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The 2023 Portsmouth Invitational Tournament Preview
A comprehensive preview of the 69th Annual Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, with a scouting report on every player in the field!
Buckle up, Draft Sickos, it’s combine season!
The first of the major pre-draft events in the cycle, the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament has existed since 1953. There, seniors from across college basketball compete in a series of games. In doing so, they hope to impress NBA front offices and continue to build momentum heading into the NBA Draft. Players like Jimmy Butler, Robert Covington, Pat Cannaughton, Richaun Holmes, Royce O’Neal, Alex Caruso, Dorian Finney-Smith, Derrick White, Kendrick Nunn, John Konchar, Terance Mann, and Anthony Lamb have come through the event. While older prospects are often overlooked, Portsmouth provides them with a springboard, and many go on to have long, impactful NBA careers.
With that said, let’s dig into the field! I’ve noted some of my top players to watch from a more immediate NBA standpoint with an asterisk. Also, make sure to follow me on Twitter!
Brandon Johns Jr., 6’8”, VCU, Defensive Forward
The biggest thing Brandon Johns has going for him is his body and ability to move. After four up-and-down seasons at Michigan, he got to display a wider set of skills as a graduate for VCU. He faces up pretty well, can get to his spots, and finishes at the rim (61.7% in the halfcourt). Defensively, there’s some malleability to him. Listed at 240 pounds, Johns moves well laterally and has enough strength to contain bigger forwards. His 2.2 STL% and 3.3 BLK% this past season are both strong marks for a prospect. On offense, Johns has never been a reliable floor spacer (32.7% for his career on low volume), and he’s prone to force tough, contested looks in the mid-range. He’s also not much of a passer. Johns will need to find an offensive role that clicks in order to make it at the next level.
Caleb McConnell, 6’7”, Rutgers, Defensive Wing
A two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Caleb McConnell racks up steals like few others. His 2.5 SPG ranked third in the country among high-major players. He uses his athleticism to dart into passing lanes and he can also stick to his man like glue on the ball. McConnell has good feel as a passer, averaging 3.1 APG. He’ll need to prove he can stay on an NBA floor offensively. He shot below 40% from the field each of the past two seasons, and his 20.3% from three last year makes him easy to ignore on the perimeter. Still, he’s not hopeless, as he’s shown flashes of hitting mid-range jumpers off curls. A hot shooting week from McConnell would go a long way.
Cameron Shelton, 6’2”, Loyola Marymount, Well-Rounded Point Guard
An All-West Coast Conference First-Team selection, Cameron Shelton did a little bit of everything for the Lions this season. He scored 21.4 PPG, hit 37.9% of his threes, grabbed 5.4 rebounds per game, swiped 1.8 SPG, and dished out 4.3 APG to 2.5 TOV. The biggest thing that stands out about Shelton on film is his physicality. He’s got a strong body and he uses it well, getting to the free throw line 5.6 times per game and converting 57.8% of his shots at the basket in the halfcourt. There aren’t a lot of major holes in his game, though he can frustratingly pick up his dribble at inopportune times. For Shelton, the PIT will be a chance to show that his skill set can scale up, and that he can still be a productive, jack-of-all-trades at a higher level.
*Craig Porter Jr., 6’2”, Wichita State, Athletic Point Guard
A graduate player, Porter was slow to break out. After two JuCo seasons, he moved up to Wichita State. In his first season, he scored 2.1 PPG. After an uptick the following season, this year, he blew things out of the water. Porter quietly put together an absurd statistical season, averaging 13.5 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 4.9 APG, 1.5 SPG, and 1.5 BPG. Porter is tough, athletic, and physically strong. His 65.2% on shots at the basket in the halfcourt is an outstanding mark for a guard. On defense, he can dart passing lanes and meet opponents at the rim. Plus, he’s tougher to bully than other guards his size because of his physicality. At times, Porter felt a little ball-dominant on offense, and he has a tendency to settle for tougher shots than necessary. If he can show off his late-blooming skillset in a more complimentary way while still asserting his will, Porter has a real chance to rise after Portsmouth.
Connor Vanover, 7’5”, Oral Roberts, Shot Blocking Floor Spacer
Oral Roberts dominated the Summit League this year, and Connor Vanover was a big part of that. He’s a humongous human being and it feels like he interferes with everything around the basket on defense. His 3.2 BPG while only fouling 1.4 times per game is an uncanny figure. What makes Vanover even more intriguing is that he has a blossoming jump shot. He took 4.2 threes per game and made 32.4% of them, a great mark for his position. In space, Vanover doesn’t move very well, and stronger NBA bigs will be able to move him around. Most concerning, during his stints with California and Arkansas, Vanover looked pretty average. Portsmouth will give the intriguing big man a chance to show that his breakout was legitimate and not just the product of facing lesser competition.
*D’Moi Hodge, 6’4”, Missouri, Defensive Floor Spacing Guard
After two JuCo seasons at State College of Florida, Manatee–Sarasota, and two years at Cleveland State, D’Moi Hodge followed Coach Dennis Gates to Missouri for his fifth year. There, he landed on more draft radars due to his defensive acumen, high level of feel, and floor spacing ability. Hodge’s 2.6 SPG, 5.1 STL%, and 2.1 BLK% are exceptional marks for a high-major guard. He has great hands to knock the ball loose and springs off the floor to contest shots at the perimeter. His ability to rotate and provide help at the rim is a quirky value-add for a guard. Hodge also boasts NBA range and hit 40% of his threes on 7.1 attempts per game. Despite averaging only 1.6 APG due to playing a more off-ball role, he makes quick, clever decisions with the ball. Hodge will be 24 on draft night, so he’ll need to really show out during the pre-draft process to hear his name called on draft night. Evaluators will also be interested to see him play more of an on-ball, true point guard type role.
Damion Baugh, 6’4”, TCU, Athletic Playmaker
While Mike Miles received most of the NBA attention at TCU, Damion Baugh is no slouch. Baugh has some serious burst and shiftiness—32.9% of his halfcourt shots came at the rim, and he made a fantastic 60% of them, per Synergy. He also showed the ability to play at different speeds, too, further accentuating his tools. Baugh keeps his head up on drives, which helped him to rack up 5.8 APG this past season. He’ll make slick reads at high speeds. Dating back to Memphis, he’s shown a knack for using his tools on defense. Though slender, he’s a competitor and playmaker on that side of the floor, too. For Baugh, the issue is his jumper. He’s a career 29.5% three-point shooter, and even his recent career-high mark of 33% is poor for a guard. If Baugh can get hot from three, teams may be interested.
