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Six Stock-Risers at The Portsmouth Invitational Tournament

In the latest edition of “P.I. Pulse”, Pro Insight’s Michael Visenberg and Zach Welch call attention to six stock-rising performers after spending the better part of a week on the ground in Portsmouth, VA, for the 70th-annual Portsmouth Invitational Tournament:

For the last 70 years, shortly after the end of the college basketball season, Portsmouth, Virginia has been the setting where NBA teams, professional teams, agents, media, and coaches, get to see 64 talented college seniors to begin their first foray toward playing basketball for a living. With eight teams of eight players, the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (“PIT”) lets everyone play three games in a format that crowns a champion in the final game. While many scouts are looking for players to answer some important questions that could determine if they are draftable, or possibly a two-way contract player, Exhibit 10 or just straight up trying to make their way up through the G-League, it was clear players came here to compete and give their all to win.

The level of professionalism was apparent from the jump, as once teams arrived they were taken to a meeting with a representative from the NBPA and put through BAM testing and measurements, before playing their first games on Wednesday April 17 and Thursday April 18, respectively. After all was said and done, ‘Jani-King’ defeated ‘Portsmouth Partnership’ in the finals 75-68. Jani-King’s Tristan Enaruna (Cleveland State) was named Tournament MVP, with teammate Tolu Smith III (Mississippi State) joining him on the All-Tournament Team. The 10-person Portsmouth All-Tournament Team was rounded out with Sean East II (Missouri), Aaron Estrada (Alabama), DJ Horne (NC State), Isaac Jones (Washington State), Jarod Lucas (Nevada), Josh Oduro (Providence), Joel Soriano (St. John’s), and Jahmir Young (Maryland).

Last year's PIT featured second round draftees in Hunter Tyson (Denver Nuggets) and Toumani Camara (Portland Trail Blazers), while Craig Porter, Jr. carved out a role for himself with the Cleveland Cavaliers as an undrafted free agent. Some Portsmouth alumni currently in the NBA include Jimmy Butler, Alex Caruso, Pat Connaughton, Robert Covington, Dorian Finney-Smith, Justin Holiday, Royce O’Neale, Ishmael Smith, Wesley Matthews, and Derrick White, among others. While it is difficult to say with certainty which players from this year's group will join this list, we have highlighted six players who all showed something and improved their chances at Portsmouth, all of whom should be on the radar during this draft process and in the upcoming NBA Summer League.

Isaiah Crawford 

6’5.5” Wing | Louisiana Tech

While he did not have the consistent dominance and box score production of some of the others on this list, Crawford’s value prop may be one of the most logical and natural fits to what the NBA is looking for in role players. Beginning with his physical profile at 6’5.5” and 220 pounds, with a 7’0.5” wingspan and a great profile of movement skills, he has genuinely differentiating tools as a wing. Beyond that, he showed real consistency throughout the tournament in his defense, motor and ability to act decisively and unselfishly on offense — all key skills to NBA connectors. He also ended the tournament with his best performance on both ends, with a line of 10 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, and 4 steals. That showing highlighted just how versatile he is defensively, as he absolutely shut down his assignments while guarding 1-4 and making some excellent reads on the back-line. He has the strength, length, agility, and feel to be a versatile and impactful defender. He also showed that he has a smooth stroke and some creativity as a passer, although his biggest question mark was his lack of assertiveness on the offensive end. While this improved over time, he will need to show teams that he can capitalize on his openings on offense, as well as establish that he can get threes up at a greater volume than his 2.8 3PA throughout his college career. Nevertheless, a toolsy, scalable wing with proven defensive value, connector tools, and shooting will certainly intrigue NBA teams.

- Zach Welch

RayJ Dennis 

6’2.75” Guard | Baylor

In a field full of some of the best guards from this past college basketball season, RayJ Dennis still managed to set himself apart and make a strong argument for himself as a pro prospect. Dennis has made a case for himself over the past five seasons as a premier playmaking guard and he lived up to his reputation here. He showed himself to be a poised lead guard with a tight handle, great pacing in the pick-and-roll, and real feel and manipulation as a passer. Beyond this, though, he looked improved in an area of his game that has drawn some questions in the past: his shooting. As someone who averaged 3.1 3PA on 32.1% in college, his 5.7 3PA on 41.2% at the PIT was very encouraging, despite the small sample size. Between his shooting performance and his ability to get downhill, he posed enough of a threat as a self-creator to further unlock his playmaking. His success as a lead guard at the next level will depend on his ability to create both for himself and others with efficiency, volume and a diverse approach. Dennis’s commitment to the defensive end, which he touched on in our interview (see below), was also evident here. He told us that he wanted to show pro scouts in attendance that his defense is a real strength and he fulfilled that goal, even if the box score did not quite reflect his impact. He seemed to be a step ahead of everyone else at times, reading the offense well and finding ways to blow up actions before they could even develop. In addition to this defensive playmaking ability off the ball, he also showed off his point-of-attack defense. Ultimately, if he can establish that the shooting and self-creation can persist at the level he showed at the PIT, Dennis could have one of the more promising futures among the field from Portsmouth.

