Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (Day Two)

Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (Day Two)
Apr 11, 2008, 02:50 am
Portsmouth Invitational Tournament Recap (Day One)

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Three more games were played today, one a consolation game between the two losers from last night, and two in the nightcap, introducing the last four teams that we had not seen yet. There is very little question at this point that the pullout of 17 of the top prospects hurt the depth of this camp, even if there were still a decent amount of solid performers today, from at least a handful of players that will play in the NBA sooner or later.

It was nice to see that some of those performances came from players that were last-minute additions to the camp, showing the depth of this year’s senior class, which was lauded upon arrival for being one of the best high school classes ever four years ago.

The gym was still absolutely packed with NBA scouts, executives and general managers, as well as a ton of agents, meaning that an interesting conversation was never far away if anyone needed to take a moment to step away from the at-times rough action happening on the court. The networking opportunities alone makes this a very worthwhile trip, and we’ve definitely learned a great deal about this year’s draft class just from listening to the many experts that were all around us at all times.


All the players in attendance were measured upon arrival, and from conversations we had throughout the day, we were able to hear about some of the more interesting figures that came out of there. The longest wingspan of the camp belonged to Drexel’s Frank Elegar, a whopping 7-4 on a 6-9 ½, 215 pound frame. Arkansas’ Steven Hill also measured out extremely long, at a shade under 7-4 to go along with his 7-0 height and 230 pound frame. Ohio State’s Othella Hunter wasn’t very tall at 6-8 ½, but his 7-2 ¾ wingspan more than makes up for that. Bryant Dunston at 7-3 (6-8 in shoes), Patrick Ewing at 7-0 ½ (6-8 ½ in shoes) and Gary Forbers at 6-11 (6-6 ½ in shoes) were also notable. No one measured much shorter than expected—Pat Calathes is 6-10 ½ with an equal sized wingspan, Bo McCalebb is 5-11 ½ with a 6-2 wingspan, Reggie Williams is 6-5 ½ with a 6-9 ½ wingspan, Mark Tyndale is 6-5 with a 6-10 ½ wingspan, Mike Green is 6-2 with a 6-6 wingspan, Chris Lofton is 6-2 with a 6-3 wingspan, Josh Duncan is 6-9 ½ with a 7-foot wingspan, and Charles Rhodes is 6-9 with a 7-foot wingspan.

Day Two Standouts

In the first game of today’s action, the losing teams from yesterday’s two games faced off, with Charles Rhodes being one of the major draws. Unfortunately for Rhodes, he didn’t start off the game playing with the same effectiveness he did yesterday, as he frequently ventured out of his comfort zone, dribbling more than he’s accustomed to and forcing some very tough shots. He came back to earth in the second half, sticking with his bread-and-butter of one or two dribble face-up moves from 15 feet and in, and finished with a solid 13 points and 7 rebounds.

Rhodes’ teammate, Bo McCalebb, also didn’t have the best second day, struggling to go 3-for-12 from the field, even though he showed a lot of encouraging signs. He showed nice changes of speed and direction on his dribble drives, and mixed in some nice explosive ability, but he struggles to make use of them on some of his more complicated sequences of moves, often getting deep in the paint into awkward positions where he isn’t able to take advantage of his athletic abilities. While not a point guard, he showed some nice drive-and-dish plays here today, even though they weren’t always converted for assists. He also played very tough defense for the second day in a row, getting up in his man’s face and showing good hands to pick off passes, getting him 3 steals on the game.

Brian Roberts showed off his credentials as a lights out shooter both from beyond the arc and from mid-range with his picture perfect stroke, only needing a glimmer of daylight to get his shot off, particularly when players dared go underneath screens. He creates separation from his man in the blink of an eye, which is an excellent skill to have, even if the other parts of his game looked like they still need refinement. He had 15 points, 5 assists and just 1 turnover.

On the winner’s side, Jiri Hubalek seemed to come down to earth a bit after his career-night 27 points yesterday, coming up with 9 points to go along with 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks on 4-8 shooting. He once again showed off his very nice looking stroke, complete with a high release point and excellent range, and also looked to be competing very hard once again. It’s more evident though why he struggled the way he did at times in college, though, as his feel for the game and fundamentals clearly aren’t the best you’ll find here, and he at times looks wild with the shots he takes or the passes and plays he tries to execute. He’s a solid player at nearly 7-feet (although with a limited 6-10 wingspan), and could definitely have a nice career in Europe from what we can tell.

Othello Hunter had his second straight double-double, with 18 points and 10 rebounds (and 3 blocks) on 6-9 shooting and a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line. His skill level is clearly limited (particularly his footwork and mid-range jumper), but he finds a way to be productive thanks to his terrific combination of athleticism and length, along with his very high activity level, which goes a long way in this setting. He did a solid job running the floor, cutting to the basket, crashing the offensive glass and doing other little things to help his team out. He’s a guy that could be interesting to keep tabs on in the next few years, particularly if he finds a way to continue to add weight to his skinny 220 pound frame. He definitely still has plenty of upside left to tap into.

