Russell Carter, 6-4, Shooting Guard, Notre Dame
28 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 turnovers, 3 steals, 12-17 FG, 2-4 3P, 2-5 FT
Carter made a great living tonight from mid-range and beyond the arc. He was absolutely phenomenal catching and shooting coming off screens, and also was a potent weapon spotting up off the dribble any time the defense gave him even an inch of daylight. He has a super quick release, terrific elevation on his jumper, effortless mechanics, and outstanding instincts for how to move off the ball. Its quite clear from watching him here that the transition to the NBA 3-point line will not be very difficult at all for him, and that the inch or two he might lack in prototypical size for his position can be neutralized by the way he gets his shot off. Furthermore, he also possesses a fairly effective mid-range game pulling up off the bounce after a short dribble or two to create space for himself, sometimes adding in a little fade-away action with nice body control for good measure.
More than just a one-dimensional shooter, though, Carter did a terrific job showing off his excellent defense and passing ability. Built like an NFL fullback with excellent quickness and plenty of smarts, Carter is a very willing and able perimeter defender. He puts lots of pride into this part of his game, getting in his matchups chest and being extremely physical, staying in front of his man nicely and being very active getting in the passing lanes and coming up for steals.
This got him in transition on a number of occasions during this game, where he showed awesome strength finishing with contact around the basket for a layup or emphatic dunk, and also a high skill level and nice decision making skills pulling up off the dribble from mid-range for a sweet looking jumper.
Despite being seemingly unable to do any wrong tonight no matter what he did, Carter did not force the issue even one bit, doing an admirable job creating shots for his teammates, as evidenced by his 7 assists. Even though they are somewhat similar players and there could have been some concern that their skill-set would overlap with one another, Carter and DeAngelo Alexander showed great chemistry throughout the tournament and again made some incredibly unselfish passes to each other all game long. Carter found Alexander beautifully in transition on two separate occasions, and also had a terrific drop-off to a streaking Anthony Tolliver on another occasion. Its obvious from watching him play on the court and seeing how he handled himself off it that the Notre Dame senior is a very intelligent player and person. He really seems to enjoy playing basketball, having a permanent smile on his face for every minute hes on the court. Today, though, he gave the NBA executives that were still in attendance (like Minnesota TWolves GM Kevin McHale for example) plenty to smile about too for staying in Virginia rather than running off to attend the Hoop Summit JUCO all-star game in Memphis.
In terms of weaknesses, Carter has two glaring ones, one that can be corrected and one that probably cant. The first would be his ball-handling skills. Against average competition like he faced here at PIT, Carter can create his own shot only semi-effectively, much preferring to have a point guard like DaShaun Wood next to him to can make him solely a finisher. His left hand is especially poor, being unable to dribble or finish without being a complete liability. The second would be his size, which is not ideal at 6-4. As mentioned already, though, he does make up for this to a certain extent with his strength, athleticism, and the quickness in which he can get his shot off, along with his high release point.
Carter was, to us, the best NBA draft prospect here, and has moved firmly into the second round of the draft on our board thanks to his outstanding performance here. He will still need to do it all over again at the pre-draft camp in Orlando to guarantee getting drafted, but we have very little doubt in our mind now that he has what it takes to be an effective NBA rotation player.
Jamaal Tatum, 6-2, Guard, Southern Illinois
17 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds, 4 turnovers, 5-11 FG, 1-3 3P, 6-7 FT
Tatum progressed substantially in each game he played. He started off over-dribbling during his first outing, though it should be noted that he didnt turn the ball over or take poor shots. But between the first and second game Tatum made adjustments and must have cut down his clock usage by at least half while still maintaining his ability to make plays for both teammates and for himself.
Tatums best attribute may be his defensive ability. Tatum has excellent athletic ability and can move his feet with the quickest of guards. He stays low and in sound fundamental position while using his hands and keeping a constantly changing distance between himself and his opponent which makes it extremely difficult for anyone to advance the ball. This was never more evident than in the championship game where he held tourney MVP DeShaun Wood in check for at least 80 percent of the time they were matched up.