Dane Goodwin, 6’6”, Notre Dame, Shooting Wing
Dane Goodwin can really shoot the ball. He shot 39.1% from long range during his five-year career at Notre Dame. At 6’6” and 214 pounds, he’s got some good size to him, too. Goodwin competes on the glass (5.1 RPG) and is a reliable decision-maker with the ball in his hands (2.0 APG to 0.9 TOV). While his strength helps him to wall off drives, he can be a little slow to react on defense, and he’s not the best at wiggling his way around screens. The assignment for Goodwin is to show that he can be more dynamic on offense and find a way to make an impact on defense.
Darius McGhee, 5’9”, Liberty, Scoring Point Guard
For each of the past two seasons, Darius McGhee has been one of the top scorers in college basketball. A three-time Atlantic Sun Player of the Year, McGhee plays ball screens in a multitude of ways, making it tricky for defenders to get a gauge on what he will do. Including passes, he ranked in Synergy’s 87th percentile on pick-and-rolls this past year. He also hit 45.2% of his catch-and-shoot threes, giving him a role to play off the ball. His lack of size will always be a concern on defense and as a finisher, and McGhee’s pull-up shooting numbers were shaky for a guard. He’ll need to show defensive upside and the ability to convert at the basket against bigger, more athletic opposition in Portsmouth.
David Singleton, 6’4”, UCLA, Sharpshooter
There are few shooters on earth as good as David Singleton. Over five seasons at UCLA, he knocked down 43.4% of his threes. He was primarily a spot-up floor spacer for the Bruins, but he’s shown flashes as a shooter coming off screens, and he developed more of a pull-up game this past season as well. Singleton is a sound decision-maker and doesn’t make many mistakes on the floor. He started to show more defensively this past season, posting a 2.3 STL%, the highest of his career, while also playing the most minutes of his career. Still, Singleton is behind the curve as an NBA athlete, he doesn’t pressure the rim or offer much when chased off the line, and he lacks positional size for an NBA wing. Singleton will need to show that he’s a more dynamic player than he was at UCLA while showcasing improved athleticism.
DeAndre Williams, 6’9”, Memphis, Do-It-All Forward
Let’s address the elephant in the room first—DeAndre Williams will be 27 years old when the next NBA season tips off. That said, he’s unbelievably talented. Williams plays with a toughness that allows him to cover bigger players, he controls the glass (8.2 RPG), and he protects the rim well as a help defender. Offensively, he’s been the straw that stirs the drink for Memphis for the past three seasons. He’s a selfless connector who can play with or without the ball. His passing vision and length enable him to find teammates and get them the ball at angles that are tricky to intercept. Though the volume was low, he made 40.5% of his 168 threes across four Division I seasons. Still, he’s older than Devin Booker. Williams will need to blow the doors off the opposition in order to gain serious draft or two-way consideration.
Derrick Walker, 6’9”, Nebraska, Passing Big Man
At 6’9” and 245 pounds, Derrick Walker is a pain to deal with on the interior. He has power, but also finesse, with a good face-up dribbling package and soft hook shot. Walker thrives as a passer, too. He averaged 3.9 APG, slinging passes at high speeds to spot up shooters and threading needles to reward cutters when off-ball defenders commit too much attention to him. His strength and mobility help him stay above water defensively. The big issue for Walker is that he’s not a great leaper, so he doesn’t project to offer NBA rim protection. And if he’s not a 5, his lack of outside shooting (4 attempted threes in college, career 53.7% free throw shooter) takes the 4 position off the table. Walker will need to prove he can either hang as a true big or show that he has a hidden jumper.
*Desmond Cambridge, 6’4”, Arizona State, Athletic Shooting Guard
Cambridge has been perpetually on the cusp, and at Portsmouth, he’ll have what may be his final chance to get over it. Cambridge is a potent athlete. He skies for dunks, blocks a ton of shots for a guard, and flies into passing lanes to create transition opportunities. Though his career 33.8% from three leaves a lot to be desired, he’s a high-volume shooter and he can hit some really tough ones from behind the arc. From a physicality and competitiveness standpoint, Cambridge will be one of the top guys at Portsmouth. Evaluators will want to see if he can do more playmaking for others and will also want to see what his shot looks like when he isn’t functioning as his team’s leading option.
Ed Croswell, 6’8”, Providence, Defense-First Rim Finisher
Listed at 240 pounds, Ed Crosswell is both big and tough. Croswell gets off the floor more easily than one might expect, he has soft touch, and he knows how to get his defender off-balance in the post. He’s an intelligent defender who knows how to disrupt entry passes, reads passing lanes well, and he’ll knock the ball loose when players face up too carelessly. His sense of man-and-ball on defense is top-notch. This shows up with Croswell’s timing and instincts as a rim protector, which are rock solid. Unfortunately, Croswell has never shown much of a jump shot, and it’s hard to have high hopes for one given that he’s a career 58.9% free throw shooter. As an undersized interior player, he’ll need to grow in that respect for a chance at an NBA future.
Emmanuel Akot, 6’8”, Western Kentucky, Skilled Wing
Emmanuel Akot has been on a winding road to this point. A Top 50 recruit back in 2017, he left Arizona for Boise State after two seasons where he played under 20 MPG. While playing for the Broncos, Akot became a wildly intriguing player, showcasing his handle and passing abilities (2.8 APG) that leap off the screen for someone his size. He recently spent a graduate season at Western Kentucky, who came out of the gate hot before having a disappointing back half of the year. Akot manages to use his dribbling and strength to get inside consistently, but his touch is suspect, shooting 40% from the field over the past three years. A career 35% three-point shooter on low-to-moderate volume, he’s not a true threat from long range, and the NBA line may give him trouble. Akot has never defended as well as his frame might suggest, either. If he really clicks in Portsmouth, his unusual set of tools could lead to something like an Exhibit-10 or Summer League deal.
