Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, Day One

Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, Day One
Apr 08, 2010, 01:54 pm
We’re back in Virginia once again for another Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, a historic camp in its 57th edition, intended to showcase the top 64 NCAA senior draft prospects for all 30 NBA teams.

-Official Website/Boxscores
-DraftExpress Preview
-Portsmouth Recap, Day One

The camp did not suffer as many last-minute pullouts as it usually does and seems to have a decent amount of NBA prospects in attendance, although the weakness of this year’s NCAA senior class can obviously be felt. The turnout of NBA teams is as strong as ever, with pretty much every team represented and a huge amount of familiar faces seen throughout the tiny high school gym where the tournament is held.

We’ll try to come up with an inventory of the NBA executives that are in attendance tomorrow.

The first day mostly centered around getting into town, reconnecting with the huge amount of basketball industry members (NCAA coaches, European scouts, NBA people, plus every agent and runner in America is seemingly here) walking around and putting faces to the names of those players we aren’t too familiar with. Only two games were conducted—neither of which were particularly competitive-- with another three days of action still to come.

Duke’s Brian Zoubek, fresh off winning a national championship just two days prior, pulled out at the last minute. Most NBA scouts, while slightly disappointed, seemed to understand his decision, as he’s likely exhausted after a deep NCAA tournament and probably helped his draft stock about as much as he could over the past month.

Lazar Hayward of Marquette and Tennessee’s J.P. Prince also elected not to show up, as did Louisiana Tech’s Kyle Gibson. While some people thought Hayward should have been here considering that he’s far from a lock to be drafted, he has been seen quite a bit over the course of his Big East career and probably wouldn’t change the needle on his stock either way. Prince drew some groans for pulling out (“he lost any goodwill he built up [in the NCAA tournament]” in the words of one NBA executive), as he clearly was not going to be one of the top prospects in attendance, but apparently would have failed to graduate had he missed any more classes this semester. Gibson is reportedly injured but was a borderline invite at best regardless.

Day One Evaluations

Ryan Thompson, 6’6, Shooting Guard/Small Forward, Rider
37 Points, 14/20 FG, 4/5 3FG, 3 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 0 Turnovers

Rider wing Ryan Thompson (brother of Sacramento Kings’ Jason Thompson) had the most impressive showing of the day, scoring 37 points on 20 shots and leading his team to victory. Coming off a fairly disappointing senior season, in which he was forced to play primarily at the power forward position, this was clearly an ideal way for Thompson to get the draft process started, and should get him plenty of invites to private NBA workouts in turn. Thompson was discussed earlier on in his career as an intriguing draft prospect, but seemed to regress over the past two seasons, which robbed him of much of the buzz he had playing alongside his lottery pick brother Jason.

He scored from all over the floor today, showing a diverse offensive arsenal in the process: an improved perimeter stroke, the ability to create separation and opportunities from mid-range, and slashing abilities. He utilized his size advantage and touch around the basket particularly well to compensate for his lack of an ideal first step. He played very much within the flow of the offense, only forcing one or two shots of his 20, all while finding his teammates and moving very well without the ball. Even though he scored 37 points and took 20 shots, Thompson looked like an ideal role player, showing his high basketball IQ, scoring instincts, and his unselfishness in an impressive victory.

He also did a solid job on defense, though his average lateral quickness was evident at times in this setting.

Thompson is by no means a complete player, however, and is still hampered by many of the problems that plagued him in college. He does not get any elevation on his jump shot and still has question marks revolving around his poor shooting performance (32% 3P) this season. His handle is not particularly polished as well, which limits his creativity in the half court offense. His first step is nothing special and he probably can’t be described as anything more than an average athlete at best. It looks like he could stand to shed a good 10-15 pounds, which might help maximize his physical potential.

Coming off of a forgettable season where his numbers and efficiency plummeted, Thompson emerged as a player to watch in this setting. He may not be an outstanding NBA prospect due to his lack of ideal physical tools, but he is a smart, unselfish and skilled swingman with nice size who we will continue to evaluate as the week goes on.

After four years as a shot-blocking specialist at Rutgers, long, athletic 6’11 center Hamady Ndiaye had a solid first game (10 Points 5/8 FG, 10 Rebounds, 2 Blocks, 2 Turnovers) at Portsmouth.

