Portsmouth Invitational Tournament: All-Third Team

Portsmouth Invitational Tournament: All-Third Team
Apr 17, 2009, 12:46 am
Alonzo Gee, 6’6, Small Forward, Alabama
11.0 points, 6.3 points, 3.3 assists, 3.0 steals, 1.3 turnovers, 14-31 FG, 5-12 FT

Joseph Treutlein

Since the last time we wrote about him, not much has changed with Alonzo Gee, as his junior and senior stat-lines are nearly identical, while he hasn’t added much to his game skill wise. Gee did a good job showing off his strengths here at Portsmouth, playing unselfishly with a high motor and really making good use of his physical tools (measured in at 6‘6.5 in shoes with a 6‘10 wingspan).

Offensively, Gee has shown flashes of skills in all areas for awhile, but he’s yet to put it all together to create a complete package. His True Shooting percentage is a very disappointing 51%, with few legitimate draft prospects in our database ranking below him. Gee’s lack of three-pointers and poor free-throw shooting both heavily contribute to this number, so improving his shot, both from the field and the line, should be among his priorities. As has been the case for some time, when spotting up, Gee is actually not a bad shooter, averaging 1.13 points per possession on catch-and-shoot jumpers according to Synergy Sports Technology, however he falls off to an abysmal 0.65 PPP on off-the-dribble jumpers. The good news for Gee here is that if he is able to claw his way onto an NBA roster, he’s not going to be burdened with being a team’s go-to option as he was at Alabama, where he actually took more shots off the dribble than he did spotting up, a big cause for his horrible efficiency.

While Gee’s shot should be the top item on his to-do list, he could also work on being a better finisher at the basket, as in spite of his excellent physical tools, he doesn’t show great creativity, struggling when dealing with weak side defenders. Gee also doesn’t have the greatest footwork or change of direction ability in the lane, not showing much ability to slide around defenders, often leading to awkward situations or turnovers. His ball-handling shows nice flashes here and there, using crossovers in combination with his excellent straight-line speed and explosiveness, but he’s probably best off playing as an opportunistic slasher on and off the ball when a lane opens up, a role he’ll need to adjust to.

Gee helped himself the most at Portsmouth by showing how he can adjust to not being his team’s offensive focal point, a role he seemed immediately more comfortable with. By playing unselfishly, looking for his teammates on offense, while putting in extra effort throwing his body around and deflecting passes on defense, Gee had a very strong impact in his team’s games, while also contributing a bit in the scoring column, albeit still probably trying to create too much, leading to some awkward shots. Gee also threw his body around in the lane, attacking the glass on both ends of the court, something he’s capable of contributing well from the small forward position.

Defensively, Gee still has many of the problems he had last year, losing focus at times off the ball while showing inconsistent fundamentals on the ball, not always staying in a low stance. In spite of this, his lateral movement still seems pretty good, though he may have some problems against NBA small forward if he doesn’t polish up his form and really buckle down on this end of the floor. As shown here at Portsmouth, Gee is a huge threat in the passing lanes when he’s putting in the effort, possessing the size and athleticism to really break up some plays, though he hasn’t always been consistent in applying that effort.

Looking forward, Gee is probably still on the outside of the second round bubble, but he may be in some team’s discussions. With his physical brand of basketball and NBA caliber body and athleticism, he’s likely someone teams may want to get an extra look at, which should give him some opportunities to show what he’s capable of. Regardless of if he’s drafted, Gee should have a few chances at making a team’s roster through training camps and summer leagues, and if he can adjust to being a role player similarly to the way he did here at Portsmouth, while also putting in some work on his shooting over the summer, he may find his way into the league, if not now, then possibly after a few couple of years of seasoning overseas.

Tyrese Rice, 6’1, PG/SG, Boston College
12.6 Points, 6.3 Assists, 2.6 Rebounds, 1.6 Steals, 3.0 Turnovers, 41.2% FG, 41.2% 3FG

Matt Williams

One of the higher rated prospects attending the PIT, Tyrese Rice had a quiet albeit productive week, but was playing noticeably out of character. Known for his scoring prowess in the ACC, Rice looked to function more as a facilitator, only showing the shoot-first mentality we’re used to seeing from him when his team fell behind significantly –which is did in each of the first two games. Though he didn’t take over like some may had expected him to coming in, he had three very solid games and built upon the strong body of work he had coming in.

