Friday, November 13, 2015

Blogging Through the Exhibitions (Part 1) St. John's vs. St. Thomas Aquinas

After a brief hiatus, I am returning to provide original content for all levels of basketball. In this first matchup, a more experienced St. Thomas Aquinas team took advantage of the new-look Red Storm in the exhibition opener. Several standouts emerged on both sides, and it will be interesting to track how these players develop as we move through the non-conference season.

St. John's Player Notes 

Christian Jones - While Jones played a very minor part in the Red Storm's success last season, he is likely going to be asked to take on a much bigger role this year, particularly in light of St. John's mass exodus (with Chris Obekpa transferring and Rysheed Jordan choosing to play professional basketball). Although I believe the expectation coming in was that he would be more of a locker room presence than a go-to option, Jones proved to be St. John's more reliable weapon in this contest. Throughout this game, Jones was the most active Johnnie getting in the lane and finishing through contact. He was an aggressive presence on the boards and created numerous second chance opportunities. Jones is thriving in his role as an energy player and has the requisite athleticism - despite being slightly undersized at 6'7 - to impact the game on both ends of the floor. On the defensive end, Jones was disruptive in passing lanes, forcing difficult shots for St. Thomas Aquinas big men and displaying active hands. He is a strong leaper and shot blocker as well. Overall, look for Jones to play a more prominent role this season as a seasoned returnee.

Federico Mussini - Mussini is arguably the most talented player on this St. John's team, with maybe the exception of Marcus LoVett, who the NCAA recently ruled as ineligible to play this season (LINK). Mussini is a quick lead guard with a nice handle and the stop-and-go moves to penetrate in the lane and create for his teammates. With that said, Mussini clearly has not adjusted to the college basketball learning curve just yet (to be expected for the freshman), as he forced numerous outside shots early in the shot clock in this one, over-dribbled and appeared out-of-control forcing the ball in transition with no numbers, and generally struggled with the pesky defense of highly improved James Mitchell. With that said, Mussini can get his own shot, though, and already has the requisite perimeter jumper to keep defenses honest. On the defensive end of the floor, Mussini is still very much a work in progress, and needs to work harder on-ball to contain penetration.

Malik Ellison - The son of basketball royalty (Pervis Ellison), Malik is very much an up-in-coming player in his own right. Standing at a sturdy 6'6, Malik has the requisite size, length, and athleticism to play at a higher level of basketball. In this contest, he demonstrated his unique floor vision and his ability to create for teammates off the dribble. Malik possesses a strong handle and his ability to penetrate and kick will be extremely important for the Red Storm this year. Like Mussini, he often over-dribbled at times, but also showed strong flashes attacking the basket. In addition, Ellison also possesses an effective jump shot and can score in a variety of ways. In contrast to Mussini's performance early in the game, Malik did a nice job picking his spots shooting the ball. Defensively, Ellison has the length to be effective in the Big East this season. All in all, it will be interesting to track Malik's learning curve and see how Malik's ball skills improve over the course of the year. I strongly believe that he is a future NBA prospect.

St. Thomas Aquinas Player Notes     

Chaz Watler - Leader of the upstart Spartan club and the preseason ECAC POY, Watler was the most impressive performer in this contest. While teammate Justin Reyes made a splash in the second half when the lead was in hand, Watler's breakout performance really built his team's lead from the opening tip. Undersized at 6'2, Watler is a combo guard with a great first step and a wide array of offensive moves in his repertoire. Watler is adept at beating his man off the bounce and either finishing at the rim over rim protectors or kicking it out to open teammates. He can also stop on a dime and connect on fadeaway jumpers when necessary. The threat of Watler's shot really opens his game up, and Chaz is a serious threat from anywhere on the floor, particularly beyond the arc. After shooting over 40% from three point range a year ago, Watler was 3-5 in this contest and had no problems getting his shot off. While he may prefer to function off the ball at this point, Watler would likely be able to convert to the lead guard role, as he is an adept passer and already can keep defenses honest with the threat of his jumper. On the defensive end, Watler wreaked havoc on the Red Storm with his extremely quick hands (to the tune of 4 steals) and decent quickness.

