RBA Sports hosted its annual summer player showcase on Friday afternoon, letting some of the more intriguing D-League and international athletes strut their stuff, hoping to impress at Basketball City in New York City.
Plenty of talent was on display, but perhaps more so worth noting was who came out to watch. Representatives from up to seventeen NBA and D-League teams were present, including the likes of Malik Rose (newly of the Hawks) and former 76ers General Manager Tony DiLeo (now of the Wizards).
Sure enough, many of the players hitting the hardwood took advantage of the opportunity at hand. Long-time RBA client and international veteran Ruben Guillandeaux helped set the tone early on with arguably his best showing in front of this many big league executives. He hit the ground running, hitting shots, confidently attacking the basket, talking on offense, and using his taller frame to fluster smaller guards defensively, too.
Guillandeaux was solid, and undoubtedly set the bar high for the showcase's other guards. Lucky for him, George Beamon, who finished last season with the Texas Legends after getting drafted by the OKC Blue, was up to the challenge. He, too, hit shots early on, but tapered off as others stepped up. The key for both Guillandeaux and Beamon in potentially garnering NBA consideration will be truly coming into their own as point guards. It's well known that each one has special scoring ability, but it'll be their respective playmaking abilities and other intangibles that should help them stand out even further. They should look to be identified as one/two guards, as opposed to two/ones.
While Guillandeaux and Beamon paced the guard play during five-on-five competition, there was surprisingly a handful of big man talents to be seen on Friday as well. Among the most notable was Tyrone McNeal, a 6'11", 265 pound center out of UNC Wilmington. This guy has skill, and it showed. McNeal could have easily used his size and strength to overpower others, but he was he cool, calm, and collected throughout. He showed a great feel for the game with steady fundamentals. Acting assertively around the basket, he excelled in displaying some nice post-moves.
Obviously capable big men are hard to come by in D-League, let alone even the NBA. McNeal impressed plenty of the scouts present, and could be a candidate to go to NBA training camp and then perhaps end up as a D-League affiliate player if he fails to make it further.
Other big men of note included former NBA draft pick Chu Maduabum, Manhattan alum Ashton Pankey, and JR Inman. Though he only weighs in at about 235 pounds, Pankey played pestering defense against "bigger" forwards and centers. Inman, who finished last season with the Westchester Knicks, certainly hit the floor boasting a much more muscular frame.
Above all else, it can't be said enough how much Dami Sapara deserves a shot in the D-League. Formerly drafted by the D-Fenders, Sapara has previously played in the NBL of Canada. More importantly, however, he's an absolute freakish athlete. His overall skill-set may require more seasoning as he continues to get more reps, but his athleticism is something that isn't matched by many at all. Every time he he hits the floor, he's energetic, loud, and assertive --- exactly the type of hustle and enthusiasm you want from a player like that. His ball-handling has improved as well for a swingman.
Some other things to note from Friday ---- Kadeem Jack was recognized by many in attendance as an "NBA athlete," Jay Harris was praised for embracing a floor general role for a team that featured Beamon, Pankey, and Jack, and Canton Charge forward Steve Weingarten was especially potent on the defensive end.
Such players didn't disappoint. It's clear they have talent, athleticism, and more. No one can deny that. Finding success will be more so about embracing a certain identity as a D-League/NBA player and being able to fill a team's respective needs as they all continue to find their own niches on the floor.