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Portsmouth Invitational Tournament

By James Blackburn

The 62nd annual Portsmouth Invitational Tournament recently concluded this past Easter weekend in beautiful Portsmouth, VA. Dozens of European scouts, agents, and teams were on hand to watch the some of the top collegiate seniors in the nation compete in a 3 game tournament. In addition to overseas representatives, nearly every NBA and NBDL had at least one scout and other front office personnel in attendance to scout the talent represented. The event took place at Churchland HS and was open daily to the public. 64 players were split up between 8 teams, whose names were based on local businesses who help sponsor the event.

https://www.portsmouthinvitational.com/2014_TEAM_ROSTERS.htmlTeam Rosters can be found here

Measurements were once again taken measuring players heights, weights, vertical, and wingspan, these results can be found here.

Here are reports on some of the top performers at the event split up by positions.

Guards

Tim Frazier (PG, 6’1”, Penn State)

Smart PG who uses ball screens exceptionally well. Showcased a solid floater once he reached lane area. Is excellent in transition and kept dribble alive until he had passing angle or a shot to score. Stronger then he looks and has a nice change of speed. One of the top PG’s here.

 

Travis Bader (SG, 6’5”, Oakland)

Undoubtedly the top shooter at the event, the NCAA All-Time leader in threes made for a career (504) put on a show throughout the 3 games, knocking down triple after triple. Terrific form and release and got good elevation as well. Moved well without the ball but struggled to score with pressure. Limited on the defensive end but showed a willingness to give 100% hustle and energy on this end. Played his way onto an NBA Summer League roster spot in my mind.

 

David Stockton (PG, 5’11”, Gonzaga)

One of the top pure PG’s at the event and was able to run his team very well. Excellent passer in both half-court and in transition. Found his teammates and was able to create easy shots for others. Size is a major issue as he is vulnerable to the post up and struggled to finish inside. Didn’t even look to score half the time instead opting out for the pass. Did show some craftiness finishing with the off hand on several drives and moved his feet well on the perimeter. Needs to improve shooting, especially from the NBA 3 pt line. The HOF John Stockton was in attendance to watch his son the entire event. Should carve out a nice career in Europe.

 

Tyler Johnson (G, 6’4”, Fresno State)

This was the first time seeing Johnson and I came away impressed. In the running’s for top overall athlete in the tournament. Plays hard and does numerous things well on the court. Understands defensive rotations and is unafraid.

 

Markel Starks (PG, 6’1”, Georgetown)

Big time shot maker and shot taker who possess great confidence in his abilities. Great ball handler who was able to get to the paint at will. Can hit the NBA 3 and has a good floater in the lane. Got a little ahead of himself at times but I left impressed with his ability to both score and get teammates involved.

 

Patrick Miller (PG, 6’0”, Tennessee State)

The 5th leading scorer in the nation (23.7 ppg) showed the ability to run a team and be a playmaker for not only himself but also his teammates. Built like an NFL running back, Miller fought his way through screens and contact did not seem to faze him even at the PIT, where the officials let the players play more physical. Explosive athlete who can turn the corner on the P/R. Needs to improve NBA 3 point shooting and ability to go left. Excellent on-ball defender and attacked the rim hard. Should of earned himself a spot in Chicago.

 

Jake Odum (G, 6’4”, Indiana State)

One of the most consistent players here. Fundamentally sound and skilled. Doesn’t hurt you really in any way on either side of the floor. Underrated quickness. Good shooter who can hit shots with feet set and off the dribble.

 

 

 

Wings

Taylor Braun (SF, 6’7”, North Dakota State)

The Summit League Player of the Year showed solid fundamentals and some underrated athleticism all week. High IQ smooth player who can score at the rim with either hand. Solid ball handler who can create his own shot and hit the 3. Took some questionable shots at times and needs to improve quickness off the dribble. Put in good effort on defensive end but lost track of his man off the ball. Definitely earned himself a spot in Chicago and most likely will be on an NBA Summer League roster.

 

Fuquan Edwin (G/F, 6’6”, Seton Hall)

One of the best perimeter defenders here. Showed the ability to guard several positions, moved his feet well, and was in good defensive position. Showed the ability to create his own shot, but struggled with his shooting after game 1. Aggressive wing with a quick first step.

