All-Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, Third-Team

All-Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, Third-Team
Apr 22, 2008, 01:43 am
All-Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, First-Team

All-Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, Second-Team

Reggie Williams, 6-5, Shooting Guard, VMI
16.3 points, 4 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.7 turnovers, 56% FG, 61% 3P, 27 minutes

Jonathan Givony

The #1 scorer in the NCAA over the last two years did not disappoint in Portsmouth, putting the ball in the basket at a very nice rate while doing so on scorching percentages and still finding a way to put his basketball IQ and terrific unselfishness on display throughout the camp.

Not particularly big, strong, or athletic, Williams makes up for his average physical tools with his excellent wingspan and outstanding feel for the game. He has a great knack for finding ways to score points, particularly with his shiftiness slithering his way around defenders, showing excellent body control and hesitation moves operating inside the arc. He’s a very crafty player, lulling his man to sleep and then getting past him before throwing up a pretty one-handed floater (ala Chris Douglas-Roberts), with range that extends out to about 17 feet. His craftiness also shows up in his passing ability, which looked terrific at Portsmouth, and helped him average nearly 4 assists per game as a senior.

Not particularly gifted with his first step, Williams still found ways to get to the basket in VMI’s dynamic dribble-drive motion offense, which led the NCAA in pace and scoring. His versatility was displayed in the way he was able to get points in the post and particularly in transition, where his smarts and instincts really shined the most. His lack of strength and explosiveness does hinder him from finishing around the basket, though, particularly when faced with a good weak-side defender rotating over.

Williams hit 8 of his 13 shots from behind the arc in his three games at Portsmouth, which was an aberration from his season totals over the past two seasons, where he’s hit 119 of 392 attempts, or just 30% in 58 games. He shoots a strange side-winding shot off a short bounce, which at times looks very flat and loses accuracy when shooting off the dribble. Since he’s not a great athlete or shot-creator, he would probably need to be a great perimeter shooter, which he clearly isn’t, even if his Portsmouth performance may give scouts some room for pause.

Defensively, there are serious concerns about Williams’ ability to guard his position in the NBA, as his lateral quickness is average, and his intensity level not good enough to compensate for that. He does have very good length, though, which helps him get in the passing lanes, but this had a lot to do with his team’s gambling style of defense. His length helps him out significantly as a rebounder as well, and he in turn amazingly averaged nearly 10 boards per game, spending significant time at the power forward position for VMI.

All in all, Williams has probably earned himself another look at the Orlando pre-draft camp with his gaudy college numbers and his strong showing at Portsmouth, even if there are quite a few question marks about how his game will translate to the NBA.

Mykal Riley, 6’6”, Shooting Guard, Senior, Alabama
11.3 points, 1.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.3 steals, 2.3 turnovers, 45% FG, 39% 3P, 24.7 minutes

Joey Whelan

Mykal Riley did what he does best last week at the Portsmouth Invitational: shoot from the perimeter. The Alabama sharpshooter attempted 18 of his 29 shots from beyond the arc, approximately the same ratio of three-pointers to two-pointers that he took during the regular season. While his shooting percentage from beyond the arc was somewhat lower last week than during the season, we were still able to see why Riley was such a successful perimeter scorer. Seeing Riley up close though did confirm some of the suspicions we had about him being a somewhat one-dimensional player offensively.

Physically, Riley has an average profile for the off guard spot. He has a thin frame that could stand to add some muscle, but stands 6’5” and possesses very good length. Athletically Riley is solid for a shooting guard, although he can’t seem to do much with his athleticism considering his skill-level. He has solid end to end speed and can get off the floor fairly well despite his lack of strength, but you’d rarely get to know that considering his limitations offensively, as his ball-handling skills are as poor as they come.

