The 66th annual Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (PIT), which featured 64 of the nation’s top college seniors competing in a four-day, 12-game event in front of team representatives from across the NBA, concluded on Saturday, April 14. Below is a recap of the tournament:
FIT FOR A KING: For the better part of three games at the 2018 Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, Colorado’s George King had accomplished everything a player can do to raise his profile in front of a packed gym filled with representatives from NBA teams
The 6-6 forward had scored in a variety of ways; he would average 18.0 points on 58 percent shooting. He had defended multiple positions, showing off his 7-foot wingspan. He had snatched tough rebounds in traffic.
With King’s coronation nearly complete, though, his team, K&D Round’s Landscaping, was unable to hold a double-digit second-half lead against Sales System LTD in the championship game. Fairfield’s Tyler Nelson caught a full-court pass from Western Kentucky’s Justin Johnson and made a layup with two seconds left to give Sales Systems LTD an improbable 91-90 victory.
The loss opened the door for Arkansas’ Jaylen Barford to capture MVP honors (more on him below). Still, King made a strong case to move on to the NBA Combine next month in Chicago, with five spots reserved for the top performers from the PIT as voted on by NBA teams.
At Colorado, King was a teammate of 2017 PIT breakout star Derrick White, a first-round pick by the San Antonio Spurs last year. Though King was never the Buffaloes’ go-to offensive player, his ability to guard both forward spots – and even some guards – along with his improved shooting stroke make him a potential fit in the NBA.
RAISING THE BARFORD: Jaylen Barford was a worthy MVP choice after leading his team to the championship and finishing second in the tournament in scoring (19.3 ppg). The 6-3 guard with a chiseled frame added 6.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists while unofficially leading the PIT in number of players discarded on powerful drives to the basket.
Barford’s signature moment came in his team’s second game, when he scored on a driving layup as time expired to push Sales Systems LTD into the championship game.
The former junior college All-American scored 1,087 points in two seasons at Arkansas, earning All-SEC First Team honors as a senior. With his combination of strength and skill and an improved three-point shooting stroke, Barford is an interesting player to track in the pre-draft process. He has a chance to be seen again in Chicago next month.
RULE OF THREE: It’s rare to see three players from one school competing in the PIT, but Seton Hall’s Desi Rodriguez, Angel Delgado and Khadeen Carrington more than validated the PIT Committee’s decision.
Rodriguez finished fourth in the PIT in scoring (17.7 ppg) and tied for second in blocks (2.0 bpg) while adding 5.3 rebounds. The 6-6 forward was an easy choice for All-Tournament honors and a hot name among scouts discussing which players had a chance to move on to Chicago.
At Seton Hall, the Bronx, N.Y., native built a reputation as a tough, hard-nosed player with a knack for scoring. Over time, he became a better passer, defender and three-point shooter.
Delgado, the Big East’s second all-time leading rebounder behind Syracuse’s Derrick Coleman, tweaked his back in his second game and was unable to play in his team’s finale. In his two games, Delgado averaged 12.0 points and 11.5 rebounds.
The 6-10 forward/center lived in the Dominican Republic until he was almost 17 before moving to New Jersey and becoming a blue-chip recruit and All-Big East performer for Seton Hall. As a junior, he led the nation in rebounding (13.1 rpg) and was second in double-doubles (27).
Delgado’s professional appeal is well defined. He is a rebounding machine with a strong body, excellent hands and solid athleticism.
Carrington made several key plays down the stretch of the championship game, including scoring the go-ahead basket for K&D Rounds Landscaping with under 10 seconds to play. The 6-4 combo guard averaged 10.3 points and 4.3 assists for the tournament.
Carrington made the difficult transition to point guard as a senior and helped Seton Hall finish 22-12 and win one game in the NCAA Tournament. He will look to continue developing his skills as a lead guard.
SWEET VIRGINIA: For the second year in a row, a popular player from the University of Virginia drew cheers from the crowd and raves from the scout section. Last year it was London Perrantes, whose strong performance at the PIT helped him earn a two-way contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This year it was Devon Hall, a fifth-year senior who was a key contributor to a Virginia team that earned the No. 1 overall seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
Though not a pure point guard like Perrantes, the 6-5 Hall functioned at both guard spots during the season and finished second in the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.06 to 1). At the PIT, he averaged 17.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists and was named to the All-Tournament Team.
Hall is not the flashiest player, but scouts appreciate his ability to take care of the ball, play stout defense and make open shots. It was only two years ago that similar things were said about Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon, the 2016-17 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year.
STEADY AS HE GOES: Cincinnati’s Gary Clark didn’t put up the gaudiest statistics (12.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg) or get named to the All-Tournament team. Still, the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year was among the most popular players in the tournament with NBA talent evaluators, making him a strong candidate to earn a spot at the NBA Draft Combine.
It’s easy to see why. The 6-8 forward is an outstanding defender with a high basketball IQ and a soft shooting touch. He is almost always where he is supposed to be on the floor and rarely takes a bad shot. In addition to his talent, Clark won numerous sportsmanship awards at Cincinnati and is known as an excellent teammate.
AROUND THE PIT
• VCU’s Justin Tillman was an easy choice for All-Tournament honors after leading the PIT in rebounding (13.0 rpg) and finishing third in scoring (18.3 ppg). His activity around the rim and ability to change ends turned heads.
• Second-Team AP All-American Jock Landale of St. Mary’s also earned All-Tournament honors, averaging 11.3 points and 10.3 rebounds for the winning team. The skilled 6-11 center from Australia led St. Mary’s to its first 30-win season in the West Coast Conference.
• Another WCC product, Johnathan Williams of Gonzaga, had a nice showing in averaging 12.0 points and 7.7 rebounds. The 6-9 forward was an impact player first at Missouri and then at Gonzaga, where he helped the Bulldogs make the NCAA title game in 2017. Williams is a quick leaper, which enables him to block shots and be a major factor on the offensive boards.
• Oakland’s Kendrick Nunn, who finished second in the nation in scoring (25.9 ppg) this past season, led the PIT in scoring (20.7 ppg) and was named to the All-Tournament Team. The 6-3 Nunn spent his first three seasons at Illinois before transferring to Oakland for his senior campaign.
• Former North Carolina head coach and current Atlantic 10 Associate Commissioner Matt Doherty was the guest speaker at the PIT Celebrity Luncheon. Doherty competed in the 1984 PIT with Hall of Famer John Stockton and the late Jerome Kersey, who played 17 NBA seasons.
2018 PIT RECAP
Senior Manager, Communications at National Basketball Association