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Kenner League 2023: First Weekend Grades

A new era of Georgetown Basketball has dawned on the Hilltop. The sweeping changes that Coach Cooley has ushered in are long overdue, but one welcome remnant of the past remains Kenner League and all of its chaotic thrills. Despite everything being different for Georgetown basketball, much was the same at Kenner League. We saw most of the incoming new faces this weekend and a few of the holdovers. So, let’s do some grades!!

These are my overall impressions from the first weekend. Check out the excellent Kenner League Recaps from Saturday and Sunday for individual game recaps.

Ismael Massoud - C+

2 GAMES: 11 PPG, 40% FG, 22% 3PT, 7 RPG (1 OFF), 2 APG, .5 SPG, .5 BPG, 1.5 TPG

My first impressions were he was bigger than I thought and a bit slower than I thought. He’s a solid 6’9 and definitely tracks more as 4 then a small forward. He’s got good length for his size, and I think he’s strong enough to match up with most power forward’s in the BE. He will likely struggle against elite size and strength, but only if he’s forced into that role. He shot it horribly on Saturday and was OK on Sunday. I am not concerned about his shooting because he’s proven he can shoot in non-Kenner play. I think Kenner is a bad forum for him, as it is for most bigs. He needs good guard play and a system to help get his shots. He’s not much of a one-on-one creator. The good news is, he’ll have that in the season. He can play both positions in the pick and roll, and I think he can have a lot of success as a roller (making decisions) and popping for open threes.

Dontrez Styles - C

1 GAME: 14 PPG, 33% FG, 33% 3PT, 6 RPG (1 OFF), 1 TPG

Only had one game this weekend, and it took him a while to get into it. At 6’7, he has good size, strength and athleticism. After a couple of mistakes, a bad turnover and getting stuffed at the rim, he hit a tough and-one jumper from the foul line. I think the jury is still very much out on what he brings and his role, but he seems to have a good feel for the game, and I think reads the court well - a theme that seems to be appearing among the new guys that Coach Cooley has brought in. I’ll be interested to see how he progresses over the summer.

Wayne Bristol - A-

1 GAME: 20 PPG, 42% FG, 57% 3PT, 2 RPG (1 OFF), 1 APG, 1 SPG, 1 TPG

Again, only one game for him this weekend, but it was definitely impressive. It’s possible that he is just more comfortable having played in multiple Kenners (we’ve seen that before as guys figure out how to play in a somewhat unique style). However, I did see some elements to his game that I’ve not seen before (even in previous Kenner’s). Primarily he showed some really nice playmaking out of the pick-and-roll and what we can loosely call motion sets. Stats say he only had 1 assist, which I think might be off, but he was able to drive and kick and made a couple of nice reads. He looked more decisive than I’ve seen him, and overall I thought he was very smooth, on-ball and off. He shot it extremely well too. With his + defense, if he plays like this consistently, he will be tough to keep off the court.

Drew McKenna - A

2 GAMES: 15 PPG, 46% FG, 33% 3PT, 7.5 RPG (1 OFF), 2 APG, .5 SPG, .5 BPG, 2.5 TPG

I like Drew McKenna a lot. Again, a guy who completely exceeded my expectations. As a reclass from ‘24 → ‘23, I expected a raw, potentially skilled kid with some upside but a long way to go physically. After seeing him this weekend, I think the reclass was absolutely the right call (not that anyone needs my opinion on it). He’s bigger and stronger than I expected. Sure, he can always get stronger and needs to, but he’s ready for college ball. He also knows how to play. I was impressed with how he reads the game. He gets himself in good spots on the floor and knows his game very well. On Saturday, he was getting to his pull-up in the mid-range and was very efficient. He was also all over the glass, and I think can be an excellent rebounder. His shot looks very good - fluid, quick, good elevation. He just needs to get more consistent (I think he will). He reminds me a bit of Hollis Thompson with a little bit of DaJuan Summers. Look, it’s Kenner. But college freshmen, let alone high school seniors, rarely look as comfortable as Drew did.

Jay Heath - A-

1 GAME: 22 PPG, 42% FG, 44% 3PT, 3 RPG (1 OFF), 5 APG, 1 SPG, 1 TPG

Jay was good. Particularly in the second half of his one game. I didn’t see much that was new, though he shot the three well. It would be great for him to get up around the 40% mark he was at during his last season at ASU rather than the 37% he shot last year. He looked very comfortable. He wanted to play on-ball a lot, and I imagine he’ll be in contention for a starting guard. I wonder if he is better as a 6th man but a lot of that depends on the other guards. I think I like him more off-ball. His team didn’t run a lot of pick-and-roll, so there wasn’t much to evaluate there, but I think he is at his best as a slasher/shooter and secondary ball handler. Overall, he was very comfortable picking his spots in the second half and looked like a Kenner vet.

