Where Are They Now? D-League Players That Played In The NBA Summer League

via www.sportslogos.net

I declared Tuesday that I would give it my best effort to prove to Jeff Potter that I wasn't out of my mind when I said I was worried that the D-League was going to have a down year in terms of talent.

Unfortunately, I didn't realize that proving myself right would require the most effort I've put into blogging since deciding which Saved By the Bell video I should use in my farewell to Desmon Farmer (Hint: I eventually chose both). 

The first part of my little experiment has begun below the jump, as I decided to find out the whereabouts of every D-League player that played in either the Orlando or Vegas Summer League this July.  Suffice to say, I think I'm on the right path to proving my theory correct - almost everybody is leaving.

  • Maurice Ager  - He's more than likely going to an NBA training camp, possibly with the New York Knicks.  If he doesn't make it in the Big Apple, I would assume the former first round pick would assess his European options before returning to play for the Maine Red Claws.
  • Antoine Agudio - The sweet-shooting shooting guard never received much acclaim in his two seasons for the Albuquerque Thunderbirds and after not getting much of a shot to prove himself on the court for the Milwaukee Bucks this Summer, he's taking his talents to Belgium.
  • Blake Ahearn - Ahearn has been one of my favorite players to follow just because I know with his work ethic and shooting touch, he should be in the NBA.  Unfortunately, after having a couple of bad games while playing for the Houston Rockets in Vegas, Ahearn is off to Italy instead of returning to Erie for a fourth tour of duty in the D-League.  Can't blame him - but I can blame the NBA so that's what I'll do.
  • Morris Almond - Almond is an extremely talented scorer, but as the NBA showed him by not calling him up this past season despite being the fifth best scorer in the D-League (behind NBA-assignees Darnell Jackson and Malik Hairston and uber-talented call-ups Mike Harris and Reggie Williams), a player has to be able to do more than score to play in the NBA.  After playing for the Chicago Bulls in Vegas, Almond is one of the many D-Leaguers that has decided to take his talents to Italy this season.
  • Alade Aminu - I was never the biggest supporter of Aminu as an NBA call-up, mostly because his upside (as ridiculous as it is) was much greater than his current talent level.  That said, another season in the D-League could have helped him tremendously.  Unfortunately, after bouncing around following his call-up to the Miami Heat toward the end of last season, Aminu will play in France this season.
  • Antonio Anderson - Anderson is a good bet to return to the D-League if he doesn't make the Houston Rockets as a training camp invite this fall.
  • Connor Atchley - It doesn't often happen that a player that was released by his D-League team mid-season is then later determined to be NBA quality, but Atchley is one of the few that is able to lay claim to that title by earning Summer League invites from both the New Jersey Nets and Sacramento Kings this summer.  The pick-and-pop post didn't impress with his numbers in either situation, but I would assume that he's been invited to an NBA training camp since he's yet to sign in Europe.
  • Ryan Ayers - I was never impressed with what Ayers brought to the table last season in the D-League, but he played with the Los Angeles Clippers in Vegas so he must have been doing something right.  None of that matters, though, as Ayers has signed to play in Finland this season.
  • Rod Benson - Like Ahearn, Benson's another player that the D-League failed.  After doing all he could do in the D-League, Benson's headed to make money in Korea.
  • Will Blalock - Blalock played well for the Reno Bighorns after a midseason trade from the Maine Red Claws which eventually earned him a spot with the Golden State Warriors in Vegas.  Unfortunately, Blalock wasn't able to take advantage of the opportunity as he made just four of his 16 shot attempts.  The point guard will be a Crocodile this season while playing down under in Australia.
  • Cecil Brown - I'm glad that Brown was given a chance to play in the Summer League, but it's quite obvious he isn't quite ready to play in the NBA.  Brown wasn't able to find his three-point shot while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers in Vegas and will play in China according to his agent.
  • John Bryant - Big John probably would have been one of the best big men in the D-League this season, but the appeal of a European contract was apparently too strong as he'll be playing in Germany with ratiopharm.  Miss you, Erie BayHawks.
  • Mo Charlo - Charlo has been solid, but unspectacular for the Reno Bighorns over the past few seasons, but his athleticism and tenacity is always something I've enjoyed watching - I just didn't think it'd ever get him an NBA opportunity.  Regardless, the amazing basketball minds in Minnesota invited him to play for their Summer League team (they also invited now-former Bighorns coach Jay Humphries).  Charlo hasn't signed in Europe, yet, so we'll see what happens.
