Monday, April 16, 2012

Non-D1 Players at the Portsmouth Invitational

Even though only one of my top 5 non D1 seniors made the Portsmouth Invitational (and was a last minute invite due to a cancellation), five seniors ended up receiving invites. While there is definitely some talent amongst this year's crop, here is an analysis of how each player performed.

Jet Chang, BYU-Hawaii- Chang was the best offensive weapon of the non-D1 players. He filled up the stat sheet in a variety of ways, slashing to the basket with reckless abandon and finishing strong against top-rated shot blockers. He definitely had one of the stronger showings at the Portsmouth Invitational, particularly from an offensive standpoint. Chang has a very good first step and is crafty around the rim, knowing when to seek contact out and when to kick the ball back out. He was fouled hard on numerous attempts to get in the lane and made a living at the line for much of this Portsmouth Invitational. He seemed to relish the opportunity to impress scouts and was willing to go inside regardless of the extremely physical nature of these games. Much like his senior season where he shot a poor percentage from behind the arc, Chang struggled to connect from distance in his first two contests. However, when he found a rhythm attacking the basket in the last game, he was able to make two of three from deep in the third contest. In a game where very few fouls were called, Chang did a nice job of drawing contact and getting to the line against elite competition. While he played decent defense against Braydon Hobbs in his last contest, there are some concerns that Chang will be able to defend the shooting guard position at the next level. However, he is still a crafty guard who can hit the mid range jumper, and is extremely aggressive attacking and finishing in the paint. He'll likely land on a summer league team after his performance here.

Travis Hyman, Bowie St.- Hyman was the latest edition to the Portsmouth Invitational and one of the five non-D1 players that I recommended in my letter. He did not disappoint. While he is incredibly raw offensively for an 'older' senior, Hyman has NBA physical tools and athleticism. In his first few contests, Hyman did not receive many touches, but functioned predominantly as a rim protector- a quality that intrigued the Spurs last summer. He was able to steal the ball and block countless shots at the rim throughout the tournament. In his last game, he was able to find a rhythm on both ends. He blocked several difficult shots and played great 'contest-without-fouling' defense at the rim. On offense, he was able to get out in transition on occasion, but was unable to finish through contact. With that said, he was fouled countless times that were not called. When the coaching staff kept him in the game for a long stretch, he did seem to tire getting down the floor. As such, he must improve his conditioning. On the glass, Hyman was extremely aggressive and did a nice job of using his length and athleticism to his advantage. All in all, Hyman is an incredibly raw NBA prospect with the potential to develop into a quality role player down the road due to his physical gifts and penchant for hard-nosed defense.

Braydon Hobbs, Bellarmine- While many scouts were left unimpressed by Hobbs' performance at Portsmouth, I was left scratching my head. Widely considered the most efficient player on a Division II championship contender, Hobbs struggled to score the ball at Portsmouth. He had several opportunities, but was unable to connect from three point range. And, this was surprising considering the fact that he shot 50% from beyond the arc in college. His only basket came off of a runner in the lane. Because of his underwhelming scoring totals, some felt that he was the odd man out at the PIT and did not deserve an invite. This is very far from the truth. First, it must be noted that Hobbs rarely received many touches on the offensive end. When he did, he looked to create for his teammates at every opportunity. Hobbs was one of his team's leading assist men, and made some excellent passes with few turnovers. His team's coach complimented him on every trip to the bench. With all of that said, anyone who had watched Braydon Hobbs before this could have foreseen such a performance coming, as his game is not at all tailored to pick up basketball. Hobbs's body is underdeveloped at 6'5, but he has good length and is able to pick off passes and play decent defense on the perimeter. On several occasions, Chang powered his way to the basket, and it is clear that Hobbs will struggle against stronger players at the next level. With that said, he has an excellent basketball IQ and will fit right in with a European squad immediately. His game is tailor-made for Europe, and I would not be surprised if he became one of the more talked about import players in a few years.

David Michaels, Whitman- After watching Michaels at the NABC classic, I felt that he had a decent faceup game for a big man, but that he would not translate given the physicality at the next level. At Portsmouth, he was able to prove my initial assessment wrong. Michaels appeared to be much more agile than I remembered and was willing to play a more perimeter-oriented game. He attacked the basket and spotted up from distance. He is still a little small to be an NBA small forward at 6'7, but should fit in fairly well as a wing overseas. He is able to drain the three point shot, but took some poor attempts late in games and did not have the most efficient outings at the PIT to say the least. On the positive end, he was aggressive getting to the basket, and played solid defense on Chase Stanback for most of the game. He was aggressive and displayed nice hands on the defensive end. Additionally, Michaels assisted in boxing out and was able to secure loose balls for his team. All in all, Michaels appears to be a good role players at the European level, and should contribute immediately. He must work on improving his efficiency if he hopes to land in the top rated European domestic leagues though.

Bryant Voiles, Augustana- Coming in as a player I had never seen before, I was somewhat impressed by how Voiles was able to adapt to this level of play. While he initially struggled in his first contest, as he was not able to establish himself against top tier D-1 post players, Voiles eventually opted to play on the perimeter with mixed results. Particularly in the championship game, he functioned as a face up shooter, and was able to connect on some pivotal shots late in the game. With that said, he rarely played in his second game, and failed to stand out in the first two contests at Portsmouth. While he was not super efficient in his last game, he did secure some loose balls and connect on shots at pivotal junctures. He will likely struggle to score off the bounce, and must continue to perfect his perimeter shooting abilities. At 6'9, that should earn him a spot on some competitive team's roster next season. Voiles was very confident throughout the PIT and looked like he belonged, even though he had to adjust his style of play.

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