Players Make Final PIT Impressions
Posted Apr 10 2007 10:15AM
The format for this year’s Portsmouth Invitational Tournament featured a few minor tweaks; a fourth game was added to the Saturday schedule, allowing each player in camp to participate in three games; and each team welcomed the services of a special NBA coach to assist in player development throughout the week. This list included former NBA players Duane Causwell, Ira Bowman and Chris Smith.
The dynamic on the court and throughout the community remained constant, with a devoted group of local citizens playing host to a hungry group of players, and the representatives from the NBA who will determine their immediate fate.
No major renovations are scheduled for next year, though the camp figures to enjoy a heightened level of significance. With NBA teams no longer able to work out players before June 5, and spots in the Orlando Pre-Draft Camp not limited to only seniors, Portsmouth could see the return of the caliber of seniors who in recent years have declined invitations.
The prevailing sentiment from Executive Row was that it would take a year for agents to adjust to the new climate, wherein they’ll start encouraging their players to play at the PIT and not run the risk of being left out in the cold.
Give credit to Notre Dame’s Russell Carter for showing up this week and laying it all on the line. Carter, who led the tournament in scoring (19.7 ppg), scored 28 points in the Championship Game, as Holiday Inn Portsmouth defeated Cherry, Bekaert & Holland, 113-103.
It’s a mortal lock that Carter will play in Orlando next month. He also stands a very good chance of being drafted in the second round. What he lacks in height (6-4) he makes up with energy, athleticism and sheer will. When his outside shot is falling, he’s a real tough guy to deal with, given his physical ability and how hard he competes.
Wright State’s Dashaun Wood finished on a high note, dishing out nine assists for the third straight game, while adding 14 points to capture tournament MVP honors. Wood got his team going more than any other player in camp. At Wright State, he was counted on to really score the ball. In Portsmouth, he showed the ability to run a team and get others involved, while keeping defenders honest with his offensive abilities. You have to figure he played well enough to get into Orlando.
Cherry, Bekaert & Holland got several nice performances in the Championship Game, led by Temple’s Dustin Salisbury, who finished with 22 points and four assists. Salisbury didn’t come to camp with a big-time reputation, but turned some heads, averaging 16.7 points.
Southern Illinois’ Jamaal Tatum had one of the more impressive stat lines of the week, tallying 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. He also earned the Tournament’s Sportsmanship Award. He’s a terrific kid, and a pretty good player to boot. Though his NBA prospects appear slim for the moment, you can’t discount a player like Tatum.
In the 6:00 game, Portsmouth Sports Club got 19 points and 17 rebounds from Oral Roberts’ Caleb Green, and edged Norfolk Sports Club, 89-88.
Green, who finished second in the camp in rebounding (13.3 rpg), got better with each game this week and proved to be an effective player around the rim. He’s another in a long line of under-sized fours who find ways to get the job done despite obvious limitations. Green has a definite future in professional basketball, though it’s doubtful his career will begin in the NBA.
Kansas State’s Cartier Martin wrapped up a solid tournament with 18 points, taking over the game offensively late in the second half to lead his team to victory. Martin had some issues early in the season with Bob Huggins, and character questions persist, but he played well this week. He projects as a two at the next level based on size, but his skill-set is that of a three at this stage. Martin is a likely D-League candidate.
San Francisco’s Alan Wiggins led Norfolk Sports Club with 24 points, an impressive showing given the fact it was his second game of the day. Wiggins played in the day’s opener, yet had enough in the tank to replace the injured Avis Wyatt in the third game of the day. Throughout the week, Wiggins displayed a fairly polished inside-outside game and a good nose for the ball. He probably won’t be seen again in Orlando, but he’s sure to receive a few phone calls over the next few months.
It was a tough end for Iowa’s Adam Haluska. The box score showed he scored 19 points. He also took 19 shots, most of them forced, and missed all nine three-point attempts. Haluska needs to get it into his head that in order for him to be considered an NBA prospect, he’ll have to play a lot more unselfishly and do some other things. He simply doesn’t have the talent to ignore teammates in any setting.
Arkansas-Little Rock’s Rashad Jones-Jennings had the opposite effect this week, playing selfless basketball, while snatching every rebound in site. He led the tourney in rebounding (13.7 rpg), and was the recipient of the second-annual Allen Iverson Most Inspirational Player award.
Syracuse’s Darryl Watkins finished up on a high note, tallying 14 points and 10 rebounds as Sales Systems defeated Beach Barton Ford, 81-60. Despite an underachieving career at Syracuse, it’s not hard to see why NBA teams remain interested. He’s 6-11, with decent touch and an NBA-ready body. He’s a project in terms of his NBA ability, but might be a risk worth taking in the second round.
Purdue’s David Teague led Sales Systems with 17 points, wrapping up a solid week in which he averaged 16.7 points. He’ll need to work on his ball-handling skills and focus on shot selection for NBA teams to view him a serious prospect, but there are some raw materials to work with.
Creighton’s Nate Funk didn’t score much in his final outing, but dished out 10 assists. He’s the type of player who doesn’t jump off the page, but always seems to be in the right spot doing something to help his team. The reviews from NBA teams were very positive.
Dan Nwaelele of Air Force led Beach Barton with 17 points, on 7-for-13 shooting. Up until his final game, Nwaelele didn’t force the action, taking (and mostly making) good shots. He’s a little short (6-3) for the two spot, but has a strong build and is able to shed defenders. He’s squarely on the Orlando bubble at this point.
The opening game of the day featured several strong performances. Purdue’s Carl Landry wrapped up a solid tourney with 25 points and 11 rebounds to lead Norfolk Naval Shipyard past Tidewater Sealants, 113-94. Landry should be seen again in Orlando.
Gonzaga’s Derek Raivio finally awoke, scoring 14 points in his swan song to cap a pretty disappointing performance. Raivio is better than he showed, but has holes in his game he’ll need to address to earn a shot in the NBA, most notably, improving his strength and ball-handling.
Loyola-Chicago’s Blake Schilb saved his best for last, scoring 25 points on 9-for-14 shooting to lead Tidewater. Unfortunately, the majority of NBA personnel people had already left town to attend the Nike Hoop Summit in Memphis. Still, Schilb is a player that’s been heavily scouted, and the general feeling is he has the skill level to play in the NBA, but is probably not an NBA-caliber athlete.
San Diego State’s Mohamed Abukar added 21 points for Tidewater, all on perimeter shots. Though he stands 6-10, Abukar is strictly a perimeter player at this stage of his development. He can flat-out shoot the ball. He’ll need to expand his game and bulk up to further his NBA hopes.