  • Joe Crawford - Crawford is probably going to an NBA training camp after playing well for the Orlando Magic during their annual Summer League.  Heck, it might even be with the Magic.  That said, I would assume that Crawford's probably in NBA-or-bust mode right now after getting paid during the second half of the season in China last year.  If he doesn't make it out of training camp, I could see him playing in the D-League until February.
  • Bennet Davis - Davis has steadily improved over the past three seasons, going from open tryout player to a top-post option under Brad Jones and the Utah Flash.  Jones is gone and Davis struggled while playing for the D-League Select team in Vegas, but since he hasn't signed in Europe yet I expect he plans to give it one last shot in the D-League.  Not a bad idea, either, if I'm right about the talent.
  • Paul Davis - Davis also played well for the Magic in the Orlando Summer League, but the 26-year-old decided to parlay that success into a deal with a top-level team in Spain rather than giving it another shot in an NBA training camp.  After making the Washington Wizards last season, then getting cut just a few days into the season, this was probably the right thing to do.
  • Eric Dawson - Dawson played for parts of three seasons with the Austin Toros, but was able to get a good deal in Korea this season.  Jon L, Dawson's biggest fan in Austin, is thoroughly disappointed.
  • Corsley Edwards - Edwards joined the Dakota Wizards late in the season for a potential run in the playoffs, but the former NBA big man looked bigger than I remembered and wasn't healthy while in Bismarck.  Regardless, he was a late invite to play for the Washington Wizards Summer League team and played all right in limited minutes.  The 31-year-old is currently unsigned. 
  • Shane Edwards - Edwards went from being invited to the Albuquerque Thunderbirds via a local tryout to being cut during the team's training camp to being brought back due to injuries and then securing an invite to the Denver Nuggets' Summer League team.  He played well for the Nuggets in Vegas, too, averaging 10.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and two steals in 24 minutes of action over the course of five games.  Rumor had it that Edwards would be attending camp with the Denver Nuggets, but that was before the front office shakeup.
  • Michael Fey - Fey was one of the better offensive big men in the D-League last season for the Los Angeles D-Fenders after attending training camp with the Lakers prior to the season.  Though he didn't receive a call-up, he was included on the Portland Trailblazers' Summer League roster - though I'm not sure he actually made it to Vegas with the team.  Fey has signed in Japan for the upcoming season.
  • Mike Gansey - Gansey will go down as the best ever player-blogger to grace Ridiculous Upside with his presence after blogging for RU while playing for the Erie BayHawks last season.  After playing for the D-League Select team in Vegas, Gansey decided to forego an NBA training camp invite and instead take his talents to the Canary Islands off the coast of Spain.  Can't blame him - he even has time to send me sweet wrestling clips featuring Doink in between practices.
  • Trey Gilder - Gilder began last season with the Memphis Grizzlies after impressing in his rookie year with the Colorado 14ers, but was released early in the year and ended up with the Maine Red Claws.  In November, the Red Claws decided to trade Gilder to the Albuquerque Thunderbirds - something you wouldn't normally expect to happen to an NBA prospect.  Regardless, Gilder ended up playing for both the Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks this Summer - and probably doing enough with the Hawks to earn a training camp invite.
  • Mickell Gladness - Let's be honest: How the heck did Gladness get an invite to play for the Miami Heat in Vegas after averaging less than four points and three rebounds per game with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers last season?  He's got upside and can block shots, but I didn't see it happening based on his season's stats.  "Slim" did it, though, and is still currently unsigned.  I have a feeling his best option would probably be to head back to the Vipers this season, but maybe he'll surprise me again and get a training camp invite.
  • Brian Hamilton - Hamilton played his second season in the D-League last year with the Utah Flash, though he came in late in the season and never really made an impact.  The former steals leader was invited to play for the Nuggets' Summer League team anyway, however, though shot less than 37% from the field.  We'll see what his plans for the fall are soon, I assume.
