One consolation game and two semifinals were the extent of day three of action from the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament.
A large contingency of NBA scouts, GMs and executives is still in attendance, mostly grumbling about the poor quality of talent assembled and complaining about bad decisions made by a huge amount of NCAA seniors that elected to pass on competing at this event.
Many would like to see significant changes made to the format of this camp and the way that players are selected, but we hear these complaints every PIT, and nothing much has really changed in our seven years attending this event.
These have generally been the players who have been talked about the most in our conversations with NBA types, along with Pitt's Gilbert Brown (great first game, average second), Duquesne's Damian Saunders (below), Pitt's Brad Wanamaker (didn't play yesterday) and Washington's Justin Holiday (struggling), who are being scouted heavily.
The Final today should be a good matchup, pitting Jimmy Butler's very unselfish squad with Malcolm Thomas' balanced and hard-working team.
Day Three Reports:
-Andrew Goudelock went 7-9 from three point range on his way to 26 points. Looking intent on proving his mettle as a point guard, the College of Charleston product appeared comfortable running his team, and while he isn't a pure point guard, he's certainly been solid there in the two games we've watched. His decision making is sound, as evidenced by his 5 assists and one turnover today, and he's savvy enough not to dribble into trouble.
If he can prove that he can defend his position at the next level, his shooting this week could endear him to scouts. He's a lights out catch and shoot threat with deep range, and his ability to stretch the floor gives him clear value as a prospect. He's drawing a nice buzz thus far.
-Jimmy Butler had another impressive showing in leading his team to victory. The Marquette product finished with 19 points on a super efficient 7-11 shooting. He was all over the place defensively, showed great timing crashing the glass, made some excellent passes, looked extremely comfortable scoring from the midrange, and did nothing to dispel the assertions that he has good role-player potential and is one of the most polished players in attendance at this year's PIT. We will feature him in a more detailed report later this week, but in the meantime, here's an interview we conducted with him after the game, which highlights many of the things NBA teams like about him so much as an “intangibles guy”:
-San Diego State's Malcolm Thomas replicated his Day two success on his way to a well-rounded 11 point, 7 rebound, 5 assist, 3 steal, 3 block performance in his team's win on Day Three. Thomas was terrific defensively, and when he's dialed in, can really be a factor blocking shots on the ball and rotating over from the weakside with his big wingspan and explosive leaping ability. He didn't dominate the game with his scoring, but showed promising form knocking down a deep jumper, flashed the ability to put the ball on the floor and beat slower forwards to the rim, played extremely unselfishly in making some excellent passes, and finished the game shooting 4-7. His inspired play has helped him generate some buzz that wasn't there before this event. He's another player we will focus more heavily on in a detailed report later this week. Here is an interview we conducted with him after the game discussing many of the issues NBA teams will ponder in his evaluation:
-Vernon Macklin continued to showcase his post game and athleticism today to the tune of 21 points. While he isn't overly polished, he has scored consistently here with a nice hook shot and repeatedly flashes potential finishing with his left hand -a promising tool he needs to continue working on. One of the more impressive physical specimen in attendance, Macklin didn't make a big impact in his second game on the glass, which was a bit disconcerting, but he has helped himself immensely in front of his hometown crowd, and could certainly find himself on an NBA roster next season.
-Illinois product Mike Davis had a solid game offensively, knocking down a number of perimeter jump shots and a one dribble pull up on his way to 13 points. However, his impact on the glass was limited. His rebounding numbers fell considerably as an upperclassman, and considering his lack of small foward skills and defensive potential as a post defender at the NBA level, he would be well served to go the extra mile tracking down missed shots in a setting like this. Playing with this type of enthusiasm throughout his senior year would have gone a long ways in improving his stock.
-Malcolm Delaney and Durrell Summers struggled, shooting a combined 5-21 in their game today. Neither player has been able to make a consistently efficient impact in half court situations though both have had a few bright spots.
-Will Coleman had another solid game, once again playing with the energy that he too often lacked at Memphis. The 6'9 big man has a very low skill level, but has utilized all of his 240-pound frame and excellent athleticism to score around the basket. Though his hands aren't great, he did a decent job catching and finishing and scoring off out of the pick and roll. Coleman has run the floor well here, too, with some nice finishes in transition. He also took a pair of spot-up jumpers, but missed badly while showcasing very poor mechanics. He scored 17 points on 7-11 FG.
The key for Coleman, however, is to maintain his defensive effort and energy. Though his fundamentals are not great, his strong frame, above average lateral quickness, and terrific explosiveness allow him to excel here as a post defender where he has bodied up his man and contested shots around the basket. He is still just an average rebounder, however, which is unacceptable considering his physical and athletic advantages here. Considering his physical tools, you have to wonder how he had such an average senior season production wise (being one of the last players invited)—there's likely a lot more bubbling beneath the surface that NBA teams will need to explore.
-Damian Saunders has not shot the ball well at Portsmouth, just 5-16 FG thus far, but he has adequately showcased his terrific versatility in this setting. On offense, he can slash to the rim, make good passes, cut hard to the basket, and fight hard on the boards for put-backs. Unfortunately, his shooting mechanics remain poor and inconsistent. His few spot-up attempts, all of which have been unguarded, have been cringe-worthy.
Saunders is one of the best defenders here, however, and is a factor all over the floor while defending both big men and guards. His energy level was also impressive for stretches, as it is common for him to fight for an offense rebound and then to run the floor for a block in transition. Defensive consistency is key because of his versatility and roleplayer-potential at the next level, not to mention his failure to show scouts that his senior scoring woes are behind him.
Still, an NBA team could very well look at all the things he brings to the table and wonder if they can teach him how to make a spot-up jumper, something that would potentially turn him into an extremely interesting rotation player. [/p]