- Zach Welch

Jesse Edwards 

7’0.5” Big | West Virginia

While many Portsmouth participants may lack ideal physical attributes and athleticism for the NBA, Edwards immediately popped in both areas. He measured over 7’0” in shoes, with a 7’4.5” wingspan, with his movement and vertical ability both standing out, given his dimensions. He cleared the Vertec (12’0”) from a standstill giving him a tie with Eric Gaines and Enrique Freeman, while displaying his huge catch radius in games. He still needs to work on his ball skills and decision making, though his impact as a whole was quite positive, as he’s able to finish above the rim, get to the line, and carve out space around the hoop. Edwards was a +25 in three games, including a +12 in 23 minutes in Portsmouth Partnership’s 75-68 loss to Jani-King in the PIT final. Edwards averaged 11 PPG on 52.4% FG along with 6.7 RPG and 3 BPG in just 23.3 MPG over his three games, showing his defensive impact and an example of what he brings as a potential rim deterrent who has the lateral quickness to not get killed on a switch. He even shot 11-12 FT and while this does not necessarily quell concerns over his 52.3% FT as a super senior and 61.9% FT throughout his college career, it at least shows he has been putting in some work in that area. He showed that he can rim run, contribute on the glass, affect shots, and move on defense — to the point where a path toward becoming an intriguing back-up isn’t unrealistic. He has earned a large role on the Netherlands National Team and showed flashes at Syracuse and West Virginia, with Portsmouth serving as the latest example of what makes Edwards a big who fits the prerequisites of NBA size and athleticism, while showing he can be molded to add potentially more to his game.

- Michael Visenberg

Tristan Enaruna 

6’8.25” Wing | Cleveland State

Enaruna was selected as the MVP of the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament for leading his team, Jani-King, to win it all, while posting a line of 16.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 1.3 APG. Toumani Camara stood out at last year’s PIT with his dominant play, two-way value, tools, and versatility. Many came away from this year’s tournament seeing those same values in Enaruna, and he even brought the comparison up himself in an interview with Pro Insight. He certainly has the specs — including his positional size, +5.75” wingspan in shoes, 30.5” standing vertical, and impressive movement skills, too. Beyond his natural tools, Enaruna’s versatile scoring arsenal caught some eyes. He showed real poise and coordination as a slasher, while also making jumpers in a variety of contexts and going 12/13 from the FT line. He also demonstrated he has the capacity to play with and without the ball, which will surely afford him greater adaptability at the next level. While his mold of a wing with the tools to be a defender and the versatility to be a role player is intriguing, Enaruna will have a few key questions to answer for NBA teams. He shot 26.6% from three over his career and has yet to post the dominant defensive numbers that his tools might suggest. Showing that he can be enough of a threat from deep to warrant defenses’ attention, while also imprinting the game more consistently with his tools will be key to his case for the next level.

- Zach Welch

Isaac Jones 

6’8” Big | Washington State

While Isaac Jones may qualify as a “big” based on his college journey and general style of play, he did a great job highlighting the different layers to his game at the PIT. He brings ideal measurements to the NBA as a 4-man, with a 7’3.5” wingspan and 9’0’ standing reach, though yes, both of these are technically undersized if he is relegated to the 5. In his three PIT games, Jones brought energy, moved well without the ball, and was a tough matchup for both 4s and 5s with his length, ability to rise up, manipulation, and surprising burst as an athlete. He averaged 18.7 PPG in 24 MPG on a staggering 79.3% FG, never shooting below 75% FG or 8 FGA over the tournament. Beyond his absurd efficiency offensively, Jones also averaged 7.3 RPG (3 offensive) and 2.7 stocks per game for Norfolk Sports Clubs. In his interview (see below), Jones talked about how when coaches have found deficiencies in his game, he has put in work to improve in the area of need. It looks like he has been focused on stretching his range and working on his defense, along with doing his best to adjust to the speed of the NBA game. At the very least, Jones showed that his efficiency as a scorer that helped him make the jump from Idaho to being the key catalyst of Washington State’s first NCAA tournament team since 2008 more than carried over into this environment. A dominant performance for him during this event and it would be difficult for teams not to leave impressed by how tough of a matchup he was and the energy he brings to the floor.

- Michael Visenberg

Jahmir Young 

6’0.75” Guard | Maryland

There were a number of smaller guards trying to set themselves apart amongst the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament crowd. While no one necessarily established themselves as a possible undrafted gem out of the gate, Young put together a rock solid three-game showing, claiming All-Tournament honors while displaying his toughness and playmaking chops. He averaged 16.7 PPG on 48.8% FG, 5 APG with 2.7 stocks per game, as Roger Brown’s went 2-1. Young only shot 32.4% from three-point range while averaging 20.4 PPG this past season at Maryland, but knocked in 90% from the FT line at nearly 7 attempts per game, while finishing 85% from the line for his career. These numbers at least hint at possible shooting growth if he is not the main focal point of an offense. He shows an ability to excel in the pick-and-roll, plus is a hard-nosed defender with a 2.3% steal rate, right above his career college average at both Charlotte and Maryland. In the athletic testing, while he was only slightly below average in terms of lane agility, he was #3 in both three-quarter sprint at 3.166 seconds (behind Eric Gaines at 3.09 and Max Abmas at 3.133) and in reaction shuttle at 2.991 seconds (behind Sean East II at 2.871 and Isaiah Crawford at 2.957). He showed a level of professionalism and much like his senior year, he was one of the leaders in MPG in the tournament, pointing to his high level of conditioning. His size will still be an obstacle, plus teams will really want to see him shoot it well in workouts and in Summer League, but in terms of showing an ability to create shots for himself and others while having an understanding of how to function within a scheme, Young certainly showed well in Portsmouth.

- Michael Visenberg


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