Justin Reyes - The much improved Reyes dominated St. John's front line in the second half, taking his man off the dribble and converting at the rim. He also was able to collect rebounds despite his diminutive size (at 6'4) in comparison to St. John's bigs Darien Williams (6'8) and Yankuba Sima (6'11). Reyes appeared to be everywhere on the court at once, and was particularly effective on the defensive glass, where he boxed out the opposition and collected 10 boards. While he mostly opted for higher percentage shots around the basket, where he was able to use his physicality to score against the youthful St. John's bigs employing an old man's game, Reyes appears to have a decent (albeit slow) perimeter stroke. Reyes will play a vital role for his team this year as a much improved enforcer inside. Despite his strong hands, Reyes is a bit of a mixed bag defensively and is a bit slow laterally.

James Mitchell - Stepping into the role of lead guard following Marcus Henderson's departure, the diminutive, 5'9 Mitchell appeared to be the most improved player on this squad. Mitchell was electric in his debut against St. John's, running the Spartan offense to perfection and really getting progressively more comfortable with the ball in his hands as the game wore on. While he initially connected on some questionable perimeter jumpers, his shot selection improved considerably by the end of the game. He ultimately was orchestrating the offense and facilitating for just about everyone on the floor. While many of his passes were not finished due to strong contests at the rim, Mitchell put his big men in a position to score many times. He is adept in the pick and roll, and is not shy from the perimeter when the ball is kicked out. Mitchell should be able to keep defenses honest as the season progresses. On the defensive end, Mitchell was a pest, fighting through screens, contesting out of bounds plays, and generally wreaking havoc to the tune of four steals. The Mitchell/Watler backcourt will be a defensive force to be reckoned with once Division II play begins.

Aaron Cust - Cust is an explosive, 6'1 guard who can get to the basket in a hurry and finish with the best of them. He was particularly effective early on against the Red Storm and did a nice job completing plays. Cust is a willing passer when attacking the basket, and is more than capable of serving as a point guard. While he doesn't have the prettiest jumper, Cust was able to connect from deep on one occasion.

Jonathan Lawton - This outstanding freshman also left his mark on the game driving to the rim and finishing from the perimeter on kick out plays. Lawton is a serious perimeter shooting threat. While still assimilating with teammates, it is clear that he will be in for a much bigger role as the season progresses.

Image Sources: and

Monday, March 2, 2015

Senior Spotlight 2014-15 (1st Installment)

In "Senior Spotlight", I explore some of the top seniors across college basketball and assess their potential from a professional standpoint. In today's segment, the first of the year, I take a look at South Carolina's Tyrone Johnson.

After being relegated to the bench with a foot injury towards the end of his junior season, the Gamecock's Tyrone Johnson is back this year and bringing senior leadership to his South Carolina  squad under head coach Frank Martin. Johnson is a combo guard with lead guard potential at the next level. Hailing from Plainfield, New Jersey, Johnson has made noticeable strides converting to the point guard slot, but still has some work to do before he can become an impact player at a higher level of basketball.

When noting his current strengths, one would be remiss if failing to mention Johnson's gifts on the defensive end of the floor. It should first be noted that Johnson has made significant strides in this area since his first season with the Villanova Wildcats, and especially since his high school playing days. While Johnson's output does not jump out as far as defensive statistics are concerned, posting a modest 2.12% steals % (40th in the SEC) - which happens to be in-line with fellow defensive stalwart Tyler Ulis, he possesses strong fundamentals on this end of the floor. For instance, he rarely bites on pump fakes, and has strong lateral quickness. His quickness enables him to double down on the post at times, and recover to his man on the perimeter if a kick out pass is made. Johnson is particularly effective on close outs and does a nice job disrupting without fouling out on the perimeter (2.84 fouls per 40 minutes, good for 25th in the SEC). In his matchup with standout Vanderbilt freshman Riley LaChance, Johnson was incredibly active fighting through screens and getting enough pressure to disturb LaChance's shooting rhythm. It should be noted that as soon as South Carolina shifted to the 1-2-2 zone and Johnson no longer had the sole responsibility of covering him, LaChance broke out, scoring the majority of his 19 points during this juncture.

