April 7, 2008
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -
Mykal Riley, a senior on the University of Alabama's basketball team this past season, received a coveted invitation and will participate in this week's 56th Annual Portsmouth Invitational Tournament.
"I was excited when I found out I was invited to play at the Portsmouth Invitational," said Riley, a native of Pine Bluff, Ark. "It's a big deal for me because I feel like if I can make some noise in this event, I can go somewhere, hopefully. It's a great opportunity, and I appreciate them including me."
The tournament, held April 9-12 at Churchland High School in Portsmouth, Va., is the nation's oldest amateur basketball tournament and is considered a showcase for future professional players in the NBA and European basketball. It is also the only tournament college seniors can participate in and be evaluated in by the NBA prior to the NBA's pre-draft camp in Orlando. Its alumni list includes NBA greats like Scottie Pippen who played for Central Arkansas and went on to win NBA World Championships with the Chicago Bulls and the Detroit Piston's Ben Wallace who played at Virginia Union as well as Dennis Rodman, Dave Cowens, Rick Barry, John Stockton and Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, among others.
Alabama's P.I.T. alumni under Crimson Tide coach Mark Gottfried include Earnest Shelton and Erwin Dudley. Both continue to play in Europe. Dudley, the 2002 SEC Player of the Year, is an all-star and league leader in Turkey and Shelton plays in Belgium.
Riley, who started in 32 of 33 games for Alabama this season and averaged 14.9 points and 5.2 rebounds, is one of 64 college players invited to complete in the 12-game tournament. He will play on the Portsmouth Sports Club Team, coached by Tony Holloway and P.J. Honore, and his teammates will include Chris Daniels (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi), Kyle Hines (UNC-Greensboro), Darnell Jackson (Kansas), Reggie Williams (VMI), Jaycee Carroll (Utah State), Dominique Kirk (Texas A&M), and Rob McKiver (Houston).
Players from teams in the state of Alabama include South Alabama's Demetric Bennett and Auburn's Quan Prowell. Southeastern Conference players invited include Kentucky's Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford, Ole Miss's Dewayne Curtis, Tennessee's Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith, Mississippi State's Charles Rhodes and Arkansas's Darian Townes and Sonny Weems. Kansas, who plays tonight for the national championship, had three players invited, including Sasha Kaun, Russell Robinson and Jackson.
Riley's first game will be on Thursday, April 10 against Cherry, Bekaert & Holland, a team that includes Wisconsin's Brian Butch, Georgetown's Patrick Ewing, Clemson's James Mays, Weems from Arkansas, Rhode Island's Parfait Bitee, Kentucky's Crawford, Washington State's Derrick Low and Tennessee's Smith.
Fans can follow the play in the tournament through its official website, www.portsmouthinvitational.com .