The Pittsburgh Pro-Am concluded last night. The annual summer league event consists of a mixture of past and current players from local universities and colleges, as well as players who have ties to the local area. There is a range of players spanning from D-III to current players who play professionally overseas.
Each college/university was limited to two members per team at the Pro-Am. The Robert Morris Colonials had two true freshman guards at the event - Jafar Kinsey and Marcquise Reed - and I left thinking that both can contribute this season.
I want to put out the following disclaimer before I go any further: nothing should be taken too seriously from summer league play, nothing. Also, all stats are based on the regular season. With those things out of the way, on to my observations.
Kinsey is slated to be the 'backup' point guard to sophomore Kavon Stewart. I use that term loosely because there are a lot of scenarios in which Kinsey could play nearly 15 minutes a game. At a listed 6'1", 180lbs., the New York native looked physically ready to play D-I basketball. He played in his first Pro-Am game the same day in which he traveled from NY to the Robert Morris campus, so clearly he has a desire to play.
There were a lot of aspects of Kinsey's game that I liked, but his poise really stood out. I felt he played at a very good pace, and didn't allow opposing players to rush him. He didn't seem to be a true freshman in pick-and-roll situations, albeit teams made a comical effort at defending them a majority of the time. Still, the poise and understanding in those situations was better than most of the true freshman who played.
I should also note that he played a lot at the off-guard spot, as former RMU standout, Karvel Anderson, ran the show a bulk of the time.
Kinsey took nearly six attempts from beyond the arc per game; he played in five games. He also took at least 10 total attempts per contest. In the summer league, you definitely should be hunting for opportunities, and Kinsey took advantage when the chance presented itself. His shot selection was decent; any time he was in-rhythm or had the chance to step or dribble into the attempt, it was a very good look for him. I don't expect to see him dribble to a spot and try to rise over anybody this season, but the seeds are certainly there for that.
His handle was very efficient; he was able to get to where he needed to go on the court and had no problems navigating his way to the rim. There was a little hesitation to his dribble after he beat his initial defender (think Tyler Ennis), and he was deceptively explosive attacking the basket.
Defensively, Kinsey stayed low and disciplined on his close-outs, and showed a willingness to defend in general. He often positioned himself so that when the opposing ball handler attacked his front foot, it forced him into help or along the baseline. Colonials head coach Andy Toole isn't going to play someone that doesn't defend, so the fact that he made an effort in the summer league bodes well for him, in terms of mentality.
Reed also showed a tremendous amount of poise, but mostly, he was simply fearless. He took more shots to the face from someone's shoulder who was attempting to back him down than anyone else I saw. The guy simply never backed down on that end of the floor.
He registered at least one steal from everyone I saw him defend, including teammate Lucky Jones and the ultra-quick point guard Josh Newkirk of Pitt. They didn't all occur in the half court either; he was excellent at cutting off players in transition. Despite being listed at just 6'3", his wing span is probably around 6'6" as his arms nearly reach his knee caps.
Offensively, Reed just got it done. He was able to get to the basket a lot, and used a variety of layups at different angles. There were a lot of times that he contorted his body to make the attempt, as opposed to attacking the body of the defender. To his credit, he did average 4.3 free throw attempts in six games, so he does draw a fair amount of contact.
Reed made at least one triple every game, but does have a relatively slow release. He took a fair amount in pick-and-roll situations in which his defender got caught on the screen and the screen setter's defender didn't show. It pretty much left him uncontested a foot or so behind the line, a pretty crafty way to compensate for the release time (not sure if that was intentional).
Toole is going to be able to use Reed in a lot of different lineups and situations. He could potentially see time at both guard spots depending on the matchups, and in three guard lineups. It's going to be very hard to not give the Maryland native time on the floor - a problem most coaches welcome.
Both Kinsey and Reed looked ready to play from a physical standpoint. Mentally, they weren’t tentative but didn't force the issue either. If Robert Morris has any aspirations about repeating as the NEC Champions (they do), Kinsey and Reed are going to have to contribute right away. Based on a super small and mostly irrelevant sample from the Pro-Am, there is no reason, as it relates to basketball itself, that both can't play prominent roles under Toole this season.