Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, Day Two

Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, Day Two
Apr 08, 2005, 05:57 am
Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, Day Two

I took notes on basically every player at the camp today, I'll only publish the best, worst and most high profile players from today, and save the rest for my personal records and maybe a recap of the entire camp when I get home.

Lots of interesting people to meet and talk to from all over the world (there will be some interesting stuff coming in the next few weeks), a very cozy environment and some pretty good basketball to go along with that. I got to the gym at 3 PM for the 3:15 consolation game pitting the two losers from the night before. The losers of this game were going home so obviously there was a lot at stake.

MD Designs, led by Jason Maxiell and Will Conroy went up against Sales System, sort of led by Devin Smith and Juan Mendez but no one really in particular. MD Designs won 90-84 in what was actually a pretty well played game.

MD Designs vs. Sales System

Jason Maxiell, Cincinnati

Despite only measuring out at 6-6, this was another great day for Jason Maxiell. He dominated the game once again, separated himself as clearly the best big man at the camp, and just did whatever he wanted whenever he wanted to, truly one of the nastiest players in college basketball. Or as the scouts like to call him "a bitch" (no joke...that's a good thing, I swear). He has this scowl on his face the entire game, is constantly trying to rip off the rim every time he dunks, and there just isn't a player here that can guard him. He was flying over players the`entire game, elevating and dunking with authority whenever he got the ball in the paint. His vertical leap is just shocking considering how bulky he is. Even when he is shooting (and nailing) the mid-range jumper he just gets up in the air and ends up throwing the ball downwards towards the basket because of how high up he is. No one could keep him out of the paint and he established position and caught the ball whenever he felt like it. He had 14 points in the 1st half, and 20 for the game to go along with 2 blocks and 4 rebounds. I think tomorrow is his final game and that's a damn shame unless you are a big man (or another big man's agent) that's also participating at this camp.

Ivan McFarlin, Oklahoma State

The perfect sidekick for Maxiell, McFarlin seemed as if he hadn't even missed a beat from leaving Eddie Sutton's system at Oklahoma State. He was all over the glass on both ends of the court, scoring all of his points off garbage, but really helping his team with his energy and hustle. He must be one of the scrappiest, hardest working guys at this camp, and considering the talent level here, that's saying an awful lot. He's probably not big, athletic or skilled enough to get drafted (but who knows at this point), but he surely made himself some money tonight with the way he played in front of the European scouts. In a couple of years, after he works a bit on his offense outside of 5 feet, he might be a good guy for an NBA team to bring in if they want to make their team a little bit tougher.

Deng Gai, Fairfield

The loser from the terrific McFarlin-Maxiell MD Designs combo in the post was clearly Deng Gai. For the 2nd straight day Gai did a whole lot of nothing in his time on the court. He only got 19 minutes today (compared with Maxiell's 31) but what he did with those 19 compared with Maxiell's 31 left no doubt that the coach was making the right move considering the fact that the team needed to win in order to play another game. Gai basically got no looks (only two shots to go along with 4 rebounds and 2 blocks) and looked to pass every time he got the ball because of how raw he is offensively. He is still incredibly intriguing because of his size and 9 foot wingspan, but he did not help himself much today. He might be able to get himself an invite to Chicago (he appears to be borderline at this point) based on his potential, but he was already there last year and didn't do a whole lot either. He'll have to take matters into his own hands tomorrow to really make a solid case for himself.

Juan Mendez, Niagara

Mendez had another good game statistically, but not really in terms of convincing the scouts that he'll be able to make the NBA as a 6-7 power forward. He drifted out to the perimeter again an awful lot, trying to show off his range, and nailed a couple of threes, but also missed badly on a few. It was the same thing that happened last game, he fell in love with the outside jump shot, got off to a very slow start, and then made a lot of damage in the 2nd half around the basket where he is clearly a lot more comfortable. Mendez and his team lost today and that's it for them at Portsmouth. It's unclear whether he showed enough to garner another look at Chicago, it will probably boil down to just how crowded the field is.

Carlos Powell, South Carolina

Even though he's going home, Powell might be the most intriguing prospect to be found on Sales System's roster. He's a 6-7 very athletic small forward, with a good body, a nice handle and a knack for getting to the basket. He was clearly having fun today, doing a little bit of everything, making some very athletic moves, and even though he had a couple of nice hook shots rim out for him, he looked like a pretty intriguing prospect that might get some more looks down the road if he continues to develop his perimeter game.