Eric Williams Jr., 6’7”, San Diego, Athletic Wing
Eric Williams Jr. is a steady, solid player who doesn’t have many flaws. Over the course of his college career, he hit 36% of his threes on solid volume; his physical tools allow him to guard up and down the lineup, and he makes plays for others off the dribble. There were some brilliant flashes of creativity from him as a passer. The biggest thing that sticks out about Williams on the tape is how well he gets off the floor. He’s an above-the-rim finisher and stellar rebounder (9.3 RPG, 3.0 OREB/game). Williams will turn 24 this summer, and despite a big season at San Diego this past year, he shot under 40% from the field in his two prior seasons at Oregon. The PIT will give Williams an opportunity to prove that his leap is legitimate and that he can produce the way he did in the WCC against a higher level of opposition.
Erik Stevenson, 6’4”, West Virginia, Shooting Guard
After bouncing from Wichita State to Washington to South Carolina to West Virginia, Erik Stevenson ended his college career on a high note, earning a Third Team All-Big 12 Selection. Simply put, he’s a great shooter. Stevenson hit 38.9% of his catch-and-shoot threes, 35.1% of his pull-up threes, and 48.7% of his pull-up twos. He’ll hit when he’s open; when chased off the line, he can shoot off the dribble or finish at the rim respectably. Stevenson has a rock-solid body and plays with loads of toughness going downhill. Given his size, Stevenson will need to show that he can be more of a playmaker, as he profiles more as a 1 than a 2 from a height and length perspective. Defensively, he did well throughout his college career, but it’s tougher to imagine him guarding on the wing at the NBA level. If he can show the ability to penetrate and read the floor at the PIT, his skills as a floor spacer and a physically stout defender could generate interest.
Filip Rebraca, 6’9”, Iowa, Skilled Big
Filip Rebraca is a bit of a throwback, but he does have some modern flair. He’s an effective low-post player with a soft baby-hook shot. When he has a size mismatch, he’ll take advantage of it. Rebraca also has a great sense of the floor as a passer and finds open teammates well. There’s a real competitive fire to him, too, which stands out on film. Still, at 6’9”, he’s undersized to play the five, he doesn’t jump that well, and he doesn’t stretch the floor as a shooter. Rebraca showing off a new jumper would likely be his best path to earning an Elite Camp invite.
Gabe Kalscheur, 6’4”, Iowa State, Defensive Wing
Gabe Kalscheur had one of the strangest college basketball careers I can recall. After hitting 37.2% of his threes on high volume during his first two seasons, he went ice cold, going 23.9% the following two years. Still, during that fourth season at Iowa State, Kalscheur continued to earn minutes through his tenacity on the defensive end. He’s strong and tough, and he moves well laterally. Kalscheur contains the ball well at the point of attack and knows how to handle scramble predicaments. Then, during his graduate campaign, he started to make threes again, going 35.4% on 6.2 threes per game! Wild stuff. Though he’s a bit short for an NBA wing, his physical tools and effort are there on defense. There will be fair skepticism over his shooting, too. A red-hot shooting week could potentially open doors for him down the road.
Grant Sherfield, 6’2”, Oklahoma, Traditional Point Guard
A trustworthy table-setter, Grant Sherfield plays low to the ground and uses his handle to get to his spots. He can sling out of his live dribble and is one of the more reliable passers of this guard group. Though he was an average three-point shooter for most of his college career, he ratcheted up the volume and percentage this year, hitting 39.4% of his threes on 6.5 3PA per game. Still, Sherfield doesn’t have a ton of size and plays below the rim. On defense, he’s never been great at containing the ball and he can’t cover much ground rotationally. He can force the issue as a shooter at times. Most concerning, he struggles mightily when forced to his left, and he doesn’t have the burst to overcome that. Still, Sherfield is a smart player who has produced at a high level. He may thrive in the combine atmosphere of Portsmouth the way others have in the past and get himself into the mix.
Hunter Maldonado, 6’7”, Wyoming, Table Setting Wing
A cult favorite for his quirky playstyle during the last draft cycle, Hunter Maldonado returned to Wyoming for his sixth college season instead of going pro. His buzz greatly diminished, as Wyoming went from 25-9 to 9-22. It’s not even mostly Maldonado’s fault, as the squad battled a lot of injuries and there was a weird situation where a bunch of players who transferred in were seemingly ousted from the team. Still, his counting numbers fell in most respects, and his hype meter went down. Despite that, the back-to-the-basket wing still scored 15.6 PPG, and averaged 4.8 RPG and 4.0 APG. He also hit 34.6% of his catch-and-shoot threes, which had long been a weak spot for him. A mundane athlete who got to play with the ball as much as he wanted, Maldonado will need to showcase that he can hang from a speed perspective while showing what he can do as a connector rather than a focal point.
Hunter Tyson, 6’8”, Clemson, Shooter with Size
Hunter Tyson had a strong graduate season for Clemson, tallying 15.8 PPG, 9.6 RPG, and hitting 40.5% of his 6 3PA/game. He has some side-step moves against closeouts to get off clean shots, so he’s not purely a “stay parked here and shoot the open ones” guy. His size does wonders inside, too, as he converted 69.6% of his shots at the basket in the halfcourt, per Synergy. His low block rate (0.4 BLK%) and shaky lateral footwork give real reasons for pause. Still, there aren’t many guys who can shoot and rebound like him and have a proven track record of producing in a great conference. Improved defense and mobility will be key for Tyson.
*Jake Stephens, 7’0”, Chattanooga, Stretch Big
I wrote a full feature on Jake Stephens here, and interviewed him, which you can listen to here. The CliffNotes version of this: at 7’0”, Jake Stephens is an elite shooter and high-feel passer. He hit 45.3% of his threes during his final two college seasons. He’s at his best in handoff settings, where he can shoot if his man sags, or sling effective passes when pressured. Stephens tallied 3.4 APG this past season, throwing accurate, creative passes from the top of the key. He’ll use his big body to control the glass. Defensively, he protected the rim well (8.0 BLK%, 2.2 BPG), but that’s where his biggest questions remain. He’s slow by NBA standards and doesn’t get off the floor well. If he gets cooked in space and struggles at a fast pace, he’ll be fighting an uphill battle. At the PIT, he’ll need to show that he can hang with better athletes. If he can, NBA teams will surely be interested.
