Portsmouth Invitational 2013 Finals: Top Prospects, Teams, Preview and More

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 13, 2013

Feb. 28, 2013; Provo, UT, USA; Brigham Young Cougars forward Brandon Davies (0) looks to get around Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Kelly Olynyk (13) during the second half at the Marriott Center. Mandatory Credit: Douglas C. Pizac-USA Today Sports
Douglas C. Pizac

Here and gone seemingly in a flash, the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament will conclude its three-day poking and prodding of top senior prospects on Saturday night with a championship game between Roger Brown's Restaurant vs. K&D Round's Landscaping.

Of course, team names mean just about nothing other than being an amusing look at local Portsmouth businesses. Roger Brown is a squad led by led by a group of players that includes La Salle's Ramon Galloway, while BYU's Brandon Davies heads up K&D. 

The first of what will be many pre-draft workouts and invitationals, the PIT is the longest-running amateur basketball tournament in the United States. A yearly gathering of 64 of the best seniors from the NCAA, Portsmouth represents one of the last chances for fringe NBA prospects.

Even the best players taking part in Saturday's championship game won't be taken before the second round in June. Notable seniors like Lehigh's C.J. McCollum, Duke's Mason Plumlee and Kansas' Jeff Withey turned down their opportunity to attend PIT, citing the recency of the NCAA tournament and lack of upward mobility at the tournament. 

Though the lackluster turnout might be seen as a detriment to some, it's actually created some intense basketball the past two days. Guys with their future on the line tend to battle harder than ones set in stone, and that's certainly been the case at PIT thus far. 

With that in mind, here is a complete breakdown of everything you need to know about Saturday's championship game from Portsmouth.

All stats are courtesy of the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament's official website

Top Prospects in Finals

Ramon Galloway (G, La Salle)

Though his team, Roger Brown's Restaurant, has advanced to Saturday's final game, Portsmouth has been a story of slight ups and awful downs for Galloway. The NCAA tournament standout scored a team-high 18 points in Roger Brown's opening-round victory and showed his silky smooth stroke from distance, but the performance was marred by a ghastly nine turnovers in 30 minutes of play.

Things only got worse for Galloway in the semifinals. The former La Salle star scored only six points on 2-of-7 shooting while adding six rebounds and seven assists in Roger Brown's 68-67 win over Cherry Bekaert.

While it's noteworthy that Galloway cut turnovers nearly in half, having five cough-ups is still awful in a tournament where defense isn't exactly NBA-caliber. 

None of these warts showing up in Galloway's game are all that shocking. Scouts across the league questioned his ability to play point guard at the next level, wondering if Galloway's tweener status could derail his career.

Galloway's ability to stroke from deep, solid defensive presence and athleticism are traits that make him an interesting second-round point guard. But if he can't handle the ball well enough or make smart enough decisions at Portsmouth to avoid bad turnovers, it's hard to see him doing it in the NBA.

Travis Releford (G-F, Kansas)

A do-everything wing player for Bill Self during his four years at Kansas, Releford came into Portsmouth as a relatively big name but a guy who is unlikely to get drafted. He's a guy who is seen as good at pretty much everything, but he's without that one area where he truly excels. 

Through two games at Portsmouth, Releford's skill set has translated to exactly what people feared: mediocrity. He's scored a total of 18 points on 8-of-22 shooting without contributing much else in terms of counting stats. 

It's not that Releford has been necessarily bad, per se. He's continued to show an excellent aptitude for perimeter defense. It's that he's without an overarching appeal that makes him sellable to the people in the war room. 

When drafting, NBA teams are looking to do two things in the second round: hit a home run or find a translatable skill. It's why you'll see guys with character questions like Lance Stephenson or shooters like Kyle Korver get drafted in the second round rather than the first. General managers and owners are willing to take risks on guys with red flags big enough to provoke a bull or guaranteed non-stars in the second round because contracts are non-guaranteed.