The Dajuan Wagner award

Every day we'll hand out this award to the player that does his best Dajuan Wagner impersonation. This is dedicated to our favorite NBA ballhog, reserved strictly for 2 guards who are masquerading as 1's while refusing to pass the ball to anyone else on their team. Today's award goes out to Jerry Johnson from Ryder, who proved his worthiness by taking the air out of the ball on the perimeter dozens of times and dribbling around for 15-20 seconds at a time before jacking up an off-balance fadeaway jumpshot. His teammates were pleading for the ball, the crowd groaned everytime he touched it, but Johnson just kept jacking em up, even if they sometimes somehow went in. Congrats to Johnson. I'm sure his teammates at Ryder are devastated at him graduating, as are we about his team being sent home.

Will Conroy, Washington

Conroy put himself firmly on the NBA draft radar today with the way he has played and carried himself so far. He was a very borderline prospect coming in here, but made a great case for himself as a solid backup PG to bring off the bench and to have in practice because of his smarts, character, energy, leadership and work ethic. He did a great job getting everyone involved today, mixing his scoring with a good amount of passing, pushing the tempo when needed, getting in the lane, playing solid D, doing a little bit of everything and showing a solid attitude throughout. He's exactly the type of PG you want to have running a team here at Portsmouth. The field of PG's will be pretty crowded at Chicago most likely, but he made a solid case for himself today. He might not get drafted necessarily, but he's got a better chance now at making someone's team which is all he should care about.

Quotes after the game

Jonathan Givony: Great game Will. How did you feel about the way you played today?

Will Conroy: I feel good. I'm alright, I had to play through a little injury. I got kneed in my thigh, that was pretty tough. You need to dupe ‘em right or they were going to hit a few jumpers in my face. Usually when we play at home and they do that I'm gonna climb into em for 94 feet! I wasn't going to do that because I woulda tired myself out trying to, I need to try and stay on the floor.

I got Jason Maxiell, Ivan McFarlinI got some bigs, some real good players, so its easy for me to get the ball backdoor and push and find these guys, make em finish you know. I'm passing it for layups now instead of passing it for threes, on my team I pass it for threes (laughs). I've got Nate and Tre on the wings at Washington, now I'm giving it up for MONSTER dunks. [He's talking about Maxiell obviously]

Jonathan Givony: I thought you showed a great attitude today Will. Is that something you were trying to prove, that you're a team guy?

Will Conroy: Everyone says I'm a natural leader. I've been leading on every single team I've played for. That's not even something I'm trying to doit's just something that I do.

Jonathan Givony: So you guys have one more game now?

Will Conroy: Yep. On Saturday. I'm gonna check out your website in the meantime.

Jonathan Givony: Thanks Will. Looking forward to it.

Quotes from Will's teammate Nate Robinson

Jonathan Givony: Nate, what are you doing here? You're not a senior yet. (laughs)

Nate Robinson: I'm here to see Will play. Just watching him play, see how it is.

Jonathan Givony: Your boy was solid all around today. He did everything.

Nate Robinson: That's what he did for us. All year long.

Jonathan Givony: What are your plans for the next month or so?

Nate Robinson: You know, just working out for teams. Hopefully keep moving up on the draft lists.

Jonathan Givony: Wait, so you entered the NBA draft already officially?

Nate Robinson: Oh no, not yet. I haven't made my decision yet officially. I'm going to make it on Monday.

Jonathan Givony: So you going to go to Chicago again?

Nate Robinson: I probably won't do Chicago again. I might just do the last few days or something like that. However it pans out. Take it how it comes.

Jonathan Givony: Cool Nate. Best of luck with that.

Nate Robinson: Thanks.

Beach Barton Ford vs. Portsmouth Sports Club

T.J Sorrentine, Vermont

I was a bit surprised to see Sorrentine's name on the list of players when the rosters came out, because from the little I had seen of him he did not seem like an NBA prospect at all. He definitely changed my mind about that today, especially when you compare him with a lot of other guys at his position that I thought much more highly of and didn't show squat today. Sorrentine is a very unorthodox PG, he plays the game in a way that's very unique to him, with the way he shoots, the way he pushes the ball, gets in the lane, and the decisions he makes. Today it was all coming together for him, though. He was always upping the tempo of the game, being extremely unselfish and doing a fantastic job of moving the ball around and getting everyone involved. Sorrentine also knocked down a bunch of three pointers to solidify himself as one of the best shooters at this camp. The European scouts around me were especially intrigued, especially when one of them mentioned that he should be able to get an Italian passport because of his family's heritage. He definitely helped himself today, even though he lost.