Jamarius Burton, 6’4”, Pitt, Combo Guard
A physically strong, attacking guard, Jamarius Burton does his best work inside the arc. He plays with a herky-jerky pace and uses his powerful frame to get downhill. 35.1% of his halfcourt shots came at the rim, a big number for a guard. There, he has some craft to finish. His mid-range shooting is great—he hit 46.2% of his pull-up twos this past season. Contests and tough looks don’t bother him, and he’s a real shot-maker in that part of the court. Even better, he keeps his head up as he constantly collapses defense, leading to him averaging 4.2 APG. Where it gets dicey for Burton on offense is behind the three-point line. He’s a career 32.7% shooter from deep on low volume (1.7/game). His effort on defense waxes and wanes, and while he has a good frame, he doesn’t move that well vertically or laterally. Defense and shooting are what front offices will want to see from him.
Jarkel Joiner, 6’1”, North Carolina State, Scoring Guard
After stops at Cal State Bakersfield and Ole Miss, Jarkel Joiner had a massive breakout campaign for NC State. Joiner is a dynamic scorer, totaling 17 PPG on 42.8/35.4/85.3 splits. The three-point percentage becomes more impressive with the context that Joiner actually took more threes off the dribble than off the catch. He’s super quick with the ball and can get himself space on the perimeter. Joiner grew as a passer, too. After a career with flat assist-to-turnover numbers, this season, he averaged 3.6 APG to 1.4 TOV. He offers more on the glass than expected given his size. Joiner is a dynamic scorer, a budding passer, and he has loads of speed. Still, he’s undersized by NBA standards, and he may struggle defensively on top of that. Joiner will have to hang on that side of the ball while continuing to demonstrate improvements as a playmaker for others.
Javan Johnson, 6’6”, DePaul, 3-And-D Wing
Javan Johnson is a knock-down shooter who can also move the ball and compete defensively. This past season, he took 6.0 threes per game and made 41.2% of them. He has a confident right-handed stroke and hit 44.3% of his threes off the catch. Johnson can hit from NBA range and off movement, too. Johnson doesn’t get the rim much and struggles when there. His 2.5 BLK% is great for a wing. He plays with toughness defensively, uses his length well, and gets off the floor easily to contest. Johnson also sees the floor well and makes decisions quickly as a passer. If he can show something inside the arc, NBA teams could take notice of his well-rounded, modern skillset.
Javonte Perkins, 6’6”, St. Louis, Scoring Wing
During the 2020-2021 season, Javonte Perkins was one of the most potent three-level scorers in the country. He scored 17.1 PPG, hit 37.6% of his threes, hit 38.1% of his jumpers inside the arc (often tough ones, many at the end of the clock), and he made 58.7% of his shots at the basket. Unfortunately, an injury robbed him of his follow-up campaign. This past year, Perkins performed well, but only scored 10.9 PPG on 42.0/36.1/81.5 splits, a step back from where he’d been before. Still, NBA teams always want shooters and guys who can get their own shot. If Perkins rounds back into form at the right time, there could be a path for him to work his way back into NBA consideration down the road.
Joe Bryant Jr., 6’1”, Norfolk State, Scoring Guard
A two-time MEAC player of the year, Joe Bryant Jr. is one of the more interesting players in this class. Listed at 205 pounds, he’s stocky and strong going downhill. His power gets him through contact and helps him to convert tough shots. He’s great in the mid-range, where he plays with polish and knocked down 47.2% of his pull-up twos. Bryant also hit 37% of his threes this past season, giving him some real three-level scoring upside. His 86.6% from the charity stripe is stellar, too. He’s a heads-up defender with good hands who generates a lot of steals (1.8 per game this season). The knock on Bryant is that he’s always been more average than good as a passer, which is a bit scary given the leap in competition he’ll be seeing soon. That, combined with the uptick in athleticism at higher levels will be the biggest question marks surrounding him headed into the PIT.
*Jordan "Jelly" Walker, 5’11”, UAB, Floor Spacing Guard
A cult favorite due to his prolific scoring ability, Jelly Walker is both a bucket and a problem. He averaged 22.4 PPG this past season and he can really fill it up from beyond the arc. Walker attempted 12.9 threes per 100 possessions and converted 37.8% of his attempts. Many of these looks were tough and smothered, with Walker only taking 31 no-dribble jumpers and hitting 58.1% of them. While his small frame will certainly give teams pause, his ability to hit threes efficiently on preposterously high volume, paired with a quick release, gives him a chance. Walker has also developed more as a facilitator this past year and he’s not just a chucker, with a growing assist rate and a lower turnover rate relative to his usage. There are enough complimentary elements to his game that if he can find a way to stay on the floor defensively, he could find an NBA bench role. You can listen to my recent interview with him here.
Josh Roberts, 6’9”, Manhattan, Play Finishing Rim Protector
There’s going up strong, and then there’s what Josh Roberts does. He finishes with pure, unadulterated violence at the basket. It feels like he’s going to bring down the hoop when he slams it home. Roberts ranked in the 98th percentile as a pick-and-roll big man this season. He’s an effective finisher who gets up well and will finish through contact. The MAAC Defensive Player of the Year springs off two feet to swat shots on defense. He’s not toast in space, either. Roberts will face athletes and size like he hasn’t before at Portsmouth, and it’s fair to wonder how his defense will translate. Additionally, his lack of jump shooting and passing raises questions for the undersized big man.
*JT Shumate, 6’7”, Toledo, High-Efficiency Forward
For the past two seasons, JT Shumate has converted over 60% of his twos, 40% of his threes, and 80% of his free throws. Wherever he is on the floor, he can put the ball in the basket. Defensively, he plays long and strong, often guarding up in Toledo’s smaller lineups, but holding his own when switched down. Against Michigan in the NIT, he was matched up with both Kobe Bufkin and Hunter Dickinson on different possessions. His off-ball feel stands out on that end, blocking 1.3 shots per game through his awareness and understanding of rotations. With size, feel, and an outrageous shooting stroke (44.4% from three over the last two years), JT Shumate has a chance to pop for front offices with a big PIT. The biggest question for him will be how he looks athletically against such a loaded field. You can listen to my recent interview with him here.