From what we’ve seen of Riley both during the season as well as at Portsmouth, he is almost exclusively a perimeter shooter. The majority of his touches come in spot up situations and according to Synergy Sports Technology, when Riley spots up on the perimeter he will catch and shoot without putting the ball on the floor on 80% of his possessions. He also gets over 20% of his shots from being run off screens. While it isn’t common to see a player getting so many shot attempts up without dribbling, Riley has the proven shooting ability to back up his style of play. Of the 101 players who attempted at least 200 three-pointers this season, only 10 had better shooting percentages than Riley did. The senior connected on 43.3% of his 238 shot attempts from beyond the arc.

Riley has very good shooting form and a quick release, which makes him tough to defend if you lose sight of him for even a second. By far his most impressive offensive trait is his ability to catch and shoot while coming off of screens. He does an excellent job of squaring himself up quickly before firing, often seeming to do it all simultaneously. Riley also knows how to use screens to his advantage, showing good understanding of when to curl, cut, or fade off his teammate.

While we stated that Riley typically doesn’t drive to the basket, he will put the ball on the floor and shoot off the dribble. He generally doesn’t get too fancy, often using a quick head fake to throw off defenders trying to close out on his shot, and then simply taking a step in for a closer look. When he is forced into being more creative to shake defenders though, he will often force up tougher shots than he needs to, simply because his ball-handling skills are too poor to allow him to do much of anything off more than a single dribble or two. He is still very effective from the mid-range as a catch and shoot player, but he becomes somewhat inconsistent in his release point when he pulls up to shoot.

Defensively, Riley has plenty of room to improve. His lateral quickness isn’t very good, to the point where even his length doesn’t provide him much help against faster perimeter players. His wingspan does help though when he is closing out on shooters. Though at times he can be a little slow to recover and contest shots, when he does, Riley is a difficult target to shoot over and will block a shot from time to time. Mainly his length helps him intercept passes, as he averaged 1.6 steals per game during the regular season, and over 2 per game at Portsmouth, as well as haul in rebounds. Riley isn’t very strong, but he was able to pull down over 5 rebounds per game for the Crimson Tide thanks to his hustle on the glass. These numbers did drop considerable last week, due mainly to the amount of time he spent away from the basket on both ends of the floor. His lack of strength is likely going to hinder him from being considered anything more than an average defender at best in the NBA, and even that might be a stretch.

Riley didn’t show us any flashes of ability that indicate to us the possibility of him being drafted, but he did however show that he is a solid player who teams might want to keep tabs on for the future. Despite the fact that teams know he is going to primarily shoot from the outside, he is still able to get himself good looks and be a very effective scorer. Certainly, improving his ball handling skills and adding the threat of driving to the rim would only help his stock, especially in the eyes of NBA scouts. Ultimately though, Riley will almost assuredly receive more interest from teams overseas than he will from NBA teams, unless he has a fantastic showing in Orlando.

Chris Lofton, 6’2, Shooting Guard, Senior, Tennessee
20.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steals, 21-46 FG, 11-28 3PT, 7-7 FT

Joseph Treutlein

A player who has seen his stock fall off as much as anyone over the past year, Chris Lofton definitely came to Portsmouth with something to prove, as his play level fell off considerably in his final year at Tennessee. Regarded as a possible late-first rounder a year ago, Lofton chose to return to school, only to see his points per game fall off by about 5 points, his FG% drop from 48% to 40%, his three-point percentage drop from 42% to 38%, and his TS% drop from 64% to 58%.

After a very shaky first game, Lofton got into good form in his second and third games, hitting an array of incredibly difficult shots in both, including a game winning three-pointer in the second game, one of the best plays of the entire tournament. Lofton’s shooting form still looks as good as ever, with completely textbook form and a beautiful stroke; the only thing you can criticize him for is shot selection, as he doesn’t seem to differentiate much between what good and bad shots are. He’s capable of hitting incredible, off-balanced, step-back, contested jumpers from NBA three-point range, but he relies on them too much, and he didn’t adjust his game at all here at Portsmouth, where shots shouldn’t have been as hard to come by.

