PORTSMOUTH ——Bryant Voiles isn't just playing for himself this week at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament.
Voiles, out of Augustana (Ill.) College, is one of two Division III players in the 60th annual showcase tournament for college seniors. He and David Michaels, out of Whitman (Wash.) College, are the first D-III players to be invited to the event since 2004.
Voiles, a 6-foot-9 forward who averaged 14.2 points and 7.2 rebounds as a senior, isn't unknown to the rows of NBA and European scouts ringing the court at Churchland High.
"Here's a kid that I've followed for two years," said Ryan Blake, the NBA's director of scouting. " … He's a guy that we think can put the ball on the floor. He can shoot the ball. He's got great size. We'll see if he can defend. If he can do it, that's great. If he doesn't, OK, at least we know. He's a guy that can surprise some people."
Blake, a believer in giving players from smaller schools a chance to prove themselves at the PIT, is also intrigued by 6-5 guard Braydon Hobbs, the Division II Player of the Year at Bellarmine (Ky.) after averaging 12.5 points and a team-best 5.6 assists despite not playing a true point-guard role.
"When you're playing off the point-guard spot and still leading the team in assists — he's just a guy that makes a difference," Blake said. "Other coaches called about him to say 'You need to bring this kid in,' and nobody does that.
" … He wasn't the leading scorer, but if you make your team better — if you're able to do that and play defense, you're going to find a lot of opportunities."
Hobbs missed both shots he took Wednesday for Norfolk Sports Club, but had a team-best five assists and four rebounds.
"It's a team game," said Hobbs, who broke Bellarmine's career assist record in his senior season, a year after leading the Knights to the D-II national championship. "If I wanted to play individual, I'll go run track or something. It's a team game. I love to pass, so that's what I do."
That was obvious Wednesday, when Hobbs spotted up for an apparent 3-pointer, but instead found Oral Roberts' Dominique Morrison, who converted the jump-pass into a layup.
"Coach said I should've shot it, but it's OK," Hobbs said. "We got a bucket."
Hobbs said the level of play of his D-I teammates is similar to what he's used to in D-II, but knows he needs to get faster and stronger.
"It's a different level up in Division I," Hobbs said. "They bump you around real easy. I can handle my own, but I definitely need to get stronger — and probably jump a little higher, too. I need to work on my vertical.
" … I just want to play well, come out and play defense and go as hard as I can. I need to get winded every possession."
Neither Hobbs nor Voiles, who had four points and three rebounds Wednesday, is likely to be chosen in June's NBA draft, but both are hoping to impress enough next-level scouts, including overseas evaluators, to continue their careers.
"If the opportunity is there, I'd love to keep playing," Voiles said. "I'm just going to see what happens and what chances arise for me and make the most of the best opportunity."