Johnson brings senior leadership to the table and boasts a strong basketball IQ on defensive rotations, shifting inside when necessary and acting the part of a savant in anticipating ball movement. And while he does possess good size for a next level point guard at 6'3, he does tend to struggle defending bigger players. For instance, in his matchup with Aaron and Andrew Harrison, he struggled with their superior size and length, particularly when recovering to defend the rim. With that said, he did a nice job closing out on the perimeter and it should also be noted that he will not always have to contend with players that have comparable size to the Harrison twins at the next level. Overall, Johnson possesses strong defensive awareness and the ability to actively contest shots without fouling.  

On the opposite end, Johnson is an adequate playmaker who finds open shooters, but has struggled to find his shot at times this season. While Johnson was able to keep defenses honest a season ago by connecting at a 42.1% clip from three on a limited number of attempts, Johnson has been on a cold streak for much of this year, choosing to pass the ball back outside rather than squaring up for an open jumper - much to Frank Martin's chagrin. When he does opt to shoot, Johnson's stroke possesses decent mechanics with solid fluidity, but Johnson could stand to work on the consistency of his motion (elevation/elbows in particular). With that said, he could be turning things around from a shooting perspective, given his 28 point breakout performance (on 7-10 shooting, 1-2 from three) against Mississippi State most recently. In terms of his playmaking ability, Johnson is a strong slasher with a solid crossover dribble who can take a defender off his spot in a hurry. While he could stand to develop a Euro step maneuver when getting all the way to the rim to avoid charges, Johnson does have the requisite hangtime and strength to finish at the hoop.

That said, he will have to improve upon his finishing ability/ overall shooting (connecting on a paltry 41.2% of his two point attempts) if he hopes to receive any minutes at a higher level of play. Importantly, Johnson is very unselfish with the ball in his hands. While he tends to swing the ball far too often instead of getting into the teeth of the defense, particularly against the 2-3 zone, Johnson does hit open shooters on drive and kick plays. He also has good vision out in transition and is very underrated as a post entry passer, with a strong ability to lob over the top of the defense and find his open big man. That said, he has often been too passive at times to attack the basket (3.9 fouls drawn per 40 mins vs. 6.2 last year in a shortened season), instead settling for simplistic kick out passes. This is likely due to his lack of confidence hitting his perimeter stroke, as defenses can now back off of him a bit. Importantly, it remains to be seen (as far as I have seen) how he would function on a nightly basis in a high pick and roll offense, where his big man does not opt to flare out for the open three pointer.

All in all, Tyrone Johnson is an experienced talent with the requisite skillset to become a solid role player at a higher level of basketball. He must continue to perfect his shooting stroke and refine his court awareness, but he should receives some looks when his college career is finally over.

(Images via,, and

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Top 105 D1 Seniors

In my return to the blogosphere, I compile a list of the top ranking NBA prospects in the "tweener class" (seniors) of Division 1 this year.  