The time Rice spent in Portsmouth put an interesting perspective on the tools we’ve elaborated on in past reports. Though he ranks amongst the top assist-men in our database, he also found himself amongst the most turnover prone thanks in large part to just how heavily Head Coach Al Skinner relied on him to dominate the game. Rice didn’t have to do much scoring in Portsmouth and picked his spots well, which is represented in how efficiently he distributed the ball. While he did force a couple of drive and dish attempts, Rice looked extremely good running the point in a more conservative fashion than we’ve seen from him, and masked the fact that he doesn’t have great court vision. Moving forward, Rice will need to cut down significantly on his turnovers to achieve his potential as a point guard.

In addition to his solid passing ability, Rice showed the same scoring ability he did during his college career. A capable catch and shoot threat, he shot the ball well from the perimeter all week, knocking down numerous catch and shoot jumpers and pull ups –many of which were contested. He developed the ability to knock down tough shots from the perimeter during his time at BC, and that skill should serve him well wherever he lands next season. His shot selection was better than we’re used to seeing and he did a nice job balancing his responsibilities as a scorer and passer here. Unfortunately, the news on the offensive end isn’t all good, and Rice showed some concerning weaknesses in the three games of his we got to see.

Much of Rice’s offensive production in the NCAA was predicated on his ability to get to the rim, and in turn, the free throw line. While he does show an excellent first step, his finishing ability is going to diminish significantly on the next level. A bit on the short side, Rice doesn’t compensate for his height with great strength, length or leaping ability, which means his ability to score in the lane doesn’t project well to the NBA game. Whether Rice can develop the short range game to overcome the problems he’ll face as a finisher will determine his long-term efficiency as a scorer.

On the defensive end, Rice didn’t show the greatest intensity, which isn’t a great sign considering he could really have benefitted from a good showing on that end. Considering his history, Rice is being viewed as number one option with underdeveloped skills as a role-player. That designation doesn’t bode well for his NBA future, but still puts him in excellent position to excel in Europe or the D-League. Should Rice overcome some of his weaknesses or improve his shooting consistency, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rice in the NBA at some point down the road.

Michael Bramos, 6’5, Shooting Guard, Miami (OH)
25.3 Minutes, 9.7 Points, 2.0 Rebounds, 2.7 Assists, 2 Steals, 1 Block, .3 Turnovers, 42.9% FG, 33% 3FG

Matt Williams

After coming on strong as a junior, Michael Bramos capped off a strong senior campaign with a nice week in Portsmouth. A powerfully built wing with very solid overall athleticism, he was one of the more impressive players in attendance, looking very comfortable playing a complementary role. Unlike many of the other participants in the PIT, Bramos didn’t force anything, which allowed him to perform well and give his professional stock a boost in the process.

The best things Bramos showed this week were good decision-making ability and a high motor. Never known as a great ball handler during his time in Oxford, Bramos never tried to drive into the heart of the defense, earning his trips to the rim in other ways. He ran the floor relentlessly in transition, moved well without the ball, and worked well off of his teammates. His shot selection looked substantially better than it did during his senior season, and he showed good defensive effort. The savvy and high basketball IQ Bramos displayed allowed him to effectively display nearly all of his strengths in the three games he played in.

Though Bramos managed to get some looks at the rim by working hard off the ball, he remains limited as a ball-handler. If Bramos is to improve in the short-term, the easiest way for him to do so would be by improving his ability to create his own shot. He didn’t force any drives in Portsmouth, which shows that he fully understands his limitations, but he would benefit from the versatility improved ball-handling would provide him. There were a couple occasions where Bramos received the ball with the shot clock winding down, and he had a tough time shaking his defender to create a good look.

