NBA D-League fans everywhere from Maine to Anaheim can start preparing themselves for the upcoming D-League season because of tonight’s D-League Draft starting at 7 PM ET. 261 hopeful prospects–from Faizel Aden all the way down to Deonte Wyatt (prospect link here ) will be available for all 15 D-League teams to help bolster their rosters or potentially land a spot on an NBA roster. There are plenty of intriguing and interesting players available that should be familiar to people who are fans of college or NBA basketball. The likes of Chris Douglas-Roberts, Travis Leslie and Christian Eyenga have all had somewhat relevant stints in the NBA. While reported 1st overall pick JaJuan Johnson (Purdue) , Jorge Gutierrez (Cal) and Darryl Patin (Boston University) have been called All-Conference player of the year for their respective college conferences.
Out of the 261 hopeful prospects, Tennessee Tech’s 7’2 center Liam McMorrow is the tallest of them all while former TCU Horned Frog PG Hank Thorns is tiniest one of the bunch listed at 5’9.
The draft has some prospects that belong to some very well-known basketball families like former Indiana Hoosier Jeremiah Rivers who’s the older brother to Hornets rookie Austin Rivers and of course the son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers. Harouna Mutombo was a 6’4 shooting guard for Western Carolina who happens to be the nephew of the great Dikembe Mutombo. Both LaPhonso Ellis Jr. and Glen Rice Jr. are sons of long time NBA veterans LaPhonso Ellis and Glen Rice. Now nobody if these second-generation ballers will be as good as their fathers but it’ll be interesting to find out as they hope to make a D-League roster.
Every single one of these potential D-Leaguers share the same goal of being one of the called up to the NBA. While some of these players have already played on an NBA court, the hunger still remains for the players and being selected in tonight’s draft is that first step in redemption. No matter if you are one of those aforementioned former NBA players or a player coming out of a small college, there’s a certain optimism with all these players because a record 60 players were called up to the NBA from the D-League last season.
Now who exactly will be called up to the Show during the 2012-13 or be making their way to the Houston to be part of the D-League All-Star game next Feburary?? Well make sure to follow @Dakota_Schmidt on twitter as I’ll be giving live updates of the draft while it happens but before then I hope you enjoy me looking into my crystal as I preview the first round of tonight’s draft.
2012 NBA D-League Mock Draft
1. Fort Wayne Mad Ants- JaJuan Johnson, PF, 6’10” (Purdue)
I’ve already written an article about how JaJuan will reportedly be selected by Fort Wayne with the first pick so you can take a peek at that to see my opinions about the selection. To briefly recap that, I think that JaJuan would be an excellent selection by Fort Wayne because he’s that big man the Mad Ants really never had and would instantly put them at least in the playoff picture simply for the one-two punch with long-time Mad Ant great SG Ron Howard.
2. Sioux Falls Skyforce- Travis Leslie, SG, 6’4” (Georgia)
Travis Leslie is a young 6’4 shooting guard who was drafted in the 2011 draft by the Clippers but was just waived last week which makes him eligible for tonight’s draft. The sky’s the limit for this 22 year old man out of Georgia who is probably the most athletic player in this draft. He has a developing three point shot which did improve in his time with the Bulldogs but is deserving of a big-time shot with the Skyforce or any other D-League team because he hasn’t yet had that opportunity yet besides a mid-season role with the Bakersfield Jam late last season.
3. Idaho Stampede- Shelvin Mack,PG, 6’3” (Butler)
If the name Shelvin Mack sounds familiar to you and you don’t know why just remember that he was the 2nd best player on the Gordon Hayward 2009-10 Butler team that pushed Duke to the brink in the NCAA Tournament final in 2010. Shelvin is that instant offense type of player thanks to his jumper that helped those great Butler teams to back-to-back title game appearances. Shelvin shouldn’t be outshined thanks to this #3 selection by the Idaho Stampede which have been struggling since being the D-League champions in 2008.
4. Maine Red Claws- Sean Singletary- PG, 6’0” (Virginia)
The streak of guards continues with Sean Singletary who’s a talented shooter who has made his way around the world playing in Belgium and Spain after being cut from the Bobcats in the winter of 2009. Singletary was known as one of the best players in the history of Virigina basketball but really hasn’t been on any pro team for over a year but hopes for greener pastures with a potential trip back to the USA to play in the D-League.
5. Reno Bighorns- Justin Harper-PF, 6’8″ (Richmond)
Justin Harper really is a strange player because he’s really a shooting guard trapped into a body of a power forward. If you were to compare him to any current NBA player he’d be more like Channing Frye which would mean he’s an agile, speedy PF that can shoot the lights out from beyond the arc but really doesn’t have the bulk to post up some of the bigger PF’s in the D-League. Despite being slight of frame by currently being listed at 6’8 and 225 pounds, he’s still a worthy draft pick mid way through the first round because of his shooting capabilities.
