I already knew upon arriving at Portsmouth who was going to be on my team for the week. They included the likes of Landon Milbourne (Maryland), Ishmael Smith (Wake Forest), Zach Peacock (Georgia Tech), Gavin Edwards (Connecticut), Obi Muonelo (Oklahoma State), Reggie Holmes (Morgan State) and Jermaine Beal (Vanderbilt).
I thought my squad was pretty legit, but not knowing each other or ever playing with on another was a definite downfall to the team; we only won one game. I became most close with Gavin and Obi over the week. Gavin and I share the same agent in Chris Emens of Octagon. With that commonality amongst us, you could say we naturally came together. As for Obi, he was just a well-liked guy by everyone; he never had anything negative to say, and was always positive toward all of his teammates, much respect to him.
I really didnt know what to expect out of Portsmouth. We played at a fairly large high school gym that seemed to fill up for each game. The thing that struck me as the funniest over the weekend were the ball boys; these kids had no shame. They would literally ask for autographs while players were warming up. After each game they wanted your shoes, shirts, shorts, anything they could get their hands on.
I remember joking with Gavin on the squad saying the kids would run up and down the court during game play just to get an autograph if they were allowed to. But I had no problem with any of it. No matter what Sir Charles says, these kids definitely look up to us and see us as their role models. When I was younger I wanted to be just like James Cotton who played at Long Beach State; so I understand what it means to these kids when they receive a simple autograph.
The great John Wooden once said, failure to prepare, is preparing to fail. So, I decided to come into the invitational with a game plan. Growing up and being in all kinds of all-star type games, I know a couple things; first, everyone wants to score and second, no one plays any thing close to the resemblance of defense.
Therefore, banking on the fact that scouts and general managers are pretty smart guys when it comes to this whole basketball thing, they want to see characteristics of players other than scoring. Think about it, if you are invited to an event such as this, you had to have been a decent scorer on your respected squad, so everyone knows you could score already.
With all of that in mind, my plan was to play every play as hard as I could, do little things to help the team win such as rebounding, playing good DEFENSE, talking on the court, sprinting the floor, find open guys for the best shots, and if I had a decent look, shoot/score the ball.
Overall, I felt I did all of what I wanted to accomplish pretty well. I averaged 13.3 points, 6 boards, and 3 assists. While those numbers dont strike out as remarkable, after doing all the stuff that doesnt show up in a box score along with that stat line, many felt I had a very good tournament. I definitely felt it was a success, and definitely didnt hurt me in anyway in terms of my stock.
Randle has always been a great passer, but in college he was a score first type point guard. His handle is beyond ridiculous and I promise you he can shoot a few feet inside the half court line with ease and knock it down fairly consistently. However, at the camp he became a pass first point guard. He reminded me of when Sebastian Telfair was in the McDonalds All-American game and was going for the assist record. I had never seen Randle play this way before.
He came in with the same mind set as I did; scouts already knew he could score the ball--that was no secret--he wanted to show his ability to do other things, specifically create for others. Randle has always been capable of this, but at the camp he showed it consistently and made it look easy. Every once in a while he would reveal his sweet stroke and rock-solid handle, but he was practically involved in all of his teams plays and was dropping some serious dimes.
Not to mention, for how big Torrance was, he has legit handle; no one was taking his ball away. There were a couple plays where he would get in the lane and explode up, but in mid-air would shift the ball around away from defenders hands and score easily. He reminded me of Russell Westbrook a little bit. His ability to score and break down his defenders was most exciting for me to watch.
As I said before, in my eyes, I had a good tournament. It was a great opportunity to go up against the best seniors in the land and showcase my talents in front of NBA scouts.
For my next blog, Ill give you an inside look to my everyday training that I go through in order to get my game as best as it can be before workouts start for different NBA teams. Ill catch yall next week.