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Teel Time: Duke's Andre Dawkins among locals who played well Thursday at PIT

PORTSMOUTH — Given our region’s long history of producing college basketball talent, the NBA’s Portsmouth Invitational Tournament is virtually guaranteed local flavor. Thursday evening at Churchland High, the three Hampton Roads players competing at this year’s event acquitted themselves well.

Duke guard Andre Dawkins (Atlantic Shores) was the night’s top scorer with 20 points. An accomplished long-range shooter, he missed 7-of-11 from beyond the college arc but made 4-of-6 inside, including two resounding dunks.

VMI forward D.J. Covington (Norfolk Academy) scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, the latter tied for the evening high. A two-time Big South defensive player of the year, Covington was whistled for foul fouls, an inordinate number for a setting in which the officials swallow their whistles.

Marquette forward Davante Gardner (King’s Fork High) scored a team-high 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting. He even made a rare, for him, 3-pointer.

As early entries and foreign players have come to dominate the NBA draft, the PIT, which annually features 64 college seniors, has become a showcase for marginal draft prospects who are most likely to land overseas or in the NBA’s developmental league.

Among the 757 contingent, Gardner was the most impressive, his defensive shortcomings, an issue Dawkins shares, notwithstanding. He used his 6-foot-8, 290-pound frame to overpower 268-pound Killian Larson of Grand Canyon in the low post. Off the dribble, he juked San Diego State’s Josh Davis on the left baseline and spun gracefully to the bucket.

But as Gardner said during an interview prior to the PIT, he needs to lose weight and improve his conditioning. He scored nine points in the first six minutes Thursday but was sucking wind from the effort and needed a break on the bench.

Gardner’s team, Sales System, won and plays again Friday at 9 p.m., against the Portsmouth Partnership squad that includes Covington and Virginia’s Akil Mitchell.

Dawkins’ team, Cherry Bekaert, lost and plays Friday at 3:15 p.m.

(Update: Dawkins' game Friday mirrored Thursday. He scored a team-high 21 points on 8-of-19 shooting, 5-of-13 from deep.)

Some other PIT observations:

* The line o’ the night came from Gardner when I asked whether Buzz Williams, his coach at Marquette who last month moved to Virginia Tech, would be in town to watch him play.

“He’s supposed to come, but I didn’t hear him in the stands when I was playing,” Gardner said with a smile. “I would have heard him. He’s always yelling at me.”

* David Stockton won’t follow his father, John, as a first-round draft pick or Hall of Fame point guard, but the Gonzaga senior showed a flair for the play his dad made famous with Karl Malone: the pick-and-roll.

There was no Mailman receiving his deft passes, but the young Stockton had nine assists in just 22 minutes. One of the assists on a pick-and-roll was to Gardner.

With his father in the stands, the 5-foot-11 Stockton scored four points and missed his only two free throws. He averaged 7.4 points and 4.2 assists at Gonzaga this past season.

* Two of the finest players in Old Dominion history, Odell Hodge and Frank Smith, attended Thursday, in dramatically different roles.

The No. 3 scorer and rebounder in Monarchs history — he played from 1992-97 — Hodge is here scouting for a team he runs in Belgium, where he just concluded a 17-year playing career.

ODU’s career assists leader — he played from 1984-88 — Smith is in his second year as an NCAA investigator. This after serving as an assistant coach under Oliver Purnell at ODU, Dayton and Clemson.

“Never a dull moment,” Smith said of the new gig.

* The PIT schedule and boxscores can be found here.   

I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at dteel@dailypress.com. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP

Here’s a link to my Daily Press print columns.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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