Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, Day Three

Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, Day Three
Apr 11, 2009, 12:07 pm
Jermaine Taylor, 6-4, Shooting Guard, Central Florida
21 Points, 5 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 3 Turnovers, 9-18 FG, 1-4 3FG, 2-6 FT, 23 Minutes

Jonathan Givony

Jermaine Taylor had another very impressive performance, making 9-18 attempts from the field to finish with 21 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 turnovers—in just 23 minutes. He again put his impressive physical and scoring tools on full display, utilizing changes of speed to get to the basket with NBA caliber moves, using screens intelligently, showing a terrific first step, and finishing through contact around the basket. His ability to use shot-fakes and score off the dribble is simply outstanding, and the way he’s able to operate out of quick actions with pinpoint accuracy and extreme aggressiveness has really put him at another level at this event. He probably heard the talk that he took too many shots in the last game and actually tried to be a little too unselfish at times, which took away from what makes him so effective, and also caused him to turn the ball over a few times. Defensively, he needs to improve, and his ability to dance with the ball and create for himself in pure one-on-one situations isn’t great just yet, but it’s hard to see how he could have helped himself more so far this week. There are some rumblings here that he might be able to make a case to hear his name called in the first round even when it’s all said and done

Leo Lyons, 6’9, Power Forward, Missouri
16 Points, 5 Rebounds, 1 Block, 2 Turnovers, 5-11 FG, 6-8 FT, 0-3 3FG

Joseph Treutlein

Leo Lyons has showed off his intriguing skill set for the second straight game here, showing a very interesting package for a power forward, specifically with his dribble-drive game. Lyons is capable of driving in either direction while combining his very good athleticism with some nifty advanced ball-handling as well. While he looks out of control at times and doesn’t show seem to have the greatest idea of where he’s going with the ball, his ability to make subtle changes of direction, occasional behind-the-back moves, and creativity at the rim usually make up for it at this level. In addition to finishing on creative finesse moves at the rim, Lyons has also gotten to the line both in transition situations and halfcourt sets, showing no problem taking contact and even finishing through it at times.

Lyons’ perimeter game has been a bit of a mixed bag, as he looks great hitting mid-range jumpers both spotting up and turning around, but will unnecessarily make his shots more difficult than they need to be, occasionally fading away for no reason. Lyons has also tried to show some added range here, attempting 5 three-pointers, though he’s only hit 1 thus far. While inconsistent, Lyons also shows some intriguing court vision along with the ability to make passes on the move, though this aspect of his game is still developing.

On the defensive end, Lyons has always been known to have some issues, and it has been apparent at times here that his lack of fundamentals and awareness hold him back. He shows occasional flashes of mobility and clearly has potential in this area, as seen on one pick-and-roll switch where he stuck with the opposing guard down the lane to make the block, but consistently applying his tools to this end of the floor and developing his fundamentals and awareness will be critical if he ever wants to be respectable—a big key for his NBA potential. One NBA scout we spoke with mentioned that he would not be surprised if Lyons ended up being drafted in the second round.

Wesley Matthews, 6’5, SG/SF, Marquette
17 Points, 4 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 2 Turnovers, 6-14 FG, 5-6 FT, 0-2 3FG

Joseph Treutlein

Wesley Matthews showed off his total package of skills today, doing a great job of playing within his team’s offense while still finding a plethora of opportunities to score for his team. Matthews’ constant motion off the ball and ability to recognize how to attack seams in the defense is very impressive, and he takes full advantage of it with strong drives to the lane and finishes at the basket. Matthews is looking a bit more athletic with the ball than we expected, having at least adequate athleticism for the NBA with his playing style, going strong to the whole while angling his body well to protect the ball.

Matthews’ ball-handling has been a mixed bag, at time showing impressive crossover drives while attacking the basket in either direction, but at others he’s struggled to maintain his handle, specifically in traffic where he is prone to lose control.

Matthews did a good job in other areas as well, showing very good court vision and decision-making ability while dishing out quite a few smart passes. His outside shot wasn’t falling today, though he didn’t force the issue with it, instead taking advantage of his slashing game as aforementioned. On the defensive end, Matthews played his usual tough defense, stifling the likes of Ryan Toolson.

B.J. Raymond had yet another outstanding showing, knocking down another four 3-pointers (bringing him to 8 so far, on just 11 attempts) for an efficient 16 points. Raymond is one of the most vocal players you’ll find here on the defensive end, acting as somewhat of a captain for his team on this end of the floor, and really setting the tone for his teammates himself with the work he puts in. Despite not showing great lateral quickness, Raymond moves his feet exceptionally well and can really anticipate, playing a solid, fundamental brand of perimeter defense, and pretty much shutting down whoever he’s been asked to guard. His ball-handling appears to be average at best, and he seems to have problems finishing around the basket when driving in traffic, although he was able to finish nicely through contact in a few transition situations. Sitting right next to his team’s bench, you could constantly hear his voice during timeouts. It’s no surprise that his team is in the finals despite having likely the tournament’s worst “point guard” (the ultra selfish and constant showoff David Holston) running the show for them. It’s becoming more and more obvious why Raymond was such a winner as a college player in his time at Xavier.

