Wow! Michaels Gets Invite to Portsmouth Basketball Tournament

News Release Date:
Thursday, April 5, 2012

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- An extraordinary senior basketball season at Whitman College has netted David Michaels a roster spot at the 60th Annual Portsmouth Invitational Tournament.

Michaels, an agile 6-foot-7 forward and the 2012 Northwest Conference Player of the Year, is one of just 64 top seniors from around the country -- and the only player from the NCAA Division III ranks -- invited to play in the prestigious tournament, set for April 11-14 in Portsmouth, Va.

In more ways than one, David Michaels
towered
over the NWC this past season.

The P.I.T., the oldest amateur basketball tournament in the nation, gives players the chance to showcase their skills before 200-plus representatives from all 30 NBA teams, in addition to executives from NBA Scouting and the NBA Basketball Operations department.

Michaels is the first NCAA Division III player to receive a P.I.T. invitation since UW-River Falls All-American Rich Melzer was invited in 2004. Before that, Augsburg's Devean George and Lebanon Valley's Andy Panko were invited in 1999. George made the all-tournament team and was later drafted in the first round by the Los Angeles Lakers.

The tourney also draws scouts from more than 100 professional teams in foreign countries.

P.I.T. alumni range from John Stockton and Scottie Pippen to Derek Fisher and Jeremy Lin. Marquette's Jimmy Butler, who earned MVP honors at last year's tournament, was then drafted in the first round by the Chicago Bulls.

Nearly 60 former P.I.T. players are on NBA rosters at the present time, and many more are continuing their playing careers in top leagues in Europe and elsewhere around the globe.

The 64 seniors invited to next week's tourney will be divided into eight eight-man rosters, and the team that wins three straight games takes home the tourney title. A consolation bracket guarantees three games for all teams.

Rosters have not yet been set, but players from Duke, Louisville, Harvard, Georgetown, Syracuse and Yale are among those who have accepted invitations.

Michaels, who averaged 20 points per game last season while shooting 46.3 percent from the 3-point stripe, is the only NCAA Division III player to receive a P.I.T. invitation in recent years, said Whitman coach Eric Bridgeland.

"We want to thank the player selection committee and P.I.T. executive director Ryan Blake for inviting David," Bridgeland said.

"It's also important to acknowledge the efforts of our Whitman alumni, most notably Glen Grodem '60, who worked behind the scenes to help make this happen for David. Without the efforts of Mr. Grodem, David's dream might not have been achieved."

No one is more appreciative or excited, of course, than Michaels.

"I want to thank everyone, starting with my coaches, who has helped me along this journey," Michaels said. "I especially want to thank Mr. Blake for the invitation and Mr. Grodem for all of his hard work and support. I am very blessed to have these people in my life.

"I'm also very excited about the chance to compete at next week's tournament. Never in a million years did I think I'd have such a great opportunity. It's definitely a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and I feel very honored."

A psychology major at Whitman, Michaels plans at some point to pursue graduate studies in sports psychology as a prelude to a career in that field.

For now, however, he hopes to extend his playing career for at least a few more years at the professional level. The most likely opportunities may come in Europe, he said, but "I don't really know at this point where I might end up."

As a senior, Michaels was locked in.

The versatile Michaels took the NWC by storm last winter during one of the finest senior seasons ever witnessed at Whitman. Scoring with uncanny efficiency from everywhere on the floor, he collected his 20 points a night while averaging less than 11 field goal attempts and 27 minutes on the floor.

He shot shot 55 percent from the floor overall and 78.8 percent from the free throw line. He was Whitman’s leading rebounder, hauling down 6.0 rebounds per contest, and he led the team in steals and blocks and was third in assists.

Michaels scored 30 or more points four times during his senior season. That included a career-high 40-point explosion against George Fox that saw Michaels score an incredible 22 consecutive points at one stage of the game.

In late January Michaels became the first-ever Whitman player to be named to a National Team of the Week selected by the D3hoops.com website. A four-time NWC Player of the Week, he capped his senior campaign by becoming the first Whitman player in more than two decades to be named NWC Player of the Year.

That was just the start of his post-season awards, however.

He also became the first Whitman player to earn first-team all-region honors from both the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and D3hoops.com. Later, he also received All-American recognition (D3hoops.com) and participated in the NABC All-Star Game, which was held in mid-March in conjunction with the NCAA DIII Final Four weekend in Salem, Va.

Michaels is worthy of any and all accolades that have come his way, Bridgeland said.

"There are no guarantees that a young man or woman will achieve their goals, even when they give it their all," he added. "All it does is put them in the conversation. For the last 15 months, David has given his all to not only being the best basketball player and teammate he could be, but also the best student and person."

In addition to his exploits on the basketball court, Michaels helped fill the gap left by the graduation of Justin Artis, who Bridgeland describes as one of his program's best leaders.

"David has continued to carry the torch for Whitman basketball through his passionate efforts," Bridgeland said. "In light of his unprecedented achievements, David may very well have had one of the best individual seasons in not only Whitman basketball history, but also in the history of the Northwest Conference."

Michaels, a native of Ann Arbor, Mich., moved in 1999 to Las Vegas, Nev., where he graduated from Valley High School. He is the son of Sandra Michaels.

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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; holden@whitman.edu

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