Essentially a power guard, the 221-pound Bramos looked good scoring from the inside and outside this week. Bramos can hit the three, but his form isn’t ideal, his release is a bit deliberate, and his consistency still needs to improve. He’ll hit some open shots, but should definitely take the time to become a bigger threat from beyond the arc. Bramos did show decent consistency when he got looks around the basket, showing good body control and playing above the rim when the opportunity presented itself. Considering his excellent build, the fact that Bramos is willing to aggressively attack defenders at the rim should serve him well as a pro.

Outside of his scoring, Bramos also showed his basketball IQ in the way he moved the ball on the perimeter. A smart passer with good court vision, Bramos did a good job making the extra pass and hitting the open man. His unselfishness will certainly earn him some playing time as he develops the other parts of his game. The same can be said for his defense.

Bramos showed excellent intensity on the defensive end, and while he has only average lateral quickness, his incredibly long arms (6-11 ¾ wingspan) and excellent work ethic make him quite a stopper. Few wing players block shots as well as he does, and his excellent awareness and discipline are apparent in the way he doesn’t take risks or miss many rotations.

At this point, Bramos has a number of very intriguing qualities, which, combined with his Greek passport, make him an excellent prospect for European basketball. If he puts in the work to add more variety to his offensive arsenal, he could be a very effective player on a high-level.

Diamon Simpson, 6’8, Power Forward, St. Mary’s
7.3 points, 10.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 2.3 steals, 1.7 blocks, 1.3 turnovers, 9-26 FG, 4-8 FT

Joseph Treutlein

After an outstanding start to the Portsmouth Invitational in his first game, leading one scout in attendance to compare him to Chuck Hayes, Diamon Simpson trailed off over the remaining games, having some of his weaknesses exposed. Still, Simpson is definitely someone we need to take a more extended look at, given his production in college and seeing how he measured in at an impressive 6’8.5 with a 7’0.75 wingspan.

Physically, Diamon Simpson is big enough to play the PF position in the NBA, as many undersized 4’s have shown over the past few years. In addition to his solid length, Simmons brings very good mobility and coordination to the table, being a smooth athlete, albeit not a terribly strong or explosive one.

Looking at his offensive game, Simpson is not incredibly skilled, being more of a hustle player who does most of his damage finishing around the basket, either off of cuts, by getting out in transition, or crashing the offensive boards. Simpson’s persistence and motor in general are outstanding, as he gets involved in a lot of plays and is very active in the painted area. While Simpson finished pretty well at the NCAA level, he has some problems projecting to the NBA here, as he isn’t able to power up in a crowd very well, not possessing great vertical explosiveness. Against tougher competition, both in the season and here at Portsmouth, this led to a lot of blocked shots and missed around the basket, as Simpson doesn’t really have the finesse game to step back and compensate for his lack of explosive power in side.

With his post game, Simpson shows very nice footwork and mobility, being able to maneuver adeptly around the paint and back his man down or turn to face in for short baseline drives. However, he lacks range on his moves, not showing much touch as he gets farther away from the basket, not really possessing a reliable hook shot or turnaround jumper. With his baseline drives, Simpson has decent enough ball-handling for straight-line drives and a good enough first step to take his man often, but his lack of explosiveness around the rim leads to some tough shot attempts, which only pose to get worse projecting to the next level.

Simpson’s jump shot is also not very formidable, as he has wildly inconsistent mechanics, with a release point that’s all over the map and a shooting motion that varies from an overhead release to a line drive with a few other things in between. His accuracy is reflective of his inconsistent mechanics, and it carries over to the free-throw line where he shoots a poor 58%.

Defensively, Simpson shows some promise, having a good motor and making a lot of plays, as evidenced by his 1.7 steals and 1.6 blocks per game on the season, however he’s prone to gambling at times. As a man defender, Simpson’s instincts are questionable on the perimeter, and his fundamentals aren’t always great, though he appears to have the lateral quickness to stick with power forwards, but not small forwards. In the post, Simpson has very strong fundamentals, keeping his hands up and forcing tough shots well, however he’s prone to being backed down and beat with quick moves at the NCAA level, something that projects as more of a problem in the NBA.