1) Jerian Grant, Notre Dame
2) Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin
3) Delon Wright, Utah
4) Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse
5) LeBryan Nash, Oklahoma State
6) Anthony Brown, Stanford
7) Juwan Staten, West Virginia
8) Darrun Hilliard, Villanova
9) Larry Nance Jr, Wyoming
10) Norman Powell. UCLA
11) Treveon Graham, VCU
12) Andre Hollins, Minnesota
13) Quinn Cook, Duke
14) Alan Williams, UC Santa Barbara
15) Jonathan Holmes, Texas
16) Ryan Boatright, UConn
17) Yanick Moreira, SMU
18) Denzel Livingston, Incarnate Word
19) Joseph Young, Oregon
20) Corey Hawkins, UC Davis
21) Josh Richardson, Tennessee
22) Shannon Scott, Ohio State
23) Derrick Marks, Boise State
24) Dez Wells, Maryland
25) LaDontae Henton, Providence
26) Rayvonte Rice, Illinois
27) Jordan Sibert, Dayton
28) Seth Tuttle, Northern Iowa
29) DJ Newbill, Penn State
30) Levi Randolph, Alabama
31) Sam Thompson, Ohio State
32) Marcus Thornton, William & Mary
33) Keifer Sykes, Wisconsin Green Bay
34) Wesley Sanders, Harvard
35) Wayne Blackshear, Louisville
36) Tyler Haws, BYU
37) Jarvis Summers, Ole Miss
38) Amir Williams, Ohio State
39) Kourtney Roberson, Texas A&M
40) Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga
41) D'Angelo Harrison, St. John's
42) Branden Dawson, Michigan State
43) Aaron White, Iowa
44) Lawrence Alexander, North Dakota State
45) Joshua Smith, Georgetown
46) TaShawn Thomas, Oklahoma
47) Chasson Randle, Stanford
48) Briante Weber, VCU
49) Brad Waldow, St. Mary's
50) Ryan Harrow, Georgia State
51) Richaun Holmes, Bowling Green
52) Deshawn Delaney, New Mexico
53) Maurice Walker, Minnesota
54) Kenneth "Speedy" Smith, Louisiana Tech
55) TJ McConnell, Arizona
56) Bryce Dejean-Jones, Iowa State
57) Rashad Madden, Arkansas
58) Pat Connaughton, Notre Dame 
59) Cady Lalanne, UMass
60) Darion Atkins, Virginia
61) Youssou NDoye, St. Bonaventure
62) Sir' Dominic Pointer, St. John's
63) David Kravish, Cal
64) Brett Comer, Florida Gulf Coast
65) Kyan Anderson, TCU
66) Keon Moore, Winthrop
67) Travis Trice, Michigan State
68) Askia Booker, Colorado
69) Mikh McKinney, Sacramento State
70) Kiel Turpin, Florida State
71) JJ Avila, Colorado State
72) Chris Jones, Louisville
73) JayVaughn Pinkston, Villanova
74) Mike Caffey, Long Beach State
75) DeVante Lacy, Washington State
76) David Laury, Iona
77) Dustin Hogue, Iowa State
78) JJ O'Brien, San Diego State
79) Corey Walden, Eastern Kentucky
80) Royce O' Neale, Baylor
81) Marcus Thornton, Georgia
82) Jacob Parker, Stephen F. Austin
83) Jerrell Wright, LaSalle
84) Raheem Appleby, Louisiana Tech
85) Juwan Howard Jr., Detroit
86) Thomas Gipson, Kansas State
87) Carson Desrosiers, Providence
88) Myles Mack, Rutgers
89) Rodney Cooper, Alabama
90) Jeromie Hill, Texas San Antonio
91) KT Harrell, Auburn
92) Ty Greene, South Carolina Upstate
93) Matt Carlino, Marquette 
94) Chip Armelin, Southern Miss
95) Julius Brown, Toledo
96) Phil Greene IV, St. John's
97) Nino Williams, Kansas State
98) Daishon Knight, Illinois State
99) Maxie Esho, UMass
100) Traevon Jackson, Wisconsin
101) Matt Stainbrook, Xavier
102) Zaid Hearst, Quinnipiac
103) Isiah Umipig, Seattle
104) Jabril Trawick, Georgetown
105) Javier Duren, Yale

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Early Portsmouth Preview - Invites

The following is a list of the invites as of today:

Andre Dawkins, Duke
PIT Website

Davante Gardner, Marquette
PIT Website
DJ Covington, VMI
PIT Website
Jake Odum, Indiana St.

Z Mason, Chattanooga

Kendrick Perry, Youngstown St.
Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico

Kendall Williams, New Mexico

Mark McLaughlin, Central Washington

Tyler Stone, Southeast Missouri
Troy Huff, North Dakota
Javon McCrea, Buffalo

Garrick Sherman, Notre Dame

Jason Brickman, LIU Brooklyn

Taylor Braun, North Dakota St.
Travis Bader, Oakland
Akil Mitchell, Virginia
Jamil Wilson, Marquette

Alec Brown, Wisconsin Green Bay

Shawn Glover, Oral Roberts

Tim Frazier, Penn St.
De'Mon Brooks, Davidson

Turned Down
Billy Baron, Canisius

Check back for more updates!

(Photo courtesy of

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Projected Portsmouth Invitational Invites 2014

The following is my composite list of the seniors that should receive Portsmouth invites, in no particular order. 

