connecting on only one of his five three-point attempts. While he wasn’t a primary contributor, it was still enjoyable to see Emoni get minutes for Memphis in March.
Upsets are what makes this time of year what it is: madness. Plenty of people understood that this Kentucky team was likely not a Championship contender, but I personally didn’t know anyone that thought the Wildcats would lose to Saint Peter’s. Despite the loss, Oscar Tshiebwe did everything he could to make a lasting impression on NBA Front Offices. He finished with 30 points, 16 rebounds, two assists, and four “stocks” on the night. TyTy Washington Jr. had one of his worst outings of the year, putting up only five points on 2-of-10 shooting and two turnovers to one assist. The concerns I’ve had about placing toward the Top 10 were out in the open in this overtime showdown; however, I had him 18th on my board going into the game, and I’m not going to waver on where I stand after it. Saint Peter’s was able to bounce Coach Calipari’s team behind the stellar play of Daryl Banks III and Doug Edert, who scored 27 and 20 points, respectively.
The Peacocks of Saint Peter’s weren’t done making their own madness, as they defeated the Murray State Racers in their Round of 32 matchup. Edert didn’t get to the 20 point mark as he did against Kentucky, but he scored 13 on efficient scoring (4-of-6 from the floor; 1-of-2 from distance; 1-of-2 from the line). KC Ndefo would be the team’s leading scorer with 17, along with ten rebounds and three assists. Potential Draft prospect Tevin Brown didn’t have his best game, as it was apparent that the Peacocks would make his teammates beat them. Brown had 14 points, five boards, four assists, and a block. Saint Peter’s advanced to the Sweet 16 and will face the winner of the Purdue/Texas game.
This next game hurt. I had UConn making it to the Championship, losing only to Arizona. New Mexico State had other plans for my bracket. You’ve read my take on Andre Jackson, so we’ll move on from that. The Aggies of New Mexico State were bolstered by their 6’6 junior guard Teddy Allen. He averaged close to 20 PPG during the regular season, but to see him put up 37 against a stout defense was phenomenal considering that none of his teammates registered in double figures. Allen was a perfect 13-of-13 from the charity stripe on top of his 4-of-7 shooting from distance. The Huskies kept things close through most of the game, but their lack of shooting in relation to New Mexico State was what sealed the fate of UConn.
One thing that has been perpetuated throughout the selection process is that it’s fairly common for a 12th seed to upset a fifth seed, but the one matchup that most considered a lock ended up flopping. Iowa had been considered the “hipster” choice as an unlikely team to make the Final Four—even chosen by some to win the whole thing. That didn’t happen, as the Spiders of Richmond played harder than the Hawkeyes on their quest to ruin brackets. Iowa’s Keegan Murray wasn’t “as dominant” as we’re accustomed to seeing—which is wild to say, as he had 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the floor. Keegan’s brother, Kris, did not seize his chance to impress a larger audience. He and the rest of Iowa’s bench were a combined 2-of-16 from the floor, overall. Tyler Burton (Richmond) played well enough to potentially rise up scout’s boards, as he dropped 18 points, snared 11 rebounds, and nabbed three steals. Jacob Gilyard (Richmond) was impressive as well, recording 24-6-6. Murray had ranked 9th on my board coming into the game, and I will not go joining those that will inevitably drop him down due to his *audibly laughing while making air quotes* “poor performance” in this one.
I suppose Colorado State vs. Michigan technically constitutes an “upset” even though I chose Michigan to win that game. Subtle brag, I know. The Rams looked to David Roddy to be his team’s hot hand often, but he struggled to score over Michigan’s Moussa Diabate. Once Diabate was pulled from the game, Roddy started knocking down shots. The concerns I’ve had about him were on display in this matchup. His lateral movement has been a concern of mine most of the season; that concern only grew after this game, as Roddy was often accompanied by a teammate to help double-team Hunter Dickinson or Diabate. Roddy finished with 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting, six rebounds, and four assists. Caleb Houstan imprinted on the game, as he recorded 13 points, five boards, and two dimes. His timely shot-making propelled the Wolverines over Colorado State during the middle portion of the 2nd half. I’ve been high on Houstan throughout the season compared to the consensus, perhaps irrationally high at times, but he’s proving to be worthy of a 1st Round investment.