Offensively, Tatum can shoot the outside shot, pull-up from mid-range, and even finish up high on the inside on occasion. His ability in all these areas isnt completely polished yet, but his shot is smooth and consistent and its not hard to project him developing his arsenal to a point where it is difficult to deal with. Tatum could benefit from adding some runners and other floating shots in the lane, as larger, faster big men will certainly take away most of his finishes around the hoop.
Overall, Tatum looks like he may have potential as a backup point guard on the NBA level. There are certainly points in the league that have less ability than Tatum has on both sides of the ball. Like most of the players in Portsmouth, Tatums chances of success will depend on his determination to outwork everyone he goes up against. Pushing the limits of his ability hasnt been a problem for Tatum thus far and if he continues to shot the proactive mentality and positive demeanor that he showed at Portsmouth he may become a coachs favorite somewhere down the line.
DaShaun Wood, 5-11, Point Guard, Wright State
14 points, 9 assists, 4 turnovers, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 3-5 FG, 1-1 3P, 7-7 FT
In terms of his playmaking, Wood did an excellent job running the show. His team was by far the most unselfish here, recording 31 assists out of 43 made baskets, and Wood was really the catalyst behind that with the example he set for how things should be run. He was extremely patient throughout, letting everything come to him rather than forcing the issue, and making his teammates look very good by constantly creating easy shots for them. He did it with a combination of terrific ball-handling skills and hesitation moves, keeping his defender on his heels constantly with his excellent perimeter shooting ability and outstanding quickness to get into the lane almost whenever he pleased at this level.
Woods passing ability was on full display, whether with a series of drive and dish plays, some terrific lobs into the post, and a couple of perfectly timed bullet passes in transition for easy baskets. Wood clearly had the best awareness of whats happening around him of any of the point guards here, and its become incredibly obvious that he was not able to fully show just how talented a playmaker he is in college because of the huge scoring burden that was put on his shoulders at Wright State.
This has obviously made him a much more versatile player, though, as instead of just being a phenomenal point guard or a fantastic scoring combo, he can do both very well. If left open for even a second, Wood shows no hesitation knocking down jump-shots with 3-point range. He can also get to the basket and finish amongst the trees in a variety of ways off the glass (runners, floaters, pull-ups, etc), although he clearly needs to improve his left hand. His toughness is exemplified in the fact that he averaged over 5 rebounds per game despite being a skinny 5-11.
The two weaknesses we could identify had to do with the player he was matching up against, Jamaal Tatum. Wood had some problems in the first half adjusting to the incredibly tough defense that Tatum played on him, as he is bigger and quicker than him and just absolutely relentless. Later on in the game he seemed to adjust very well, though, taking Tatum off the dribble on a number of occasions and getting to where he needed on the floor. In fact, it was two baskets he created while being matched up with Tatum late in the 2nd half that really secured the victory for his team, making him fall down with a phenomenal crossover and then dishing off wonderfully for an assist on one occasion, and then taking him strong all the way to the hoop for a gorgeous floater with contact off the glass plus the foul.
The other concern to come out of this game had more to do with his lack of size and strength. He had some trouble getting through the screens that were set on him, and was beat off the dribble on a few other occasions by the quickness that Tatum has at his disposal. Not being particularly tall or long, its not clear how well hell be able to contest the shots of the bigger guards in the NBA that he potentially could match up with, but to his credit we must say that Wood plays just as hard on the defensive end as he does on offense.
All in all, this couldnt have been a better week for DaShaun Wood. He did virtually everything in his power to show that he can play in the NBA, and surely locked up an invite to the Orlando pre-draft camp in late May. Many will question his size, but he wont be the first player to make it at 5-11 ½, and obviously wont be the last. Something that can never be questioned is the size of his brain, heart and cojones.
James Hughes, 610, Center, Northern Illinois
10 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, 5-7 FG
Defensively, Hughes did a good job again contesting and blocking shots around the rim, but his man-to-man defense is very raw, as he doesnt have much of a fundamental base in the post, not getting leverage and not showing much in the footwork department. He was beat a few times in the post in this game, and just looked very questionable even when he wasnt beat.