Rowan Brumbaugh - A+

2 GAMES: 18.5 PPG, 61% FG, 75% 3PT, 4.5 RPG (1 OFF), 5.5 APG, 2.5 TPG, 1 SPG

OK, full disclosure: I was a big Rowan proponent as a recruit and wanted him at Georgetown. When it appeared that Georgetown chose Denver Anglin over him, I was fine because of what Anglin projected to be as a shooter, but I was frankly bummed. So maybe I am just not an objective source, but I am ALL IN on the local kid (like 2 blocks from campus local). The competition at guard will be interesting, and we’ve yet to hear from Jayden Epps, who played point a lot late last year for Illinois, but I’m giving the reigns to Rowan if I’m Coach. He played one game with Akok and one game with former Iowa Hawkeye, Luka Garza, fresh off his new two-way deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Garza also brought his cousin (who knew?) and former St. John’s underachiever Amar Alibegovic, who is massive and was very impressive. Rowan was the engine both games. I am fairly certain he is already the best pick-and-roll ball handler on the roster and is likely the best we’ve had in a while (yes, he is better than Akinjo). He is VERY good in the pick-and-roll. He is absolutely thinking pass first and reads the game very quickly. He got himself and others a lot of open layups by manipulating the defense and making the right reads. He has more shake to his game than I expected. He’s got good, not great, quickness, but he’s able to get good shots because of how he moves the defense. Look, he was just really impressive running offense. He’s just a really good basketball player, and I think he has the potential to be the point guard of a national championship-contending team. Will that be Georgetown? No clue, but he has that level of ability. He is definitely 6’4 and has good, not great size. He’s a bit on the thin side but is strong coming off screens with and without the ball. Don’t take my word for it, or Kenner’s for that matter. Come out and see for yourself. And if you think I’m living in dreamland, don’t tell me, I like it here.

Akok Akok - B

1 GAME: 11 PPG, 50% FG, 50% 3PT, 10 RPG (1 OFF), 1 TPG, 2 BPG

Akok was absent on Sunday when his team had Luka Garza and gigantic Bosnian man Amar Alibegovic, but he played with Rowan on Saturday and was good. He looked a lot like he did last year - take what you will from that. I’ll be interested to see how he fits on the offensive end this year with more of a system in place. I am not sure we will see much through Kenner, as he is largely just diving to the rim or in the dungeon spot. He’s going to defend, and he’s going to rebound, and he’s going to play hard. We’ll see about the rest.

Supreme Cook - A

1 GAME: 16 PPG, 60% FG, 10 RPG (5 OFF), 1 APG

Supreme was a welcome surprise on Sunday as he did not show up on the various pre-Kenner roster leaks. I had ZERO expectations going in, and hoo boy, you guys are going to love Supreme Cook. He is loud (I mean JYD level loud), active and seems incapable of not going 100%. He’s athletic enough and has solid size at 6’9, maybe 6’10 if you squint. He plays like a pure big and may have the strength to battle with some of the bigger BE centers. The front-court rotation will be interesting as we don’t seem to have many viable options at the 5. Depending on Ryan, Supreme might just win that job due to sheer force of will, and I will not be mad. He didn’t show a lot of offensive skill, but he gobbles up rebounds and had like a billion and-one dunks and layups off offensive rebounds. The inevitable “Cooking lineup” (needs some workshopping) of Akok and Cook is going to be an absolute nightmare to play against. You might as well just shoot from half-court because you’re just not going to get a shot off anywhere near the basket with those two, and you definitely aren’t getting a rebound. Will they score? Shhhh, don’t ask that. Just enjoy the show

Other Notes:

  • I can confirm that Jayden Epps has a brace on his wrist. He was in the stands for a few games on Saturday. Nothing to report other than it was indeed Jayden Epps, and he was indeed wearing Hoya gear…
  • Drew Fielder made an appearance on Sunday (I think). There are reports that he’s rehabbing a minor injury. He looked fine to me and almost looked like he was going to play (he didn’t), but I wouldn’t be shocked if we see him at some point this summer. He is big and looks stronger than expected.
  • The overall quality of Kenner League play can be a bit of a crapshoot, but in general, I think the competition was at a higher level than in years past. Teams are still largely at the whim of mercurial guard play that can decide to just play one-on-one (it’s tough to be a big at Kenner), but I was pleasantly surprised by the level of defense, overall effort, and team play.
  • One reason for the higher quality of play may actually be due, in part, to the Hoyas. There, of course, were Kenner League standouts in previous years, but there were a lot of guys who had a single attribute or elite athleticism, but didnt have a great feel for the game yet. My general impression of the guys brought in by the new regime is they are just better overall basketball players than we’ve had in the past. That may seem obvious, but it was notable to me that there were not a lot of passengers on the court. In years past, there were, guys would float a lot and had trouble impacting the game without someone to get them involved. Will this translate to a better Georgetown team? Well, the bar is pretty low, but who knows! Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but it really looks to me that the new staff is bringing in a much different type of player, and I, for one, am all in for change.