Kendrick Perry, Youngstown St.
Bryce Cotton, Providence
DeAndre Kane, Iowa St.
Andre Dawkins, Duke
Michael Dixon Jr., Memphis
Joe Jackson, Memphis
Geron Johnson, Memphis
Roberto Nelson, Oregon St.
Jordan Bachynski, Arizona St.
Isaiah Sykes, UCF
Kendall Williams, New Mexico
Javon McCrea, Buffalo
James Bell, Villanova
Billy Baron, Canisius
Xavier Thames, San Diego St.
Will Sheehey, Indiana
Aaric Murray, Texas Southern
Troy Huff, North Dakota
Z Mason, Tennessee-Chattanooga
Jason Brickman, LIU Brooklyn
Mark McLaughlin, Central Washington
Davion Berry, Weber St.
Chaz Williams, UMass
Jerrelle Benimon, Towson
Davon Usher, Delaware
Devon Saddler, Delaware
De'Mon Brooks, Davidson
Shane Southwell, Kansas St.
Aaron Craft, Ohio St.
Melvin Ejim, Iowa St.
Preston Wynne, Vanguard
Will Yeguete, Florida
Justin Cobbs, California
George Beamon, Manhattan
Jeronne Maymon, Tennessee
Ronald Roberts, Saint Joseph's
Halil Kanacevic, Saint Joseph's
Jordair Jett, Saint Louis
Davante Gardner, Marquette
Taylor Braun, North Dakota St.
Travis Bader, Oakland
Langston Hall, Mercer
Torrey Craig, USC Upstate
Brady Heslip, Baylor
Tyreek Duren, LaSalle
Markel Starks, Georgetown
Kadeem Batts, Providence
Kareem Jamar, Montana
Talib Zanna, Pittsburgh
Daniel Miller, Georgia Tech
Sam Dower, Gonzaga
Richard Solomon, California
Justin Jackson, Cincinnati
DJ Covington, VMI
Drew Crawford, Northwestern
Pablo Bertone, Florida Atlantic
Jeremy Ingram, North Carolina Central
Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico
Brandon Goode, Norfolk St.
Malcolm Miller, Southern
Tyler Stone, Southeast Missouri St.
Trevor Releford, Alabama
Mike Moser, Oregon
Josh Huestis, Stanford

Anticipated Declines:
Doug McDermott, Creighton
Adreian Payne, Michigan St.
Cleanthony Early, Wichita St.
Deonte Burton, Nevada
CJ Wilcox, Washington
Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati
Shabazz Napier, UConn
Patric Young, Florida
Dwight Powell, Stanford
Devyn Marble, Iowa
Fuquan Edwin, Seton Hall
Russ Smith, Louisville
Keith Appling, Michigan St.
Cory Jefferson, Baylor
Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh
Devon Collier, Oregon St.
Markel Brown, Oklahoma St.
Alec Brown, Wisconsin Green-Bay
CJ Fair, Syracuse
Joe Harris, Virginia
Jordan McRae, Tennessee
Cameron Clark, Oklahoma
Juvonte Reddic, VCU
Scottie Wilbekin, Florida
Casey Prather, Florida
Akil Mitchell, Virginia

Monday, March 10, 2014

Around the Nation (Part 1)

In my segment, "Around the Nation" I explore all of the top talent from around college basketball, spanning NCAA Division I to NAIA Division II, and everything in between.

In this edition, I focus on Thomas (Ga.)'s Justyn Watkins, and Coastal Georgia's Reggie Burke and Kentorey Johnson.

Talented senior Justyn Watkins is a 6'5 190lb combo wing with bouncy, DI-level athleticism. In his contest against Coastal Georgia, Watkins was dominant, and eventually hit the game winning shot, a fitting ending to an extremely impressive performance. Watkins is a rangy forward with strong athleticism and a penchant for attacking the basket. He boasts a strong first step with an excellent second gear, something rarely seen at this level of play. With that said, he sometimes tends to struggle finishing through contact at the rim due to his wiry frame, which could stand to add about 20-30 lbs. Additionally, his average handle may cause him some issues at the next level. While he often starts his drives from the top of the key, his handle is rather simplified when he attacks the basket. He tends to jab step and then pass-fake before attacking, which typically gets his defender off guard. However, once he actually puts the ball on the floor, Watkins is rather predictable, opting for line drives and failing to attack with his off-hand or implore hesitation moves en route to the hoop. With that said, he can improve in these areas and, despite his loose handle, he did not have the ball stolen from him in the contests that I witnessed.

