What I love most about the Portsmouth Invitation are seeing the diamonds in the rough. And there is the opportunity to have players jump out at you, players who you’d never regularly get the opportunity to see.
I watch a ton of Knicks games. I don’t get the chance to see the University of Buffalo, the alma mater of one of my high school teammates who had a pretty solid career there.
In the first game of a two-game showcase last night, there was a great post battle between Buffalo’s Mitchell Watt and Norfolk State’s Kyle O’Quinn, who made a name for himself on the national stage last month after upsetting Missouri in the NCAA tournament.
O’Quinn was very good, showing off an array of jump hooks and offensive putbacks, finishing with 18 points, eight rebounds and four blocks, but it was Watt who really opened my eyes. With a gym filled with NBA executives and scouts looking for a player with an elite talent, Watt displayed tremendous quickness off his feet to the rim. This, combined with great strength and ability to finish with his left hand, allowed for Watt to finish with 7 eye-opening blocked shots and catch/dunks around the rim.
What I’m looking forward to is seeing whether can Watt and O’Quinn display an ability to step out and knock down the 12-15 foot jump shot.
Speaking of shooting, Kevin Murphy sure did. The smooth swing from Tennessee Tech made 11-of-14 shots including two very nice catch and shoot finishes in compiling a game-high 27 points for the winning Portsmouth Sports Club.
Following the second game, there was some buzz among executives surrounding Fairfield’s Rakim Sanders, a player who I had the opportunity to watch more than a handful of times over the past 4 years. Sanders, the former ACC rookie of the year who transferred from Boston College, led the Stags to the MAAC championship game. He’s an NBA body and has the strength in his hands to finish with power and speed around the rim. He also showed a pretty decent touch from the perimeter, finishing with 14 points on 6-for-13 shooting.
Sanders’ teammate, Zack Rosen of Penn, had flashes of brilliance in the first half but struggled in the second half. Rosen is a player that executives are keeping a close eye on as he is the best past-first point guard at the tournament in my opinion. Rosen finished with 4 points and 6 assists in 24 minutes in a loss. Interestingly, in Jeremy Lin’s first effort at Portsmouth he finished with 8 points and 6 assists in 25 minutes.