 

Josh Huestis (F, 6’7”, Stanford)

One of the best athletes at the event. Played both the 3 and the 4 this week, but at this point is more of an undersized 4 but has the tools to develop into more of a 3. Excellent rebounder and shot blocker who showed how he became Stanford All-Time leader in blocks. Showed a nice 1-dribble pull-up but shooting was inconsistent. Struggled to keep SG’s in front of him, but showed he could defend in the paint.

 

Shawn Glover (F, 6’7”, Oral Roberts)

Terrific overall scorer who can score both at the basket and on the perimeter. Solid athlete who did the little things well. Shot is a little slow and his midrange is better than his 3 at this point.

 

Drew Crawford (W, 6’5”, Northwestern)

Versatile player who defends and scorers. Shot release and form reminds me a little of Harrison Barnes. Can score in bunches. 3 pointer is streaky.

 

Bigs

Javon McCrea (F, 6’7”, Buffalo)

One of the most physically dominant players in attendance. McCrea is a bit undersized height wise for the PF position but he showed the ability to rebound at a high rate and embraced the physical play inside that the P.I.T allows. Defended and protected the paint. Showed the ability to put ball on floor for one dribble in a straight line drive. Hit multiple elbow jumpers throughout the 3 games but shot has hitch, gets little elevation, and shooting motion is at side of the head, which lead to major inconsistencies. Needs to continue to improve perimeter skills so he can make move to the SF, but overall the Mid-American POY had an excellent showing.

 

Isaiah Armwood (F, 6’9”, George Washington)

I thought Armwood was the best player on his team and one of the top rebounders at the event. Big time athlete who needs to add more strength in lower body. Struggled shooting the 3 but hit a couple of midrange jumpers in game 3.

 

Akil Mitchell (F, 6’8”, Virginia)

One of my favorite players at the event. Excellent defender who not only showed that he can block shots and play physical and tough inside but also showed he could defend guards adequately at the end of the shot clock on the perimeter. Gives 100% effort and energy on the floor and plays with passion. Tremendous rebounder. Showed he could face up and score the ball. Did some things that we did not see him do at UVA in the post. Love his demeanor and attitude. Struggles to go left and needs to continue to get stronger but his play this week may have garnered him an NBA roster spot.

 

Richard Solomon (C, 6’10”, California)

Big time rebounder on both ends who uses both his excellent wingspan and athleticism to keep the ball alive. Had numerous rim shaking dunks- tries to dunk everything. Runs the floor very well. Needs to get stronger especially in lower body. Is a tweener between the 4 and the 5 position. Rushed his shot a bit from 15’ but form looked solid. Showed the ability to hedge screens but is foul prone down low in paint. Loved his motor and activity throughout. The D- League should definitely be an option.

 

Shawn Jones (PF, 6’8”, Middle Tenn)

The Conference USA POY was one of the top shot blockers this year using excellent timing, solid athleticism, and activity from the weak side to protect the rim. The lefty showed the ability to knock down the trailing 15’ and was all over the boards. Is he willing to come out on perimeter to guard Pick and Pop? One of the more impressive bigs this week.

 

Davante Gardner (F, 6’8”, Marquette)

Was consistent all week on the glass and getting clean up points. Fluid and moves very well for size (290 lbs). Showed he could hit the midrange set shot and also showed patience and the ability to score in the post. Uses size and strength to his advantage- gets deep inside position and gets excellent rebounding position. Needs to improve positioning and he is a tweener. Body reminds me of Herb Pope who played at the PIT a couple of years ago and offensively he is similar to Zach Randolph. Go to move in post is spin move. His play this week earned him the MVP at the event.

 

Shayne Whittington (C, 6’11”, Western Michigan)

Showed the ability all week to stretch the floor out to the NBA 3-point line. Excellent movement- does not move like he is 6’11”. Settled for too many perimeter shots even though he hit a decent amount and lacks a true post move. Defended well and had a good overall showing.