Justice Sueing, 6’7”, Ohio State, Athletic Slasher
A vital connector piece for Ohio State, Sueing has a polished face-up scoring game from the mid-range in. There’s some slither to him that allows him to get inside, he times his cuts well, and he can get off the floor. He’s tough enough to finish through contact, too. While he’s not a big statistical producer, I like him on that end of the floor. Sueing is mobile enough to stick with smaller players, he knows where to go rotationally, and his balance prevents him from getting left in the dust when closing out. It’ll be tricky for him from a positional standpoint, though. Sueing is pretty skinny for an NBA 4 (a much bigger issue for older prospects like the 24-year-old Sueing than younger ones who have time to fill out) and he doesn’t shoot it well enough to reliably play the 3 (career 30.8 3FG%). Sueing is a smart player and a real competitor, but he’ll likely need to show both a stronger body and an improved jump shot to make a mark.
*Justyn Mutts, 6’7”, Virginia Tech, Do-It-All Forward
Justyn Mutts has been one of college basketball’s greatest utility players for the past two seasons. At 6’7” with linebacker strength and nimble feet, Mutts guards up and down the positional spectrum. His interesting physical profile is accentuated by a high level of processing and a strong understanding of the game. Mutts sees things before they happen, allowing him to take advantage of mistakes and get into the right positions as an off-ball defender. As a result, he averaged 1.5 SPG and 0.8 BPG this past season. He’s versatile on offense, too—Mutts can cut, he’s an okay jump shooter (33.1% from three on low volume the past three seasons), he does a marvelous job of passing (4.6 APG), and he can put it on the floor better than you’d think. Mutts has an NBA brain and a frame for NBA physicality, but there are still questions about his scalability. He’ll be short for his position in the association, and he’ll need to prove that he can both take and hit more threes. If Mutts knocks down threes at Portsmouth, he’ll generate serious intrigue.
Kendric Davis, 6’0”, Memphis, Lead Guard
The Kendric Davis experience is absolutely electric. The small guard can shoot off the catch. Even better, though, he has a wicked handle and polished footwork that enables him to create space for himself on the perimeter. His bag is deep, he can hit from NBA range, and he gets his shot off quickly, even off the bounce. A career 35.1% shooter from deep, his percentage is underscored by the difficulty of his looks. Davis can sling live-dribble passes, sees the floor well, and has quick hands when guarding at the point of attack (2.0 SPG). Still, Davis is undersized, and the margin for error for short point guards has never been smaller. He’ll need to show emphatic dominance throughout the pre-draft process to stay in the mix.
Kevin Obanor, 6’8”, Texas Tech, Stretch Power Forward
Obanor put his name on the radar as a powerful, floor-spacing 4 during Oral Roberts’s Cinderella run in the NCAA tournament a few years back. After transferring up to Texas Tech, he continued to produce at a high level. Obanor is an inside-out threat, using his strength to bully smaller players inside while shooting a career 38.1% from three over five college seasons. He’s a great rebounder, throwing around his weight and boxing out to control the glass. At 6’8”, there are fair questions to be asked about his scalability as an interior presence, and he’s not super quick while guarding on the perimeter. His defensive metrics at Texas Tech grade out below what most NBA forwards bring to the table. If Obanor can look at home defensively, he might warrant more attention.
Kevin Samuel, 6’11”, South Alabama, Rim Protecting Play Finisher
Kevin Samuel is very good at two important things: finishing plays and blocking shots. He shot a preposterous 65.2% from the field and blocked 2.5 shots per game. His mere presence limited the number of shots opposing teams took inside. When you zoom out, though, things get a little dangerous. Samuel’s 3.5 AST% is exceptionally low, and he shot 26.8% at the free throw line. He’ll need to prove he can offer more than his primary skills and not be a fouling target.
*KJ Williams, 6’10”, LSU, Stretch Big
After racking up three All Ohio-Valley Team nods, KJ Williams followed his Murray State coach, Matt McMahon, to LSU. There, he had one of the best under-the-radar seasons in the country, scoring 17.7 PPG on 49.0/41.1/78.5 splits. He’s a real-deal shooter who can hit with a hand in his face and he’s a dangerous transition trailer. There’s a toughness to him on the glass and he sets good screens. He isn’t toast when he has to guard in space even if you don’t necessarily want him switching, and while his block totals (0.8 BPG) don’t fly off the page, he can get up to meet opponents at the rim on occasion. He’s not the best athlete, and his offensive feel can be lacking. Williams doesn’t offer much as a passer. Rim protection, defensive acumen, and steady on-ball decisions could help propel his stock.
Leon Ayers III, 6’5”, Bowling Green, Dribble-Pass-Shoot Wing
Leon Ayers is a stat-sheet stuffer. He tallied 16.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 3.1 APG this past season. He’s an efficient one, too, as he did it with shooting splits of 47.3/41.4/80.8. His outside stroke is a clean one, and he uses the gravity it creates to get inside with his solid first step. He has good offensive footwork in general, and he makes clever passes to set the table for others, too. Even if it’s just a basic skip pass, Ayers will deliver it sharply with accuracy. Listed at only 185 pounds, Ayers is going to be thin by NBA standards. Bigger players may be able to plow right through him. Athletically, he doesn’t fly off the floor, either. This week, he’ll want to prove that his size, speed, and leaping ability can be overcome by his skill.
Manny Bates, 6’11” Butler, Rim Protecting Play Finisher
After injuries robbed him of his junior season, Manny Bates re-emerged as a serious big man at Butler this year. He’s long been a strong rim protector. Bates is a smart defender, reading opposing plays, deterring opponents at the basket, and still staying out of foul trouble (only 3.1 fouls per 40 minutes this season). Opposing teams shot 41% against him at the rim this season, per Synergy, and he has a career BLK% of 10.7. Bates is an effective finisher, too, with a career 63.4 FG% playing in the ACC and Big East. While he’ll never be an offensive hub at the pro level, Bates also has some juice as a passer. His measurements will be interesting to see, as I’ve long suspected that he is shorter than 6’11”. If Bates can dominate defensively while playing above the back on offense, he’ll put himself on the map in a big way heading into the next set of combine events.
Mike Bothwell, 6’3”, Furman, Scoring Guard
One of the best players in the Southern Conference the past few seasons, Mike Bothwell got to the rim a lot for someone his size. He’s a determined driver who took almost 30% of his halfcourt shots at the rim, and he made a phenomenal 62.3% of them. His outside shot was never the most consistent (career 34.3% from three, but he did take some tougher ones. While he showed a lot of fire on defense earlier in his career, it felt like he took it easier on that side of the floor his year. Bothwell also loves to go left, and he’ll try to force things in that direction even when a good driving angle isn’t there. Bothwell will need to show more of a table-setting skillset while giving strong effort on the defensive end.