To highlight just how much Lofton’s shot selection hurts him, we will cite some stats from Synergy Sports Technology, which has logged almost every game Lofton’s played this year. On spot-up jumpers where he’s unguarded, Lofton scores 1.58 points per possession. On spot-up jumpers where he’s guarded, Lofton scores 1.17 PPP. On jumpers off the dribble, he scores 0.84 PPP. But of all his jump shots, only approximately 21% of them are unguarded spot-up jumpers. Looking at these numbers, its clear Lofton could be a much more efficient player with better shot selection.

As for the rest of Lofton’s offense, not much has changed from what we observed in our preseason preview of the SEC. While he shows nice craftiness and the ability to change speeds to get to the basket, along with good creativity and touch with his array of finger rolls, scoop shots, and floaters at the basket, Lofton doesn’t really blow you away with his athleticism and he doesn’t get much elevation in the lane, which doesn’t bode well for this area of his game translating to the next level.

Much is still the same on the defensive end as well, as while Lofton shows a good fundamental stance and puts in the effort, he just doesn’t really have the lateral quickness to consistently stay in front of opponents, and his size will be a definite concern at the shooting guard position at the next level. He doesn’t really have any length to speak of either, which pretty much means that he’s bound to be a defensive liability any way you spell it.

One of the most recognizable players at Portsmouth, being an All-American on a top team in the nation, along with his strong performance here and his previously high stock as early as six months ago, Lofton should be a virtual lock to be invited to the Orlando pre-draft camp, where he can try to continue showing that he can still be as good a player as he was as a Junior. If he can adjust his scoring game by improving his shot selection, he could find a niche in the NBA, and potentially make a roster his first year, similarly to the way Allan Ray did for the Celtics last season. That said, it might be tough for him to stick around, as there are plenty of undersized scoring guards trying to make it in the league. More than possibly any player in this draft, it’s pretty obvious that he’s entering the available player pool a year too late.

Charles Rhodes, 6’9, Power Forward, Senior, Mississippi State
11.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 10-26 FG, 3-8 FT

Joseph Treutlein

After a promising first game where he really played within himself and showed off many facets of his game, Charles Rhodes came out with a gunner’s mentality in game two, forcing a lot of tough shots and really playing outside of his comfort zone. Following that, he was a no-show for game three, with no explanation as to why that was readily available. Regardless, getting in front of this many scouts and executives, showing off his athletic abilities, flashing some of his skills, and measuring out at 6’9 with a 7’ wingspan, Rhodes still may have helped himself with his showing.

While he didn’t show it consistently here, on the offensive end, Rhodes has a compact and efficient face-up and post-up game, operating in the area 5-15 feet away from the basket. In the post, he relies on turnaround jumpers and spinning hooks, while facing up he relies on one or two dribble pull-up jumpers, often fading away, which he can consistently hit. Projecting to the next level, because he’s slightly undersized, he may have some trouble getting off some of his back-to-the-basket moves, but he has the makings of a solid mid-range game in the vein of what Brandon Bass contributes to the Dallas Mavericks.

As for the rest of his offense, he could improve his free-throw shooting, which is at 67%, and could get to the line a little bit more as well. He is an active player off the ball, crashing the offensive glass and making cuts to the basket, where he scores a lot of his 17.4 points per game.

On the defensive end, Rhodes plays active post defense, showing good fundamentals and doing a good job contesting shots over his head, blocking 1.4 per game. He is prone to biting for pump fakes, though, and projecting to the next level, his size is a slight concern. He isn’t tested much on the perimeter, playing power forward and center for Mississippi State.

With his set of physical tools and foundation of skill, Rhodes should be someone we’ll see again at Orlando, where he can attempt to put together a more complete performance that better represents the package he showed while averaging 17.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in the SEC. He’s a solid athlete with a good motor who has a few things he could potentially contribute to an NBA team, so he’s someone we could see in the league next season or sometime down the road, if his game requires a little bit more seasoning first.

