Earlier this week, RBA Sports hosted its second annual player showcase at Basketball City in the heart of the Big Apple. As the agency continues to grow and offer NBA executives worthwhile prospects with promising futures to take a look at, a slew of personnel came out to watch the young guns strut their stuff.
Among those executives to come out and observe the talent were the Knicks' Director of Scouting Kristian Petesic and longtime scout Scott McGuire, Nets' Assistant General Manager Bobby Marks, and Bakersfield Jam (of the NBA D-League) Assistant G.M. Brian Levy. All in all, representatives from up to nine NBA squads and a bevy of international ones, too, were in attendance.
With that in mind, the pressure was on the array of intriguing young guns to step up and shine. Some embraced the challenge and/or exceeded expectations more than others, so here's a look at a few of the better standouts from the showcase.
Vernon Goodridge, Forward/Center
Not only did Goodridge attend Golden State Warriors' camp in 2010, he also went on to become a defensive force in the D-League the following year.
After spending the last couple of years overseas, the big man's time in the NBA should come now. Though he's a couple of years older than most, in his late-twenties, Goodridge is still that high-flying, athletic specimen scouts have come to know him to be.
Playing with physicality at the RBA Sports Showcase, Goodridge proved to be the strongest and most imposing big man on both ends of the floor. What's more, he hit his stride offensively throughout the day, and could be seen knocking down mid-range jumpers no matter where he stood on the court. He made the effort to assert himself offensively, and it paid off. His shooting stroke was more impressive than it's ever been. Perhaps the European style of play is rubbing off on him for the better.
Tony Taylor, Point Guard
There's not much about Taylor on RidiculousUpside.com that hasn't been said already. There's a lot to love about the Tulsa 66ers' floor general, leaving not much to hate at all.
Even on what proved not to be Taylor's best day on the hardwood, he was still the best point guard on the court by far. He has steady fundamentals, intelligent instincts, and can run a team with ease. He proved to be a leader for his team throughout the day. He ran the floor, hit a few three-point field goals, and even slammed one home for a ferocious dunk.
In a sport where "combo-guard" is increasingly becoming the term for a poor excuse for a point guard who doesn't like to pass, Taylor is the true example of the term's original definition. He can hit shots, keeps the defense honest, but undoubtedly knows how to calmly get his teammates involved. He can do it all.
Orion Outerbridge, Forward
For the second year in a row, Goodridge and Taylor stole the show and looked like men amongst the boys of RBA Sports. That said, if there was one person who was on their heels more than anyone else, it was Outerbridge.
Whereas the aforementioned pair is perhaps closer to the NBA level, the latter may be just a year behind. After attempting to put on display some of his long-range shooting abilities at the D-League National Tryout last month, Outerbridge went back to what he knows best and began doing things even more so in his wheelhouse earlier this week.
Outerbridge is, without a doubt, a freakish athletic. He's explosive around and under the rim and constantly knows how to use such physicality to his advantage. He's quick, agile, can handle the ball decently for a bigger body, and his long arms aid him defensively as he puts the pressure on opponents.
Having earned himself a D-League contract, it's likely Outerbridge could be selected in the minor league's draft later this fall.
Jordan Callahan, Point Guard
Perhaps overshadowed by the more polished and experienced Taylor at such a showcase, Callahan undoubtedly upped his stock a bit by leading his exhibition squad past the 66ers' guard and co. in the day's final championship matchup.
Callahan is small and could benefit by adding a bit of extra meat to his bones. Still, there's no doubt he can run a team and do it well. He's intelligent and has great communication skills, constantly talking to his teammates and taking command on the court.
The young gun's a more than capable defender who doesn't lose focus easily, either. When necessary, he can fade away and hit the long ball, too. He's currently Tulane University's all-time leader in both three-point field goals and steals.
If nothing else, Callahan proved his leadership skills as he and Outerbridge led their squad past Goodridge, Taylor, and others to win the title of the champions of the day.
Lester Prosper, Forward/Center
As talented as he is, Prosper had a tall order ahead of him at the Showcase, simply because of the other talented players competing at his position.
Prosper held his own against the likes of Goodridge and Outerbridge, but moreover, proved that he also offers a different skill set of sorts. Prosper is likely much stronger than just about any RBA Sports big man you put alongside him, but he's still learning how to assert himself effectively.
Even so, the Old Westbury alum's pound for pound physical nature helps him overwhelm and overpower opposing players. He's a great shot-blocker who times his jumps perfectly, and with a little more work, truly has the potential to become a force to be reckoned with offensively under the basket as well. He's close.
Honorable Mention: Derrick Thomas, Shooting Guard
Most of the top talents from the Showcase could be found at either the point guard and/or center positions. This makes sense, as either position often serves to be the most common one with a void to be filled on NBA and/or D-League teams.
With that in mind, many of the swingmen from the day's exhibitions faded into the background a bit. Not many did enough to stand out amongst the rest. After all, NBA teams often look for players who can serve as key rotation cogs by doing all of the little things. Sometimes such intangibles are difficult to spot and/or pinpoint.
Still, one shooting guard who stood out due to his hustle and mature instincts was Derrick Thomas, out of Drexel University. He's an intelligent player who knows how to keep things rolling and help his team spread the floor.
Thomas turned heads during one of the scrimmages with an ever athletic leap he took over some barriers to save a loose ball. He saved the possession, landed on his feet, and kept on playing.