On defense, he played with energy and used his solid lateral quickness, timing, and length to alter more shots than his two blocks indicate. He even was a factor on the boards and boxed out on most defensive possessions, which was interesting given his sub-par rebounding numbers at Rutgers.

On offense, he had a couple of nice jump hooks, but his poor hands, non-existent ball handling ability, questionable instincts, and raw skill set are severely limiting factors, even if he does finish well around the basket. His conditioning also looked poor as he struggled to get up and down the court after a few minutes of intense effort.

He is a player worth watching in this setting, however, considering his size, length, shot-blocking ability and the effort level he brings to the table, things that are in rare supply amongst 6-11 centers, and surely helped himself in his first game.

-Aubrey Coleman had a bit of an up-and-down first game here at Portsmouth, on one hand showing off his outstanding scoring instincts and ability to put the ball in the basket from all areas of the floor, but on the other having an awfully tough time adapting to playing team basketball, constantly over-dribbling for long stretches, showing massive tunnel vision, and just really not playing within a team concept offensively at all. He finished the game with 19 points on just 9-for-23 shooting, with three turnovers to boot. His team also lost handily 114-82, and wasn't in it from the very early going.

While Coleman pulled off some very impressive moves, hitting a variety of tough shots off the dribble with a hand in his face, his reluctance to adjust his game to this setting is something he must continue to work on. That said, it appears this is just the only way Coleman knows how to play basketball, as opposed to being selfish, and he also did a good job of helping his team in other ways, attacking the glass, hustling for loose balls, and making plays defensively.

The parallels between him and Jermaine Taylor, one of the best players here last year, are certainly evident, and even if Coleman doesn't show any progress playing within a team offense, a team could certainly take a flyer on him early in the second round to try and mold him into a scoring weapon off the bench.

-A.J. Slaughter had a phenomenal game here to start the week off, scoring 28 points on a ridiculous 10-for-12 shooting from the field (to go along with 4-for-5 from three and 4-for-4 from the line). He also chipped in 5 assists and 2 steals, playing a good all-around game, hitting shots and slashing to the basket, playing within the team offense and showing off nice athletic ability. He doesn't appear to be a true point guard, and probably isn't a player that's going to be on the draft radar, but continued play like this will certainly make people notice, and at worst should help himself get NBA workouts and improve his European prospects.

DeShawn Sims had a rough game to start things off, putting up solid numbers with 16 points on 8-for-17 shooting to go along with 9 rebounds, but his team got crushed 90-56, with the game being out of reach within five minutes of tip off. Sims did most of his damage finishing with athleticism in transition, while he struggled in the halfcourt, settling for tough fade-away jumpers from mid to long range, and not doing must damage in the post. He did a good job hitting his spot-up shots from 15-to-20 feet, but clearly needs to improve on his shot selection, as he's way too inaccurate with some of the shots he frequently relies on.

-Jeremy Lin had a solid first outing, showing his excellent feel for the game, unselfishness and court vision, particularly in transition finding teammates creatively. Lin struggled a bit at times to get by his man and finish around the basket, as his physical tools appear to be just average, but his size and playmaking ability were clearly evident. Lin didn’t score much, converting just 4-9 from the field to go along with his six assists, and might need to show more potential as a perimeter shooter after making just 34% of his 3-pointers this season. That might be easier said than done playing alongside the very ball dominant Aubrey Coleman though, as there were quite a few possessions where he was just standing around watching Coleman dribble.

Marqus Blakely may not have put up eye-popping statistics (6 points, 8 rebounds, 19 minutes) in his team’s blowout 90-56 victory, but he provided quite a bit of intrigue in a very dull game, showing some of the best physical tools of any of the players in attendance. Blakely is a chiseled 6-6 athlete who competes on every possession, crashes the glass hard and has terrific potential on the defensive end. His perimeter skills appear to be a serious work in progress, but he seems to be a smart and unselfish player who is still very far from being a finished product at this point in time. If anything, Blakely got his name written into the notebooks of a couple of NBA scouts who previously weren’t familiar with him, and possibly earned himself a couple more workouts in the process. We’ll keep watching him as the week moves on.

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