Portsmouth Invitational Tournament: All-Second Team

Portsmouth Invitational Tournament: All-Second Team
Apr 16, 2009, 12:16 am
We take a look at the next batch of players who in our opinion helped their NBA draft stock the most at the PIT: Micah Downs, Alex Ruoff, K.C. Rivers, B.J. Raymond and Marcus Cousin.

Portsmouth Invitational Tournament: All-First Team

Micah Downs, 6’7, SG/SF, Gonzaga
9.0 Points, 7.3 Rebounds, 3.6 Assists, 1.3 Blocks, 2.3 Turnovers, 41% FG, 25% 3P

Matt Williams

The former McDonald’s All-American opened the PIT with a great defensive performance and maintained his intensity for the rest of the week, but only had an inconsistent series of games on the offensive end. Despite his lack of production, few players displayed the upside comparable to that of the former Kansas transfer. Though he has some major weaknesses that severely limit his ability to use his tools, Downs is a player worth keeping an eye on just in case he puts things together.

Most of the interest in Downs stems from his prototypical physical tools. Measuring in at a somewhat dubious 6-9 in shoes, with a 6-9 ½ wingspan, he has great size to play on the wing –an asset that helped him immensely on both ends this week. He couples his size with excellent athleticism, possessing a physical profile that appears tailor-made for the NBA. While he could certainly stand to add some muscle to his slender (197 pound) frame, Downs looks the part of an NBA prospect.

During his time in Spokane, Downs threw down a handful of highlight reel dunks and made his fair share of big plays in transition, but he utilized his athleticism far more effectively than anticipated this week. Though he’s always possessed the ideal tools to be a great defender, he did not always consistently show the dedication necessary to employ them. That wasn’t the case in Portsmouth, as Downs came out on the first day and blocked four shots, created all kind of issues for his man in one-on-one situations, and didn’t take a play off. Though Downs didn’t have another game that was as statistically productive on the defensive end as his first, his intensity didn’t waver. If this is something we can look forward to in the future, Downs has a bright future as a high-level stopper.

Though he showed progress in some areas, Downs struggled in others –specifically, with his perimeter jumper. Mostly known for his catch and shoot ability on the collegiate level, Downs didn’t shoot the ball exceptionally well this week, knocking down just 3 of his 12 attempts from beyond the arc, but displaying the same excellent form he’s possessed since his high school days. Considering that he made 39% of his 3-pointers on the season, on a fairly decent amount of attempts, it’s pretty clear that he can shoot the ball. He didn’t force anything or try to do too much either, which is not a surprise considering how much of a willing role player he was at Gonzaga, with his minuscule usage and turnover rates.

Downs was able to overcome his poor outside shooting by finishing a number of athletic plays at the rim by running the floor hard in transition, taking advantage of a couple of offensive rebounds, and throwing down a couple of alley-oops when his defender helped off him. This is indicative of the way Downs has scored in recent years, doing nearly all of his scoring from beyond the arc and right at the rim. Though he did some good things offensively, his biggest weakness was exposed repeatedly when he tried to get to the rim in half-court settings.

Downs is a poor ball-handler, and at this point, that is one of the few things holding him back from being a very serious threat to make a NBA roster. He appears capable with the ball in the open court, but he can’t seem to maintain control when he puts the ball on the floor in half-court sets. Considering the fact that he has a solid first step, Downs would be well served to spend considerable time honing his ball-handling skills wherever he lands next season. His inability to create shots for himself on the perimeter and the difficulty he has maneuvering to the basket take away from his productivity, efficiency, and makes his mid-range game almost completely inept on the offensive end.

Though his weaknesses were very much evident, this was regardless a great week for Downs, as he gave NBA decision-makers a thorough reminder of how much upside he has. He has a number of great tools, and if he can bring the same intensity he showed on the defensive end at the PIT to practice every day to work on his ball-handling, he should have no trouble getting a look from a NBA team. Considering Downs has already earned himself a high-level look in Europe, it will be interesting to see whether or not he can round out the rest of his game to compliment all the other things he does well.

Alex Ruoff, 6-6, Shooting Guard, West Virginia
14 points, 6.3 assists, 2 turnovers, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, 51% FG, 2-11 3P, 0-0 FT

Jonathan Givony

Although his shot wasn’t falling at the same rate it normally does, Alex Ruoff regardless had a pretty strong showing at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, putting his versatility as a 6-6 guard on full display.

Ruoff has excellent size for the guard position, being capable of playing any of the three perimeter positions at 6-6. He actually came in at 6-8 in shoes according to the official measurements, but that might be a little questionable based on what we’ve seen in years past. Regardless of how big he actually is, Ruoff spent a great deal of time at the point guard spot for West Virginia, and he showed the ball-handling skills, smarts and court vision to do a solid job there, even if he’s obviously not a natural playmaker.