Quotes after the game

Jonathan Givony: You had a great game tonight T.J. How you feeling right now?

T.J Sorrentine: I feel very good, I feel confident. I'm coming right off the NCAA tournament, so I feel confident. I was just trying to come out tonight and prove myself, show that I can play.

Jonathan Givony: Was being unselfish and getting all your teammates involved something that you planned on doing tonight? Was that something you felt you needed to show the scouts?

T.J Sorrentine: Yeah, yeah. You know, playing for Vermont a lot of people say that I force a lot of shotsbut I had to, we just didn't have that many guys. So I read, made sure I can get in the lane and create, create for other guys, get up and down. I felt like I knew what I needed to do so I just tried to go out there and show that.

Jonathan Givony: Anything else you think you need to show tomorrow, anything we should look out for?

T.J Sorrentine: Just come out and win man, we have to have lenience, its not good that we lost today. I just need to maybe shoot the ball a little better, just keep playing hard and playing good defense.

Quemont Greer, Depaul

Greer may have ended up with a nice statline, but nothing he did today impressed me as far as the NBA draft is concerned. He showed off a very weak handle, very average athletic ability, and he forced things horribly when he was on the perimeter. Maybe I am being too harsh on him considering that he scored 19 points, but I just wasn't impressed by anything he did and still consider him a major tweener.

Chuck Hayes, Kentucky

A pretty solid game from the Kentucky's tweener big man. He showed a very nice handle while slashing to the basket a couple of times, a part of his game that I wasn't really sure about before. He was very aggressive as always, and made some terrific passes to his teammates to end the first half on his way to a triple double with 5 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. He was always somehow around the ball and affecting the game, playing very good defense on the biggest player on the floor, a 6-11 big guy that struggled with Hayes' strength and relentlessness. As usual he did all the little things for his team, in his usual intelligent way, but at the end of the day he's still a 6-6 SF/PF at best. Will it be enough to get him a look at the next level?

Jackie Manuel, North Carolina

The star of the game, and probably of the entire day and maybe tournament so far. Manuel showed off things that we never ever got to see out of him at UNC with the role he was playing. I thought he was a pretty athletic kid before today, but I had no idea just HOW incredibly athletic he is. Manuel was flying all over the place today, getting up to block shots (4) emphatically, finish alleyoop passes (from Sorrentine), bounce back off the floor from his own personal trampoline for offensive rebounds, pinning shots on the backboard after he already trailed by a good 10 feet, finishing the break with a powerful tomahawk jam, etc etc. He was easily the most athletic player we've seen so far, but he also played some outstanding defense, hit a 3 (maybe with a toe on the line but I didn't think so), put the ball on the floor and finished, there was simply nothing that he didn't show. I had to restrain myself numerous times from standing up and going nuts after he made yet another incredible play, reminding myself that I am sitting in the press box and we're not supposed to do that unfortunately. The fact that he managed to play the way he did just 3 days off winning a national championship makes this even more impressive I thought. Manuel put himself firmly on the NBA draft radar with the skills he showed today, leapfrogging a couple of 2 guards who didn't show up at Portsmouth and maybe even doing enough to garner an invite to Chicago if he plays well enough in his next game.

Quotes after the game

Jonathan Givony: Jackie, is it just me, or have you never gotten a chance to show off the things we saw today at any point this year for the Heels?

Jackie Manuel: You know, we had a lot of guys that could score this year, and someone had to sacrifice their game. So I was willing to sacrifice my game in order for us to win.

Jonathan Givony: How hard is it to win a National Championship and then get on a plane the very next day to fight for the right to continue your career as a basketball player?

Jackie Manuel: It wasn't tough physically. I just had to be mentally ready, and I think that was the hardest thing.

Jonathan Givony: Are you still riding that emotional high from Monday? Maybe that had something to do with the way you played?

Jackie Manuel: Naa, that's over with. It's time for bigger and better things now, it's time for me to take over.

Jonathan Givony: What do you think you showed the scouts today that they haven't seen all year long?

Jackie Manuel: My offensive capabilities. They know I can play defense, and I play hard, but they may have thought I was kind of suspect regarding what I can do on the offensive end of the floor.

Jonathan Givony: You seemed kinda bummed Jackie. You're really disappointed about losing, huh?