-Tyrese Rice followed up a solid day first game performance with a fairly poor outing, posting 10 points on 3-11 shooting with 3 assists and 3 turnovers. He struggled in particular trying to finish around the basket, as his lack of size, strength and explosiveness really hindered him from converting his drives amongst the trees. He showed nice court vision, but also mixed that in with some risky passes that led to turnovers, and also had a very tough time on the defensive end, where he was pushed around a bit and had a hard time making his presence felt due to his below average size.

Ben Woodside again had a so-so performance, scoring 11 points but dishing out just 1 assist compared with 2 turnovers. He is showing that same excellent speed and change of pace ability that gave Kansas such fits in the NCAA tournament, but is really struggling with the size, length and athleticism of oncoming defenders once he turns the corner and needs to decide what’s next. He’s not really doing a great job reading defenses, and is showing questionable decision making skills with the ball in his hands. His jumper looks excellent on the other hand, both from standstill positions and off the dribble, but he’s really struggling on the defensive end, being overpowered by his matchup and having a very difficult time staying in front of anyone. This is not the kind of tournament he needed to have in order to prove that he’s an NBA caliber point guard, but he still has one more game to try and make up some ground.

Michael Bramos had an excellent day two showing, helping his team advance to the championship game with a real all-around performance. He made shots from the perimeter, moved the ball around the floor unselfishly, played excellent perimeter defense, got in the passing lanes, and generally showed his very high basketball IQ. He looked limited as a ball-handler, but didn’t seem to try and force the issue too much, contributing to his team’s ball-movement as a facilitator. He may not be an NBA player at this point in time, but he’s surely going to play at a very high level professionally.

-Jon Brockman cooled off a bit from yesterday, but still managed to pull in 16 rebounds while scoring 11 points. Brockman diversified his game by hitting a couple of spot-up 15-foot jumpers (a significant development for him) and he continued to make his presence felt in the paint by throwing his body around and using his magnet hands to pull down boards over the opposition. In the pre-game, Brockman’s teammate were putting on a dunk contest and Brockman demonstrated a bit more of his explosive vertical leap that we were surprised to see yesterday, but he still hasn’t found a way to translate it to actual game situations, being seemingly unable to power up from most basketball positions. Whoever Brockman trains with this summer, he should put an emphasis on trying to mix that into his game, as well as continuing to hone his mid-range jump-shot. Brockman continues to be mentioned by scouts here as a sleeper prospect to slip in the second round.

Alade Aminu continued to impress by scoring 13 points along with 10 rebounds and 2 blocks, showing very smooth athleticism for a player his size. Aminu excels at setting screens on the perimeter and quickly rolling to the basket to get open for the score, taking advantage of his mobility and good hands. He also has a nice right-handed hook shot on the block and is pretty patient not to force the issue, resetting to the perimeter when nothing is there. When motivated, he runs the floor exceptionally well, often beating his man down the court. On the defensive end, Aminu made a few blocks rotating over in the lane, but his overall defensive game could still use some work in awareness, toughness and fundamentals. Still, he’s clearly one of the more upside-laden players at this tournament, and has likely helped his stock just by being out on the floor.

-After a stellar first game, Diamon Simpson came back to earth in his second game, scoring 7 points and 9 rebounds, but he continued impressively doing the little things, making 3 blocks, 1 steal, and 2 assists as well. Simpson’s pick-and-roll and even perimeter defense on opposing bigs was pretty impressive, showing a good fundamentals along with his obvious tremendous activity level. On the offensive end, Simpsons did a good job getting his hands on offensive rebounds, scoring on a few putbacks and other finishes in the lane. He did a little better today finishing with power over larger opponents, but it’s still a concern.

-K.C. Rivers rebounded very strong from his disappointing first day, pouring in 17 points on 13 shot attempts, showing off his full repertoire of offensive ability. Rivers showed versatility creating in the lane, using show-and-go and spin moves to get past his man for a few impressive finishes while also hitting from mid-range and long-range, pulling and spotting up. He played much better in the flow of the offense, getting more balls in position where he already had a step on his man, something that really helped his performance due to his average ball-handling skills.

-Kyle McAlarney had a better performance, seemingly playing very well, even though he only finished with 15 points on 15 shot attempts along with 4 assists. McAlarney did a very good job getting open and getting off quick threes with perfect form, something he’s known to excel at, however his shots weren’t falling as often as he’d like in the first half, even though they looked good. McAlarney also looked good on a few floaters in the lane, which he gets off with ease despite his lack of athleticism and size.

