2022-2023 Basketball

Joe Bryant Jr.’s pro prospects looking up as he gets PIT invite

Joe Bryant Jr. is headed to a showcase that has helped many small school and HBCU legends get their foot in the NBA.

Norfolk State guard Joe Bryant Jr. will get a chance to showcase his skills this week at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament.

According to NSU head coach Robert Jones, Bryant, the two-time reigning MEAC Player of The Year, has been invited to the historically prestigious showcase. He was originally listed as an alternate. 

The Portsmouth Invitational, also known as the P-I-T, is one of two NBA pre-draft camps. It is the longest-running of the two (including Chicago) as it has been on-going since 1953.

Play at the PIT begins on Wednesday, April 12 and runs thru Saturday, April 15. The schedule is here. Bryant is playing on the Portsmouth Partnership squad.

Joe Bryant following HBCU stars at the PIT

Since its inception, the PIT has been a place for players from small colleges to showcase their skills in front of NBA scouts. Former NBA players from HBCUs like Winston-Salem State’s Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Southern’s Avery Johnson, Virginia Union’s Ben Wallace as well as former NSU star Kyle O’Quinn have previously starred in Portsmouth.

O’Quinn won 2011-12 MEAC player, defensive player and tournament MVP awards in his final season with the Spartans. He was an all-tourmament performer at the PIT which earned him an invite to the Chicago Combine. The 6-10 center eventually was taken by the Orlando Magic in the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft. He played eight years in the league.

HBCU players in PIT record books

Two former HBCU players, Norfolk State’s Charles Bonaparte and Tennessee State’s Monti Davis, hold all-time PIT records.

Bonaparte, a Richmond, Va. native, was a member of the high-scoring NSU teams of head coach Ernie Fears from 1965-69. The guard played alongside fellow Richmonder and 2021 Pro Basketball Hall of Famer Bobby Dandridge at NSU. They both played with Norfolk State in the CIAA.

Bonaparte owns the PIT single-game record of a stunning 59 points in 1969. He did it before 3-pointers were part of the game.

Davis starred at TSU from 1976-80. He owns PIT records for rebounds in a single game (24) and for the tournament (59).

Joe Bryant Norfolk State
Joe Bryant sinks a 3-pointer against Coppin State.

Joe Bryant at Norfolk State and beyond

Bryant averaged 17.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists in his final season at Norfolk State, leading the team to the MEAC title game for the third consecutive season. He put up 18 points in the championship game, but NSU fell 65-64. 

Since then, Joe Bryant has played in a pair of All-Star in Houston during the Final Four games to show off his talents. The first was the Reese’s All-Star Game. Bryant finished with a game-high 22 points, including a game-tying three-pointer with three seconds left in regulation, sending the event to overtime. The performance earned him Most Valuable Player honors of the East team.

Two days later he competed in the second-annual HBCU All-Star Game. 

Joe Bryant Jr.’s pro prospects looking up as he gets PIT invite
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