By Rob Reheuser, for NBA.com
Posted Apr 13 2012 10:25AM
PORTSMOUTH, Va. -- Much of Day Two at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament was spent under a yellow caution flag, with numerous collisions and entanglements making it difficult for any of the games to achieve a desirable pace and flow.
Then came a red flag, in the form of Alabama's JaMychal Green, who successfully navigated his way to 29 points on 14-for-18 shooting to give Portsmouth Partnerships an 85-79 win over Mike Duman Auto Sales in Thursday's nightcap.
Suspended three times during his four years at Alabama, the latest a four-game ban this season for conduct detrimental to the team, Green has given NBA teams significant pause when his assessing his pro potential.
When you subtract the off-the-court issues from the equation, Green has some intriguing qualities, namely his size (6-8), hands, length and hop. It doesn't take much to see that when he and other players jump for a ball near the rim, Green stays in the air a lot longer.
While he's not the most skilled frontcourt performer in this year's PIT field, he appears to have a pretty decent idea of what he's good at. He doesn't drift too far from the paint, doing most of his damage on cuts to the basket, offensive rebounds and post-ups.
Still, Green has a lot of work to do to convince teams to take a chance. Two more solid games here will help, but whether or not he hears his name called on Draft night will likely depend on how he interviews with teams throughout the pre-draft process. He has talent, but that isn't always enough these days.
Seton Hall's Jordan Theodore added 14 points and seven assists for Portsmouth Partnerships, while Cincinnati's Yancy Gates finished with seven points and nine rebounds.
Though the Pirates narrowly missed out on an NCAA berth this season, Theodore had an exceptional senior season, averaging 16.0 points, while ranking eighth in the nation in assists (6.7 apg).
Not the tallest (6-0) or most athletically gifted player, Theodore understands how to play the position. He was consistently able to penetrate into the lane in this game, creating shots for others, an aspect that's been largely missing in this year's tournament, with many two guards masquerading as point guards. Theodore also took control late, managing the clock and directing teammates where to be on the floor, as Portsmouth Partnerships, which led by as many as 20 points in the first half, held on to win.
Gates was one of the most talked about players in college basketball this season, and not for his play, unfortunately. One of the main protagonists in an ugly scene that unfolded at the Cincinnati-Xavier game on Dec. 10, 2011, Gates earned himself a six-game suspension for throwing a devastating punch that split Xavier's Kenny Frease wide open.
Gates eventually returned to the lineup and was a central figure in Cincinnati's march to the Sweet Sixteen, playing some of the most focused and inspired basketball of his largely uneven college career, which was marked by poor conditioning, multiple suspensions and inconsistent effort.
Standing 6-9, with a 7-3 wingspan on a massive 260-pound frame, Gates has the size to do battle in the trenches of the NBA. Though his offensive game is a work in progress, Gates has shown marked improvement, especially with is ability to face up and make shots. He's also a solid post defender.
Like Green, one of his biggest challenges will be to convince teams he has the mental makeup to exist as a role player in the NBA, and not be a headache. If Gates can dedicate himself to staying in good shape and being a solid citizen, he has a chance.
Pittsburgh's Ashton Gibbs led Mike Duman Auto Sales with 23 points, while Missouri's Kim English added 22 points.
Gibbs and English are an interesting juxtaposition. After never shooting better than 40 percent from the field in three previous seasons, English was unconscious as a senior, averaging 14.5 points on 52 percent shooting, including 46 percent from distance. Gibbs, conversely, shot a career-low 38 percent from the field, including 35 percent from three-point range, a stunning dip for a player who made 49 percent of his three-point attempts as a junior.
Both players tested the waters last season and elected to return for their season seniors. Both have work to do to convince teams they're worthy of serious NBA consideration. At 6-6, English has some upside as a guy who moves well without the ball and can knock down shots. At 6-2, Gibbs needs to regain his 2010-11 form, and quickly if he's to shed concerns about his lack of size and point guard skills.
In the first game of the evening session, Missouri's Ricardo Ratliffe had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Wichita State's Garrett Stutz added nine points and 13 rebounds to lead Roger Brown's to a 74-71 win over Sales Systems LTD.
Like English, Ratliffe had a career season for the Tigers, averaging 13.9 points on 69 percent shooting from the field. That's not a misprint. Unlike English, Ratliffe's range is the paint, as he does most of his damage on put-backs.
Early on in this game, Ratliffe drifted from his comfort zone, shooting a few medium range jumpers. While he made a few, Ratliffe would be better served playing like did all season -- defending, running the floor and throwing around his chiseled frame around on the interior. Too often, players come to the PIT intent on showing scouts what they think they can do, rather than what they can do.
Stutz really didn't get a chance to show what he could do offensively. The unfortunate reality of the PIT is that big men don't get their number called near enough. On the rare occasion Stutz did touch the ball on the offensive end, he made some good things happen.
Standing a legit 7-0, Stutz has a fairly well-rounded offensive skill-set, showing the ability to score with his back to the basket, while also being able to face up and knock down shots. Had he come along 20 years ago, he could have expected to play 10 years in the NBA without even blinking. As the NBA has evolved into a more perimeter-oriented league, the need for backup centers has greatly diminished. Regardless, Stutz will play somewhere next season, and could eventually crack the NBA at some point.
Dayton's Chris Johnson led Sales Systems LTD with 18 points, while BYU-Hawaii's Jet Chang added 13 pounds on 6-for-12 shooting.
Chang, a Division II All-American who was born in Taiwan, has already achieved rock star status here in Portsmouth, being followed by a Taiwanese television crew based out of New York. He didn't disappoint, knocking down several jumpshots, one of the few players so far this week to shoot it with confidence.
In Wednesday's opening game, IUPUI's Alex Young and South Dakota's Charlie Westbrook each scored 15 points, while Buffalo's Mitchell Watt added 14 points and seven rebounds to lead Norfolk Sports Club to an 80-67 win over K&D Rounds Landscaping.
One of the most talked about players heading into the tournament, Young has been a bit of a disappointment thus far, floating through games and not taking advantage of his opportunity to be seen by representatives from all 30 NBA teams at one time. He's shown flashes with is ability to create offensively, but overall, he needs to get a lot more serious.
Watt doesn't have a problem with effort. It's there and it's how he's made his living throughout his college career. Not the biggest or most athletic guy in the field, Watt plays with a natural aggression, which makes up for his lack of polish. The only player to foul out of a game so far, Watt is certainly getting his money's worth.
You could say the same about New Mexico State's Wendell McKines, who got up 19 shots, but only made six, and finished with 12 points, though he did add 14 rebounds.
McKines, who checks in at 6-6 with a chiseled 240-pound frame, has been all over the place in two games here, in good ways and bad. He's taken way too many perimeter shots, instead of using his body to his advantage. That said, he's played as hard at the defensive end as any player in the field.
Rakim Sanders led K&D Rounds Landscaping with 18 points and 11 rebounds, his second solid game in a row. West Virginia's Darryl Bryant added eight points and five assists.
After spending his first three seasons at Boston College, Sanders finished up on a high note at Fairfield, and is continuing the trend with some very solid play here. An impressive physical specimen, though a little stuck between positions, Sanders has played under control and taken good shots. He's definitely opened some eyes so far this week.
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