It was a ridiculous game. Back and forth, double-overtime, hanging on every shot, up and down, pure madness, Gus-Johnson-joygasm, loony-tunes ridiculous game. Xavier and K-State played one of the finest games in the history of the tournament Thursday night, with K-State advancing to the Elite 8 after a 101-96 victory in double overtime.
So what did we, as NBA fans, learn about the players that might see the light of day in the NBA?
1. We learned Jordan Crawford is more than a dunk tape. Crawford was blistering down the stretch, nearly single-handedly keeping the Musketeers in the game with a barrage of beyond-NBA-range threes. Crawford showed an ability to get penetration on the perimeter and create space when he needed to, along with that hawkeye aim. His athleticism was already a plus, but last night’s performance may have pushed him into the first round, even with his attitude questions and shooting percentage last night. Crawford lost the battle but may have won the war.
2. We learned Denis Clemente can still score with the best. Clemente is rarely discussed on draft boards, despite a pretty absurd ability to score when he gets hot. His weaknesses are by the dozen, most notably size and an awkward position problem. He’s too small to play shooting guard and has too high of a usage rate to play point. He’ll have to learn. He’s a poor man’s Jerryd Bayless without the killer athleticism. These are all not good. However, Clemente’s 25 point, 5 rebound, 5 assist, 1 turnover performance is going to start raising eyebrows.
If nothing else, Clemente may be improving his ability to get into the Euro-system with a bang.
3. We learned Jacob Pullen’s comeback trail continues. Pullen’s only listed at 6-0, and you know how reliable those things can be. But he’s shown tremendous leadership and better ball-handling, along with most importantly, an ability to run an offense. Xavier’s shots may have been the more spectacular last night, but K-State’s offense was humming, especially with Pullen running the show. This could be a springboard for him to really make headway next year in his senior season.
4. We learned Wally Judge needs more time, but when he gets it, man. Judge is raw, still, and needs at least another year before the leap. But after a disappointing start to the season, Judge has come on strong, and in every game is showcasing flashes of what will eventually make him a very attractive pick. He’s got good size and an understanding of offense to help facilitate a repertoire, and is just beefy. Expect more out of him.