Portsmouth Invitational Tournament Player Notes
by Phil Kasiecki
PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The 2006 Portsmouth Invitational Tournament is in the books. The talk was that the players here this year might be the best group the tournament has seen, and the play certainly reflected that as it was at a high level.
Some observations from our scout’s seat on a few players at the tournament:
Akin Akingbala (6’9″ PF, Clemson) is athletic and has a good body for playing inside, and playing on a team with better talent seemed to help him. He should get a long look in Orlando in June.
Rashad Anderson (6’6″ SG, Connecticut) has excellent shot selection. We already know he can shoot it, especially in the clutch, but lost in all of that is his shot selection. That was the prime reason he shot it well here, and he looks like he might be just athletic enough to work his way into the draft and get picked. Regardless, he’ll at least be on someone’s summer league roster with his size and shooting ability.
Jose Juan Barea (5’11” PG, Northeastern) broke two records for assists at the tournament with 18 in Saturday’s game and 41 in the three games. Surrounded by more talented players, he showed how pass-first he is and committed just five turnovers along the way. He surely opened up some eyes with his play in this tournament.
It was a given that Keydren Clark (5’9″ PG, St. Peter’s) could score, considering he topped 3,000 career points in college. But here, he did it against better competition. That’s a start, but he didn’t rack up the assists, so playing the point might still be a question mark even though he showed some ability at that spot during the tournament.
Torin Francis (6’10” PF, Notre Dame) is just solid and unspectacular, not standing out. He put in some decent work, but you’d hardly know he’s there. That’s not a knock, but that won’t get a guy noticed much, either.
As we thought before, Mike Hall (6’8″ PF, George Washington) is clearly not a small forward. That was evident as he constantly missed jumpers, though he hit a late three-pointer in one game. He rebounded like he always has, but at his size he’s not likely to be a post player in the NBA and that presents a problem.
Eric Hicks (6’6″, 245, PF, Cincinnati) probably has the liveliest body of any player at the camp. He’s very active on the boards and a great physical specimen, but he’s an undersized power forward.
Solomon Jones (6’10” PF-C, South Florida) was the most intriguing player. He was very active at both ends of the floor, grabbing his share of rebounds and getting some baskets as well. Without question, playing around better talent helped him out, and if he makes it in the NBA, he’ll have better talent around him, so this might be a better representation of his abilities.
Daniel Kickert (6’10” PF, St. Mary’s) gave a good accounting of himself, especially in Saturday’s championship game. He showed a good face-up game with range on his jumper to college three-point range, and got a few inside finishes.
Jai Lewis (6’7″, PF, George Mason) was a fan favorite since he played on the team that was the big story of the recently concluded NCAA Tournament. He was efficient on the offensive end and used his big body inside, and when he got position he used his very reliable jump hook successfully on several occasions. A scout from the Green Bay Packers was on hand to see him in addition to the NBA personnel present.
Tim Smith (5’9″ PG, East Tennessee State) had quite a cheering section, but that can’t change the fact that he’ll almost surely go down as a good college player but not NBA material. He’s already small, and though he is quick, he struggled shooting the ball and has a low release point since he barely gets off the ground on his shot. He also seems to play much better when the game is fast than when it’s slow.
C.J. Watson (6’2″ PG-SG, Tennessee) shot the ball well and looked like someone who can really score, but his size is that of a point guard. The weak crop of point guards means he may get a long look, but getting drafted is another matter.
Curtis Withers (6’8″ PF, Charlotte) had his struggles on Friday, but was better in Saturday’s finale. He came up short on some shots en route to missing all seven on Friday and generally played away from the hoop, but was much more assertive on Saturday.