Releford fits neither bill. He's not a bad shooter, but not a lights-out one. And while his defensive ability certainly translates from an intelligence standpoint, there are questions about his ability to handle NBA 2s and 3s athletically.

Portsmouth hasn't done much to change that reputation. Releford will have one more game on the tournament's biggest stage to rectify that and convince scouts he's worth a late second-rounder. 

Brandon Davies (F, BYU)

Perhaps the most likely of any PIT participant to get drafted in Saturday's championship game, Davies has looked every bit the part of an NBA player thus far.

He had a brilliantly efficient all-around performance in K&D Round's Landscaping's first game, making 6-of-8 baskets en route to scoring 16 points, grabbing eight boards and dishing five assists. Despite having a major knock on his offensive development, Davies threw some nifty passes and looked comfortable down in the post overall.

And if Davies' opening-round game wasn't enough, the former BYU star followed it up with an even better game on Friday. He scored a team-high 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in K&D's 82-79 win over Portsmouth Partnership. Though he did turn the ball over five times, it became clear down the stretch when the game was close who was K&D's alpha dog player.

While there is still no chance that Davies will even scratch the first round, these two games have given credence to the theory he was given too much responsibility at BYU last season. The 6'9" forward looked comfortable when surrounded by talented teammates, especially guard Elijah Johnson.

Teams were already looking at Davies prior to Portsmouth, and he's done a wonderful job of keeping himself on the radar this week.

Elijah Johnson (G, Kansas)

Two games down in Portsmouth, and Johnson is almost the Bizarro Davies. The explosive athlete who can move between the point guard and shooting guard spots has been nowhere to be found; in his place is the same listless guy going through the motions we saw much of the 2012-13 season.

We noted after Johnson's first game in Portsmouth that he needed to be more aggressive; he was somehow more passive the second time out. The former Jayhawks guard shot just 2-of-6 from the field on his way to scoring only six points in K&D's victory—Johnson's second less-than-stellar performance in a row.

Davies and Johnson have connected on a couple nice passes this weekend, but it's done little to boost the latter's overall reputation. That's been par for the course for Johnson, once expected to ascend in his senior season only to be overshadowed by the more talented Ben McLemore, who will probably be a top-five pick in June.

As for Johnson, he's left clinging to what NBA possibilities he has left. Thursday and Friday didn't do him any favors, so it will be vital the that he shows signs of the athleticism and defensive tenacity that made him a team leader with the Jayhawks. 

Championship Game: Roger Brown's Restaurant vs. K&D Round's Landscaping

It's always impossible to gauge the overall merits of games like this. The point of PIT is an individual showcase for those in attendance, but putting it in the guise of an actual basketball tournament has always caused an interesting dynamic. 

That's especially the case for scouts. Is a mediocre game on a winning team better than one on a losing team in this setting? It seems impossible to tell. These are all young man trying to show what they have as an individual on the floor while somehow vacillating the line between selfish and alpha dog.

These games are really an interesting exercise in human psychology more than most. Both K&D Round's Landscaping and Roger Brown's Restaurant got here by winning close games where intensity ratcheted up to surprising levels.

So when judging the how these teams face off, we have to base it off the dynamics of a two-game sample size—not exactly quantum physics. 

Over these opening games, only one of these two teams had a true superstar emerge. Davies has been the best player on one of the two best teams at Portsmouth, dominating with his athleticism inside the paint. He'll be guarded for much of Saturday's contest by former Wichita State forward Carl Hall, one of the biggest contributors to the Shockers' Final Four run.

Hall is a fine defender, but he's nowhere near Davies' caliber. And when you dig deeper at the roster constitution, it becomes obvious on paper that K&D are better. Johnson hasn't been at his best, but he's contrasted by Mark Lyons and Ian Clark, both of whom have more than made up for their temporary teammate's struggles.

With Galloway showing no signs of his turnover bug going away, K&D should be able to come away with the PIT title.

Projected Champion: K&D Round's Landscaping


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