Jackie Manuel: Yeah. That's not my style. 8-20 you know [Jackie's freshman year under Matt Doherty], that's frustrating. Losing period just takes me back to that time

Jonathan Givony: Gotcha Jackie. Well keep your head up. You played great and still have at least one more game.

Tidewater Sealants vs. Norfolk Naval Shipyard

This game was a horrible blowout, almost from the very start. The gym was basically empty with about 10 minutes to go, so as you can imagine there wasn't a whole lot of impressing going on here after the game was decided.

Lee Cook, Bowie State

This 6-9 or 6-10 kid from Division 2 (CIAA conference) was the only real interesting guy to watch on the losing squad. It's impossible to tell much from such a horrible blowout, but Cook kind of impressed me with his athleticism, soft touch around the basket and from the perimeter and overall smoothness. This is the first time I've ever seen him, but I'm interested to see some more.

Jawad Williams, North Carolina

When questioning some of the agents of players that pulled out of Portsmouth for one reason or another, the counterargument used today was so what did you think of Jawad Williams? Ouch. No real way to answer that, other than hoping that it won't hurt him that much. Jawad didn't help himself with the way he played today. He started the game aggressive, forcing up some tough shots that came up way off (even throwing up an airball) and then basically settling into his semi-normal passive self that we've seen from him so often this year at UNC. He was wide open a couple of times but only half heartedly asked for the ball, which simply doesn't work at a place like Portsmouth where its dog eat dog and you usually need to beg your PG for a look. Nothing was going for him today, we can try and make excuses like well he just won a national championship 3 days ago but we're just better off waiting to see what he does in his next game.

Aaron Miles, Kansas

Can a player impress the scouts at a camp like Portsmouth without even scoring one point? The unanimous answer I got tonight afterwards was yes. Its very hard for me to disagree with that considering how crucial Miles was to his team today. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that he was their MVP with the way he distributed the ball and made everyone better. It's really fun to watch a player give up the ball to his teammate when he's in a good position to score and then basically tell him step by step how to put the ball in the basket, instead of demanding to get the ball right back. All he seemed to care about was making his teammates look good. On the other side of the floor Miles set the tone for his team early by putting great pressure on the ball the second his man crossed half-court and not giving him an inch. Miles was the undisputed leader of his team today, and it was no surprise at all to see him lead them to a blowout with him at the helm.

Quotes after the game

Jonathan Givony: Aaron, very nice game today. How did you guys blow em out like that? Seems like the game was over basically before it started

Aaron Miles: It was all about the team. It was a team thing. We all shared the ball and that was it basically.

Jonathan Givony: To me it seemed like you guys were easily the best team out there today. Do you feel like you guys can beat anybody here?

Aaron Miles: If we play like we did today we have a great chance, that's for sure. As long as we keep playing hard on the defensive end, and we share the ball and play hard on the offensive end then we have a great chance.

Jonathan Givony: Did you mind not playing the point full time? You were playing off the ball a bit tonight, that bother you a bit?

Aaron Miles: No way man. I'm a team player, and our team played great. That's all I care about.

Jonathan Givony: What do you personally think you showed the scouts today?

Aaron Miles: You know for the most part I think that everyone knows my game. I just try to lead, get everyone involved. Control the tempo, play great defense and control the team.

Jonathan Givony: It seems like in terms of your outside shooting you really improved this year, but do you feel like maybe you need to prove that again here in front of the scouts?

Aaron Miles: No, I don't feel like that at all. I think its more about proving things to yourself, being confident in your shot. If I have an open shot I'll take it, if they need me to shoot I'll shoot. If they don't need me to then I won't. My team didn't need me to shoot tonight, we have McCants, Downey, Thomas and others that can do that. I've been working on that a lot, but I know that whatever team I go to I'm not going to be a star, I'm going to be a contributor. So whatever they need me to do I'll do it.

Jonathan Givony: So Chicago, is that your next goal after this?

Aaron Miles: Yeah, definitely. I think everyone here wants to go to Chicago. I think I can get there, I just need to keep playing well. Playing my role.

Jonathan Givony: I think this article is going to show up on the Kansas Rivals site, I know there are a lot of Kansas fans that are really hoping you do well. You have anything to say to your fans back home?

Aaron Miles: Just tell them that I appreciate all the love and the support. Tell them thank you.

