Oregon senior Devoe Joseph is the lone Canadian representative in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament this year and there could have easily been a few more. Can Ball Ray takes a look at who coulda and shoulda been at this annual event here ...
Well people, tomorrow marks the start of the annual senior showcase called the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament which can be viewed as the most important showcase outside the NCAA Tournament for graduating players.
If you don't know about it, senior players are invited from all levels of the NCAA to compete in this four-day event. Sixty-four players in all are divided into eight teams playing a similar type schedule as an NBA summer league. Nothing but a pro meat market with scouts a plenty.
For some, this is another chance to show that they can play with the best while for others it's a last ditch effort to display their skills and prove they can play to a pro team. It's the very nature of the event that has players both jumping in or jumping ship.
In this year's event, I would have expected to see a few Canadians looking to make an impact but there have been a few curious absences.
Andrew Nicholson would have been one of my first choices to be here at the start of the season but with possible First Round status currently he would not have been likely to show up now. His monster season has earned him the right to pass on this event now.
The others I would have expected to be here were Kris Joseph, Rob Sacre and Devoe Joseph. K-Jo was a 50/50 player in my mind and he is opting to pass on the event. A borderline First Round but definite Second Round pick he could have either sent himself up or down the Draft board and could have been advised to not participate. A good move I'd think for him. Devoe, on the other hand, is present and accounted for and should be able to play his way to a few workout invites if anything before he heads to Europe.
My big surprise among the big four is Rob Sacre. I would have thought that he would be here for sure with the up-and-down season he had. He had some inconsistent stretches particularly after he had the hand injury early in the season. It took him a few weeks to shake it off and he when he finally was able to show the monster it was around March. This would have been a prime time to showcase his skills and possibly get a few looks from NBA teams for workouts or summer league invites.
Beyond those four players, I have a compiled a list of guys that I've marked accordingly that coulda/shoulda been invited as well.
My first pair of players is New Mexico State's Hernst Laroche and Wagner's Tyler Murray. If we're using Syracuse's Scoop Jardine as the benchmark for guards to get an invite, than these two Canucks could have been here too. Both Laroche and Wagner were second team all conference performers like Jardine. I would also argue that both Murray and Laroche were as important to their teams as Jardine was, if not more so. Statistically, both players have better averages overall (11.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.8 spg for Laroche; 12.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.1 apg and 1.2 spg for Murray) than Jardine (8.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 4.8 apg, 1.4 spg). In any event, they could have been selected but weren't and I suppose that there were reasons for that beyond their control.
The last set of players are guys that I thought had outside chances of making the PIT. Western Carolina's Harouna Mutumbo, Oregon's Olu Ashaolu and Tennessee-Martin's Dane Smith all has strong senior years and I thought would have gotten looks to make this event but they did not. In the case of Ashaolu, he has a teammate in the game already and when the best player on your team is already here there is an unlikely chance another guy gets in (unless your playing on a BCS team that is). Smith was big two who was kept inside the arc to help on the glass and Mutombo who was the do-it-all guy for WCU but they just didn't make the cut I guess.
Regardless of who did or didn't make it to Virginia for the PIT, Devoe Joseph is in it. We'll keep an eye on him over his time at the event and we expect that he'll show off the one thing that makes him very attractive to pro teams - his deft shooting touch. If he does what we expect, I would think he'll shoot the lights out and hopefully into a few NBA workouts.
Check out the boxscores and stats for the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament right here.