Today is July 1, 2010, so it is my moral obligation as a basketball blogger to connect whatever I write to the fresh-out-of-the-oven free agent that is LeBron James.
Yesterday, the D-League Select Team roster was announced. For the second straight year, the D-League Select Team will compete against teams fielded by individual NBA franchises in the Las Vegas Summer League starting July 12. Today, I’m going to assess everyone on the roster, but not before I connect the dots between each player and—you guessed it—LeBron James.
So, whether you’re a fan of the D-League, LeBron, or Kevin Bacon, read on to see proof that LeBron really is the center of the basketball universe as I connect him to all 11 players on the D-League Select Team roster in six degrees of separation or less. Oh yeah, and you can also read my Twitter-friendly (140 characters or less) profile of everyone on the D-League Select Team, but I won’t be mad if you just read the LeBron part.
Bennet Davis (Utah), Forward, Utah Flash
Six Degres of LeBron: Davis was a Flash teammate of Gabe Pruitt. Pruitt appeared in 17 games for the Boston Celtics during their 2008 championship season as a teammate of Leon Powe. And Powe played in 20 games with the Cavs this season as a teammate of LeBron James.
The Skinny: Played in all 50 games, started 17 for Utah. Averaged 12.8 ppg last year for Utah. Solid rebounder. Efficient player.
Mike Gansey, Guard, Erie BayHawks
Six Degres of LeBron: Gansey was back court mates for part of the season in Erie with Cedric Jackson, who was called up by Cleveland to play all of 10 minutes with the Cavs as a teammate of LeBron James.
The Skinny: Student of the game. Played as well as any 2-guard in the league during the first two weeks of March. Dangerous threat from 3-pt range.
Yaroslav Korolev, Forward, Reno Bighorns
Six Degres of LeBron: In Reno this season, Korolev was a teammate of Richie Frahm. Frahm appeared in 10 games for the L.A. Clippers during the 2007-08 season and was a teammate of Josh Powell. Powell teamed with Shannon Brown the past two seasons, winning back-to-back championships together with the Los Angeles Lakers. And Shannon Brown started his NBA career with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2006 as a teammate of LeBron James.
The Skinny: 2005 lottery pick of the Clippers. Has NBA experience. Shot 40% from 3 in 2010 D-League playoffs.
Kurt Looby, Center, Maine Red Claws
Six Degres of LeBron: As a member of the Red Claws, Looby teamed with Morris Almond this past season. Almond played in 34 games with the Utah Jazz over two seasons a teammate of Carlos Boozer. And Boozer spent his final season as a Cleveland Cavalier teaming with a rookie named LeBron James.
The Skinny: Played with three D-League teams last year. Led league with 166 blocks. Third highest FG% in league (58%).
Jared Newson, Guard, Sioux Falls Skyforce
Six Degres of LeBron: Newson teamed with Nathan Jawai in Sioux Falls this season. Jawai spent part of the 2008-09 season with the Toronto Raptors where he played along with the likes of Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon, both of whom played in Cleveland this season with LeBron James.
The Skinny: Good size for a guard. Split time between Bakersfield and Sioux Falls, averaged 9.2 ppg in 23 mpg for the 2010 season.
Larry Owens, Forward, Tulsa 66ers
Six Degres of LeBron: Owens played alongside Byron Mullens earlier this season when Mullens was on assignment in Tulsa. Mullens also spent time with the Thunder this year where he was a teammate with Kevin Ollie. The veteran Ollie started seven games for the Cavs during the rookie season of LeBron James.
The Skinny: Started all 50 games for 66ers. Led team to D-League Finals. 12th leading scorer in 2010 D-League playoffs (18.5 ppg).
Russell Robinson (Maine), Guard, Maine Red Claws
Six Degres of LeBron: Robinson was a part of the 2008 Kansas Jayhawks team that won the NCAA championship along with Darnell Jackson. Jackson was drafted by Cleveland and played sparingly with the Cavs for two seasons as a teammate of LeBron James
The Skinny: NCAA championship pedigree. Was fifth in league in steals at 2 per game. Averaged 16.4 ppg. Shot 37% from 3.
Cezary Trybanski (Reno), Center, Reno Bighorns
Six Degres of LeBron: Trybanski appeared in four games with the Suns between October and December of 2003 where he was teammates with Amare Stoudemire. Stoudemire spent the latter half of the 2008-09 season teamed with Shaquille O’Neal in Phoenix. And O’Neal spent this past season playing for the Cavs along with LeBron James.
The Skinny: One of two players on roster with NBA experience. Averaged 7.3 pts, 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks last year. Oldest player on the team (30)
Mark Tyndale (Iowa), Guard, Iowa Energy
Six Degres of LeBron: Tyndale played with Earl Barron this past season in Iowa before Barron was called up by the New York Knicks. Back when Barron was at the University of Memphis, he played with Dajuan Wagner. And Wagner played in parts of three seasons with the Cavs, the final two of which corresponded with the first two professional seasons of LeBron James.
The Skinny: High energy player. A coach’s delight. Came off the bench in 47 of 50 games last year for Iowa. Third-highest FG% among guards (53.1%).
Jonathan Wallace (Rio Grande Valley), Guard, Rio Grande Valley Vipers
Six Degres of LeBron: Wallace teamed with D-League MVP Mike Harris on the RGV Vipers this past season. Harris also spent some time in the NBA this season where he played with Kevin Martin. Martin spent his first six NBA seasons with the Sacramento Kings where he teamed with Drew Gooden for exactly one game in 2009. Prior to Sacramento, Gooden played more than three seasons in Cleveland as a teammate of LeBron James.
The Skinny: Both his scoring and shooting percentage increased in RGV’s championship playoff run. Averaged 13.1 points in 34.6 mpg in playoffs.
Curtis Withers (Dakota), Forward, Dakota Wizards
Six Degres of LeBron: Withers played with Lester Hudson this year in the D-League. Earlier this season, Hudson appeared in 16 games with the Boston Celtics where he played alongside the likes of Rasheed Wallace. Rasheed was a key cog along with Ben Wallace for the 2004 Detroit Pistons team that won the championship. And Ben Wallace played in Cleveland from 2008-2009 with LeBron James.
The Skinny: Clutch factor: scored game-winning layup at the buzzer vs. Erie on March 19. Played all 50 games, starting 29, averaging 11.3 ppg.