Offensively, Ruoff relies very heavily on his jump-shot as his main source of production—61% of his field goal attempts came from beyond the arc this season, and 68% last year. He has excellent shooting mechanics and is capable of making shots both with his feet set and off the dribble, although his percentages are not what you would call outstanding, at 37%. Part of that probably has to do with his team’s slow pace and the amount of offensive responsibilities he was forced to shoulder, combined with his inability to create his own shot against the elite defenders of the Big East.

Sporting a mediocre first step by NBA standards, combined with a poor wingspan and below average explosiveness around the basket, Ruoff is not what you could call a prolific slasher. He is very crafty in his ability to maximize the athletic ability at the college level, showing nice footwork, solid ball-handling skills with either hand, excellent touch finishing off the glass, and great savvy in terms of drawing fouls. Still, it’s questionable whether these skills would translate to an NBA level. At Portsmouth he did show very good ability to operate out of the quick actions of the flex offense his team ran, making quick, aggressive moves towards the basket coming off screens from 15-17 feet, which helped compensate for his just-average first step.

Defensively, Ruoff lacks great length (he measured a 6-7 wingspan) and lateral quickness, which was exposed when trying to defend some of the more athletic wing players he was matched up with at times in the Big East, but he’s more than capable of compensating for that with his excellent blend of smarts and fundamentals. Ruoff really competes on this end of the floor, which is not surprising considering the coach he plays for. He has excellent size and puts a great effort in, is always talking to his teammates, and shows nice anticipation skills in the passing lanes as well.

Ruoff doesn’t appear to be on many NBA teams’ radar screens right now as an immediate draft prospect, but he’ll surely get some looks in the form of private workouts and a summer league invite, where he can further try to plead his case. He’s a unique and very versatile all-around player with his size and excellent skill-level, but may lack a degree of athleticism to convince teams that he can make the transition to playing in the NBA. If things don’t work out for him, he’ll surely make a very good living in Europe, where his basketball IQ and fundamentals will probably be better appreciated.

K.C. Rivers, 6’5, Shooting Guard, Clemson
10.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 turnover, 12-32 FG, 5-16 3PT, 2-3 FT

Joseph Treutlein

After a rough first game at Portsmouth, K.C. Rivers rounded into form nicely over his last two contests, posting respectable numbers for the tournament and showing flashes of what he’s capable of. Still, it probably wasn’t the performance he was hoping for, being one of the more highly touted players coming into the week. On the bright side, Rivers helped himself out by measuring in at 6’5 in shoes, with an impressive 6’9 wingspan.

Since the last time we wrote about Rivers prior to this season, there really isn’t much new to say, as evidenced by the fact that when you compare his numbers from his junior to senior year: they may as well be carbon copies. Rivers is very much the same player today as he was a year ago, not making major strides in any area of his game.

As a shooter, Rivers is excellent when spotting up, posting an excellent 1.49 points per possession on spot-up shots according to Synergy Sports Technology. When shooting on the move, either coming around screens or pulling up off the dribble, Rivers is still a good shooter, however he’s prone to some very wild misses, as his form has a tendency to break down when he has a hand in his face, plus he seems to rush some of his shots in this manner. Peculiarly, despite showing a lot of ability knocking down shots from the field, Rivers has still struggled from the free-throw line, posting a disappointing 67% this season, actually the worst number of his career.

As for his dribble-drive game, Rivers still is lacking in advanced ball-handling skills and explosiveness, not being a huge threat in isolation situations. This was evident at times at Portsmouth, where he was outside the comfort zone of his normal offense, and it took him time to adjust to how he could consistently get open shots. At the basket, Rivers isn’t a very good finisher in college due to his lack of vertical explosiveness, and this is something that will be magnified even more at the professional level.

If Rivers improved anywhere this season, it would be on the defensive end, though this was already a strong point for him prior to this season. Fully buying into Clemson’s attack style pressure defense, Rivers does an excellent job of playing defense from baseline to baseline, getting his hands into passing lanes to disrupt the opposing offense. As a man-to-man defender, Rivers shows great attentiveness on and off the ball, chasing his man all over the court, while showing a good fundamental base in man defense. While his lateral quickness wouldn’t put him in the top half of shooting guards at the NBA level, it’s still adequate enough to get the job done given his fundamentals and impressive wingspan.

Looking forward to the draft, Rivers should be in second round discussions for most teams, and he will undoubtedly have chances to make a roster even if he isn’t drafted. Improving his shooting on the move and becoming a better ball-handler should be among his priorities this off-season. Still, his shooting ability and defensive prowess already could potentially land him a roster spot, especially given his low-mistake style of basketball, strong intangibles, and ability to buy into a team concept.

