April 13, 2024

By Chris Ekstrand 

Toumani Camara flew under the radar for most of his senior year at Dayton despite being named to the Atlantic 10 First Team in 2023. Playing alongside DaRon Holmes II, who recently received Atlantic 10 Player of the Year honors, Camara was often overlooked. He had the type of understated game – a timely bucket here, a key offensive rebound there, an unexpected blocked shot out of nowhere – that you had to watch closely to appreciate.


Camara stepped into the spotlight at the 2023 Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, and he has been there ever since. Camara rode his excellent performance at the PIT, where he averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds per game, to success at the NBA Combine, and to hearing his named called at the 2023 NBA Draft. He played in 70 games as a rookie with the Portland Trail Blazers this season, starting 49 and getting valuable NBA experience. Camara made 58 three-pointers, shot free throws better in the NBA than he did in college, and earned praise for his defense from head coach Chauncy Billups, about to be enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Camara had the biggest role of any of the Portsmouth stars from 2023 who are playing in the NBA now, but he has not been the only one to make an impact. Hunter Tyson of Clemson was the 37th pick of the 2023 NBA Draft and has had a few chances to find his NBA legs competing for minutes with the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets. Craig Porter Jr. of Wichita State went undrafted, but after the draft he was signed to a two-way contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. It took Porter only half a season to earn a full NBA contract, signing that upgrade in February and making substantial contributions to the Cavs when injuries hit the starting guards.

There have been other success stories around the NBA from 2023 PIT players. Trey Jemison of UAB was so good playing for the Birmingham Squadron of the NBA G League that he was brought up to the NBA for looks by the Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies, ultimately earning a two-way contract from the Grizzlies. With the rash of injuries in Memphis this year, Jemison has played in 21 games and started 12, making his mark with 7.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game as a rookie.

Pete Nance, who played at Northwestern and North Carolina in the college ranks, earned a spot with the Cleveland Charge of the NBA G League, and his play there vaulted him into the NBA, signing a two-way contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team his father, the legendary Larry Nance, and his brother Larry Nance Jr., also played for in the NBA.

2023 PIT star Nathan Mensah of San Diego State played 25 games with the Charlotte Hornets this season. D’Moi Hodge of Missouri played for the Los Angeles Lakers, Taevion Kinsey of Marshall played for the Utah Jazz, and Timmy Allen of Texas recently was elevated to the Memphis Grizzlies. 2023 PIT MVP Sir’Jabari Rice of Texas and Setric Millner of Toledo both performed under two-way contracts with the San Antonio Spurs.

In all 11 players who played at the 2023 PIT have been under contract to NBA teams during this regular season, with several others who starred in the NBA G League close to joining them.

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