Morris Udeze, 6’8”, New Mexico, Interior Big
Morris Udeze had a stellar graduate season for the Lobos. His motor is off the charts, he cleans up on the glass, and he’s totally low maintenance. Udeze finishes plays and doesn’t try to force things in areas where he’s less skilled. The physicality that he plays with gets to the line a ton, taking 6.5 FTA/game. His 53 dunks on the year ranked him 19th in all of Division-1. Still, most of his offense came in the post, an unlikely NBA role for a 6’8” big man. He hasn’t shown a jump shot and his low block rate 2.8 BLK%, 0.8 BPG) raises red flags at the next level given his size. Udeze needs a gigantic PIT week to get on NBA radars.
*Nate Laszewski, 6’10”, Notre Dame, Stretch Big
A fifth-year player out of Notre Dame, Nate Laszewski has a clean of a stroke as you’ll find for anyone his size. He’s hit 42.5% of his threes over the past three seasons. Still, he can score inside the arc, where he made 69.4% of his shots at the rim in the halfcourt, per Synergy. His feel as a passer and ball mover is rock solid, too. Questions arise on the defensive end, though. He’s on the thin side and can struggle to contain powerful bigs, and he’s not quite quick enough to hang with smaller players either. His offense is stellar, and it may get him over the hump, but he needs to carve out a defensive role to make a true impact. If he does, someone with his size and skill could bring tremendous value.
Nathan Mensah, 6’10”, San Diego State, Rim Protecting Play Finisher
It could be easy to write off Nathan Mensah—he’s 25 years old, and his averages of 6.0 PPG and 5.9 RPG don’t jump off the page. But in the words of Lee Corso, “NOT SO FAST, MY FRIEND!” Mensah was a critical part of San Diego State’s run to the NCAA Tournament Finals. He plays strong with the ball, he gets off the floor easily, and he has good feet for a big man on the perimeter. Mensah can protect the rim, contain smaller players when needed, and finish lobs. His recognition as a passer is solid, too. Still, there are lots of big men in this archetype, and the fact that he can be ignored outside of the paint doesn’t help him. Mensah will need to play with assertiveness and show that he’s a cut above similar players.
Osun Osunniyi, 6’10”, Iowa State, Mobile Defensive Big Man
A few years back, Osun Osunniyi was a trendy sleeper name. A disappointing 2021-2022 campaign for his then-St. Bonaventure Bonnies took some steam out of his momentum, and he transferred to Iowa State for a graduate season. He was productive there, but he played under 20 MPG. Still, Osunniyi is interesting. There are moments where he shows poised while switching down and he moves his feet well. Osunniyi flies off the floor to finish lobs and swat blocks. His career BLK% of 11.3 is a high-end number, and that’s what he’ll hang his hat on. That said, Osunniyi is thin, causing him to get bumped off his spot easily and leading to him committing fouls due to his chest not holding up to contact. In spite of that, mobile big men are still all the rage. If Osunniyi can switch, protect the rim, and finish plays, it may get him back on a few radars.
Patrick Gardner, 6’11”, Marist, Stretch Big
After stops at Nassau Community College and Division II Saint Michael’s, Patrick Gardner made a giant impact in his first Division I season at Marist. Gardner scored an efficient 19.1 PPG and earned an All-MAAC nod. His jump shot is buttery smooth, and his shot prep is pristine. Gardner hit 38.3% on 4.5 attempts per game. His touch on the block is solid, too. Though he’s certainly not slow, he isn’t quite limber enough to be switchable, and he doesn’t get off the floor well enough to truly protect the rim in a drop coverage scheme. He’ll need to show a way to be viable on the defensive end to generate NBA consideration.
*Pete Nance, 6’10”, North Carolina, High Feel Big
After a big senior season for Northwestern, Pete Nance feels like a bit of a “forgotten prospect.” His graduate season at Nort Carolina wasn’t bad, but the team’s disappointing performance seemed to diminish interest in him. Still, there’s a lot to like. He’s hit 37.8% of his threes across the last three seasons and has soft touch in the mid-range as well. Nance’s game is permeated by a sense of fluidity, both in terms of how he moves and his feel. He looks off passes well and is an intelligent decision-maker with the ball. Though he’s not the greatest athlete, his length and discipline enable him to guard down. Nance is a bit on the thinner side, and he’s not quite strong enough or a potent enough rim protector to be a full-time five. For Nance, the PIT will be about showing that he can hang on a more athletic floor and that he can get his three-ball back going (32% this past season) enough to space the court at the 4.
Race Thompson, 6’8”, Indiana, High-Feel Forward
A powerfully-built forward, Race Thompson has the strength to hold his own down low while remaining quick enough to guard on the perimeter. His career 4.2 BLK% and 2.4 STL% grade out well for a 4. He knows where to be on the floor, and he’s not going to make a coach rip their hair out. Where it gets tricky for Thompson is that he never got over the hump as a three-point shooter. He went a career 26.2% from long range on low volume at Indiana. Thompson needs to show something there to get an NBA opportunity.
Rasir Bolton, 6’2”, Gonzaga, Sharpshooting Guard
Coming into the season, Rasir Bolton’s reputation as a sharpshooter proceeded him. He’s a career 37.8% shooter from long range, boasting deep range and the ability to hit off movement. This year, Gonzaga’s issues with guard play allowed him to show off more of his playmaking abilities, too. He averaged 2.5 APG to 1.1 TOV, moving the ball more quickly and playing with greater poise. Bolton ranked in the 86th percentile as a pick-and-roll player including passes, per Synergy. He did a good job of leveraging his scoring gravity to hit the roll man. His quickness allowed him to pressure the rim more, too—he took 24% of his shots at the basket and converted an admirable 53.7% of them. He’s still way behind the curve as a defender, though. Bolton’s length betrays him, and he gets backdoored off the ball far too often. Continuing to demonstrate growth as a passer and playing potent, attentive defense is a must for Bolton.
