On the other team, Patrick Ewing Jr. got off to an outstanding start in the game, showing off his outstanding basketball IQ on both ends of the court, playing excellent man and help defense, picking off passes, fronting the post, getting deflections, and turning his steals into fast break opportunities by pushing the ball himself, even with a shaky handle. On the offensive end, he made an incredible pass from the high post to a cutter for an assist, and also attacked the boards, pulling down rebounds in a crowd. Unfortunately, Ewing went down with an injury to his right ankle 12 minutes into the game, and was in the trainers room on the trainers table with his ankle wrapped up until midway through the second half, where he returned to the bench in sweats with a noticeable limp. Theres no telling how serious the injury is, but itd be unfortunate if Ewing cant play tomorrow, as he really started to show some intriguing things here. Teams we talked to here are quietly starting to look at him as a legit NBA prospect, as they like his size, athleticism, hustle, work ethic and feel for the game. He looks like a lock to get invited to Orlando at this point.
Brian Butch had another nice showing today, recording 14 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals, while doing the bulk of his work in the first half. The former Wisconsin Badger looks very comfortable out on the perimeter, and while he is no threat to create his own shot, he did well as a catch and shoot man today, connecting on a pair of shots from beyond the arc. He also has been showing a good basketball IQ out here, as several times today he made the extra pass that resulted in better shot opportunities for his team.
The mid-range game is where Butch looks like he will be able to create some shots for himself. He was able to face up and knock down shots a couple of times, while also incorporating a good looking fall away jumper when posting up inside. As a big man with good basketball sense, a soft touch and range on his shot, Butch is looking more and more like a player who could find himself invited to a summer league if he goes undrafted. He may have a chance to work himself into a Michael Doleac type role in the pros.
Anthony Morrow showed some nice flashes today while scoring 16 points in 18 minutes. Morrow did the bulk of his scoring from the outside and mid-range where he showed a very fluid pull up jumper. At 65 he is already taller than a lot of the guards at Portsmouth and his strong vertical made it even easier for him to get shots against defenders on the perimeter. On the occasions that he did attack the basket there were mixed results, as a couple of times he forced up tough shots, while on others he showed a great body control and touch when finishing in traffic. Hes mostly known as a perimeter shooter, and he indeed did not disappoint in this area, knocking down 2 of his 4 attempts from beyond the arc.
Defensively, he struggled at times trying to match up with the very offensive minded Gary Forbes, showing questionable lateral quickness getting beat on the perimeter, and not attacking the pick and roll aggressively enough in other instances. This is really the main concern people have about himhis ability to defend his position at the next level, especially considering his lack of strength. His jumper wasnt falling for him quite as well as it has in the past (he has a tendency to rush himself at times), hitting only 1-4 from beyond the arc, but when his team needed a bucket down two points with under a minute left, he stepped up big in the clutch (as he has so many times this season for St. Joes) by draining a huge 3-pointer that ended up playing a huge part in his team staying undefeated and making tomorrows finals. Every NBA person we spoke with seems to have pegged him as the most impressive prospect here in Portsmouth (by a wide margin), and most people seem to think that hes set himself up nicely to get drafted in June. A good showing tomorrow should lock up MVP honors for him.
Not known as a particularly efficient player in college (41% from the field, 29% beyond the arc), Forbes again needed a lot of shots to be effective, something that he might not be able to do at the next level. Hes not terribly explosive vertically, which makes it a bit tough for him to finish around the paint when drawing a crowd. He hesitated to shoot at times when left open, preferring instead to drive the ball wildly into traffic, and turning the ball over in the process. To really have a chance to stick at the next level, he must improve on his perimeter shot, as he just isnt athletic enough to rely so heavily on his slashing game, especially without showing much of a mid-range game pulling up off the dribble, which he has yet to do here. There are also some questions about whether hes quick enough laterally to defend the shooting guard position in the NBA, or whether hes better suited playing the 3. He may be able to help himself by shedding some weight from his thick frame. He does show a very nice activity level and solid toughness getting after rebounds.
Forbes has done a good job convincing people that he may be able to carve out a niche for himself in the NBA down the road with his prolific scoring ability, particularly at his size. He should be considered a lock to be invited to Orlando now, and could end up being drafted if he plays well there.
Weve been hearing from some NBA scouts that they like some of what theyve been seeing from Xaviers Josh Duncan. His 14-point 7-rebound performance today exemplified some of the features of his game that has been drawing him attention. Duncan used his rock solid frame to his advantage today, converting on several strong moves inside. His post game isnt very refined as weve been seeing, but his strength helps him compensate for that. He continued to look comfortable on the perimeter today, although his shot wasnt falling consistently, only dropping in once or twice from the outside.
Duncan did struggle with his handles today, turning the ball over a game high 5 times, mainly when he tried to do too much when attacking the basket. He did however show some promise defensively, guarding the pick-and-roll well out on the perimeter, as well as matching up well when he was forced to cover smaller, quicker players.
Frank Elegar is an intriguing player, standing a little over 69 with the largest wingspan in the camp, while being near the top in athleticism as well. He shows flashes of face-up and post-up moves, making some very impressive plays on occasion, but is still fairly raw as far as skills go. He had some great blocks in the post and on the perimeter today, showed good quickness and timing in pulling down rebounds, and had some very explosive finishes as well.
Jamar Butler also had a nice game today, looking much more comfortable than he did yesterday, finally getting his perimeter stroke going, hitting a variety of spot-up and pull-up shots. He also attacked the basket more than were accustomed to seeing, using screens and taking advantage when his defender didnt have his feet set. He showed a nice right-to-left crossover in the lane on one occasion, and finished at the rim and with runners. He looks like a sure-fire Orlando invite at this point.
Mark Tyndale didnt have quite the outstanding impact he had yesterday, but he flashed some other nice assets, showing outstanding athleticism, good ball-handling skills and the ability to operate as a bit of a point forward, dishing out 5 assists after his 8 yesterday. He showed nice crossovers, hesitation dribbles, and footwork on his drives, and also got out in transition for some nice dunks, though his jumper and shot-selection did not look very good, as has been a problem with him at Temple.
Rob McKiver had a good game here today, scoring 19 points and dishing out 7 assists, showing off a versatile scoring game along with some drive-and-dish ability. He over dribbles the ball at times, though he had an efficient game here, and his team won the game convincingly. He has a very nice stroke on his outside shot, and can hit pull-up shots with a hand in his face, but he forces many tough shots, something he had to do at Houston.
Kyle Hines continued his solid play and had one of the better, albeit quieter, performances of the day. The power forward recorded an extremely efficient double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds on 10-12 shooting from the field and 5-7 shooting at the foul line. The majority of his baskets came on hustle plays around the basket, as he was often able to finish inside with contact. Hines showed his explosiveness on several occasions with powerful two-handed jams when he was given the space to elevate. Our opinion of his ball handling skills hasnt changed since he was stripped on several occasions when attacking the basket, but he did knock down his only attempt from outside the paint, an uncontested 18-footer in the second half.
Defense continues to be where Hines is raising the most eyebrows. He recorded 3 blocks and 3 steals today and was responsible for disrupting several other shots that were taken in his area. He is quick off his feet and as was mentioned yesterday, benefits tremendously here from his freakish length.