There were no first-round picks in Virginia for the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, and the glow of good NCAA tournament performances kept possible second-round choices (such as Ohio State's Ron Lewis) away for the weekend. Still, for the discriminating eye, Portsmouth is a stop on the pre-NBA draft tour where players can work themselves into draft consideration and European contracts.
The biggest surprise of the PIT had to be Wright State's 5-foot-11 guard Dashaun Wood, a late invitee to Portsmouth who turned out to be the tournament MVP. Scouts loved his quickness and playmaking ability, which he needed to show after shouldering so much of a scoring burden in lifting his college team to an improbable NCAA tournament bid.
Wood is assured an invitation to the NBA's pre-draft camp on June 4-8 in Orlando, where as one Eastern Conference scout said, "It will be good to watch him play against some better competition."
Jamaal Tatum of Southern Illinois, a 6-2 guard, made the all-tournament team, too. "Tatum might be the best on-ball defender in the U.S.," the same Eastern Conference scout said.
DraftExpress.com reported that guard Zabian Dowdell of Virginia Tech told a teammate that he didn't play on the final day because of back spasms. However, one league source was under the impression that he simply left Portsmouth after three days of productive play, unwilling to risk a poor performance on the final days. Nevertheless, Dowdell goes to Orlando with a solid standing as a potential second-round draft pick.
Ryvon Covile of Detroit-Mercy impressed people with his penchant for rebounding the ball. At 6-9 and 243 pounds, he delivered some legitimacy to his 10.6 rebounds per game last season. "Maybe a little (Jazz rookie) Paul Millsap in there," one Western Conference official said, "but not as good offensively. But the kid is all over the boards."
From the scouting reports of a handful of scouts polled on Monday, here are some names who impressed:
Brandon Wallace, 6-9, South Carolina
Anthony Tolliver, 6-9, Creighton
Carl Landry, 6-7, Purdue
Dustin Salisbery, 6-3, Temple
Russell Carter, 6-4, Notre Dame
Several scouts were hoping that 6-11 Darryl Watkins of Syracuse would display a deeper desire to honor his size and skills, but they largely left disappointed.
As one East team scout said of Watkins, "He's talented, but still very inconsistent. He (frustrates people) watching him, because he just doesn't come to play."