With his physical attributes, Hughes should get a few chances down the road to find a role in the NBA, and its up to him to make the necessary strides in the weaker areas of his game. His conditioning could also be improved, as he seems to get winded easy, but to his credit, whenever he was hunched over and taking deep breaths during dead ball and free-throw situations, he came back strong the next play and fought through it to still contribute for his team, showing motivation one wants to see from a player like him.
Anthony Tolliver, 69, PF/C, Creighton
13 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block, 5-8 FG, 1-2 3PT, 2-4 FT
Defensively, Tolliver has some trouble when drawn out to the perimeter, as he couldnt quite stick either Ivan Harris or Justin Doellman in this game when he was matched up with them, not being agile enough to risk tightly playing them, which left them open for outside shots. He hustles a lot on the defensive end in the painted area, though, and is able to get some blocks and steals off that more-so than explosiveness or excellent athletic ability, which he lacks. In the post, hes a pretty good defender when he gets physical, but he doesnt always do that, which is also a problem with his rebounding. He seems to get most of his rebounds due to his size and being in the right spot as opposed to throwing his weight around and using physicality to pull down boards in the crowd.
Tolliver probably isnt an NBA player, at least not now, but he should be invited to the Orlando pre-draft camp, and with his well-rounded and smart style of play, he should make a nice complementary player in Europe.
Justin Doellman, 6-9, SF/PF, Xavier
12 points, 6 rebounds, 5-11 FG
Every time we watch Doellman we discover a new little wrinkle to his game that we previously were not aware of. This time it was his intelligence finishing around the basket in the half-court and in transition. Not being a very explosive player, Doellman needs to rely on his smarts and skills rather than sheer athleticism. Going up to finish around the hoop in traffic, Doellman does a wonderful job adjusting his body to create contact and avoid the shot-blocker, telegraphing the direction he wants to go in and then at the last second completely altering his shot to avoid the block. Its these suddle type of moves that give you an idea for just how smart he is, and really could endear him to an NBA coach someday looking for a glue guy to bring off the bench.
Beyond that, Doellman also displayed his phenomenal shooting stroke. He has a super high release point on his jumper, allowing him to get his shot off effectively with a man in his face almost whenever he pleases, aided by his excellent size at 6-9 as well obviously. He can spot-up effectively from the perimeter and also pull up off a short dribble from mid-range as well. Trying to go any deeper than that exposes his lack of speed, though, as hell clearly never be a shot-creator in the NBA. Hes a mismatch threat who doesnt quite fit into the 3 or 4 spots, which is where a lot of his effectiveness comes from.
Defensively, Doellman doesnt really have a natural position either, which is certainly a concern. He does have excellent length and smarts, though, which he uses very well to bother smaller players with limited ball-handling skills (like Russell Carter at times for example) into taking more difficult shots than theyd probably prefer.
One big concern we have is with the huge brace Doellman sports on his knee. Thats something that only a doctor can fully evaluate, but its not something that scouts necessarily like seeing from a player this age.
DeAngelo Alexander, 6-4, Shooting Guard, UNC-Charlotte
13 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 5-13 FG, 1-5 3P
Alexander was more of an offensive facilitator in game three than a big time scorer, but he moved the ball exceptionally well, played sound team defense, pushed the tempo in transition, and generally made the plays that needed to be made in order for his team to win. In the process, he displayed good shot selection and communication skills throughout.
Alexander has nice athleticism and size, though he isnt particularly tall or long for his position. His ball handling isnt good enough to create his own shot when tightly guarded in half court sets, but his perimeter shooting and off-ball movement make him a threat to score coming off curls or camping out behind the three point line.
Alexander is certainly a rhythm shooter. When he tried jab-stepping on the perimeter to free up his shot, he lost a substantial amount of accuracy in the process. But, with a live dribble or when moving into the shot Alexander looks very comfortable taking shots from all over the court.
