2023 NCAAT II: Scouting Niccolo Moretti

Mar 16, 2023

I can't tell you how nice it was to get to watch the shootaround today. The NCAA does it right - every team has an open shootaround in front of fans and media as the players get used to the shooting backgrounds in the arena. I'd probably pay $500 to be able to do the same thing in Champaign (or even attend one Illini shootaround before a road game) because I cover players, not coaches. But the opportunities to cover players are few and far between these days.

Well, there was one today, but I'm a complete and total idiot and I missed it. During the formal interviews in front of the NCAA backdrop (the Illini representatives were Coleman Hawkins and Terrence Shannon Jr. plus Coach Underwood), the other players were available for one-on-one interviews in the locker room. I've basically spent the last three years complaining about no one-on-one interviews. They had that today, and I was there, and... I didn't know about it.

It was right there in the media PDF. But the text was kinda hidden, so I missed it. There's all these headers on the document and under the header for interview times was a big long list of when each team would have their players and coaches in the interview room. I scanned the list for the Illini time and then skipped ahead to the next header on the document. But after the list with all the presser times was a single paragraph saying that additional players would be available in locker rooms while the coaches were at the press conference. And I didn't see it.

Well, I saw it right at the end of Underwood's presser. The media guy said "two more questions" and I was curious who was next up. If it was Kansas, I might stick around for a few minutes to see if Bill Self was going to do the presser. I pulled up the PDF, scanned the list for Kansas, and... saw the paragraph about the players being available in the locker room. It was too late, though. Underwood wrapped up about 90 seconds after that (and then the Illini shootaround began about five minutes after that). I complain and I complain about the lack of one-on-one opportunities, and then the NCAA mandates a time for locker room interviews (like it's 1987 and reporters are chasing Pete Rose around the clubhouse), and I missed it. I'm still kicking myself.

But that's not the point of this article. The point of this article is that this was the first public shootaround of the season. Which means it was my first opportunity to see mid-year enrollee Niccolo Moretti. You know, good ol' Ben Trovato.

He didn't participate in the full shootaround. At the end, they concentrate on getting shots for the players who will be on the court tomorrow, so Moretti was doing some rebounding at that point. But any time he was participating, I had my camera out. Which allowed me to make this little video. I'll let you watch it and then I'll give you my thoughts.

Thoughts are always best organized with bullet points.

  • The thing that stuck out to me was his sweet lefty stroke. Those last four shots - those were all four of his shots in that drill. I didn't cut the ones he missed to only show the ones he made. He made all four from that spot. Granted, this is just a shootaround, so a lot of players lose their solid form when they're trying to get off a contested three. But I really liked his form. Great rotation on the ball.
  • During other drills it was easy to watch his form next to others and that's when it really stuck out. Sencire Harris would shoot off of his hip, and then Luke Goode would use is very formal, upright shooting form, and then Jayden Epps would shoot his quick-release shot (while jumping forward), and then Moretti would spin a very fluffy three. They even splashed different.
  • He was also very smooth in the other drills (the ones at the beginning there). Again, just a shootaround with no one guarding you, but he's very fluid. I wouldn't say he's a plus athlete, but from just one shootaround viewing, he appears to have some basketball fluidity.
  • Maybe it was the hair but he kind of reminded me of Brandin Podziemski? Similar lefty stroke.
  • He's not a big guy by any means (listed at 160 lbs.), so he's gonna need some strength before he's ready for Big Ten play. Yes, he hit a lot of threes in the shootaround, and that's something we desperately need next season, but he'll need to get much stronger before he's ready to play defense in a Big Ten game.

Overall, I was impressed. I've already watched the video 10+ times. I'm needing some "yes, we'll have guys who can make threes" reassurance for next season, and Moretti's sweet stroke gives me some hope.

Can he play tomorrow?


jdl on March 16, 2023 @ 08:21 AM

Yeah, shot looks good. Nice and compact so less things to go wrong.

shg@terracorealestate.com on March 16, 2023 @ 03:16 PM

Reminds me of “Lip” from Shamless and the “Bear.”

ILLFAN67 on March 16, 2023 @ 09:00 PM

But can he handle the ball and initiate an offense? Make a pass and hit people in their shooting pockets? If he can shoot that is obviously a plus! We really missed a point guard this year!

AGig21 on March 17, 2023 @ 09:50 AM

it seems more and more the days of the players with the classic Jerry West form are not the best shooters. Something more similar to a set shot with a bit of a push to the release, and with a pure stroke as you say, really nice rotation on the ball. Very similar to the strokes of Trent and Plummer also take a look at Podz stroke.

Schlepper on March 17, 2023 @ 09:57 AM

Since you mentioned him, had to look up Brandin Podziemski. 19.9 PTS/G, 48.3 FG %, 43.8 ??? %. Granted, different competition at UCSB but that kind of production sure would have looked good coming off the bench.

Schlepper on March 17, 2023 @ 09:58 AM

43.8 ??? %

Schlepper on March 17, 2023 @ 10:02 AM

Sorry, trouble posting. 43.8 3Pt shooting percentage

hoopsfan47 on March 18, 2023 @ 12:26 AM

Just a quick impression is that like most kids today, he really does not shoot a jump shot...rather a push shot from the floor. Also, given his current size, when will he have the strength and speed to guard B1G players ?...just an honest question and I hope the answer is NOW. Is he really so much better than Warden who is 3" taller and 20 lbs. heavier? Just another honest question. Not much to gather from the video...but I hope he is the next Bob Cousy as a playmaker.

larue on March 18, 2023 @ 08:38 AM

I expect he is that much better than Warden, who had only a couple of NAIA offers coming out of high school. And with multiple D1 recruits on his high school team plenty of college coaches would have seen him play.

Duce20 on March 20, 2023 @ 09:37 AM

Warden is a wing, Moretti is a true pass first PG. Passing is his number 1 strength then ball handling.

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