Last week, former Nebraska guard Tai Webster participated in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in Portsmouth, Virginia. Webster’s team, the Portsmouth Partnership, went 3-0 and took home the tournament title.
The PIT is an annual event that gives college seniors a chance to compete in front of NBA scouts and decision-makers ahead of the NBA Draft Combine in May. The 12-game tournament featured eight teams and ran Wednesday through Saturday. Webster was one of five Big Ten seniors to participate, joining Wisconsin’s Bronson Koenig, Illinois’s Malcolm Hill, Ohio State’s Marc Loving and Michigan’s Zak Irvin. Other participants include UCLA’s Bryce Alford, Virginia’s London Perrantes, Dayton’s Scoochie Smith, Duke’s Matt Jones, Kentucky’s Derek Willis and many more.
Webster’s team, Portsmouth Partnership, blew through the competition by an average of 26.7 points over three games. Webster played in all three, averaging 7.7 points and shooting 56.3 percent from the field in 26.3 minutes per game.
He got off to a slow start in Partnership’s 88-57 win against Cherry Bekaert on Wednesday, missing both of his field goal attempts and splitting a pair of free throws for one point with one assist, one turnover and six rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench.
In Partnership’s second game, a 102-75 win against Norfolk Sports Club on Friday, Webster started and played 31 minutes, finishing with 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting including 1-of-1 from downtown, four assists, one turnover and two rebounds.
In the championship game, a 108-86 win against Roger Brown’s Restaurant, Webster came off the bench to score 11 points on 4-of-6 from the field, 1-of-1 from deep and 2-of-2 from the foul line with six assists, two turnovers, one rebound and one steal in 27 minutes.
Webster played a lot of point guard when Illinois State’s Paris Lee was out of the game and shared the ball-handling duties when the two were on the floor together. He was pretty passive overall, taking the fewest amount of shots on the team among players that appeared in all three games. He finished tied for second on the team in assists with 11 but most of the time he brought the ball up the court and got the team into its halfcourt motion rather than trying to make every play himself.
Webster did some of what Nebraska fans saw him do all season with some strong drives to the basket and some impressive finishes. A big question with him moving forward is his jump shot. As a senior, he shot 40 percent from 3 during the first month of the season, but that percentage dropped every month after to the point where he hit just three of his 14 attempts in March. In Portsmouth, Webster only attempted two 3-pointers, but he hit both of them and knocked down a few 2-point jumpers as well.
Turnovers have been a problem for Webster throughout his career as well, but he only lost the ball four times in 79 minutes and while he did not necessarily stand out as a dynamic playmaker, he ran the team well when he was at point guard. Defensively, Webster wasn’t necessarily a game-changer but he was very active and exerted some significant pressure on the ball at times.
Three of Webster’s teammates were named to the all-tournament team led by MVP Damyean Dotson from Houston. As for Webster, the 6-foot-4 combo-guard did not do much to stand out with his performance in Portsmouth, but he also did not do anything at all to hurt himself as he seeks opportunities at the next level. Webster played his role on a solid team, and as a result he’s taking home a tournament title.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.