In terms of his offensive prowess, Watkins is adept at attacking the basket from just about any angle and will make basket cuts to get open or camp out on the perimeter, if this benefits his team's spacing. Watkins is a willing cutter and screener, and often utilizes these screens to either pick-and-pop or roll to the basket for an easy finish. At the end of his first contest against Coastal Georgia, Watkins was face guarded at the end of the game and freed himself by setting a series of picks and then slipping behind the defense. When attacking the rim, Watkins has the hangtime athleticism to finish with the best of them. He also has a finesse game, and is comfortable utilizing a floater in the lane or a half hook shot. When he is not in attack mode, Watkins keeps defenses honest from the perimeter. While he will need to improve his abysmal three point shooting on the year (22.4% from 3), Watkins is capable pulling up from the midrange and can hit shots with a hand in his face. Watkins has a nice, high release point on his shot and quickly gets it off, making it difficult for most players to defend him once he gets the ball in his hands. With that said, Watkins sometimes tends to hold the ball too long and shoot it on the way down, which lowers his accuracy from distance. But, when he finds a shooting rhythm, Watkins is very difficult to stop due to his ability to beat you off the bounce or pullup for a jumper utilizing his tremendous run-jump athleticism.

On the defensive end, it is difficult to assess where Watkins stands, as his team plays him out of position at the five and forces him to guard the post. Against Coastal Georgia, he struggled to defend post players and often gave up easy looks close to the hoop. While he has the tools and lateral quickness to be a decent defender, his lack of upper body strength and lack of focus/awareness really hurt him on this end. And while he did show some flashes of defending out to the three point line, it was too limited of a sample size to draw any definitive conclusions about his perimeter defense. Watkins tends to bite on shot fakes and is easily drawn off his feet. With the proper training and physical conditioning, Watkins does have some potential to develop into a decent defensive player due to his physical length and solid quickness. In terms of his rebounding abilities, Watkins has the leaping ability to gather rebounds, but does not always consistently put a body on his man to prevent offensive rebounds. And, on the other end, he tends to camp on the perimeter at times and does not aggressively assert himself on the glass despite his excellent athleticism. In terms of passing, Watkins is a willing team player who will make the extra pass to set his teammates up, as he did on several drive and kick opportunities against Coastal Georgia, but he still could stand to improve in this area and see the floor better. All in all, Watkins is an intriguing player with the raw quickness and run-jump athleticism to play professionally.

On Coastal Georgia's side, the team is led by big lead guard Reggie Burke. While Burke was tentative in the first contest of his that I witnessed, he is the team's leading scorer and floor general who looks to take over basketball games in the big moments. While he does not possess blazing quickness, Burke is a shifty guard who has an adequate enough first step to blow by people, and is also crafty enough to utilize change of pace dribble moves in the lane. Burke provides a steadying presence for his teammates and is fairly consistent walking the ball down the floor and slowing tempo down when he does not have numbers. He can also push in transition. Burke has a strong upper body and is able to take contact and finish strong at the rim. He is also crafty and athletic enough to maneuver in mid air when required. To drive his defender off balance, Burke frequently turns to a repertoire of shot and head fakes, drawing his man off guard, before attacking the rim. On several occasions, Burke was able to contort his body in mid air to avoid defenders. Burke also possesses a reliable handle and utilizes a solid crossover move to draw defenders off balance before either stepping back for a jumper or taking the ball to the rim. Given his size at 6'2 185lbs, Burke is a good rebounder, averaging 4.7 boards per game, often turning defensive rebounds into fast break opportunities.

In terms of his decision making, Burke is a good one-pass, drive-and-dish player who can attack and then kick out to open teammates. He usually will utilize penetration to feed either open big men inside or hit three point shooters on the perimeter. With that said- due to the simplicity of most of his passes- he is not super advanced in this area, but typically opts for the right play, as evinced by his 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio despite commanding significant defensive attention. Burke willingly feeds the post and utilizes fundamental post entry feeds the majority of the time. When he is not attacking/feeding teammates, Burke typically opts to pullup from beyond the arc. He often dribbles into two pointers or will shoot long balls off the catch, or after a few dribbles. Burke connects on 37.6% of his three point tries and is fairly reliable in this regard, particularly when left open. With that said, Burke still occasionally will kick his legs out on three point attempts, and this throws off his shooting rhythm. Burke must maintain his consistency from beyond the arc and shoot the same way every time. With that said, Burke regularly comes through in the clutch. Specifically, Reggie Burke, on one occasion, crossed over his man and hit a game winning step back three. 