Defensively, Alexander showed good footwork and a dedication to playing his man tough. He looked to be inspired by his teams pace and chemistry and this translated to both sides of the court. Itll be interesting to see if this type of play on both sides of the court continues in other settings, but here it was evident that the ability to do so is there.
Alexander doesnt have the overall package that teammate Russell Carter possesses, but he has good overall ability and definitely drew some attention from some scouts here, be it domestic or abroad. Hes got the potential to be a solid pro player for a competitive team somewhere for sure if he can continue to harness his game and blend with teammates the way he did in Portsmouth.
Portsmouth Sports Club 89 - Norfolk Sports Club - 88 (OT)
Caleb Green, 68, PF, Oral Roberts
19 points, 17 rebounds, 1 block, 2 steals, 4 turnovers, 8-14 FG, 3-4 FT
Adam Haluska, 6-6, Small Forward, Iowa
19 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 turnovers, 7-19 FG, 0-9 3P, 5-6 FT
His ability to hit tough shots around the basket is certainly a plus skill, as is his defensive awareness in help situations. But Haluska will have to work on his ball-handling and jump shot before he can be considered a legit prospect for the NBA level. Haluska showed almost no ability to go to his left hand in the half court and absolutely could not hit the perimeter shots that will be essential for him to master if he wants a role in the league. Hes got good size for the two-guard position, but its a position that requires consistent range and accuracy, two things that Haluska didnt show in this game, but has in the past here at PIT and especially during his career at Iowa.
An absolute dedication to working on his shot mechanics is a must for Haluska if he wishes to stay stateside with the big boys. The kid from Iowa has some skills around the basket, but his shooting form needs tweaking. Haluska shows solid shoulder and hip alignment on most of his shots, but he pushes the ball instead of pronating his wrist and getting underneath his shots with his hand, which causes his shots to drift left and right. After that, a little more court sense couldnt hurt as Haluska tended to force the issue, especially during the last game. There is no excuse for going 0-9 from three point range no matter what youre trying to display to the scouts. Finding a good coach and trainer will be key for him going forward if he wants to harness his game.
Rashad Jones-Jennings, 68, PF, Arkansas-Little Rock
8 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 2-8 FG, 4-8 FT
Unfortunately, he had quite a few problems in the post offensively, as he doesnt have the best hands for catching entry passes and his touch around the rim isnt stellar either. He missed some hook shots badly, both using glass and not, missed a putback lay-up badly, and just generally had struggles going up with the ball from the post. His hands arent very large for a player his size, so he often has to hold the ball with two hands to control it, getting him into trouble when he needs to hold it with just one. Jones-Jennings did do a good job getting to the free-throw line, though, as while he didnt finish on many of his field goals, he drew contact and went up strong to get to the line, where he shot just 4-8. His mid-range shooting needs a bit of work, as he air-balled an 8-footer, though he also hit a 15-footer from the baseline. Jones-Jennings wasnt really forcing it with his game in the post, though, as he dumped off a nice assist to a cutter and dished out a nice kick-out for a three-pointer as well.
Defensively, Jones-Jennings did a better job leaving his imprint on the game, bodying up strong against taller opponents in the post and not allowing them to get easy baskets around the rim. He also makes up for his height by fronting very well, picking off two entry passes in that manner in the game. He tried to do some damage with weak-side help as well, contesting and even blocking some shots in the lane, but at times he just comes up short because he doesnt have the length or height to get to every guards drive. He boxed out well around the hoop and did a good job pulling in some emphatic rebounds, showing excellent instincts in tracking the ball off the rim, which goes well with his mobility in moving outside the painted area to pull down the ball.
Jones-Jennings is not your typical prospect, and most people will write him off as an NBA player, but more and more undersized forwards are finding roles on teams, and his work ethic and motor would be highly favored by coaches. He should have a chance at making a summer league team, though he will likely have to go to the D-League to work a bit on his offensive game if he plans to go the NBA route, which is certainly not a sure thing down the road.