B.J. Raymond, 6-6, Small Forward, Xavier
13 points, 4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.7 turnovers, 1.7 steals, 44% FG, 53% 3P, 1-1 FT

Jonathan Givony

While he may not have put up eye-popping numbers, B.J. Raymond did a good job in Portsmouth exhibiting the very distinct strengths that made him such a valuable college player at Xavier. Raymond has good size for either wing position at 6-6, to go along with a chiseled frame. He’s a below average athlete, though, showing very little quickness and leaping ability, something that was very much evident in all the games he played at the PIT.

Raymond is an extremely efficient offensive player, shooting over 50% from inside the arc and over 40% from outside it. 56% of his field goal attempts come from beyond the 3-point line, and 77% of his offense comes in the form of jump-shots (according to Synergy Sports Technology), which tells you quite a bit about the type of player he is, and how he was used in college. He is an excellent shooter with his feet set, and is also capable of making shots off the dribble, as long as he’s not being too heavily contested, as he doesn’t do a great job creating separation from defenders.

Raymond is capable of using his strength at times to bully his way into the lane methodically and finish after lowering his shoulder, but he’s not the type of player who will get up and finish over the top of anyone, as he lacks any type of real explosiveness. His ability to create his own shot, dribble with his left hand or change directions with the ball is limited, which is why he rarely got to the free throw line at Xavier, and only tallied a single attempt from the charity stripe in three games at Portsmouth. He rarely turns the ball over on one hand, but also isn’t much of a passer either, acting mostly as a spot-up shooter for his team this past season.

Defensively, Raymond is as tough and fundamentally sound a player as you’ll find, getting in a low stance and really competing on each and every possession. He does a great job moving his feet and staying in front of his matchup, utilizing his 6-9 wingspan very effectively to contest shots as well. Raymond rarely gets in the passing lanes, coming up with just half a steal per game this year and last, which is an indication of both how rarely he gambles, as well as his limitations as far as his quickness is concerned. He is nonetheless an excellent off-ball defender, constantly reading the floor and talking with his teammates, and doing an excellent job making accurate rotations. Xavier was one of the best defensive teams in the NCAA this year, and Raymond played a big part in that. While he’s not much of an offensive rebounder, he does a good job hitting the defensive glass.

Raymond looks like a long-shot to be drafted, but he’ll likely get some looks from teams in workouts, the summer league and possibly training camp—as some may view him as a candidate to fill a Keith Bogans-type role, making shots when called upon and locking down his matchup. Considering his size, perimeter shooting ability, strong intangibles and excellent defensive skills, he would likely have a successful career in Europe if that’s the route he chose to take.

Marcus Cousin, 6-11, Center, Houston
12.3 points, 8 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 59% FG, 1-1 3P

Jonathan Givony

A late addition to Portsmouth, Marcus Cousin looked like he belonged and then some, actually being one of the more productive big men in attendance. He has some intriguing characteristics, including nice size (he apparently measured 6-10 ½ barefoot), an excellent 7-2 wingspan, and a 248 pound frame that should easily be able to handle another 15-20 pounds of muscle over the next few years. He’s also a good athlete, getting up and down the court well, and being very capable of getting off the ground to finish plays or challenge shots.

Cousin didn’t have a terribly productive college career, having spent his first two seasons at Seton Hall and then transferring to Houston after being mostly a non-factor in the Big East. His only real playing time came as a 5th year senior, where he averaged around 11 points and 8 and a half rebounds per game, to go along with 2.1 blocks.

Never known as much of a scorer, Cousin justified that reputation with the extremely raw footwork and limited post moves he showed with his back to the basket. He did display very nice touch from mid-range, draining a number of shots in the 15 to 17 foot area, as well as a lone 3-pointer. Cousin shot a very solid 76% from the free throw line on the season, so this probably shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise.

Looking back at his film from Houston, he probably could have done a better job scoring this past season if he had some better guards to get him the ball, as he has the hands and finishing ability to at least be a solid finisher around the rim, even if you rarely saw him touch the ball in scoring opportunities created by others in the games we evaluated. He only ranked 4th on a bad team in field goal attempts, but regardless got to the free throw line at a very nice rate.

Despite spending five years in college, Cousin doesn’t look anything like a finished product yet, as he still needs to work on his passing skills and ability to utilize his size inside, as well as improve on the defensive end. He has excellent tools here, but seems to lack strength (especially in his lower body) and fundamentals, being outmuscled at times in the paint, as well as on the glass. He doesn’t move his feet very well on the perimeter—really struggling to hedge screens in pick and roll situations, but is very effective as a weakside shot-blocker, showing nice instincts to go along with his length and athleticism. As a rebounder, he’s fairly effective, but could even be more productive if he put a little more effort in, especially on the defensive glass.

While his basketball IQ may not be off the charts, with good coaching and more experience, Cousin might be able to develop into an Earl Barron type big man over the next few years. While he probably won’t get drafted, he might be the type of player who decides to stick around the States and hangs out in the D-League for a while, just to see if he can get any additional looks as he continues to make strides with his overall game.

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