At Portsmouth tournament, Penn's Rosen has a plan

wants to prove that he can play in the NBA. RON CORTES / Staff Photographer
wants to prove that he can play in the NBA. RON CORTES / Staff Photographer (Penn's Zack Rosen)
Posted: April 13, 2012

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Has Zack Rosen lost his mind?

Apparently, that's a question being asked of the point guard, fresh from his final season at Penn and chasing an NBA dream.

"Everybody keeps telling me no, so I can keep being motivated," said Rosen, who will graduate May 13 with a bachelor's degree in economics from Wharton.

"Everybody," Rosen said, tells him that he won't make it. "They say I'm too small . . . I'm too short, and I'm too light."

The 6-foot, 170-pounder is out to prove that he can play in the NBA, which is why he is at this week's Portsmouth Invitational Tournament - a showcase for players unlikely to be drafted.

Rosen, who played at St. Benedict's Prep in New Jersey, and Temple guards Ramon Moore and Juan Fernandez are among 64 college seniors making early auditions for NBA scouts and other personnel.

"I can bring leadership, energy" to an NBA team, Rosen said. "I can guard the ball. I can make the open shot, and I hope I displayed that."

The Big Five player of the year showed that he's a floor leader in a game late Wednesday night.

The Colonia, N.J., resident constantly yelled instructions and distributed the ball to open teammates. He finished with four points on 2-for-5 shooting. He also had a team-high six assists to go with two steals, a blocked shot, and two turnovers in 24 minutes of action.

Rosen's assist total could have been higher. Teammates dropped four of his passes near the basket.

Rosen, however, struggled dribbling to his right and had a hard time defending against quicker guards, especially on the perimeter.

Rosen looked better in Thursday's game. He played better perimeter defense and showed he could go to his right.

Making 3 of 5 shots, Rosen finished with six points. He also had three assists, two rebounds, and a turnover in 23 minutes. Again, he would have finished with more assists had teammates handled his passes.

"He's a guy that definitely helped himself," NBA draft analyst Jim Clibanoff said.

Clibanoff, however, doesn't think Rosen is talented enough to make an NBA roster through the draft.

"But he definitely is a gritty-enough player, who really competes, really has a good will about him to make his team better," said Clibanoff, who also is the president of ClibHoops, a scouting service used by NBA teams. "Of course, as the level of his teammates increases, will he have that same control over that team?"

Clibanoff is impressed with the progress Rosen has made over his career at Penn.

"Penn's season, in my opinion, exceeded expectations," Clibanoff said. "And a lot of it is attributed to the success that Rosen had."

In addition to winning the Big Five honor, Rosen was the Ivy League player of the year, and an Associated Press honorable-mention all-American.

He led the Ivy League in scoring with 18.2 points per game. Rosen also averaged 5.2 assists and shot 39.9 percent from behind the arc.

Now, he is determined to prove - as New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin, a Harvard graduate, did - that the Ancient Eight has NBA-caliber point guards.

"I think if I get the right opportunity with the right people, then I know I can make it happen," said Rosen, who is represented by South Jersey agent Leon Rose. "All you can ask for is opportunity.

"Most people are going to say no. If one guy says yes, that's all you need."

Contact Keith Pompey at 215-854-2939 or Follow him on Twitter @pompeysgridlock. Read his blog at


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