July 24, 2023

By Chris Ekstrand

For decades the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament has sent aspiring pro basketball players to the NBA, the developmental NBA G League and to top pro leagues around the world. 

Basketball Hall of Famers Rick Barry, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Dave Cowens, John Stockton, Tim Hardaway, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman all played at the PIT. More recently, stars like  Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat), Derrick White (Boston Celtics), Dorian Finney-Smith (Brooklyn Nets) and Pat Connaughton (Milwaukee Bucks) have starred at Churchland High School.   

The 2023 NBA Draft class included PIT standouts like Hunter Tyson of Clemson and Toumani Camara of Dayton, who each signed multiyear contracts with NBA teams. Tyson will be competing for playing time with the Denver Nuggets, while Camara will do the same with the Phoenix Suns.  

Other 2023 PIT alumni who will be competing in the NBA this coming season include D’Moi Hodge (Missouri), Craig Porter Jr. (Wichita State) and Sir’Jabari Rice (Texas), who secured NBA two-way contracts. Hodge will play for the Los Angeles Lakers, Porter will suit up for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Rice will debut with the San Antonio Spurs. 

A couple dozen other 2023 PIT alumni will go to training camp with NBA teams, most landing spots in the NBA G League this season with the chance to break into the NBA at some point over the next two or three seasons. We will have coverage of those NBA hopefuls when NBA training camps open in the Fall.

There’s also an ever-increasing list of talented players who have opted to begin their professional careers in Europe, Australia and Asia. Because some of these leagues start playing in September, a good number of players have already signed contracts and are poised to end their U.S.-based summer workout regimens and begin their first pro training camp experiences. 

Two of the top point guards at this year’s PIT will compete against each other in France. Tyger Campbell of UCLA and Tyree Appleby of Wake Forest will play for Saint Quentin and Limoges, respectively. Big man Kevin Samuel will also play in France for Maurienne. 

Belgium will be another key destination spot, with Rasir Bolton of Gonzaga and Justice Sueing of Ohio State playing together for Antwerp, which made it to the Final of the country’s Pro Basketball League just a few months ago. Jamarius Burton (Pittsburgh) will play in the same league for Kortrijk and Osun Osunniyi (Iowa State) will compete for Limburg. 

Two of the best big men who competed at the 2023 PIT will be seeing a lot of each other in Poland. Tanner Groves of Oklahoma will play for perennial power Anwil Wloclawek and Morris Udeze of New Mexico will play for King. The two teams played in the EBL quarterfinals last season with King winning a five-game slugfest and going on to win the league championship.

Nate Laszewski of Notre Dame will be a rookie for Brindisi of Italy, Cameron Shelton of Loyola Marymount will wear the iconic uniform of Split in Croatia while Filip Rebraca (Iowa) will play in his native Serbia for Borac Cacak. Tajion Jones (Asheville) will play for Leiden of Holland, and big man Tyshaun Crawford (Augusta) will play in Turkey for Haremspor. 

One of the great stories coming out of this year’s PIT was Kris Bankston of Norfolk State. Bankston’s excellence was hiding in plain sight on a college team that featured HBCU standout and fellow PIT participant Joe Bryant, but still flew somewhat under the radar. But Bankston shined at the right time at the PIT, and earned a contract playing for Hapoel Be’er Sheva in Israel, where he will play at a very high level in the Winner League. Stars of that league last season included former PIT standouts D.J. Cooper of Ohio, who led the league in assists with a mind-blowing 13.5 assists per game, league rebounding leader Zach Hankins (Xavier) and second-leading scorer Maurice Kemp (East Carolina).

Another player making his European debut who is coming in with a low profile but bears watching is Umoja Gibson of DePaul. Gibson, who will play for Goettingen in Germany, quietly had an outstanding season for the Blue Demons, but the team’s relative lack of success in the Big East Conference caused many people to miss how good he really was. Gibson was in the top 6 in the Big East in scoring, assists and steals and also shot 41.6% from 3-point range. 

Josh Roberts of Manhattan will bring his explosive leaping ability to Australia. He’ll play for Cairns, a league semifinalist last season. Roberts was co-Defensive Player of the Year in the MAAC last season, and his merciless shot-blocking and rim-rattling dunks will doubtless make him a crowd favorite right away in Australia’s NBL.

All Rights Reserved © 2023 Website by Davis Ad Agency