By Rob Reheuser, for NBA.com
Posted Apr 16, 2013 4:30 PM
Every picture tells a story. Yale Dolsey took the pictures. Marty Blake told the stories.
Together, these two historic figures in the annals of the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament spent over 40 years ensuring there was a basketball tournament each year in the city of Portsmouth. Dolsey, whose affiliation with the PIT spanned 60 years in numerous capacities, passed away on Jan. 23 at the age of 89. Blake, the former NBA general manager who revolutionized scouting as we know it, died this past Sunday at the age of 86.
It's fitting that one of their greatest success stories, Tim Hardaway, was chosen this year to be the guest speaker at the annual PIT Celebrity Luncheon. Not a household name having played his college ball at UTEP, Hardaway took the court at the PIT in 1989, captured MVP honors, was selected in the first round (14th overall) of the 1989 NBA Draft, and the rest is history.
The story of the PIT, regardless of what you read on Twitter, is much larger than a hash tag and the names of prominent seniors who elected not to play in this year's tournament on the advice of agents and those "in the know."
Here's what we do know. Some of the those players will never be heard from again, while several who played in this year's tournament will be in the NBA next season. Three were drafted in 2012 (Kim English, Kevin Murphy and Kyle O'Quinn). Three more played in the NBA this year. Jimmy Butler was selected in the first round in 2011. As sure as the sun will come up tomorrow, players from this tournament will play in the NBA next season, and many will bust through at some point down the line.
Figuring out who those players might be is a more difficult task this season, with fewer sure things at the top of everybody's list, but more quality players from top to bottom. In Butler's case, it was a foregone conclusion he'd be drafted based on how well he played here, and was only a question of how high. English, O'Quinn and Murphy were safe bets to land somewhere in the middle of the second round. Identifying these players this year is much more of a challenge.
BYU's Brandon Davies has thus far been the most productive player in the field, turning in another strong game with 23 points on 9-for-15 shooting to go with 12 rebounds and three assists as K&D Round's Landscaping defeated Portsmouth Partnership 82-79 in the opening game of Friday night's evening session. Belmont's Ian Clark added 15 points, while Central Florida's Keith Clanton finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals.
Everything has been going right for Davies this week. He's scored on a variety of moves in the post. He's rebounded at a high clip. He's shown the ability to make difficult passes in traffic. He even won the battle with the tape measure, checking in 6-foot-8 ½ in bare feet. Davies didn't have a whole lot of buzz coming into the tournament, despite turning in an excellent senior season, and you almost have to wonder he isn't higher on the list of seniors available in this year's draft. If nothing else, he's forced teams to take a much closer look.
Clark is a bit of a rarity in today's game -- a guy who shoots 54 percent from the field taking mostly deep perimeter shots. He connected on 46 percent of his three-pointers this season, and also shot 84 percent at the line. Scouts frequently bemoan the lack of shooters available. Well, Clark is a shooter. Unfortunately, he doesn't project as much else from an NBA perspective, as he doesn't have the size/strength to play off the ball, and is not a point guard.
Clanton is the proverbial energy guy. He struggles with offensive technique in the post. He doesn't have great range. He just works. And works. And works. He also moves well for a guy his size. There's a place in basketball for guys like Clanton, who don't need plays called for them to make things happen.
Delaware's Jamelle Hagins had another solid game for Portsmouth Partnership, finishing with eight points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and two steals. Box scores oftentimes can be misleading. If you're not in the gym actually watching the games, you can't account for garbage time. There have been several blowouts in the tournament so far this year. This is not the case with Hagins. He's a very solid athlete who's active as heck and has a pretty good idea of how to play to his strengths. During this particular game, one longtime scout approached an NBA employee who has a hand in doing the measurements to question whether Hagins really measured 6-foot-7 ¾ in bare feet. The scout thought he was smaller. That's a good indication that Hagins is making people take notice.
Illinois State's Tyler Brown led Portsmouth Partnership with 24 points on 8-for-17 shooting. Ten of his 17 shots came from behind the arc (he made four). Brown averaged 18.1 points this season, but only 2.7 assists. His percentages were solid -- 44 percent overall and 39 percent from distance. He's clearly a small two who can really shoot, but will have a tough climb at 6-foot-1 in bare feet and 170 pounds.
Long Beach State's James Ennis has all the physical tools you look for in an NBA wing. He's an elite athlete with excellent quickness in the open floor and explosive leaping ability. You could line him up tomorrow against some of the more athletic wings in the NBA and not see much a difference. Ennis had 17 points and eight rebounds in only 19 minutes to lead Sales Systems, LTD to a 89-85 win over Portsmouth Sports Club in the first game of Friday's slate. He's clearly more athlete than player at this point, but really improved this season as a shooter and defender. He's the kind of player who always stands out at the PIT for being a cut above athletically, and scouts are always looking for athletes.
Sales Systems had seven of eight players reach double figures in this game. Cal-State Fullerton's Kwame Vaughn had a very solid game with 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while Nevada's Malik Story added 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists. It was another tough outing for Temple's Khalif Wyatt, who finished with 10 points on 3-for-10 shooting. Wyatt simply hasn't brought the intensity and swagger he carried in the NCAA Tournament to the PIT. Guys are hungry in the tournament. Wyatt is not a good enough shooter or athlete to think he can coast in a setting like this and still impress.
Santa Clara's Kevin Foster, LIU's Jamal Olasewere and Detroit's Nick Minnerath each scored 14 points to lead Portsmouth Sports Club. Foster is a streak shooter who's a step slow and not much of a playmaker. That's not a great combination at 6-foot-2 with below average physical tools. Olasewere is one of the better athletes in this year's field and plays extremely hard, but doesn't have a high skill level at this point in his development. Minnerath has turned in two solid games after being a late addition to the camp. He's shot the ball well and made some athletic plays at the rim. He's also been a little too impressed with his own performance. Body language is very underrated at the PIT. Scouts don't appreciate a show-off. They much prefer guys who play hard and keep their mouth shut.
Wichita State's Carl Hall had 15 points and19 rebounds, and LaSalle's Ramon Galloway added six points, seven assists and six rebounds, as Roger Brown's squeaked out a 68-67 win over Cherry Bekaert in Friday's night cap.
Hall, not currently listed among the top 100 seniors on Draft Express, is an interesting story. He was forced to give up basketball in 2007 due to a heart condition that was causing him to pass out during games. At one point, he took a job in a light bulb factory to earn money for tuition. In 2009, doctors introduced him to a medication that would control the condition, and he gradually began playing again in junior college, and was eventually offered a scholarship to play at Wichita State. This past season, Hall averaged 12.5 points and 6.9 rebounds as the Shockers made it all the way to the Final Four. A late invite to the PIT, Hall, who turned 24 in March, has played with great energy and toughness in the paint.
Though he didn't score like he did in his first outing, and he continues to rack up the turnovers -- he has 14 in two games -- Galloway makes things happen. He's not exceptionally strong or athletic, but he plays faster than he is because he's so active and invested. Guys who play the way he plays will find work somewhere. He's been mentioned as a guy who could fight his way onto an NBA team at some point.
Miami's Durand Scott led Cherry Bakaert with 12 points, but it was his on-the-ball defense late in the game that almost brought Cherry Bakaert all the way back from a big deficit. That Scott can defend is not news. He was the ACC's Defensive Player of the Year, and it's easy to see why he earned this distinction. He really competes at that end of the floor. He's also an above average athlete who can slash to the basket and make an occasional shot. He lacks a clear cut position at the next level, but has some legit NBA tools.
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