 

Okaro White (F, 6’9”, Florida State)

Terrific athlete who is active and has a high motor. Runs the floor like a deer and did an excellent job on the defensive end. Needs to continue to add strength. Scrappy player who is quick on his feet. Shot is slow and he struggled to hit NBA 3 but stroke looked decent. I could see him playing in the D-League this year and getting a call up at some point.

 

Ronald Roberts (SF/PF, 6’8”, Saint Josephs)

An undersized 4 man who played both the 3 and the 4 at the PIT. Big time explosive athlete. Was aggressive scoring the basketball. Defends and rebounds well but needs to improve skill level.

Want more basketball scouting insight? Follow James Blackburn on Twitter, right now!

Jabari Parker to the NBA

Jabari Parker Duke NBA

Jabari Parker made it official today by announcing his intention to enter the 2014 NBA draft, surprising…well, no one, really. Parker is expected to be a top 5 pick in the draft and could even be considered a number one possibility. Parker seems to have the most mature game of any of the early entries although that likely means he’s about as good as he’s going to get, which is still good enough to make an NBA team better.

UConn Women's Basketball NCAA Champions 2014

In a promotion connected to the NCAA Women’s national title game, Moe’s Southwest Grill ended up selling 20,000 $1 burritos to fans of the UConn Huskies after the women’s team won their ninth NCAA national title:

In a “If UConn wins, you win,” promotion, the 17 Moe’s Southwest Grill restaurants in the state lowered the price of burritos as the men’s and women’s teams advanced in the NCAA tournaments.

It is estimated that due to the promotion, Moe’s gave up about $500,000 of sales, but considering they had 20,000 burritos going out the door, there’s a good chance they’ll make that money back pretty quickly if they were able to bring in some new fans.

Want more basketball insight? Follow Basketball Elite on Twitter, right now!

Adam Silver NBA basketball

One thing is for certain; the debate over whether college athletes at high-revenue college programs should be paid is not going away. This, despite the NCAA’s best efforts to frame the conversation with rhetoric about ‘student-athletes’, a term they coined decades ago to justify not paying the players in their employ.

Now the NBA has decides to wade into the fray a bit more, with newly minted commissioner Adam Silver mulling over what they might be able to do for those athletes:

“Rather than focusing on a salary and thinking of them as employees, I would go to their basic necessities,” Silver said. “I think if [Connecticut Huskies guard] Shabazz Napier is saying he is going hungry, my God, it seems hard to believe, but there should be ample food for the players.”

To be clear, the NBA isn’t talking about outright payment of salaries to players but rather a subsidization of any gaps in college attendance. On one hand, it’s good the NBA is paying attention…while on the other, it’s hard to see these comments and wonder why the NBA owners were claiming massive losses during the recent labor agreements if they can offer possible subsidies for thousands of college players. The truth has to lie somewhere in the middle; either the NBA is talking about a limited program, or it’s just more rhetoric designed to give lip service to the issue.

Want more basketball insight? Follow Basketball Elite on Twitter, right now!

Joel Embiid Kansas basketball NBA draft

In a move that most expected after his solid year, Kansas’ Joel Embiid has declared for the NBA draft. At his news conference on Wednesday, Embiid shared his reasons for turning pro: “Looking at different scenarios and gathering info of what was best for me … either way was best for me. Talking to my mentor, it was best the choice.”

There was quite a bit of speculation leading up to this announcement that Embiid might have had a change of heart after it seemed a near certainty that he would make this move earlier in the season. Embiid suffered nagging injuries this season but still managed to average almost a double-double as a freshman. Many consider Embiid the number one pro prospect in this year’s draft with this announcement.

Want more basketball insight? You can follow Basketball Elite on Twitter, right now.

Shabazz Napier Going Hungry?

Shabazz Napier basketball hungry

The Twitter universe erupted in last minute controversy just before the NCAA national title game, and one of the more incendiary stories came from guard Shabazz Napier, who was quoted as saying “There are hungry nights that I go to bed…starving…I’m not able to eat and I still got to play up to my capabilities”.

This of course created a reaction but Napier’s comments were taken a bit out of context from the original story.