However, Michigan’s run of upsets didn’t stop there. Hunter Dickinson and company faced off against and defeated Kennedy Chandler and the Tennessee Volunteers. Dickinson went to work early, taking full advantage of the defense’s scheme to leave him open from deep. Once he connected on a few three-balls, the offense ran through him and gave players like Eli Brooks a chance to make his mark on the game. Dickinson finished with 27 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and a steal and a block apiece. Brooks had a 25 (points) and five (assists) performance. Chandler was really the only consistent threat for his team. He finishes with 19 points on 9-of-19 scoring, nine assists, three boards, and two steals. Michigan advanced to the Sweet 16 to face the winner of Ohio State—who have split two games with the Wolverines this season—and Villanova.
Let’s discuss the only “First Four” team to win their tournament opener. Notre Dame was picked against often in their play-in game versus Rutgers. It would be even less likely that they would beat Alabama. To get the bad part out of the way, NBA Draft hopeful Jahvon Quinerly was injured towards the start of the game, and he wouldn’t return. The Tide’s JD Davison was inserted into the game and played some of his best basketball. While he did commit six turnovers, he was efficient from the floor, as he shot 5-of-9 overall to record 11 points. He also had nine assists and three steals. Teammate Keon Ellis was the team’s leading scorer, going 4-of-6 from deep and 6-of-11 overall for 16 points. He grabbed nine boards and nabbed two steals as well. The night, however, went to the Irish’s Cormac Ryan. He led all scorers with 29 points on 10-of-13 scoring—including 7-of-9 from distance. Freshman teammate, Blake Wesley, was also in strong form, dropping 18 points on 8-of-14 efficiency. He also had three pilfers, which were only a small representation of the defensive performance he gave the scouts who were in attendance.
Now back to another Round of 32 matchup, where the defending champion Baylor Bears were ousted by the North Carolina Tarheels. We knew that the top-seeded Bears were coming in with a limited rotation, and that issue was evident early. Brady Manek put together back-to-back big performances, as he finished with 26 points before being ejected after being called for a Flagrant 2 foul. The Heels were fortunate enough to get a star performance from RJ Davis. He finished with 30 points on 8-of-17 shooting (5-of-10 from deep; 9-of-10 from the Free Throw line), six assists, five boards, and a steal. Baylor’s Freshman duo of Kendall Brown and Jeremy Sochan both struggled for most of the night. Brown finished with only six points, shooting 0-of-4 from distance, 2-of-4 from the charity stripe, and 2-of-7 overall from the floor. Sochan did have 15 points and 11 rebounds, but the efficiency wasn’t there. He was 4-of-14 for the night, including a 1-of-5 mark from the three-point line, and his moments of poor shot selection hurt his team on several occasions. The officiating was pointed out as one-sided by many throughout the night, as Baylor was able to overcome a deficit of more than 20 points. However, UNC struggled to stay out of foul trouble and inbounding the ball—seemingly letting Baylor off the hook. Carolina survived the frantic comeback attempt from Baylor, and they are now a threat to continue to bust brackets in the Sweet 16 in their matchup against UCLA.
Warriors of the Week
With so many games taking place, we’ll be awarding five players as “Warriors of the Week” throughout the tournament. Here they are:
Jamaree Bouyea, G, San Francisco
(vs. Murray State; L) 36 Points [13/26 FG, 4/12 3P, 6/8 FT], 3 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 1 Steal, 1 Block, 1 Turnover, 3 Fouls.
Teddy Allen, G, New Mexico State
(vs. UConn; W) 37 Points [10/24 FG, 4/7 3P, 13/13 FT], 6 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 2 Steals, 2 Turnovers, 1 Foul.
(vs. Arkansas; L) 12 Points [5/15 FG, 2/6 3P], 4 Rebounds, 1 Steal, 3 Turnovers, 2 Fouls.
Brady Manek, F, North Carolina
(vs. Marquette; W) 28 Points [10/15 FG, 5/10 3P, 3/3 FT], 11 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 2 Blocks, 2 Turnovers, 2 Fouls.
(vs. Baylor; W) 26 Points [8/13 FG, 4/8 3P, 6/8 FT], 5 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 3 Fouls.
Drew Timme, F, Gonzaga
(vs. Georgia State; W) 32 Points [13/21 FG, 0/1 3P, 6/13 FT], 13 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 1 Steal, 2 Turnovers, 2 Fouls.
(vs. Memphis; W) 25 Points [10/16 FG, 1/1 3P, 4/8 FT], 14 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 2 Fouls.
Oscar Tshiebwe, C, Kentucky
(vs. Saint Peter’s; L) 30 Points [11/16 FG, 8/12 FT], 16 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 2 Steals, 2 Blocks, 3 Turnovers, 3 Fouls.