Looking forward, Simpson would appear to be fighting an uphill battle to be drafted, given his underdeveloped skill set and lack of standout athleticism or size, but he should get some opportunities to make a roster, and a team may fall in love with his motor. Still, to find a long-term place in the league, Simpson will undoubtedly have to put in a lot of hard work polishing his skills, but if he is unable to, he should be able to have quite a successful career overseas.

Courtney Fells, 6’5, SG, North Carolina State
11.3 Points, 3.0 Rebounds, 1.7 Assists, 1.3 Steals, 1.3 Turnovers, 35.1% FG, 41.7% 3FG, 42.9% FT

Matt Williams

Sitting near the back-end of our senior rankings, Courtney Fells came into Portsmouth with everything to gain. After seeing his productivity improve only marginally during his last three seasons at North Carolina State, the offensive minded guard needed a string of big performances to get his name back on the map. He came out extremely strong on day one, and while he had a very poor game to close the tournament, very few NBA decision-makers were in attendance to see it. Though he’s not much of an NBA prospect, Fells had a nice week and may have made himself some money overseas by standing out on the first day.

The biggest factor playing against Fells from an NBA perspective is his lack of elite athleticism. Though he has a strong, lanky, build highlighted by good upper body strength, he doesn’t have great speed, quickness, or leaping ability. In projecting his game to the next level, it becomes obvious that his lack of athletic ability doesn’t fit well with what NBA teams look for. While his limitations would be apparent in some settings, he looked entirely comfortable at the PIT, and shouldn’t have much trouble in the European game either.

Fells’s best asset is his sweet outside shooting stroke. A gifted catch and shoot player with good range and a smooth release, Fells shot the ball extremely well from the perimeter almost all week. Though he went 0-5 in a blowout on the final day of the Invitational, he went 5-7 in the first two contests, looking very comfortable hitting shots moving to his left and showing good footwork. His 1-14 performance in that last game wasn’t a great representation of the week he had, as he was making an obvious effort to get going by forcing some looks. Throughout his career in Raleigh, Fells had his share of ups and downs, and this week was another reminder of what can happen when he is trying too hard to get involved.

Fells did shoot the three well for a stretch this week, but the problems he’s had inside the arc have plagued him since he left high school. An extremely questionable ball-handler, Fells seemed to dribble into trouble nearly every time he put the ball on the floor. This was especially obvious in the last game, where he repeatedly looked to get to the rim, but failed to create any good looks for himself. Considering he’s not blessed with great quickness, his weak handle is holding back the rest of his game rather significantly at this point –since he can’t create separation when well defended. Fells did knock down a couple of shots off the dribble, seeming rather comfortable pulling up when he had time and space to operate –a sign that improved ball-handling could make his midrange game a weapon down the road.

That weakness could be viewed as a biggest problem when one considers that Fells isn’t a great passer or rebounder. Though he showed good court vision in the first contest of the week, Fells is simply not a playmaker. He did make an impact defensively, compensating for his lack of lateral quickness with consistent intensity. Not a prolific defender statistically, he didn’t take many risks this week and could be a very solid defensive presence in the right system.

If Fells had sustained his performance for the duration of the week, he very easily could have earned himself some buzz, but the fact that he was less and less effective as the week went on highlighted his weaknesses. Considering the fact that Fells could improve his ball-handling significantly over time, he certainly qualifies as a name to keep tabs on, but he’s not going to factor into the draft conversation this summer.

-Jimmy Barron saved his best performance for his last game, going 11-19 from the field and 9-15 from beyond the arc to the tune of 33 points. The turnaround 30-footer that he knocked in off glass late in the second half set a new single game three point record, and his 13 total makes from three point range on the week are a new overall record as well. Barron finished with 5 assists, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals too, capping off one of the best individual performances we witnessed in Portsmouth in an easy win for his team.

-DeMarre Carroll had a strong all-around week, actually being named the MVP of the tournament by the organizing committee. Having just written about him last month, we decided to skip on posting another scouting report, for the sake of not being redundant.

-The same can be said for Wesley Matthews, who also played very well at Portsmouth.

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