On the defensive end, Burke plays strong and is able to drive his man off the spot when attacking the basket. He often uses his superior size and strength to force players into tough shots, and possesses great recovery speed. Despite this strength, Burke sometimes does get hung up on screens, and must do a better job fighting over the top. He also only has average lateral footspeed and needs to consistently maintain a stance. With that said, Burke leverages his superior strength and awareness to make a difference on this end of the floor, leading to approximately 2 steals per game. All in all, Reggie Burke is a good lead guard with an ability to control tempo and keep defenses honest from beyond the arc.

Burke's counterpart in the frontcourt, Kentorey Johnson, is an athletic 6'7 power forward with the handle to transition out to the perimeter. While he mostly opts to play in the post at this level, Johnson has demonstrated on countless occasions that he possesses the handle to get to the rim from the three point line and in. Johnson has a very good first step for a big man and is regularly able to out-quick his opponents to the hoop. When he attacks the rim, he drives with reckless abandon, bulldozing over anyone who gets in his way. Due to his faceup activity, Johnson draws a considerable amount of fouls (212 free throw attempts on the season). Johnson relentlessly pursues the basket when he catches the ball in deep and is very difficult to contain when he catches the ball near the hoop. Johnson does an excellent job sealing his man on back-to-the-basket post up moves and employs the necessary ball fakes and head fakes to draw his defender off guard. Further, he works hard to establish position in the post and is difficult to move off the block despite weighing just upwards of 200 lbs. Johnson possesses a nice jump hook in his arsenal. With that said, Johnson could stand to improve his footwork and his go to post moves. While he is effective at this level, he may be overmatched against bigger, more athletic big men, and must rely on footwork to separate himself.

Johnson could play some minutes as a small forward at the next level due to his decent lateral quickness and nose for the ball. While he did not defend out on the perimeter in the contests that I witnessed, he demonstrated decent lateral footspeed and relentlessly pursued the ball on both ends of the floor. This translated to just under 1 block and just over 1 steal per game. His activity defending post entry feeds was admirable, as he regularly deflected the ball out. In terms of his rebounding, Johnson was aggressive on the glass, averaging 7.1 rebounds per contest. Impressively, nearly half of these rebounds came on the offensive glass, where Johnson fought hard for positioning on almost every play. In terms of his shooting, Johnson possesses a medium range jumper and is capable of connecting on shots off the bounce once he hones certain elements of his game. While he must learn to extend his range at the next level (only a 24.8% 3 pt shooter), Johnson is a capable threat if left open. If he could improve in this area to complement his interior game, Kentorey would be very difficult to stop on the offensive end. His decision making could also use some improvement, as he frequently turns the ball over when doubled inside and does not always look for open teammates out of the post. Instead, he will keep attacking with a head of steam, leading to a paltry 0.43-to-1 Assist-to-Turnover ratio. Overall, Kentorey is an undersized tweener with a power post game and the body of a next level small forward. Johnson is more than capable of carving a role out overseas if he chooses to continue playing basketball after his career is finished at Coastal Georgia.

(Image &

Monday, April 1, 2013

Portsmouth Invitational Suggested Rosters 2013

We are about a week away from the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, and I feel that now is an appropriate time to provide roster suggestions for the event. The PIT is a tournament featuring 64 of the top senior professional prospects in the country. It is where, in recent memory, Jimmy Butler made a name for himself.

Before unveiling my suggested rosters, it should be noted that I have estimated that 35 players will decline their invitations to the tournament. While I have no idea who is going to accept his invitation, I left out the following players intentionally: Mason Plumlee, CJ McCollum, Jeff Withey, Nate Wolters, Solomon Hill, Michael Snaer, Mike Muscala, Ryan Kelly, Khalif Wyatt, Trevor Mbakwe, Rodney Williams, Isaiah Canaan, Carrick Felix, Elias Harris, James Ennis, Brandon Paul, Richard Howell, Erik Murphy, Kenny Kadji, Pierre Jackson, Anthony Marshall, Alex Oriakhi, Kenny Boynton, Christian Watford, Zeke Marshall, Colton Iverson, Jackie Carmichael, Peyton Siva, Erick Green, Brandon Triche, James Southerland, Laurence Bowers, Arsalan Kazemi, Seth Curry, and Michael Lyons (injury).

