As a friendly reminder to those that haven't been following this series, I won't be discussing Jermaine Taylor, Patrick Patterson, Jordan Hill or Chase Budinger. They are guaranteed to play in the NBA next season and you should probably be able to learn everything you need to know about them over at The Dream Shake.
Blake Ahearn, PG/SG, Missouri State - I really have a feeling Blake is going to make an NBA roster this year.
Ahearn played his college career as a skinny white kid at Missouri State that led the nation in free-throw shooting, but all of that didn't add up to any looks from the NBA. Ahearn was then drafted in the fourth round of the D-League Draft by the Dakota Wizards and the rest, as they say in the business, is history.
Since his rookie season in 2007 began, Ahearn's been called up to the Miami Heat, played well for the Timberwolves in Summer League before earning a camp invite with the team, signed with the Spurs after being released by the Wolves, was released by the Spurs right before his contract needed to be guaranteed and after failing to get a guaranteed contract in Summer League last season he went overseas to play in Spain.
Though Ahearn played well in Spain, he returned to the D-League once 10-day contracts became available and joined up with the Bakersfield Jam. Needless to say for those who follow the D-League, that was a bad situation and he was traded to the Erie BayHawks. With the BayHawks this season, Ahearn averaged 26.2 points, 6.0 assists 4.7 rebounds while shooting 43% from beyond the arc.
He's not a pure point guard, but would immediately become one of the best shooters in the NBA - and would more than likely keep being the first player to the gym.
Ishmael Smith, PG, Wake Forest - Ish Smith might've been of the fastest players in college basketball this past season. Unfortunately, the 6-foot point guard shot 45% from the field and just 22% from beyond the arc which doesn't exactly bode well for his NBA future.
Smith could be a player that looks really good in Summer League, though, as his speed and ability to keep his team at a solid tempo could definitely help make him look good in what can typically be a helter skelter environment.
I like his heart, but at his size (and with his struggles shooting and finishing), he's far from a lock to being an NBA player next year.
Tre'von Hughes, SG, Wisconsin - If I thought Hughes could play point guard, I'd like him a lot more - but as a 6-foot-1 shooting guard that shot just 41% from the field I'm not quite as high on his NBA chances.
Alexander Johnson, PF, Florida State - Johnson received a year-end call-up to the Rockets so that they'd have a chance at looking at him further in Summer League which probably gives him an inside track.
I was going to recap his game, but I'll direct you to my more in-depth breakdown of AJ's game here instead.
Maarty Leunen, PF, Oregon - Leunen was drafted by the Rockets with the 54th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, meaning the Rockets still hold his rights.
Leunen played pretty well last season for the Rockets, but without much room on their roster the 6-foot-9 stretch-four buggered off to Europe to play for Italy. Playing over 33 minutes per game for NGC Cantu, Leunen averaged 12.2 points and 5.8 assists while shooting 60% from inside the arc and a pretty solid 43% from beyond it.
I don't think he'll come over this year (he reportedly is under contract in Italy again next season), but his game doesn't seem to be developing much and he'll turn 25 this season. The older you are, the lesser your NBA chances becomes Mr. Leunen.
Chas McFarland, C, Wake Forest - McFarland played with Ish Smith while at Wake Forest which could help with the added chemistry, giving him a better than expected chance of looking good in Vegas. The other thing McFarland has going for him is his solid 7-foot frame and the fact that he's pretty active compared to your average big tall white guy.
Why did I start off with his size? Because that's his best attribute.
Big Chas can finish inside, but doesn't have much in terms of an offensive repertoire and isn't going to impress anyone on defense, either.
If he's able to rebound at a high rate (which isn't out of the question), the Rockets would probably be wise to try ushering him on to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers to get him a little more development which would allow them to keep an eye on McFarland over the next year.
Gary Forbes, G/F, UMass - Forbes is an intriguing player because he has good size for a two-guard, played a bit at the point as a rookie in the D-League and played pretty well in Vegas for the Development League Select team last season.
In nine games in Israel last season, Forbes filled up the box score by averaging 20.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.2 steals. Those numbers compare pretty favorably to his rookie season in the D-League when he averaged 17.4 points, 5.3 boards, 3.2 assists and a steal while shooting an impressive 39% from the field.
He's older than I thought he was (25 with two seasons of professional experience), but I like him.
Dwight Lewis, SG, USC - Lewis is a big guard with limited point guard experience who's capable of getting hot from deep according to Michael Levin. Levin goes on to note, though, that "for a guy that doesn't have the best court vision or awareness, he turns the ball over way too many times, and shoots too poor of a percentage."
This past season, Lewis averaged 13.8 points while shooting less than 40% from the field and a yucky 31% from beyond the arc.
If he's able to get hot from beyond the arc, like Levin thinks he can, he could impress some people in Vegas with that and his uber-solid defense. If the shot isn't falling, though, I don't expect to hear Lewis' name next season unless he ends up in the D-League.
The 6-foot-4 senior guard averaged a respectable 13.8 points per game and was one of Houston's better outside shooters as he shot nearly 40% from three-point territory. Like the other Lewis, he's also pretty good on defense, but doesn't have the great slashing ability to fall back on if his three-point shot isn't falling.