For years, we have seen Dallas versus Fort Worth on the turf with SMU vs TCU. This year, fans were rewarded with the same matchup both in football and basketball. In basketball, this is easily the best draft matchup the metroplex has ever seen, with dueling guards Mike Miles and Zhuric Phelps matching up against each other.
Both players are at least hovering the top 60 on my board, with Mike Miles being a proven college star with room to grow, with a label I have given him as the next Jalen Brunson. Zhuric Phelps is one of the most improved players in the country, going from a reserve afterthought as a freshman to the star guard at SMU and a likely first team All-AAC honoree at the end of the season.
Mike Miles finished the game with 18 points, three rebounds, two assists, and four steals on 50% shooting. His three level scoring was yet again on display, taking eight free throws, which is his average per game this season (up from four and a half attempts per game last season). Miles was fearless going to the rim, and used his quickness to beat his defender. He also had a couple of face-up isolation possessions at the corner mid range spot, going two of two on those shots. Miles also was hitting threes from what would even be considered deep for NBA standards.
Nice night for Mike Miles in front of more NBA scouts at Dickies Arena for the neutral site game— Mavs/Magic Draft (@MavsDraft) December 11, 2022
Finished with an effective 18 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 4 steals on 50% shooting and 6-8 from the line vs SMU
Really effective as a 3 level scorer tonight (and all season) pic.twitter.com/EajfXFmNwh
As for Zhuric Phelps, the other star scouts were in attendance to see, he struggled to find consistent rhythm, and TCU did a good job of taking him out of plays when he was on defense. Phelps has outstanding instincts defensively, and thrives as an off-ball defender, so the Horned Frogs kept the ball away from him as much as possible by using screens to force him off of matchups.
Offensively, Phelps had a couple of impressive shots, taking his defender one-on-one to the rim and being able to win with no rim protector in the paint. He also had a tough spin stepback, showcasing his tough shot-making ability. Phelps finished the game with 19 points on 39% shooting, with five rebounds, three assists, and one steal.
Zhuric Phelps' spin stepback is advanced and he does it once a game. This one vs TCU Saturday pic.twitter.com/Z9R58hAWLs— Mavs/Magic Draft (@MavsDraft) December 12, 2022
However, Phelps got most of his 19 points in the final three minutes as SMU tried making a last minute comeback. They brought the lead from 15+ points down to an eight point loss, but TCU wasn’t playing hard defense and had some reserves in. While Phelps has been putting up good numbers this year, there is becoming a commonality of scoring points late in games that are out of hand. In order to win scouts over more, Phelps will have to do more damage in more meaningful minutes on an SMU team that struggles to keep up with most teams for 40 minutes.
Scouts should have walked away from this game seeing Mike Miles safely as the best guard in DFW. As a more experienced player at the same age as Zhuric Phelps (three months apart), Miles is a floor general that glues his teammates together and helps winning now at a higher level. While Phelps has more scoring upside at six foot five, Phelps still has to learn how to be a floor general and consistently make his teammates better to propel himself into more draft discussions.
Look for the Mavs to be involved more and more in both Phelps’ and Miles’ future games as conference play approaches three weeks away from tipping off. Phelps has become what seems to be a long-term scouting option, for the 2024 NBA Draft and beyond, whereas the belief is Mike Miles will be headed to the pros in the upcoming draft.