By Kevin Sweeney
Each year, 64 of the best seniors in college basketball gather in Portsmouth, Virginia for the Portsmouth Invitational. For many of these players, it is a make-or-break weekend for their professional careers. With lots of NBA scouts, as well as representatives from many European teams, in attendance, the tournament gives players a chance to demonstrate their abilities against difficult competition.
This year, a tightly contested tournament ended in thrilling fashion, as Roger Brown’s Restaurant used a huge comeback led by tournament MVP AJ English to knock off Norfolk Sports Club 85-83.
Here’s a look at some of the studs and duds of the weekend in Portsmouth:
AJ English (Iona)- This weekend, it was important for English to show scouts that he was capable of being a point guard in the half-court. English passed that test with flying colors. In 3 games, English had 20 assists and just 8 turnovers. He controlled his team, taking control when the game got tight in each of his team’s final 2 games. Despite playing against many high-major players, English appeared to be one of the fastest players in the tournament. Overall, he averaged over 17 points, 6 assists, and shot a ridiculous 65% from downtown. This weekend should certainly boost English’s hopes of hearing his name called during the NBA Draft.
Ryan Anderson (Arizona)- Anderson was dominant down low for Roger Brown’s Restaurant. He averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds per game. He was a steady performer all weekend, recording a double-double in all 3 games he played. I was impressed by Anderson’s versatile offensive game, as well as his ability to clean the glass. His ability to score from everywhere on the court is something that NBA scouts will salivate over.
Bryn Forbes (Michigan State)- In his 3 games in Portsmouth, Forbes verified what we already knew: he can flat-out shoot. A knock-down shooter at Michigan State, Forbes showed he could dominate even without Denzel Valentine to give him good looks, making aver 4 3’s per game in route to being the tournament’s leading scorer. He averaged over 20 points per game, and he was the only player to do so. In today’s NBA, a shooter like Forbes will be coveted by scouts.
Dorian Finney-Smith (Florida)– The former Florida standout had a strong weekend in Portsmouth. He averaged 18 points and nearly 10 rebounds for K&D Rounds, leading them to a 3rd-place finish. I could certainly see Finney-Smith being a sleeper at the next level. His guard skills, combined with his size and rebounding ability, make him an interesting player. With NBA talent evaluators all looking for the next Draymond Green, I could see Finney-Smith being their answer.
Isaiah Miles- (Saint Joe’s)- A year ago, no one would have seen this performance coming. Miles had scored just over 10 points per game in his junior season, but was limited by being overweight. This past summer, however, Miles changed his body, and his game took a huge step forward. He scored over 18 points per game, earned All-Conference honors, and a trip to Portsmouth. This weekend, he put on another strong showing, averaging 19 points per game for Cherry Bekaert. Hopefully, he can continue this momentum in pre-draft workouts.
Honorable Mention: Abdel Nader (Iowa State), Retin Obasohan (Alabama), Tre Demps (Northwestern), Nick Faust (LBSU), Matt Costello (Michigan State)
Kyle Collinsworth (BYU)- Collinsworth’s shortcomings were exposed this weekend. The former BYU standout seemed like a man without a position. He was ineffective as a point guard, with more turnovers than assists, and struggled to score, averaging just 4 points per game without making a 3. He is certainly a unique talent, averaging 8.3 rebounds per game despite playing as a guard, but scouts will have a tough time overlooking this performance.
Justin Sears (Yale)- It seemed necessary that Sears demonstrate the ability to play outside the paint this weekend. He struggled with this task, scoring just 4 points per game. While he held his own in the paint, averaging over 6 rebounds per game and leading the tournament with 2.7 blocks per game, Sears will be seen as undersized by NBA scouts. In order to fulfill has NBA aspirations, Sears will have to expand his outside game.
Maodo Lo (Columbia)- It wasn’t a great weekend for the former Columbia star. Lo’s shot was ice-cold throughout the tournament. He shot just over 26% from the field and converted on just 3 out of his 13 3-point attempts. Lo was overshadowed by his teammate and former Old Dominion star Trey Freeman, who led the tournament in assists per game. I see Lo as a guy who will have a great career in Europe. Lo, who is from Germany and has played for the German National Team, should receive tons of interest from German clubs.
Prince Ibeh (Texas)- Despite having prototypical size for an NBA center, Ibeh struggled this weekend. He scored the fewest points of any player in tournament and wasn’t a real factor on the glass. The enigmatic Ibeh has plenty of talent, but lacks the skill of many big men and has had issues with effort in his college career. His size and athleticism will allow him to keep getting opportunities, but he will need to capitalize on one of them if he wants to have an NBA career.
Shonn Miller (UCONN)- The former Cornell and UCONN star, Miller failed to showcase his unique skillset this weekend. At UCONN, he was used as a small-ball center and as a power forward. This weekend, however, Miller struggled. Another undersized big man, Miller struggled on the perimeter and was unable to hold his own on the glass. After a great season at UCONN, this wasn’t the performance Miller was looking for.