As a point of reference, 28 players declined their invitations last year due to either the perceived strength of their stock, injuries, and scheduling conflicts.

*Indicates that they have accepted their invitation already

Team 1
PG Matthew Dellavedova, St. Mary's*
SG Shane Gibson, Sacred Heart
SF Will Clyburn, Iowa State
PF Derrick Nix, Michigan State
C Reggie Johnson, Miami (Fl.)

SF/PF DJ Stephens, Memphis
SG Alex Falk, West Liberty
PG Carl Jones, Saint Joseph's
Team 2
PG Elijah Johnson, Kansas
SG Rodney McGruder, Kansas State
SF Maurice Kemp, East Carolina*
PF Ray Turner, Texas A&M
C Vander Joaquim, Hawaii

PF Chris Evans, Kent State*
SG Tyrus McGee, Iowa State
PG Junior Cadougan, Marquette
Team 3
PG DJ Cooper, Ohio
SG Durand Scott, Miami (Fl.)
SF Kevin Parrom, Arizona
PF Romero Osby, Oklahoma
C AJ Matthews, Farmingdale State

PG Jordan Hulls, Indiana*
PF Andrew Smith, Butler
SG Scott Suggs, Washington
Team 4
PG Rotnei Clarke, Butler*
SG Sherwood Brown, Florida Gulf Coast
SF Jamal Olasewere, LIU Brooklyn
PF Jake Cohen, Davidson
C Reginald Buckner, Ole Miss

SG Brandon Givens, North Carolina Wesleyan
PF Taylor Smith, Stephen F. Austin
PG Larry Drew II, UCLA
Team 5
PG Cashmere Wright, Cincinnati
SG Dwayne Davis, Southern Miss
SF Ryan Broekhoff, Valparaiso
PF Jack Cooley, Notre Dame*
C Tony Woods, Oregon

SG Angelo Sharpless, Elizabeth City College
PF Jamelle Hagins, Delaware
PF Gregory Echenique, Creighton
Team 6
PG Mark Lyons, Arizona*
SG Travis Releford, Kansas*
SF Stan Okoye, VMI*
PF Murphy Holloway, Ole Miss
C Mouphtao Yarou, Villanova

PF O.D. Anosike, Siena*
PG Abdul Gaddy, Washington*
SF/PF Karron Johnson, Shaw University
Team 7
PG Kerron Johnson, Belmont
SG Ramon Galloway, LaSalle
SF Robert Covington, Tennessee State
PF Keith Clanton, UCF*
C Aziz N'Diaye, Washington*

PF Brock Motum, Washington State
SG Colt Ryan, Evansville
PG/SG Dexter Strickland, North Carolina
Team 8
PG Travon Woodall, Pittsburgh
SG Tyler Brown, Illinois State
SF Terrell Vinson, UMass
PF Brandon Davies, BYU
PF/C Jared Berggren, Wisconsin

C Marcus Goode, Benedict College
SG Ian Clark, Belmont
PF Carl Hall, Wichita State

Others Receiving Consideration:
Vincent Council, Providence
Aric Miller, Armstrong Atlantic
Steven Pledger, Oklahoma
Trey McKinney-Jones, Miami (Fl.)
Kwamain Mitchell, St. Louis
Milton Jennings, Clemson
Devin Booker, Clemson
Dante Taylor, Pittsburgh
Scott Wood, North Carolina State
Terrell Parks, Western Illinois
Jordan Henriquez, Kansas State
DeShawn Painter, Old Dominion
CJ Harris, Wake Forest
Travis Taylor, Xavier
Malcolm Armstead, Wichita State
Trent Lockett, Marquette
Lamont Jones, Iona
DJ Richardson, Illinois
Kevin Foster, Santa Clara
Mike Rosario, Florida
Will Cherry, Montana
Kevin Young, Kansas
Ed Daniel, Murray State
Ian Hummer, Princeton
Kevin Dillard, Dayton
Darien Brothers, Richmond
Dennis Tinnon, Marshall
Jawanza Poland, South Florida
Byron Westmoreland, Bowie State
Anthony Dorsey, Truett McConnell
Travis Wilkins, St. Catharine's
Marcos Knight, Middle Tennessee State
Keith Steffeck, William Penn
Kevin Braswell, Charlotte
AJ Davis, James Madison
Alex Hall, Drury