Chris Bunch - 2022 Forward


ThePearl

Well-known member
I watched Wasatch's three games in three days at an NIBC tournament and here's my very amateur observations. Chris did not play well. His biggest strength by far right now is perimeter shooting, but he found clean shots tougher to come by against the high-level competition in the NIBC and he missed most of them. He showed some moves over the summer where he pump fakes and after a couple dribbles pulls up for a mid-range jumper, but right now he shoots a very low percentage when he has to put the ball on the floor. Also, especially in the second game against LaLumiere, Chris spent a lot of time just floating between the two foul lines, doing little. A few times he could've sprinted down the court on the break and been there to get the ball and finish, but instead he did little more than trail the play and watch. Possibly he was worn out by playing every minute the night before.

Wasatch is playing shorthanded, with Purdue commit Cam Heide out for awhile with an injury. They also don't have the Washington commit and top 100 point guard Koren Johnson, but the announcers never mentioned him so he might not even be on the team. In the third game, Chris was made the secondary ball handler, which was surprising and good to see. Chris also was much more active in the third game than the previous game. In the first few minutes of the game, he hit a floater in traffic (first time I've seen that), had a chase down block, and got a rebound in traffic. He looked better handling the ball than I thought he would after seeing him do little of it at Peach Jam. But his dribble is nowhere near ready for college. Chris is a lanky athlete who usually stands almost straight up. His dribble was too high and unprotected, just begging to be stolen. He got away with it most of the time but he won't in college.

I hadn't thought of Chris as a slasher or as a very agile athlete with back-and-forth bounce, but this week he tried a number of drives to the basket and showed more agility than I saw over the summer. He rarely if ever finished the drives, but as an SU fan it's good to see him try to penetrate. A player has to fail at something before they learn how to succeed. Chris also had some nice assists. He may have a more varied offensive game than I thought over the summer, but he has a very long way to go. As commentator Adam Finkelstein of ESPN said, long term Chris has a very high ceiling. Chris also did quite well at the top of the press. Wasatch was down ten in the fourth quarter of their first game and used the press to go on a run and win it, with the great Roddy Gayle putting the team on his back and doing everything possible to will his team to a win. Gayle is a fantastic player and competitor out of western NY state who SU wanted. I hope some of his physicality and competitiveness rubs off on Chris while playing alongside him this season.

The biggest difference I see between high-level high school ball and college is the scrums for rebounds in college and the defensive intensity. In high school there aren't four or five guys fighting for a rebound like there often is in college; whoever is closest to the ball gets the rebound while the other team concedes it to him most of the time. Benny is now learning he needs to fight for rebounds, even when he's not in the best position to get them. Chris Bunch is another slender finesse player who will have to learn to fight for rebounds next year at SU. Right now, he usually only gets the rebounds that come right to him uncontested. That won't cut it at SU unless he's a guard, but Chris has always seemed a natural small forward to me. And also like Benny is learning, in college there are multiple guys swiping at balls in traffic all the time. And in high school there isn't the help defense rotating over when you beat your defender and go to the basket. There's fewer shot blockers waiting, and it's rare to see somebody step in and take a charge in high school. Two guys I have seen step in multiple times are Justin Taylor (he really knows how to play) and Roddy Gayle.

To me, the only incoming freshman who has a chance to be a starter for SU next season is Justin Taylor, but that won't happen either if before portal season arrives in April he doesn't become the knockdown shooter he's thought to be. Chris Bunch has the potential to be a regular in the rotation as a freshman, providing three-point shooting and defensive athleticism and length off the bench, and then hopefully blossoming in his sophomore year and becoming a starter. I'm sure Chris's long-term goal is the NBA. Jeremy Grant was another slender forward who only averaged three points a game as an SU freshman and then blossomed his sophomore year and left for the NBA where he is now excelling. That seems a possible path for Benny and maybe even Chris. But right now, it's hard to see Boeheim and the coaches deciding in April that Chris will be in the starting lineup so they won't need to bring in a veteran scorer from the portal to start at forward alongside Benny.

 

ThePearl

Well-known member
I didn't want to give the impression in my previous post of being negative about Bunch. I think he could be a really good player at SU and who knows where he goes from there. Over the summer at Peach Jam, he was more productive and efficient than he was this past week, but he also had a more limited game. His game seems to be expanding at Wasatch with more ball handling and driving and showing a different kind of athleticism than I saw at Peach Jam. He's in the mold of slender wing shooters like Southerland, Shumpert, Nichols, and Fair, who all became very good players at SU, and Chris has the potential of being better than all of them. I like him a lot as a player, and he also seems like a smart, interesting kid and hard worker.
 

GregCuse

New member
I didn't want to give the impression in my previous post of being negative about Bunch. I think he could be a really good player at SU and who knows where he goes from there. Over the summer at Peach Jam, he was more productive and efficient than he was this past week, but he also had a more limited game. His game seems to be expanding at Wasatch with more ball handling and driving and showing a different kind of athleticism than I saw at Peach Jam. He's in the mold of slender wing shooters like Southerland, Shumpert, Nichols, and Fair, who all became very good players at SU, and Chris has the potential of being better than all of them. I like him a lot as a player, and he also seems like a smart, interesting kid and hard worker.
Thanks that is great info....
 

ThePearl

Well-known member
Appreciate your posts Pearl. Curious when you watched Wasatch if you saw Keba Keita and any thoughts on him. He’s a 6’9 220 plus 4/5 I thought would get a lot more attention.
From what I've seen of Keita, he's really tough to handle around the basket. He's already very developed physically and overpowers guys. Haven't seen him do much away from the basket. I might have seen him at his best, maybe he's raw and has bad games. What stands out to me is how light he seems on his feet, he moves better than I would expect. In the first game last week, he was dominant, but he was on the bench in foul trouble most of the second half and Wasatch fell behind by ten. He came back with six to go and Wasatch went to the press and the game instantly changed with him on the court and they came back to win. Right now he's ranked in the 130s by 247 and Rivals. Apparently, he's only been offered by Washington. I have no idea why. He seems like the type of guy that gets our entire frontline in foul trouble.
 

Cusealum05

Active member
Pearl - Appreciate your posts. Wish we would take a look at Keba Keita.

I love the 22 class but really hope we bring in some game ready portal or juco guys for next year. Some athleticism. Some athletic juco forwards out there like Nae’qwan Tomlin or Mohammed Diarra, or even an athletic guard like Sean East.
 

ThePearl

Well-known member
Seems to me if Benny stays and Swider leaves then we’ll bring in a starting forward. Might bring in a starting shooting guard also. Both depend on if the staff in April thinks Bunch and Taylor are ready to start as freshmen. My gut feeling is Taylor starts right away but not Bunch. Taylor seems a little more polished and well-rounded than Bunch right now, even if Bunch might have the higher ceiling.
 
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