6. Tulsa 66ers- Christian Eyenga- SG, 6’5” (Congo)
To say that Eyenga has been around the block since being drafted by the Cavaliers in the 2009 draft would be a huge understatement. Eyenga has had two stints with the Cavaliers and even laced up his sneakers for a game with the Lakers, you may also have seen him made his way around the D-League cities in Canton, Erie and LA with the D-Fenders. Christian is the sort of player that really doesn’t do anything spectacular but he’s pretty good at most things. He can knock down three pointers and has a nice first step to get to the basket but he really shines defensively where he is an absolute workhorse. He would be a good fit on any D-League roster
7. Rio Grande Valley Vipers- Shan Foster- SF, 6’6″ (Vanderbilt)
After a fantastic career at Vandy where he was awarded the 2008 SEC Player of the Year award, Shan Foster has been hidden in the Dominican Basketball League and in Italy but he’s hoping that he can make a return to the U.S with tonight’s draft. Scouts worried about certain aspects like his quickness, strength and ball handling skills. He may not be the best player but he’s a solid defender and had an outstanding shooting percentage from behind the arc while at Vandy.
8. Texas Legends- Andrew Goudelock- PG/SG-6’3” (College of Charleston)
Goudelock is the type of player that’s skilled enough that he could currently be on any NBA roster but really hasn’t had that opportunity to shine because of playing at a small school like College of Charleston. Andrew has a killer jump shot that could light up the scoreboards in Frisco, Texas with the Legends this year. He’s a pretty average player all around besides where he really shines which is his outside shooting.
9. Iowa Energy- Jorge Gutierrez- PG, 6’3″ (Cal)
Just like Goudelock, Gutierrez could be called a combination PG and SG but is more of a PG because he really doesn’t have the scoring touch like Goudelock to be at SG. Gutierrez is one of those players who are a jack of all trades but a master at none because he’s an able rebounder and assist man but really doesn’t wow anybody. Gutierrez is the reigning Pac 12 Conference Player of the Year but it’s still a mystery if he can bring that game to the pro level in the D-League.
10. Canton Charge- Ryan Rossiter-PF, 6’9″ (Siena)
As I was trolling through the internet trying to find a scouting report to get a good idea about what type of player he is, I absolutely found nothing. Maybe it’s because he played at a small school like Siena but it’s really odd for you to not find anybody this kid even after he posted up 19 PPG and 9 RPG in his senior year. He ended up playing in France last year after not being drafted but he’ll be hoping to get his name called tonight to hopefully be a more well-known name.
11. Bakersfield Jam- Durrell Summers-SG, 6’4″ (Michigan State)
As a Badger fan I know about how good Summers could be after blowing up against Wisconsin multiple times in his stint with MSU. The main reason why Summers is probably in D-League draft and not in the NBA is because he has issues with consistency because there could be a game where he he’s hitting shots left and right but the next game he has the look of a guy who can’t even shoot a bouncy ball into the Atlantic Ocean. If Summers is going to be inconsistent than he’s going to have to remain the great defensive player he was at Michigan State and last year with the Maine Red Claws.
12. Erie Bayhawks- Jack McClinton- PG, 6’1” (Miami)
Now when you take a look at Jack’s stats at Miami or his three seasons playing pro ball in Europe and you wonder why he doesn’t have a roster spot in the NBA. He was one of the more efficient scorers in that class of ’09 that featured many great guards but the big problem with him is the fact that he was around 24 on draft day ’09 and he’s 27 right now so you basically get what you see when it comes to McClinton. He is going to be one of the older players in the D-League when he’s drafted but the team that does select him will be receiving a great shooting threat.
13. Santa Cruz Warriors- Terrence Jennings- C, 6’10” (Louisville)
Hey, we actually have a center listed in this mock draft! Now, Terrence Jennings might not be the best center I’ve ever seen or even in the top 30 but he is a big body which is a necessity for any team out there. He was a great force in the paint in Louisville when it came to blocking shots and was a pretty good offensive rebounder by averaging 5 offensive rebounders per 40 minutes. Will Terrence be a star in the D-League?? No, but his work in the paint makes him a valuable piece to a team like Santa Cruz that could be on the verge of going to the D-League Finals.
14. Springfield Armor- Demonte Harper- SG, 6’4″ (Morehead State)
While Kenneth Faried was being a monster force on the boards at Morehead State, Demonte Harper was leading the backcourt into the NCAA Tournament by averaging 15 PPG and 5 RPG his senior season. Demonte is a total package anywhere on the court with the ability to score, pass and is an awesome rebounder for a 6’4 shooting guard. He probably won’t play at the level of his college teammate but expect to see Harper light it up a few times this season with Springfield.
15. Austin Toros-Chris Johnson- SF,6’6″ (Dayton)
Remember when I told you that Demonte Harper was the total package?? Well Chris Johnson did it all in his career at Dayton by recording 1,400 points, 800 rebounds (300 defensive), 200 points from beyond the arc and shot over 80 % from the free throw line. Perhaps I overlooked Chris while doing this mock draft but I’ll be extremely surprised if he isn’t one of the D-League players caught up to the NBA this season.
16.Los Angeles D’Fenders- DeVon Hardin- C, 7’0″ (Cal)
Finishing up this first round mock draft for tonight’s D-League draft we have DeVon Hardin who has made his way around the international basketball scene after leaving Cal as the second all-time leading shot blocker. DeVon didn’t really do great in his last stint in the D-League with the 66′ers but his work with the Cal Bears and his work in countries like Belarus and Venezuela. Hardin won’t set the world on fire like the Rockets guard with a similar last name but he’ll be a valuable asset to LA either on the bench or in the starting lineup with his copious amount of skills.