By Rob Reheuser, for NBA.com
Posted Apr 9 2011 12:29PM
In his speech at the annual Portsmouth Invitational Tournament Celebrity Luncheon, Seth Greenberg spoke eloquently about the changing landscape of college basketball, and how teams from smaller conferences have been able to compete with the big boys -- see Butler and Virginia Commonwealth advancing to this year's Final Four.
It was a sensible topic for the Virginia Tech men's basketball coach who, in his own words, "spends 48 weeks a year on the bubble."
For the 64 college seniors making up this year's PIT field, the bubble is all they're going to know for the immediate future and beyond. Some were on the bubble to be invited this week, before 22 cancellations opened up spots. Anthony Morrow was on the alternate bubble in 2008. Today, he starts for the New Jersey Nets, and is one of the elite three-point shooters in the NBA.
Charleston's Andrew Goudelock did his best Morrow impression, going 7-for-9 from behind the arc on his way to a game-high 26 points, as Roger Brown's defeated Mike Duman Auto Sales, 81-68 in Friday's afternoon game.
Fresh off winning the three-point shooting contest at the Final Four, the 6-foot-2 Goudelock, who averaged 23.7 points this season, has shot 12-for-17 from distance over two games. He also had five assists and three steals in Friday's game, and has looked comfortable as his team's primary ball-handler, despite playing off the ball the majority of his college career. Still, his value as an NBA prospect is as a shooter and creative scorer. Based on the chatter this week, NBA teams are definitely interested.
Michigan State's Durrell Summers was once considered a proficient shooter, before falling into a dreadful slump that has continued this week at the PIT. He had eight points, eight rebounds and four assists for Mike Duman Auto Sales.
Whether it's his mechanics or confidence, Summers hasn't been able to get anything to fall on a consistent basis from the perimeter since the beginning of the college season. He still has many of the physical attributes NBA teams look for -- speed, length and bounce -- but at 6-foot-4, he's not a great ball-handler and doesn't really make plays for others. In order to be on the floor at the next level, Summers has to knock down shots like he did earlier in his career.
Morehead State's Demonte Harper, last seen making a three-pointer to beat Louisville in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, led Mike Duman Auto Sales with 19 points on 8-for-17 shooting, to go with five rebounds and five assists. Literally the last player to get into the camp, Harper has played well, and will have some opportunities moving forward.
It's been a disappointing tournament so far for Virginia Tech's Malcolm Delaney, who shot 2-for-10 from the field, finishing with eight points. For a guy who shot 40 percent from three-point range and 85 percent from the free throw line, 6-foot-3 Delaney has not shot well here, and has also struggled playing the point.
One player who hasn't struggled is Marquette's Jimmy Butler. The standout performer from the opening day of the tournament, Butler had another strong game, finishing with 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting, five rebounds and two blocks to lead K&D Rounds Landscaping into the championship game with a 79-66 win over Portsmouth Partnership.
Butler is one of the easier players in the field to evaluate. He has good size (6-foot-7) and versatility, having played several positions at Marquette. He plays within himself, never forcing anything. He knocks down open shots. He defends.
In yesterday's game he matched up with West Virginia's Casey Mitchell, one of the camp's hottest shooters, and held him to 17 points on 7-for-18 shooting, much of that coming in garbage time. It's rare to see a player take on a defensive challenge in this setting, but Butler was intent on making things difficult for Mitchell, who was clearly frustrated.
Butler is worthy of being drafted in the second round, although whether a player hears his name called on draft night -- June 23 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. -- is not as significant as it once was. Teams do strange things in the second round. They take fliers on players who are often never heard from again. They take international players and stash them overseas. Lately, teams have been selecting domestic players, not inviting them to training camp, thus retaining their rights for down the road.
Simply put, it's never the 30 most deserving players who take up 30 spots in the second round. Butler should be in an NBA training camp next season either way and will have a good chance to make a team.
Syracuse's Rick Jackson had 17 points and 12 rebounds for K&D Rounds Landscaping, who will play Cherry, Bekaert & Holland in the tournament final Saturday night.
It was a more efficient performance for the 6-foot-9 Jackson, who missed a ton of chippies inside in his first game this week. Jackson shot 8-for-14 from the field, though he continues to struggle at the free throw line (1-for-5). Jackson has to show teams he can absorb contact and still finish around the rim, and he has to make free throws at a higher clip.
Illinois' Mike Davis had another solid game for Portsmouth Partnership, finishing with 13 points and five rebounds. NBA teams have wanted to like Davis for a while, and he's shown flashes over four years at Illinois, but hasn't sustained the kind of effort he's shown here in two games. At 6-foot-9, Davis can put the ball in the basket. He'll play somewhere next year, but the NBA is likely a ways off at this point.
Effort doesn't appear to be a problem for San Diego State's Malcolm Thomas, who turned in another strong performance, finishing with 11 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three blocks and three steals as Cherry Bekaert & Holland advanced to the championship game with a 97-72 win over Portsmouth Sports Club.
The 6-foot-9 Thomas is a physical talent with terrific end-to-end speed and major league hops. He's a surprisingly adept passer, and really gets after it defensively. There really isn't much not to like based on how's he's played here. Thomas could be a real sleeper.
Dwight Hardy of St. John's had another solid floor game, finishing with 10 points, eight assists, four rebounds and four steals. An All-Big East First Team Selection this season, Hardy is a scorer first and foremost, but does it within the flow of the game. What sets him apart in this setting is his ability to get by a defender, take contact and finish near the basket. This camp is usually loaded with guards who take poor shots. Hardy has yet to take a poor shot in two games, and has also focused on getting his teammates involved.
The same can't be said for Villanova's Corey Stokes. Though he led Cherry, Bekaert & Holland with 21 points, he shot 6-for-18 from the field. At one point he shot the ball on six straight possessions. Not surprisingly he finished with one assist. It's a risky approach. NBA teams know he's a shooter. What they don't know is whether he can do anything else to help a team. It's not always the best shooters who emerge from this camp, rather the blend players who do a number of things well.
Boston University's John Holland appeared to be that type of player in his first outing, when he had 23 points, seven rebounds and two steals. He struggled yesterday, finishing with five points on 2-for-8 shooting and a game-high six turnovers for Portsmouth Sports Club.
Still, there's a lot to like about Holland, who received a strong endorsement for this camp from Boston Celtics Assistant Executive Director of Basketball Operations Leo Papile, who made it a point to constantly remind the PIT Selection Committee about Holland throughout the season. He's strong, has good size (6-foot-5), defends and is able to play some point, which makes him a lot more attractive as a prospect.
Vernon Macklin led Portsmouth Sports Club with 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting, but finished with only three rebounds and zero blocks. He's been very offensive-minded in this setting, but hasn't shown enough interest in the other parts of the game.
Duquesne's Bill Clark had another solid game, finishing with 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting, on the heels of his 21-point performance in his opening game, when he shot 8-for-11 from the field (5-for-6 from three-point range).
Unlike Stokes, Clark hasn't forced anything, taking shots in the flow. Though not terribly athletic, the 6-foot-5 Clark is strong, moves well without the ball and plays with a healthy swagger.
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