O.D. Anosike said rebounding is his calling card.
He’ll be extending copies of it to all of the NBA teams today.
The Siena senior, who became the second Division I rebounder to lead the nation two years in a row since 1973, is one of 64 players invited to the prestigious Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational.
The 61st annual tournament will be held today through Saturday and is restricted to seniors. Scouts from all 30 NBA teams and many of the international leagues will be there.
“Seeing some of the players who have been in this tournament and increased their stock gives a player like me hope,” Anosike said. “Obviously, we didn’t have the type of season that we would’ve liked this year, and I’m kind of under the radar, but I do have some national recognition. I’m in a good position right now.”
The 6-foot-8 forward from Staten Island averaged 11.4 rebounds per game on a team that went 8-24, resulting in the firing of Mitch Buonaguro as head coach.
Anosike’s average beat the 11.2 posted by Colorado’s Andre Roberson and Towson’s Jerrelle Benimon.
He’ll play on the Roger Brown’s Restaurant team coached by Bill Mann, John Kelly and Eldridge Recasner. The eight-man roster also includes national champion Louisville point guard Peyton Siva, forward Carl Hall, who played for Final Four team Wichita State, and a player from one of Siena’s opponents this season, La Salle guard Ramon Galloway.
“I’m going to go into this trying to have fun,” Anosike said. “Score when I’m open, rebound the ball, play with high energy. I think in order to increase my draft chances, I’ve got to go in there and do what I’ve been doing the past couple years, and at the same time show that I can play against good competition, because a lot of the mid-major teams don’t get the same type of exposure.”
Schenectady’s Mark Lyons, who played for the University of Arizona this season after transferring from Xavier, is also on a Portsmouth roster, as is Iona guard Momo Jones.
The rest of Anosike’s teammates are Kansas guard Travis Releford, Oregon center Tony Woods, James Madison guard A.J. Davis, and San Diego State guard Chase Tapley.
“To step on the court with a pass-first point guard like Peyton Siva, I’ve got to keep my hands ready at all times,” Anosike said.
Anosike is the ninth Siena player to attend Portsmouth, after Ryan Rossiter, Alex Franklin, Edwin Ubiles, Kenny Hasbrouck, Antoine Jordan, Prosper Karangwa, Dwayne Archbold and Marcus Faison.
Some NBA players who have participated in the P.I.T. are Rick Barry, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Dave Cowens, John Stockton, Scottie Pippen, Tim Hardaway and Dennis Rodman.
Anosike hired Mike Lelchitski as his agent.
He’s the son of Boris Lelchitski, who represents Anosike’s sister, WNBA star Nicky Anosike.
“Every NBA team is represented; it’ll behoove me to rebound the ball the way I have been, but at the same time, my play can potentially determine my draft status or, if not, training camp,” O.D. Anosike said. “Right now, I would say me getting drafted is unlikely, but it’s still somewhat realistic. At the same time, making a summer league team will increase my value if I end up going to Europe.”
Anosike got his first taste of international competition when he played for the U.S. in the Under 22 World Championships in Paris March 30-April 1.
The U.S. went 5-0 and won the championship of the FIBA-sponsored tournament.
Since Siena’s season ended, he has been running every day, shooting and working out, getting his weight back up around 245.
Even if he isn’t drafted, there’s a chance he could make an NBA training camp roster.
Rossiter and Ubiles are currently playing in the NBA Development League.
“Whether I’m playing in the NBA or Europe next year, to be paid to do what I love and would do for free, anyways, if somebody wants to pay me for it, I’ll take it,” Anosike said. “My agent told me that a lot of players hurt their chances in a tournament like this by trying to do too much.
“I’m the type of player who’s not going to have the ball in his hands all the time. It would be very easy to catch the ball and want go crazy. I’m just going to not deviate from what I’ve been doing, but at the same time showcase my skills. Be an athlete, get out in transition, showcase some things that NBA teams may not have seen.”