Setric Millner, 6’6”, Toledo, Floor Spacing Wing
Setric Millner had a strong fifth year as wing scorer for Toledo. He scored 16.3 PPG on 49.5/42.0/78.3 splits. His pull-up jumper when chased off the line is respectable and his off-ball cutting instincts are a great tool in his work belt. Though he’s not flashy, he’s a sound decision-maker with the ball in his hands. He’s never truly popped on defense, though. Millner is a pretty mundane athlete. His stance can be too “hunchy,” bending at the waist rather than the knees, and he’ll give opponents too much space on the perimeter. If he can offer something on that end, he could potentially get a cup of coffee down the road.
Sincere Carry, 6’1”, Kent State, Playmaking Guard
A key part of Kent State’s run to the NCAA tournament, Sincere Carry is a well-rounded guard. He excels as a pick-and-roll scorer. Per Synergy, he ranked in the 88th percentile on those possessions. He gets to the rim pretty often, he finishes well there (56.1% in the halfcourt), and his mid-range pull-up (45.1%) can bail his team out at the end of the shot clock. Carry does a great job of playing at different speeds, which makes him hard to telegraph. He finds his teammates well and reliably hits the open man. Defensively, Carry competes on the ball while staying poised. Carry will need to show evaluators that he can shoot threes. He’s a career 32.8% from deep, a low mark for a small guard.
*Sir’Jabari Rice, 6’4”, Texas,
Pump Fake Specialist Combo Guard
The man with the best pump fake in college hoops is Portsmouth bound! Sir’Jabari Rice is a thinking man’s player. He constantly uses his “barely keeping a toe on the floor” pump fake to force rotations and get inside. The fake works because he’s become a knockdown shooter (38.5% off the catch from 3) with a high release point. When he gets downhill, though, he’s even better, having made 67.1% of his shots at the rim in the halfcourt this past season. Rice thrives in the gray areas and makes a ton of winning plays. He brings effort on defense, and he feels bigger than he is at times on that end. At 6’4”, he’ll need to show more passing chops, as he’s more solid than great in that regard. Generally, players of that size need to be more dynamic creators. If he can show something in that respect, Rice has a great chance to improve his NBA chances.
*Taevion Kinsey, 6’5”, Marshall, Slashing Guard
I was head-over-heels in love with Taevion Kinsey before his senior season. As a junior, he had a pro body, could jump out of the gym, scored 19.5 PPG, hit 41.3% of his threes, and made 81.8% of his free throws. For an, “if he shoots it” guy, it seemed like he was on the right path. Then, as a senior, Kinsey shot 18.3% from long range. Still, his defensive tools were interesting, and he grew more thoughtful as a passer on the go. During his graduate year, Kinsey hit 40.4% of his threes, but the volume was low (1.5 per game). Kinsey has the tools to be a good defender, he won’t be out of place athletically, and he knows how to attack. Still, without a jump shot, it may not matter. Evaluators in Portsmouth will want to see him take threes and hit them at a higher clip.
Tajion Jones, 6’5”, UNC Asheville, Sharpshooter
A career 39.6% shooter on 6.1 attempts per game, Tajion Jones has been one of college basketball’s premier shooters for the past few seasons. He’s able to move into his shot, and his release point is high, giving optimism for pro translatability. His makes are soft, with the ball falling beautifully through the net. When he needs to create for himself, he has a solid enough handle to execute basic moves. Questions pop up with regards to his athleticism. He’s a bit heavy and not the quickest mover, and he may not be able to get himself open as easily against faster defenders. He may struggle to contain those players on the other end, too. His passing game when he drives to the basket is pretty limited. The best bet for Jones is to make his living as a shooter and simply be undeniable in that department while he works on getting everything else in order.
Tanner Groves, 6’9”, Oklahoma, Skilled Big
Groves first came onto the radar when Eastern Washington pushed Kansas to the brink during the 2021 NCAA Tournament. From there, he transferred up to Oklahoma, where he showed that his low major production wasn’t a fluke. His shooting touch is exceptional, and despite a down year during his graduate season, he’s a career 35.3% shooter from long range. He’s got some meat on his bones and works hard on the glass. Though his defensive instincts aren’t bad, that’s where he’ll have a harder time at the pro level. He plays below the rim and isn’t a great lateral mover. There will need to be an athletic leap and a string of impressive defensive performances for him to get an NBA opportunity.
Tevian Jones, 6’7”, Southern Utah, Scoring Wing
Tevian Jones can really fill it up. He scored 17.8 PPG this past season, converting 36.2% of his 6.5 threes per game and making 53.2% of his shots at the basket. His first step is rock solid, and with long downhill strides, his second and third steps are even better. Jones is comfortable putting the ball on the ground and stays balanced as he uses his footwork to gain separation. He’ll need to display more of a complete game at Portsmouth. He’s never been much of a playmaker for others, and his defensive efforts have been disappointing, especially given the quality of competition in his conference.
Timmy Allen, 6’6”, Texas, Skilled Wing
There wasn’t a tougher player to label an archetype for than Timmy Allen. He’s really good at basketball. Allen scored 17.3 PPG during his sophomore and junior years at Utah before transferring to Texas. There, he continued to be effective for his final two college seasons. Allen lives in the mid-range, where he made 48.6% of his pull-up jumpers. He has enough of a handle and wiggle to get to his spots and he can hit the tough ones. Allen is also a good off-ball mover with strong timing instincts and a body built to finish through contact. His passing savvy is beautiful. Allen averaged 3.5 APG to 2.1 TOV, reliably finding the open man while rarely making frustrating plays. On defense, his intellect goes a long way, but he struggles to change directions against quicker players. Now, we must address the elephant in the room—he shot 15% from three on low volume this year. A 6’6” wing who subsists on a tough shot diet and can’t shoot threes will have a massive uphill battle, but if he can display a three-ball, teams may eventually show more interest.
*Toumani Camara, 6’8”, Dayton, Connector Forward
Toumani Camara will have one big advantage over the pack, and that’s the fact that he’s an NBA-caliber athlete. He’s big and strong, and he moves well for a player his size (listed at 225 pounds). His defensive game provides the versatility NBA teams are hungry for. He’s quick enough to guard down with the power and leaping ability to deal with bigger players. His 2.6 STL% and 3.2 BLK% are both excellent marks for a forward. Camara covers ground well and plays long while sitting in his stance. His offensive game is intriguing, too. His lift and speed make him a potent cutter, he’ll take advantage of mismatches on the block, and he has enticing flashes as a passer and quick decision-maker. For Camara, the swing piece is a reliable jump shot. This year, he hit a career-high 36.8% from distance. If he can be a guy who knocks down open shots, there’s a real NBA place for him. Scouts in Portsmouth will want to see what his jumper looks like, and they’ll also want to see Camara play with refinement as a passer. While he has stellar moments in that respect, at times, he bites off more than he can chew, leading to turnovers.
