Portsmouth Invitational Tournament: All-First Team
Micah Downs, 67, SG/SF, Gonzaga
9.0 Points, 7.3 Rebounds, 3.6 Assists, 1.3 Blocks, 2.3 Turnovers, 41% FG, 25% 3P
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 hes always possessed the ideal tools to be a great defender, he did not always consistently show the dedication necessary to employ them. That wasnt 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 didnt take a play off. Though Downs didnt have another game that was as statistically productive on the defensive end as his first, his intensity didnt 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 didnt 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 hes 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, its pretty clear that he can shoot the ball. He didnt 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 cant 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
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 weve 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 hes obviously not a natural playmaker.
Offensively, Ruoff relies very heavily on his jump-shot as his main source of production61% 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 teams 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, its 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 hes 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 doesnt appear to be on many NBA teams radar screens right now as an immediate draft prospect, but hell surely get some looks in the form of private workouts and a summer league invite, where he can further try to plead his case. Hes 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 dont work out for him, hell surely make a very good living in Europe, where his basketball IQ and fundamentals will probably be better appreciated.
K.C. Rivers, 65, Shooting Guard, Clemson
10.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 turnover, 12-32 FG, 5-16 3PT, 2-3 FT
Since the last time we wrote about Rivers prior to this season, there really isnt 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 hes 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 isnt 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 Clemsons 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 wouldnt put him in the top half of shooting guards at the NBA level, its 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 isnt 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
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 hes not being too heavily contested, as he doesnt 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 hes 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 isnt 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 youll 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 hes 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 hell likely get some looks from teams in workouts, the summer league and possibly training campas 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 thats 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
Cousin didnt 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 shouldnt 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 doesnt 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 doesnt move his feet very well on the perimeterreally 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, hes 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 wont 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.