The Portsmouth Invitational got underway Wednesday night with Sales System, Ltd. taking on Cherry Bekaert in the first of two games on Day One. Below is a rundown of how the players performed. Standouts included Jordan McLaughlin, Isaiah Wilkins, Jock Landale, Jaylen Barford, Jeffrey Carroll, Justin Bibbs, Kyle Washington and Brandon Goodwin.
Sales System LTD
Nelson took nearly nine threes and averaged 22.2 points per game as a senior at Fairfield and he didn’t let a new environment change his playing style. There wasn’t a shot Nelson didn’t like in his first game in Portsmouth as he finished with 17 points on 7-15 shooting, including 3-9 from three. He also had three assists to only two turnovers, and it’s his passing that scouts will want to see more of as games continue. At 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, Nelson was more of a combo guard in college but lacks ideal size and athleticism for the position at the next level.
McLaughlin was someone we wanted to monitor because of his passing ability, and that was on full display Wednesday night. The 6-foot-1 point guard from USC finished handed out 14 assists without a single turnover, controlling the tempo much of the game for the winning team and spoon-feeding shooters and finishers alike in ball screen situations. Unfortunately, McLaughlin — who averaged a career-high 13.4 points per game as a sophomore — only added four points himself on 1-11 shooting. He missed all five three-point attempts and was blocked by FGCU’s Brandon Goodwin in transition as well. McLaughlin has a skinny frame and isn’t very explosive, which limits him as a finisher, but he’s typically a good three-point shooter so he has a chance to show that as the games go on.
While Nelson and McLaughlin largely played the same as they did in college, Wilkins showed more offensive ability than he was allowed to in Virginia’s strict system. His 6.0 points per game average in college is somewhat telling about his current skillset, but the 6-foot-7 forward made a number of impressive passes — both on the perimeter and in transition — and also hit his lone three-point attempt. He’ll never be a major offensive threat, but Portsmouth was made for players like him who were restricted in college. Defensively, Wilkins was elite in college, and although he’s a bit of a tweener at the next level, he still stands out in that area, especially in ball screen coverage. He’s a selfless player who should earn some fans this week.
Martin was an effective inside-out scorer as a small ball 4 at Butler, but he’ll likely need to transition to the wing at the next level. His first game at the Portsmouth Invitational showed that that’s not the easiest adjustment to make. Although Martin is extremely skilled for a four man, he loses his quickness advantage on the wing, which led, at least in part, to him attempting more than half his shots from three and only making one of his six attempts from two-point range. Martin also committed four fouls in 33 minutes. Look for him to get more comfortable as the games continue.
A second-team all-American at St. Mary’s, Landale has arguably the most impressive college resume at Portsmouth but he’s participating for a reason: his game doesn’t translate to the modern NBA. Still, it was nice to see Landale log a double-double against better competition than he normally faced in college. Also nice to see: Landale’s motor. He got out on the break a number of times, helping him get to the free throw line (9-10 FTs) and finish with 17 points on only eight shots. When he got the ball in the post, he generally had his way with his defender, getting deep position and converting simple moves. He was the best low post big man in the game.
Barford led Arkansas in scoring at 17.9 points per game this past season and he looked to be in his element during Wednesday night’s high scoring, uptempo contest, finishing with a team-high 20 points on 7-15 shooting (including 4-9 from three) despite playing a team-low 15 minutes. At 6-foot-3, 202 pounds, Barford is a microwave type scorer who creates shots at ease off the dribble. At one point in the second half, Barford followed up a nice pull-up jumper with a stepback 3 in transition. He doesn’t need screens to get open, but he showed solid ability in the pick-and-roll, although he didn’t look to facilitate. He finished with zero assists which isn’t what you want to see in an event like this from someone his size. Still, Barford’s clearly one of the more talented scorers in Portsmouth.
A stocky, 6-foot-7 forward, Johnson doesn’t look the part of a professional basketball player — he even tried his hand at football last year — but he’s a physical player who is capable of scoring in the post as well as from the perimeter. He showed strong post defense and made some heady cuts en route to finishing with 10 points (4-10 FGs, 1-5 from 3), six rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 21 minutes. His jumper looked a little shaky from beyond the college three-point line.
Carroll was one of our top prospects to watch heading into the event and although he wasn’t super aggressive he did nothing to dispel that belief. The 6-foot-6 swingman showed both the ability to get to the rim and knock down threes and was clearly one of the most athletic players on the court. He finished with 15 points (4-6 FGs), five rebounds and two assists in 21 minutes.
Bibbs isn’t someone who will jump out at you on the court or even on the stat sheet, but his role playing ability was clear Wednesday night. He doesn’t look to create his own shot often and looks a little shorter than his listed height (6’5), but he made the most of his limited dribbles and found his teammates a few times off the bounce. He shot well from three (2-4) as well and finished with 12 points, four assists and six rebounds. He also played well defensively, as you’d expect from a Buzz Williams-coached wing. Wherever Bibbs ends up next, he’s capable of making position contributions on both ends of the floor without disrupting the flow of the game.
Lecomte was on the wrong end of the point guard battle and finished with nine points (4-10 FGs), two assists and two turnovers in 19 minutes. The 5-foot-11 guard from Baylor didn’t look very comfortable as a playmaker and failed to dictate tempo as a point guard. He’s a crafty shotmaker, but needs to show more as a facilitator at his size.
Foster made some notable plays — including a floater in the lane and an explosive drive and finish — but he displayed poor shot selection and didn’t create the best looks for himself or teammates. At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds he needs to be more unselfish and show some ability in the pick-and-roll as well. He attempted a game-high 18 shots but made just six, finishing with 13 points and five assists in 35 minutes. His plus/minus was -25.
Washington was overshadowed in the frontcourt by Gary Clark at Cincinnati, but he poured in 24 points and nine rebounds in his first game without him in years. He went 2-3 from three — which was a good sign as he only hit 20 last year — and also knocked down a jumper or two from mid-range but his shot mechanics definitely need work. He also battled hard in the post even when he was at a size disadvantage. Washington showed plenty of toughness and a high motor in addition to shooting better than what was perhaps expected.
Like Martin, Aldridge is a uniquely talented forward who had trouble in the first game getting his skillset to translate. He struggled to score in the post and missed his only three-point attempt. The 6-foot-9 forward from Davidson has ability as a passer, but he didn’t look comfortable on the perimeter and finished with six points (3-8 FGs), one assist and four rebounds in 22 minutes.
True to his scouting report, Goodwin, who played at Florida Gulf Coast, looked to be the quickest player on the court and one of the best playmakers, but he also played under control and showed off his athleticism and motor with fullcourt pressure defense and a chasedown block. The 6-foot-2 point guard looks a little smaller than his listed height, but he’s an certainly an intriguing prospect who turned heads on Day One. He finished with 16 points, seven assists and four rebounds in 27 minutes while shooting 7-13 from the field (1-3 from three).
Tillman averaged nearly 10 rebounds per game this past season at VCU and his motor was on full display Wednesday night. The 6-foot-8 big man played as hard as anyone and made use of his lengthy and bouncy but strong frame. He needs to find something to hang his hat on offensively, but his rebounding and hustle translates at any level. He finished with 10 points (5-15 FGs), three assists and a game-high 15 rebounds in 26 minutes.
Hamilton was a late add and looked about as raw as you’d expect a seven-footer who logged a modest 23 minutes per game at UT-Arlington this past season would. He didn’t play disciplined defense and struggled to do anything of note on the other end of the court as well. He finished with three points (1-4 FGs), a rebound, an assist and five fouls in 13 minutes.