April 18, 2016
By Rob Reheuser, NBA Communications
PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The 64th annual Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, which featured 64 of the nation’s top college seniors competing in a four-day, 12-game event before team representatives throughout the NBA, concluded on Saturday, April 16. Below is a recap of the tournament. Check out the tournament’s official website for more information.
With his team trailing by double digits in the championship game, Iona’s A.J. English could have easily taken his foot off the gas and coasted into a likely invite to next month’s NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. Five spots in the Combine were designated for standout performers at the PIT, and English had more than staked his claim to one.
Instead, the son of a former NBA player who goes by the same name rallied his team to victory with timely three-point shooting, adept playmaking and pesky defense — things he had displayed throughout the PIT and was able to channel when his team needed them most. He concluded the tournament with averages of 17.3 points (on 58.1 percent shooting), 6.7 assists and 3.0 rebounds, earning MVP honors.
English, the nation’s 10th-leading scorer (22.6 ppg), has grown accustomed to carrying a heavy load throughout his college career. Seeing him quickly adapt to a new set of teammates and become a leader and a playmaker had scouts buzzing about his potential. His scoring ability is undeniable. The 6-4 English, though, proved that his career-best 6.2 assists (10th in the nation) were no fluke, and that he is a lot more than just a scorer.
GO WEST YOUNG MAN
After three seasons at Boston College, a coaching change spurred Ryan Anderson to return to his native coast to complete his career as a fifth-year senior at Arizona. He shined in his lone season with the Wildcats as one of only a handful of players nationally to average a double-double (15.3 ppg, 10.1 rpg) in one of the major conferences.
On paper, the 6-9 Anderson had the résumé to bypass the PIT and still potentially secure a Combine invite. Instead, he showed up and likely played his way in, teaming with English to lead their team to the championship. Anderson was an easy choice for All-Tournament honors after leading the PIT in rebounding (12.0 rpg) and finishing tied for third in scoring (18.0 ppg). The 23-year-old has the maturity, skill level and feel for the game to make him attractive to NBA teams.
Swingman Isaiah Miles, who led St. Joseph’s in scoring (18.1 ppg) and rebounding (8.1 rpg), was a hot name among scouts at the PIT, given his intriguing mix of size (6-8), athleticism and shooting ability. Miles ranked second in the tournament in scoring (19.0 ppg) and shot 57.5 percent from field on his way to being named to the All-Tournament team.
Miles authored one of the most impressive breakout stories of the college basketball season. He barely played his first two seasons and became a key supporting player as a junior before blossoming into a star as a senior. Miles is on the short list of PIT players who might be seen in Chicago next month.
STATE OF PLAY
A few longtime PIT Committee members were surprised to see Michigan State’s Bryn Forbes and Matt Costello in action. Deep runs in the NCAA Tournament have frequently led to last-minute withdrawals by the Spartans.
The combination of Michigan State’s losing in the second round to Middle Tennessee State and the PIT’s being pushed back a week meant that Forbes and Costello were able to honor their commitment. Both took advantage of the opportunity.
Forbes led the tournament in scoring (20.3 ppg) and three-pointers made (13), no surprise given his proficiency from behind the arc. Costello finished second in rebounding (11.7 rpg) and was one of only four players to average a double-double. He plays extremely hard and has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
Florida’s Dorian Finney-Smith looked very comfortable moving about the court at Churchland High School. And for good reason: Finney-Smith attended I.C. Norcom High School, just a few miles down the road and in the same conference as Churchland.
Trey Freeman looked similarly at ease, having starred a few miles away at Old Dominion. Both players attracted huge crowds, which gave the tournament some added electricity. Finney-Smith finished tied for third in scoring (18.0 ppg) and ranked fifth in rebounding (9.7 rpg). He was named to the All-Tournament team and has a chance to be seen again in Chicago, thanks to his outstanding physical profile and toughness.
Freeman, the nation’s 13th-leading scorer (22.1 ppg), dished out 22 assists while committing only three turnovers in three games. His turn as a capable distributor gave scouts who view him as a smaller two-guard instead of a potential point guard something to consider.
AROUND THE PIT
• Northeastern’s David Walker had a quiet performance, averaging 5.2 points and 2.0 rebounds. Still, scouts like his athleticism and perimeter stroke. Pat Connaughton had a similarly nondescript performance in last year’s PIT, but was drafted 41st overall and made the NBA with the Trail Blazers.
• Virginia’s Mike Tobey averaged a double-double and showed excellent mobility and activity for his size. The 7-footer never averaged more than 18 minutes per game at Virginia, but looked very much like an NBA prospect.
• Oklahoma’s Isaiah Cousins stepped out of the shadow of NCAA Player of the Year Buddy Hield and had a very strong performance, finishing tied for fifth in scoring (17.3 ppg) and fourth in assists (6.3 apg). The 6-4 Cousins’ size and shooting ability should keep him on the radar.
• BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth, who finished his career with an NCAA-record 12 triple-doubles, averaged 4.0 points and 2.0 assists. The 6-6 Collinsworth’s effectiveness was limited by not having the ball in his hands a lot.
• Longtime NBA guard, coach and PIT alum Terry Porter was the guest speaker at this year’s Celebrity Luncheon. Porter, who recently accepted the head coaching position at Portland State, talked about his journey from a small school (Wisconsin-Stevens Point) to the NBA, which was aided by his performance at the PIT in 1985.