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The Importance of the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament

Each year since 1953, the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (PIT) has hosted 64 of the best college seniors in the United States. Taking place in Portsmouth, Virginia, the tournament is the oldest amateur basketball tournament stateside.

Players participate in a 4-day postseason event, consisting of 12 games. In front of NBA executives and scouts (approximately 200), as well as international representatives. 8 teams of 8 players each play 3 games, fighting for exposure and a chance to impress in front of onlookers.

In order to qualify for the tournament, players must be NCAA-eligible through the end of the season. Then, a player-selection committee distributes invitations to each player’s college.

Over the course of the tournaments history, many players who have participated have gone on to get drafted into the NBA. Including Earl Munroe, John Stockton, Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippin, Tim Hardaway, Derek Fisher, Ben Wallace, Jeremy Lin, DeMarre Carroll, Jimmy Butler, and Derrick White.

Live: 2019 NBA Draft results - Denver Stiffs
(Image/Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

Player Opportunities:

In 2019, 63 of the 64 PIT players were given at least 1 NBA tryout. Additionally, 55 of those were invited to play in the NBA Summer League.

In the most recent NBA Draft, the following PIT players were selected. Justin James (Sacramento Kings, #40), Terance Mann (Los Angeles Clippers, #48), Quinndary Weatherspoon (San Antonio Spurs, #49), Jarrell Brantley (Indiana Pacers, #50), and Marial Shayok (Philadelphia 76ers, #54).

Among the NBA representatives, are those from G League franchises. As the players are 4-year college athletes, many get overlooked in the draft. Paving the way for G League franchises to pick-up talented prospects. Some prospects get invited to summer training camps of NBA rosters on Exhibit-10 deals.

In an interview on The Lake Lake Show, the Director of Basketball Operations for the South Bay Lakers, Nick Lagios, spoke about the importance of the tournament in scouting players.

“Portsmouth Invitational has really been our go-to. A lot of them are older, so it’s rare for them to get drafted super-high. But there’s very good players. A lot of them go under the radar because they are 22 or 23, or sometimes 21. But they’re not 18 or 19. Always the top couple of players at Portsmouth, maybe not on the stats sheet but in our opinion, they end up being great two-ways and even NBA players.”

Nick Lagios, South Bay Lakers
(Image/GiveSmart)

The tournament allows scouts to analyse prospects outside of their collegiate environment. Providing an insight into their potential in the professional ranks.

2019 Success Stories:

2019 participants Terence Davis (Toronto Raptors), Chris Clemons (Houston Rockets), Chris Silva (Miami Heat), Juwan Morgan (Utah Jazz), were all picked up by NBA teams despite going undrafted.

The 2020 tournament is canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But in recent years, the majority of players that featured got picked up on G League rosters. Or forged opportunities overseas.

The following 2019 PIT participants earned two-way contracts for the 2019/20 season.


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