Aaron Jackson may not have had a very impressive final stat line with 8 points and 5 assists, but he had a very strong impact on his game, managing the offense while being his team’s vocal leader and motivator on both ends of the floor, clearly taking on a leadership role. Jackson does a good job of probing the defense looking for openings, and he has an uncanny ability to throw high velocity precision passes without selling it beforehand. Jackson’s body control and creativity in the lane were again on display as he used a good combination of spins and fakes to weave through the defense, though he doesn’t always turn these forays into high-percentage shots. The biggest adjustment for him at the professional level will be learning how to pick his spots a little better, as he appears to be playing just a little too fast at times. His perimeter jumper has also looked a bit shaky. Defensively, he again put tremendous pressure on the ball, and really made an impact with his excellent size and quickness.

-A.D. Vassallo didn’t score quite as much as yesterday while also being much less efficient with the ball, scoring 10 points on 11 shots along with 4 turnovers. He shows a smooth pull-up game and can convert on a lot of high difficulty shots, but he’s failing to show what else he brings to the table, not excelling on the defensive end or contributing in many other areas.

-Ahmad Nivins had a much better performance today with 17 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals, abusing opposing bigs Bamba Fall and Men McCauley, who were simply no match for his physicality and size. Nivins scored on a lot of simple moves, cutting to the basket, sealing his man beneath the rim, or finishing on the pick-and-roll, getting off a lot of high-percentage lay-ups even though he played quite below the rim. Today he matches with Marcus Cousin and Tony Gaffney, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can still perform in the lane against more formidable defenders, something that has always been a question mark due to his average athleticism.

Weyinmi Efejuku did a good job of showing off his versatile skill-set, scoring from all over the court, hitting spot-up jumpers and attacking the basket en route to 12 points on 9 shot attempts. In the lane, his combination of explosiveness and body control were on display once again, as he did a nice job with pump fakes and show-and-go moves. Defensively, Efejuku also performed well, really taking to the challenge on the few plays he was matched up with Jermaine Taylor, despite his limited wingspan. He appears to have all the makings of a productive European league shooting guard.

-Russell Hicks had his most productive game of the Invitational thus far, tallying 11 points on 4-9 from the field and 5 rebounds. The FIU product has tremendous size and nice touch around the basket, but has had a hard time dealing with the more physical players in attendance this week. His awareness does not appear to be very good, particularly on the defensive end, where he doesn’t show a great deal of hustle.

-Lawrence Hill bounced back from a very poor outing in his first game here, tallying 10 points, He also pulled down 6 rebounds and made his presence felt on the defensive end with a couple of hustle plays. He’s been having a very hard time getting his jump shot to fall, which has limited his offensive impact significantly.

-Lee Cummard bounced back from a so-so opening performance to the tune of 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. His basketball IQ and outside shooting stroke were on full display today, but he also converted some plays at the rim, including an alley-oop pass from Connor Atchley. Though Cummard showed that he can finish in transition, he’s had a difficult time dealing with more physical defenders in half court settings. His strength and athletic limitations have been very obvious over the past few days.

-A.J. Abrams dropped 23 points today, going 8-17 from the field, 2-6 from three, and 5-6 from the line. He took some tough shots off the dribble, but made a number of contested catch and shoot jumpers from the outside. He also made a major impact on the defensive end, showing great anticipation in the passing lanes en route to 5 steals. This game was largely indicative of what kind of player Abrams is: a scorer who can bring the ball up the floor, but isn’t going to make his teammates better. Despite his ability to get steals, there are still plenty of question marks regarding who he might defend at the next level.

-John Bryant had a steady performance today after missing much of last game with a gash on his forehead the he received from a nasty Garrett Siler elbow. The Santa Clara product earns mention here more for the weight he’s lost than for his performance. His body type is completely different than it was just one year ago, and it seems like he’s dropped weight even since the season ended. This setting isn’t an ideal one for a back to the basket player like Bryant, particularly considering how limited he is athletically, but he finished a couple shots around the basket, was a good teammate, and was very active on the offensive glass.

-Robert Vaden came alive today, knocking down 5 of the 8 three-pointers he attempted. His stroke is extremely compact, and he was able to get it off with little trouble today –even when he was well defended. He takes some extremely questionable shots on a regular basis, which probably isn’t endearing him to any of his teammates. Vaden hasn’t really shown much else besides his perimeter shooting ability.

-Chris Johnson had a decent performance today, finishing with 7 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 4 turnovers. The long and rail-thin Johnson provides a good weak-side presence with his shot blocking ability, but isn’t carrying around enough weight to handle the rigors of interior play on this level. When his jumper isn’t falling, which it wasn’t today, it isn’t easy for him to impact the game when his man can position him out of the play at will. With his build at his advanced age, he looks like somewhat of a long-shot to be drafted at this point.

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