Mindaugas Katelynas,UT-Chattanooga

Katelynas is a guy that we were very much looking forward to today, after watching him win the NCAA slam dunk championship with an incredible display of athleticism for a 6-9 player and then the stuff Ryan Blake told us about him being a sleeper at this camp. Katelynas did not disappoint even one bit. He was just as big a part of what his team accomplished today by blowing out their opponents with the way they came out in the first ten minutes of the game. Katelynas knocked down a three from NCAA range to start off the game, and then made some extremely athletic plays around the rim by soaring for rebounds, including a huge putback on the offensive end. He was extremely active around the rim and was hustling like crazy for every minute he was out on the floor. His stroke looked pretty nice even if it wasn't really falling for him. He was very unselfish and showed a great attitude throughout the game. He put the ball on the floor once or twice and looked fine doing so. On one sequence a teammate threw him an alleyoop pass and he went up and slammed it home, but banged his nose on the rim going up to get it. That should tell you just how high he gets up, its pretty amazing to see. Blake was absolutely right about Katelynas being a sleeper. He shows all the raw skills you look for out of an SF in the NBA, and all the athleticism you could ask for and even more. Let's see how he can play in the next few games. He's definitely on the right team to show off his skills.

Quotes after the game

Jonathan Givony: Mindaugas, good job today. You guys gave it to them big time. How'd you blow em out like that?

Mindaugas Katelynas: Play together. Play defense together, offense together, we just have a great team. We don't really care about the numbers, we just wanted to win. We have players here who were captains of their teams, proven, respected guys. My teammates respect basketball. We came out very focused, especially in the first five minutes. Just smart basketball.

Jonathan Givony: Anything in particular you felt you needed to show tonight?

Mindaugas Katelynas: Show? Not really. I told my guys, I run and I rebound. That's all I do.

Jonathan Givony: You see yourself more as a SF or a PF in the NBA?

Mindaugas Katelynas: Small forward.

Jonathan Givony: Any pressure at all to show off your small forward skills?

Mindaugas Katelynas: Pressure? Why would I?

Jonathan Givony: I dunno. It's a 3 day camp for you, you played the 4 in college and the scouts want to see if you have what it takes to play the 3 at the next level. Some guys feel the urge to show off certain skills that they think they have but didn't get to show in the NCAA because of their role on their team.

Mindaugas Katelynas: Oh, well that makes sense. I played the 3 all my life, but I came to the USA and they put me as a 4 and a 5, so I can play the 3,4 and 5.

Jonathan Givony: So what was your goal coming in here? Make it to Chicago?

Mindaugas Katelynas: Of course. That's the goal, to get invited to Chicago. But first of all I need to gain some weight (laughs).

Jonathan Givony: (laughs) Why do you say that?

Mindaugas Katelynas: I dunno, I hate being pushed around.

Jonathan Givony: You feeling the pain right now, you were getting pushed around?

Mindaugas Katelynas: It's not that they were pushing me, its that I want to push back.

Jonathan Givony: (laughs) I was sitting with a lot of scouts from Europe and they seemed to be very impressed. They were like who is this guy they had never heard of you. Were you not very well known when you were playing in Lithuania?

Mindaugas Katelynas: I was a two time U-18 champion with my team, I was the best forward there. And then I came to the USA and I failed my ACT by one point, so I could not get into Division 1, I could not retake it so I had to go to junior college.

Jonathan Givony: Sorry to change the subject but I just remembereddid you hit your face on the rim going up for an alleyoop? I thought I saw that happened and you kept rubbing your nose until you came out.

Mindaugas Katelynas: (laughs)

Jonathan Givony: That's pretty impressive man. Zalgiris? Any interest in returning to play in Lithuania?

Mindaugas Katelynas: They haven't talked to me, but I'm not really trying to play in Lithuania.

Jonathan Givony: Italy, Spain, NBA?

Mindaugas Katelynas: Yeah. Italy, Spain, Russia, if not the NBA of course.

Jonathan Givony: Alright man, I appreciate it. Good luck on Saturday.

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If you would like to watch and judge for yourself who the most impressive players were at the Portsmouth invitational tournament, go to They have all the games online for viewing. The quality of this service is outstanding, you get a crystal clear picture from the best angle possible. These are the same DVD's that NBA teams will be watching when they sit down to evaluate the tournament. There are also many other games online to view, including Martell Webster, Andray Blatche and many others. We'll be using this service extensively in the next couple of months as well, as they are constantly adding games to their database.

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