Rob McKiver, 6’3”, Shooting Guard, Senior, Houston
15 points, 2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1 steal, 1.7 turnovers, 42.1% FG, 38.5% 3P, 78.5% FT, 25.7 minutes

Joey Whelan

One of the nation’s leading scorers, Rob McKiver had a solid showing this past week at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. The shooting guard, who was by far and away the top offensive option on the Houston Cougars this year, proved to be the most trigger happy member of his team during the three games he saw action. McKiver’s play at Portsmouth was very consistent with what we saw of him during the regular season.

Physically, there really isn’t much about McKiver that translates well towards playing shooting guard in the NBA. At 6’3” he is very undersized for the off guard spot and he doesn’t have great length to compensate for his lack of height. His open floor speed and leaping ability aren’t overly impressive either, something that has hampered him in the transition game from what we have seen. McKiver is a crafty player, though, and his range from the perimeter is almost unlimited at the college level.

McKiver spends most of his time on offense operating behind the three point line. While his 38.6% shooting percentage beyond the arc may not seem incredibly impressive, the fact that he attempted 376 shots from the outside during the regular season explains why his accuracy wasn’t higher: the sheer volume of attempted shots partly dictates the percentage. Attempting over 11 3-pointers per game, McKiver shoots more often off the dribble than he does from spot-up positions. He has a fairly quick release, but because of his size he often needs a little space to get his shot off, so Houston runs a good number of screens for him on the perimeter. What makes McKiver so impressive though is his ability to pull up and knock down shots from beyond even the NBA three point line. It is likely that his shooting percentage would be even higher from beyond the arc, but at times he gets somewhat overzealous with his shooting abilities and will force long shots rather than working for a closer look. His uneven play at times borders on selfish, as he will freeze teammates out and force the entire offense to watch as he dribbles his way aimlessly around the court looking for a way to get his shot off.

When McKiver does attack the basket he fairs pretty well considering his physical limitations. His first step is average, so typically he isn’t going to take most defenders off the dribble unless he gets a mismatch. Despite this lack of speed though, McKiver is a crafty ball handler and knows how to read defenses and attack. His likes to rely on a spin move typically when he gets into the paint, but in general does a nice job of changing direction when driving to the basket. He also appears to have a pretty good knack for knowing how to use screeners to his advantage. Often times McKiver will recognize when a help defender is going to hedge on a screen and will slip between the screen instead, freeing himself up.

Once he gets into the lane, McKiver exhibits nice body control, able to maneuver around defenders with a fair amount of consistency. He also has shown some toughness, able to get bumped and finish anyway from time to time. He runs into trouble when facing longer, more athletic defenders who are able to elevate much better than he can. Despite his ability to protect the ball with his body, a lot of times it isn’t enough since he does elevate exceptionally well. This lack of overall athleticism hurts him in transition too, as several times during the season we saw what should have been easy fast break lay ups for him get blocked or altered by speedy defenders.

Defensively, McKiver isn’t a major presence. He spends the majority of his time on the perimeter, so he typically will only pick up long rebounds that bounce out of the immediate area of the basket. He does have quick, active hands and showed fairly good instincts during the regular season; attributes that allowed him to average 1.6 steals per game. One issue that was apparent during the season and was on display at Portsmouth was the issues McKiver faces when defending taller perimeter players. From what we’ve seen it isn’t that difficult for bigger guards to elevate and shoot over him on a regular basis, not needing much room to get their shot off. His lateral quickness is also a concern, more so on this end of the floor than on the offensive side of the ball. Having just a 6-3 wingspan hurts him greatly in this area.

McKiver certainly is an impressive shooter and a dynamic scorer, but at the end of the day this was done against weaker college competition and on a tremendous number of shots. During the regular season he attempted more than 17 shots per game, which accounted for 27.5% of his team’s field goal attempts on a nightly basis. McKiver is a big time volume shooter who lacks the size, length and athleticism of a true shooting guard; this isn’t the resume of a player who is going to hear their name called on draft night. With that said though, he will likely be invited to Orlando based on the fact that he had a solid showing at Portsmouth. Here he’ll have another good opportunity to impress the swarm of international scouts that will be in attendance.

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