Gavin Grant, while not blowing anyone away, has shown flashes of ability that at the very least should making him a potential invite for the Orlando pre-draft camp. Grant scored 15 points on 3-7 shooting from the field and 9-10 shooting from the free throw line, while showing off some of his intriguing athleticism and versatility. His advanced scoring instincts for his size, along with his aggressiveness on offense got him into the lane where he was able to draw contact and fouls against defenders. The mid-range game was where Grant showed some nice promise though, hitting a couple of very smooth pull up jumpers from 15 feet out. His handles were a little sloppy, and will certainly be an area he needs to focus on in the upcoming weeks. Defensively he did not really stand out.

In the second game, we got a look at a new crop of players, headlined by Patrick Ewing Jr. Ewing played his trademark tough defense throughout, getting a lot of weak side shot blocks and steals in man-to-man situations, using his athleticism and anticipation skills well. On the offensive end, he hit one three-pointer, but didn’t show much with his ball-handling skills, looking sloppy on some occasions, but also making good use of a few short dribble drives where he demonstrated his explosiveness. He showed more potential than most players here, and dropped some glimpses at times of being a better player than we were able to see at Georgetown. He’s someone to keep an eye on in coming games.

Joe Crawford was another of the better prospects in this game, particularly in the first half, which he lit up for 16 points on sparkling shooting. He showed a strong scorer’s mentality by taking the ball to the basket well going left or right for some strong finishes (with contact) or a pretty floater, and knocked down a number of shots pulling up from mid-range or beyond the arc. At times he appeared to be forcing the issue in the second half, finishing the game with 19 points on 6-14 shooting. Showing more of an all-around game in his next two outings would probably be beneficial.

Kyle Hines looked very impressive today, particularly on the defensive end where at points he was simply bullying the opposition. Despite being 6’6” and spending most of his time in the paint, Hines was able to block 4 shots in impressive fashion thanks to his solid leaping ability and freakish 7-2 wingspan. He added 5 rebounds and 3 steals as well thanks to sheer hustle and impeccable timing. Hines was asked to guard a variety of players ranging from out on the perimeter where he was able to stick with the guards, and body up Brian Butch on the block. Offensively Hines netted 11 points, more so due to his aggressiveness than his advanced skill set. He had three put backs in close, including a thunderous dunk, but didn’t score from outside the paint at all. On his one real attempt from outside the immediate area of the hoop, he was stripped of the ball while trying to drive baseline. Hines did however show some nice quickness facing the basket from the high post, able to spin past a defender early on for an easy basket. While his aggressiveness, basketball IQ and defense are great, in the long run his size and lack of perimeter abilities is likely going to hurt him.

Brian Butch did his thing on the pick and pop and finishing inside, to the tune of 17 points and 7 rebounds. Nothing he does is particularly graceful, but he looked very effective, especially with his perimeter stroke.

Mykal Riley is someone who had a good game here today, scoring 15 points with 4 assists and 3 rebounds, doing a little of everything for his team. He hit three threes, but also showed off some slashing moves he isn’t that well known for, and played aggressive defense, showing good hands on occasion.

Reggie Williams was the game’s leading scorer at 22 points on 9-13 shooting (4-5 from beyond the arc)—showing those in attendance that he did not lead the country in scoring by accident. He was awesome coming off screens and knocking down shots, despite his strange mechanics. He also displayed better athleticism than we may be giving him credit for by finishing a thunderous alleyoop lob, and also showed a nice basketball IQ and solid unselfishness by making a number of excellent passes to open teammates (helping him net 6 assists). We’ll be keeping a close eye on him for the rest of his game, even though his average lateral quickness and ball-handling skills may limit his NBA potential in the long-run.

In the third game, Longar Longar stood out, looking more athletic than many previous thought he was, according to scouts we spoke with. His athleticism was evident, as almost every positive contribution he made was solely based on it, be it his four emphatic dunks or his four impressive weak side blocks. In terms of fundamental skills, he struggled with any back-to-the-basket moves he attempted. He was wise to stick to his bread and butter—the things that may get him in the league, but we’d like to see some better rebounding in the next game.

The best prospect on the floor may have been Butler point guard Mike Green, who is slowly emerging as the Jose Juan Barea/Dashaun Wood style floor general extraordinaire that seems to pop up every year here. Green was terrific running his team’s offense today, coming up with 10 assists to go along with 13 points and 8 rebounds on 3-8 shooting, but was just as impressive with the leadership skills he showed on and off the court directing his teammates from the bench, clearly something that is in his blood with how natural it comes to him. He was very good in transition, was effective setting screens and making his teammates better, changing directions well and using his strength to get to the hoop, and set the table in a variety of ways, particularly with smart post-entry passes. He also played solid defense and looked very intense throughout. While his physical tools or perimeter shooting ability may not be ideal, there is no question that he is one hell of a player.

Long-term, there may not be a player with more upside seen today than Auburn forward Quan Prowell. He was a monster around the rim with the way he elevated and finished strong, playing extremely hard, looking very active, grabbing rebounds, and finding ways to get the job done. His skill-level at this point isn’t incredibly high when you look at his advanced ball-handling ability or streaky perimeter shot, the talent and physical tools are clearly there in abundance, making him a guy to keep an eye on in the next two games and moving forward. He’s another guy that was invited very late but really took advantage. He scored a game-high 19 points on 8-19 shooting.

Chris Lofton struggled in his first game here, forcing some tough shots inside and outside the arc, and not having much success in the early going. He heated up late in the game, hitting a three-pointer and a nice lefty finger roll, but didn’t look very good overall, finishing with 12 points on 12 shot attempts.

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