“We as student athletes get utilized for what we do so well. We are definitely blessed to get a scholarship to our universities, but at the end of the day, that doesn’t cover everything. We do have hungry nights that we don’t have enough money to get food and sometimes money is needed,” the senior told reporters. “I think, you know, Northwestern has an idea, and we’ll see where it goes.”

So Napier’s comments were more along the lines that as a basketball player at a high revenue program, he and other players feel as though their talents are making some people rich while they get none of the money. This is an ongoing debate, and many UConn students jumped on Reddit to comment about the sensationalist headline, such as whether it’s actually true that college athletes at Connecticut are going hungry. Some students state that due to the athletes’ schedule, there isn’t anywhere for them to get the food from their meal plans. Other students claim that the athletes should be able to get as much food as they want, but they have better student housing located farther from where the food is available. You can read the whole debate here.

This comes on the back of comments by NCAA president Mark Emmert, who claimed that ‘converting’ student-athletes to unionized employees was something that nobody wanted (In reality, they are already employees, using the word ‘convert’ does not change the law. But that’s for another time).

However, Emmert and the NCAA can’t be happy that Napier was able to use the platform of the national title game to draw even more attention and sympathy to the issue surrounding paying the athletes that bring in billions of dollars to their coffers.

Want more basketball insight? Follow Basketball Elite on Twitter, right now.

Chris Paul Booed…Again

Chris Paul Clippers

You would think that Chris Paul would be beloved in Los Angeles. After all, he’s helped make the Clippers, considered to be the worst-run organization in all of professional sports over the last 30 years, actually relevant. But, that’s not the case:

“I thought the city would have embraced him,” Clippers forward Blake Griffin said of Paul. “I mean, it seems like everywhere we go, people love Chris. I don’t know why he would get booed at a Dodger game.”

Paul said he understood being the victim of the Untrue Blue. Fans booed him at the Dodgers’ game against the San Francisco Giants on Friday, he said, because L.A. remains a Lakers town. Sadly, even being shown on the Dodger Stadium video board alongside Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford couldn’t protect him from the scorn of a sellout crowd.

So what gives?

In Los Angeles, the Clippers are the “other team”. The team that isn’t the Lakers, a team that “borrows” the court of the Lakers when they need to play a home game. It’s been this way since the Clippers franchise moved into L.A. from San Diego in 1984. The Clippers have horrible ownership and have been the laughingstock of the league, well, since even their days in San Diego.

Team owner Donald Sterling lobbied the NBA to allow him to move the Clippers to Los Angeles because of poor attendance…but the reason so few people were coming out to watch the games was that the team was awful for years. Bringing the team to L.A. did nothing to solve the poor management of Sterling and the Lakers were already well established. Remember, this was during the height of Magic Johnson’s ‘Showtime’ Laker teams. Sterling had purchased the team in 1981, and was based in L.A.

So the city of L.A. considered Chris Paul an outsider. They expected him to play for the Clippers for a season after David Stern’s ludicrous move to prevent him from going from New Orleans to the Lakers, then they expected him to move over to the ‘real’ L.A. team. Since he hasn’t, they haven’t embraced him.

Chris Paul is arguably one of the most marketable players in the NBA at the moment, with national endorsements, elite play and a winning personality. But as long as he stays with the Clippers, he will probably continue to be considered the ‘away team’ on the team’s home court.

Making of the 2014 NCAA Men’s Final Four Baskeball Court by Connor Sports from Connor Sport Court on Vimeo.

TAC Sports Pick 6 podcast

By Marcus Shockley

So, I listen to a lot of sports radio. A lot. I also listen to a lot of podcasts. This is the reality of being on the road a lot, you need something interesting to listen to while driving through miles of back country looking for a remote gym.

Podcasts are great because they travel with you – I listen on my phone, usually – and independent podcasts don’t have to worry about the FCC or a corporate overlord controlling their message. The best podcasts don’t really follow the radio formula of talking heads, but instead use a method of just ‘having a conversation’. That’s what makes the Pick 6 Podcast produced by SportsTAC fit right into the sports discussion so well. I highly recommend you check it out and I caught up with Devin Edmondson, the creative mind behind SportsTAC and Pick 6, to get the background on their projects and where they are headed. Special thanks to Devon’s fellow Pick 6 podcaster Roger Haynes for putting this together.

