By Rob Reheuser, for NBA.com
Posted Apr 15 2012 7:41PM
Ralph Sampson, the guest speaker at this year's Portsmouth Invitational Tournament Celebrity Luncheon, has experienced great heights in the game of basketball.
This comes with the territory when you're 7-foot-4, though for Sampson -- who was recently selected for enshrinement into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame -- his favorite vantage point is watching young players come into their own.
Missouri's Kim English is only 6-foot-6, but his game has risen to new heights this season. A career 38 percent shooter heading into his senior campaign, English shot 52 percent from the field and 46 percent from 3-point range to finish off his college career.
After an uneven performance in his first outing at the PIT, English regrouped in his second tilt, finishing with 22 points on 7-for-15 shooting, though his team, Mike Duman Auto Sales, lost an 89-87 heartbreaker in the final seconds to Sales Systems LTD with Iowa's Matt Gatens hitting a game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds.
Unlike many players at the PIT who are stuck between positions or trying to re-invent themselves in the months leading up to the NBA Draft, English is pretty well defined at this stage of the game. He's an NBA-caliber shooter.
Watching him now it's hard to envision him ever shooting below 40 percent. His form is tight and consistent. He gets it off quick. He shoots it in rhythm and with confidence.
When you factor in his size, decent athleticism and an improving feel for the game, English looks the part of a guy who could come off the bench, move without the ball and knock down shots.
Whether that happens in the NBA next season remains to be seen. Teams are always in the market for shooters, but English will have to convince a team he can defend his position and contribute in other areas.
Arizona's Kyle Fogg led Sales Systems LTD with 22 points, while Florida State's Xavier Gibson added 19 points on 9-for-15 shooting.
After a non-descript first game, Gibson played with much better energy from the opening tap, and was able to make some things happen in the post. Despite averaging less than 19 minutes per contest as a senior, and averaging only 6.8 points and 4.6 rebounds, Gibson has stayed on the radar thanks to his impressive physical package.
At 6-foot-11, Gibson has very good mobility, long arms and a solid frame. Players have gotten drafted in recent years with less to work with. Motor is clearly an issue, and Gibson will have to decide how much he really wants it.
Pittsburgh's Ashton Gibbs had another very strong outing for Mike Duman Auto Sales, finishing with a game-high 23 points on 7-for-11 shooting.
After a standout junior season in which he shot 49 percent from distance, Gibbs slumped badly as a senior as Pittsburgh missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time in a decade. Gibbs has played with a bit of a chip on his shoulder at the PIT, and the results have been positive.
Clearly more two than one, though blessed with the size of a point guard, Gibbs has been forced into lead guard duties this week -- like he was at Pitt this year -- and has handled it well. He's the type of player who'll be highly coveted overseas given his ability to fill it up, and will have to decide his best course of action should he not get drafted in June.
In the first game of Friday's evening session, Temple's Ramone Moore shot 4-for-6 from behind the arc, and finished with a game-high 19 points to give Portsmouth Sports Club a 76-74 win over Cherry Bekaert & Holland.
With his team trailing by seven points at the half, Moore scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half to help Portsmouth Sports Club to the PIT finals on Saturday.
Part of a three-guard alignment this past season at Temple, Moore averaged 17.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists, while shooting 38 percent from 3-point range. Not the most explosive athlete, Moore has decent size (6-foot-4) and a very good wingspan, which allows him to play bigger than his height. He's forced teams to take a closer look this week.
Norfolk State's Kyle O'Quinn added nine points and 11 rebounds for Portsmouth Sports Club, while Iona's Michael Glover added 12 points and six rebounds.
Though his offense dried up a bit as compared to his first outing, O'Quinn was able to impact the game with his strength on the interior. Like English, O'Quinn, looks like a player you could throw into an NBA game tomorrow and get something out of.
Measuring close to 6-foot-10 with shoes, with a ridiculous 7-foot-7 wingspan, O'Quinn stands a decent chance to be drafted. If not, he's all but assured himself an invite to Summer League.
Yale's Greg Mangano led Cherry Bekaert & Holland with 13 points, while Long Beach State's Larry Anderson added 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting to go with four assists.
Billed as a defensive stopper playing alongside the high scoring Casper Ware, who was a late withdrawal from the PIT, Anderson has shown a fairly well-rounded skill-set through two games. A legit 6-foot-5 in shoes, with a strong frame and good length, Anderson is a player you feel when he's out there.
After a strong first half, Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor faded down the stretch, leaving some astute observers with questions about his future potential.
While teams universally applaud his toughness and the way he takes care of the ball -- zero turnovers in 27 minutes -- Taylor lacks blow-by speed, which at 6-foot-1, is almost a pre-requisite in the NBA these days. Toss in the fact that he's only a marginal perimeter shooter, and Taylor has some holes. Still, guys have forged NBA careers with less, and Taylor is an exceptional competitor with the right attitude.
In Friday's final game, five players scored at least 11 points for Roger Brown's, which defeated Portsmouth Partnership, 93-73.
That's been the formula for through two games this week. Not blessed with a true go-to scorer, Roger Brown's is the most athletic team in the field by a fairly wide margin. Mississippi's Terrance Henry (13 points), Georgia's Gerald Robinson (12 points, five rebounds, four assists), Central Connecticut's Ken Horton (11 points) and Memphis' Wesley Witherspoon (13 points, four assists) are four of the most athletic players in this year's entire field.
Throw in a true center in Wichita State's Garrett Stutz, who tallied 15 points and 11 rebounds, and a sturdy power forward in Missouri's Ricardo Ratliffe, who added nine points and seven rebounds, and you have a team that will be tough to beat in Saturday's final.
One of the more talked about players heading into the PIT, Ratliffe has been a bit of a disappointment. Ordinarily the type of player who does well here, based on the fact he doesn't need the ball in his hands to be effective, Ratliffe seems to have it in his head that he needs to show he can play away from the basket as a three. If teams look at the game tapes from the past season at Missouri, they'll like what they see a lot more than what he's done through two games.
Stutz has had a very solid tournament. He may not be the strongest or most athletic center that ever came down the pike, but he really understands how to play basketball. A true seven-footer with a very good shooting touch, Stutz will make a very nice living playing somewhere next year.
Alabama's JaMychal Green led Portsmouth Partnership with 18 points and nine rebounds, while Seton Hall's Jordan Theodore added 12 points and six assists.
Give Green credit for shaking off a pretty disastrous senior season, in which he was suspended for four games for conduct issues, and turning in a good showing in Portsmouth. His size and athletic ability will always keep him on the radar while he's young, and truth be told, he's better than many of the players teams have picked in the late second round in many recent drafts.
Theodore probably won't be drafted, but is the type of player you never want to bet against. A marginal Big East recruit, Theodore got better every season, and turned himself into one of the best players in the conference. Though small in stature, he has a big heart, combined with an understanding of how to play the point guard position. His best basketball appears to be ahead of him.
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