Trey Jemison, 6’11”, UAB, Rim Protecting Play Finisher
With good size and mobility at 6’11” and 260 pounds, Trey Jemison will have fewer physicality questions than many other Portsmouth bigs. His feet on the perimeter prevent him from getting cooked, he’s strength prevents opponents from bumping him around, and he gets off the floor well. A two-time Conference USA All-Defensive Team player, Jemison blocked 1.7 shots per game over the past three seasons thanks to his tools and anticipation. He’s a good offensive rebounder, too (2.7 per game), tracking the ball well and creating extra possessions for his teammates. On offense, he knows his role and doesn’t bite off more than he can chew. For Jemison, it will be a matter of showing that the role he played for UAB is scalable. Ultimately, his counting numbers at a mid-major weren’t eye-popping (9.1 PPG, 8.3 RPG), so he’ll be fighting an uphill battle. He wasn’t in a position to dominate on a team that played through its guards. At Portsmouth, he’ll have an opportunity to show that he’s in the mix with big men who posted much bigger counting numbers than him. You can listen to my recent interview with him here.
Tyger Campbell, 5’11”, UCLA, Old School Point Guard
Tyger Campbell is a smart, mature basketball player. He averaged 5.0 APG to 1.6 TOV this past season, and he continuously led the UCLA Bruins to strong records. He’s a steady, trustworthy point guard who plays with pace while setting the table for his teammates. While his three-point shot wasn’t consistent (32.9% over four seasons), he began to hunt it from NBA distance and clearly grew more confident in his jump shot the past two seasons. Like many of his PIT point guard peers, size is a question for Campbell. Additionally, he doesn’t offer much as an off-ball player, and his slow pace might not hold up as well against better athletes.
Tyree Appleby, 6’0”, Wake Forest, Well-Rounded Guard
Appleby started his college career at Cleveland State, where he had two strong seasons. From there, he transferred to Florida, where he put together two solid campaigns. As a redshirt graduate, he then headed to Wake Forest, where he exploded. This past season, he averaged 18.8 PPG on 42.7/36/82 splits, 6.4 APG, and 1.8 SPG. His table-setting skills, downhill quickness, fast hands defensively, and 39.1% on catch-and-shoot threes make for an intriguing package. There’s a weird, heavy lean-back mechanism to his jumper, but it falls. For Appleby, it will be a matter of proving his talent is so superior that his age (24.7 on draft night) can be overlooked.
Tyshaun Crawford, 7’1”, Augusta University, Interior Big
The lone Division-2 player at the event, Tyshaun Crawford dominated in the paint this past season. He uses pass-fakes to keep doubling defenders on their toes, keeps his balance well while utilizing basic post moves, and has soft touch when the dunk isn’t there for him. His 3.4 OREBs per game are a tremendous number, and he’ll reliably generate extra possessions. Crawford eats up contact and can make free throws, hitting 68% of his 9.1 FTA per game. His strong paint presence isn’t just confined to offense, either—Crawford held opponents to 41.5% at the basket per Synergy, and he rejected 2 shots per game. That’s still where I worry about Crawford the most, though. He’s lumbering in space and heavy on his feet in ball screen actions, and he’ll be in a new realm athletically at Portsmouth. If he can scale up, though, there may be a real chance for this under-the-radar big man.
Umoja Gibson, 6’1”, DePaul, Sharpshooting Point Guard
Umoja Gibson is one of the most dynamic shooters in this group. The guard hit 40% of his threes over his six college seasons while taking 6.7 per game. Whether he’s spotting up or pulling up, Gibson is always a threat to put the ball in the basket. After a career with an even assist-to-turnover ratio, Gibson grew tremendously as a playmaker this past year at DePaul. He tallied 4.7 APG to 2.6 TOV and did a good job of setting up teammates. There’s an on-ball defensive feistiness to him that is a necessity for smaller guards in today’s game. One of the older players in the field, Gibson will turn 25 shortly after draft night. Combine that with his size, and Gibson will have little room for error if he wants to carve out an NBA career.
Yuri Collins, 6’0”, St. Louis, Table Setting Point Guard
If I was an agent, I’d be praying that any players I had in the PIT get assigned to be on the same team as Yuri Collins. He’s led the NCAA in assists each of the past two seasons. Collins is a creative distributor with a polished handle and clean footwork, enabling him to get two feet inside the paint and dish the rock from there. He’s a stellar pull-up shooter in that part of the court, too, hitting 44.8% of his dribble jumpers inside the arc, per Synergy. Despite his lack of size, Collins does play with a competitive spirit defensively and earned two Atlantic-10 All-Defense selections. Though he gets into the paint consistently, he’s a poor rim finish in the halfcourt (43.6% per Synergy), and he’s never been a great three-point shooter (career 32.9% on 1.4/game). Collins doesn’t offer much off the ball, and in the NBA, you have to be really great to play with the ball a lot. Collins’s best bet to make a mark in Portsmouth is to get hot from three while showing he can hang on defense.
Zyon Pullin, 6’4”, UC-Riverside, Combo Guard
A two-time All-Big West selection, Zyon Pullin is sort of a throwback combo guard, if such a thing exists. He plays ball screens in a multitude of ways to keep defenses off balance and fires sharp passes. Pullin is great at the rim (67.6% in the halfcourt), though he doesn’t get there much. He’s heavily reliant on mid-range shooting, but he’s tremendous there, hitting 48.6% of his pull-up twos. Though he didn’t take a ton of threes, he hit 39.4% of them this season. Pullin didn’t show a lot on the defensive end, but part of that may have been a function of his offensive usage. He isn’t a bad athlete, and his arms look long. Pullin got to play on the ball a lot at UC Riverside, so front offices will want to see what he can do in a more complimentary role. Off-ball play and defense will be where Pullin can move the needle if his offense remains steady against better opposition.