What was the genesis of the Pick 6 Podcast? Was it an idea to start a podcast specifically, or was it an organic extension of conversations you were already having among yourselves?

I’m a huge sports enthusiast and so I am always talking about sports and started to frequently post commentary on sports topics on my Facebook page and people were chiming in and they were spawning these very barbershop like discussions on Facebook. Then I decided to take it a step further, I have an IT background I wanted to get into web development, I knew people that want to get involved in sports journalism and management, I knew people who wanted to do more marketing, I knew people who wanted to do writing/editing; it just made sense to start a blog where we could intertwine all these talents and be able to develop our individual skill sets while just doing what we enjoy.

This is what spawned SportsTAC.com, which stands for Sports Talk and Criticism, SportsTAC.com is an interactive community where people can talk about sports topics just like they were sitting in the barbershop. Currently there are two writers myself Devin Edmondson and a talented young lady who is a student at Frostburg University. Also, there is the Pick 6 podcast, The Pick Six Podcast is by far our newest and most popular feature on SportsTAC.com and I take great pride in what it has become.

The origin story for the Pick Six is pretty simple, we are all friends and we talk all the time and one day I just said “man it would be great to be able to put these conversations on the website”. I hopped on Amazon.com found an audio mixer bought a few microphones and the rest is history.

Who are the guys behind the mics?

The voices you hear behind the mics are all my friends and family, I didn’t hire anybody or do any auditions I just asked my friends who have been supporting the site from the beginning and reading my articles to come by and chat on the mic if they had the time. The name the Pick Six comes from our original format of having six guys on the microphones. A lot of the voices are Hampton University Alumni which is where we all met and have been friends since freshman year in 2003 (Myself, Dan, Ryan, Roger, and Eric). The other most frequent voice is that of my brother Justin who at times will bring in his friend and Morehouse Alumn “B5”. We have had several guest some reoccurring and I could give you all their back stories but just know they are all good friends of mine as well (Cam, Darryl, Shields, Toran, Boone, and Coop). We’ve even had some of the girlfriends come join us for a segment or two, it’s really been great to have the support of my friends.

Is it a rotating panel or is everyone on each episode?

There is a rotating panel but that’s not necessarily on purpose though it seems to work really well. The way it seems to have rounded out is with me, Dan, Ryan, Justin, and Eric as the regulars and we rotate in a friend that can make themselves available for that week’s recording. Because nobody is being paid, other things will sometimes take priority so I may need to replace one of the regulars with a friend that can make it if available as well.

Are there any subjects that are off limits? the focus is sports, but you guys dip into pop culture, music, and a range of other topics. What are the parameters for topics?

Limits? Have you heard the show??? No seriously, we don’t pull punches when it comes to subject matter we’ll talk about whatever is on our minds. We just try to avoid being vulgar and offensive in language. I think we have a great benefit right now of not having any paid sponsors, endorsers or having to comply to the FCC that we can get away with talking about anything we like. We just try to not get overly vulgar and cut off an audience when we are in the process of building one.

How often does the show come out, and is there a specific release schedule?

Unfortunately we do not have an editor so I end up doing all the editing as well and this process can be done in a day or several days depending on my work and personal schedule so I try to get podcasts posted on Thursday or Friday.

What is the plan for the future?

The end goal is simply to build an interactive audience and continue to have fun. Financially if we could get sponsors that could simply pay for the hobby that would be great, we all have good jobs and make good money so we aren’t necessarily looking for some big break. However the dream scenario would be to land a radio gig that would pay us a salary that we could live off of.

What’s the best way to find your Podcast?

You can find us 3 ways, SportsTAC.com every time a new episode is posted it will be the first thing you see or you can click the link that says “The Pick Six Podcast” at the top of the screen. You can search us on iTunes by looking for “The Pick Six Podcast” or going on Podomatic.com and searching for “The Pick Six Podcast”. We also have a facebook page https://www.facebook.com/#!/Sportstaccom that updates on all new postings and you can also follow any of the show personalities on twitter.

You can find out more about SportsTAC and the Pick 6 podcast by following Devin Edmondson and Roger Haynes on Twitter, right now.