Jalen Wilson, Cason Wallace shine on the big stage of Champions Classic

INDIANAPOLIS — The Champions Classic is a great opportunity for NBA scouts to see a handful of NBA designers early in the season, and Tuesday night’s two games did not disappoint. The same four teams – Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and Michigan State – play each year with the four teams changing opponents each season.

The first game ended in double overtime with Michigan State beating No. 4 Kentucky 86-77. Kentucky forward Oscar Tshiebwe went out on a foul early in the first overtime, and the Wildcats couldn’t find a rhythm offensively. Michigan State’s Mady Sissoko caught multiple lobs to close out the game without Tshiebwe’s presence on defense.

The second game between No. 6 Duke and No. 7 Kansas didn’t start until after 10:30 PM ET and it was a messy first half with numerous offensive errors for both teams. Guards Jalen Wilson and Dajuan Harris Jr. from Kansas were a regular backcourt for the Jayhawks and freshman wing Gradey Dick took over in the last two minutes and led the Jayhawks to victory, 69-64.

Several NBA scouts and executives got in on the action at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, and even though it’s very early in the college basketball season, there was a lot of talent on the floor.

Yahoo Sports lists each team’s top NBA draft prospects and how they played in the Champions Classic.

Jalen Wilson | Kansas | Junior

Wilson was one of the best offensive players on the court on Tuesday and showed many different ways to score, putting up 25 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. It was a tough night of shooting from behind the arc for both teams, with Wilson unable to connect any of his six attempts from 3-point range. What he did show NBA scouts was his improved tractability and decision making when in court. Wilson read well all night, whether that was pulling up for a floater, knocking the corner of fencing and finding an open man or cutting the ball to look good. He is stronger on the ball and more confident in his decision-making and will certainly be a player to watch this season.

Cason Wallace| Kentucky | freshman

Wallace was one of the hottest prospects on the field in both games, and it was what he did most impressively defensively. In the first 30 seconds of the game, Wallace had a steal in the backcourt and converted for an easy dunk. During a crucial moment in the second half, he prevented point guard AJ Hoggard from turning the corner and then read his lob to Malik Hall, blocking Hall’s shot. He is all over the field and impacts the game in so many different ways. Offensively he plays with patience and will wait for the defense to collapse to make the extra pass rather than force a shot past the rim.

“I couldn’t take him out of the game because of what he brought to the team defensively,” head coach John Calipari said after the game. “When you look at what he did and the difference and the impact he had on the game, it was huge.”

Malik Hall, Michigan State, makes a move around Kentucky's Cason Wallace during the Champions Classic at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Nov. 15, 2022. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Malik Hall of Michigan makes a move around Cason Wallace of Kentucky during the Champions Classic at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Nov. 15, 2022. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Gradey Dick | Kansas | freshman

It was a two-point game with just over two minutes left when Dick decided to take over from the Jayhawks. In three consecutive possessions, Dick scored seven points and kept victory out of reach for Duke. The 6-foot-8 wing moves so well off the ball and has a natural ease in its play. Defensively, he sometimes struggled to keep players up front and relied too much on the auxiliary defense. Dick doesn’t shy away from the big moments when the game is on the line and wants the ball in his hands in close games or when the shot clock runs out. Dick finished with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting.

Oscar Tshiebwe | Kentucky | Senior

Tshiebwe played for the first time this season when six minutes into the game he started to thunderous roars from Kentucky fans in the arena. The 6-9 forward has been sidelined after having his knee examined four weeks ago and showing no indication of a lingering injury, grabbing 18 rebounds and adding 22 points. Tshiebwe opted to return for his senior year even after getting NBA draft buzz last season. He is the top rebounder in college basketball and created multiple second chances for Kentucky with six offensive boards.

Kyle Filipowski | duke | freshman

Filipowski gave Duke a second gear after a lackluster performance in the first half. He made three-point plays on the rim, grabbed six offensive boards, and confidently stepped into his three-point shot from the pick-and-pop. He was only 1-for-6 as of deep Tuesday, but the 7-footer has a great high-release shooting stroke that he can get over any defense. Filipowski is a bit of a defensive responsibility when he takes on small guards on the wing and gets caught on backdoor cuts and players making the first move on him and driving the baseline. Filipowski finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds in the loss.

Duke center Kyle Filipowski shoots the ball over Kansas forward Jalen Wilson during the Champions Classic at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Nov. 15, 2022. (Marc Lebryk/USA TODAY Sports)

Duke center Kyle Filipowski shoots the ball over Kansas forward Jalen Wilson during the Champions Classic at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Nov. 15, 2022. (Marc Lebryk/USA TODAY Sports)

Malik Hall | State of Michigan | Senior

Hall had the tying dunk to send things into overtime with four seconds of regulation after sliding a screen on an out-of-bounds play and then had another dunk to send it into double OT on a pass from Tyson Walker . The 6-8 striker worked on his body over the summer and improved his footwork from the dribble. He does a lot of little things well, but doesn’t excel in any area of ​​his game. He will be the glue man for Michigan State this season, and there is definitely value in NBA-level four-year players. Hall brings experience and confidence to his game and doesn’t need much development.

Derek Lively II | duke | freshman

Lively II is still coming back from a lower leg injury that saw him sidelined for a few weeks. The 7-1 center struggled defensively at times as he had to step out to guard the perimeter, but he disrupted many shots in lane with his elite shot-blocking mechanics and timing that came out of the weak block when guards went downhill. Lively II had a quiet night, recording 20 minutes and finishing with five rebounds, four points and one block.

Chris Livingstone | Kentucky | freshman

Livingston played just 12 minutes and was relatively quiet with Tshiebwe and Jacob Toppin getting the most minutes in the close game. Livingston is a solid athlete who was one of the most explosive forwards in high school basketball last year, especially coming off the wing. He will need more time to get used to the pace of the college game and will have to be patient with his development this season in Kentucky.

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