  • Ron Howard - Howard should have been a D-League success story after making the Fort Wayne Mad Ants as a local tryout player and eventually earning a couple of training camp invites with the Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks along the way.  Unfortunately, he never fully made the jump and left the Mad Ants in March before eventually ending up in Venezuela.  Howard then joined the Knicks in Vegas, but only appeared in two games without much to show for his efforts. He's currently signed in Israel for this season.
  • Carldell Johnson - "Squeaky" ended up on the San Antonio Spurs' Summer League roster once again after completing his third season for the Austin Toros.  Will he play for the Toros again this season?  Will he get a 'we owe ya one kid' training camp invite from the Spurs? Only time will tell.
  • Trey Johnson - Johnson didn't really have the best summer while playing for the Los Angeles Clippers, but at least he was given an opportunity to show what he brings to the table while starting three of the team's five games.  Despite a rather poor Summer League showing, Johnson hasn't signed in Europe yet which I assume means he plans on going to an NBA training camp.  He's definitely talented enough to make an NBA roster in the right situation - in fact, he's done it a couple of times before with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
  • Yaroslav Korolev - Korolev gave the NBA one last chance to pay him when he decided to forego Europe to play in the D-League last season, but didn't do enough to earn a call-up in his stops in Albuquerque and Reno.  "Yari" was then given the green light to jack up three balls while playing for the D-League Select team in Vegas, but that didn't work out well for him either as he shot just 28% from beyond the arc.  All that, I guess, is a long way of saying Korolev will be playing in Spain this season.
  • Joe Krabbenhoft - Krabbenhoft was never meant to earn a call-up from the D-League simply based on his playing style, but he was a guy that I was hopeful could possible end up on an NBA roster via Summer League/training camp.  That dream was dashed however, at least for this season, when he decided to play in Spain instead of trying to make the Portland Trail Blazers' roster through training camp.
  • Rob Kurz - Kurz was called up to the Chicago Bulls after Fort Wayne's season had come to an end last season, effectively securing his rights for Summer League as well as training camp this fall.  Something went awry with that plan, however, as Kurz ended up with the Lakers in Vegas.  The stretch big man played well in his first game, but ran into the stanchion and needed stitches in his second game before he was able to really make an impact.  He's slated to play in Spain for the same team Korolev is this season, though, so not everything is bad.
  • Kurt Looby - Ah, the Loobster.  The whole reason I'm looking at this (aside from the fact that there isn't much else to write about) is my tweet about Looby heading to Europe that sent Jeff Potter into blog mode.  Looby developed quite a bit in his two seasons in the D-League and was a potential NBA player by January if he kept developing at the rate he has thus far, but the shot blocker instead will play in Greece this season.  One has to wonder if his agent, the wonderful Bill Neff, saw how well fellow client Rod Benson did in the D-League without a call-up and just went ahead with this move so that Looby wouldn't have to endure the same disappointments.
  • Jared Newson - Newson had a rather pedestrian season in the D-League last year, beginning with the putrid Bakersfield Jam before a midseason trade sent him to the Sioux Falls Skyforce.  Regardless, he's shown NBA potential before as he was formerly a final cut of the Dallas Mavericks and that potential is apparently what earned him a spot on the D-League Select team.  Newson didn't have a good time in Vegas, however, and after making just 1-of-8 from the field and turning the ball over seven times in 32 minutes over the course of four games he decided to play in Finland this season.
  • Larry Owens - Ridiculous Upside loves Larry Owens, but if you've been around awhile, you knew that already.  If you haven't been around for awhile, now you know; simple as that.  Owens wasn't outstanding while playing for the D-League Select team in Vegas, but his performance in the D-League playoffs with the Tulsa 66ers should have been enough to earn him a spot in an NBA training camp.  Instead, he'll be playing in Turkey next season.
  • Jared Reiner - Reiner has long been a favorite player of mine because he plays the game the right way, but I don't think he was utilized as well as he could have been when he joined Fort Wayne midseason last year.  I say that even though he averaged a solid 12.8 points and 9.3 boards in less than 30 minutes of action.  This summer, he was once again underutilized by both the Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers (including a mid-Summer-League trade) and has thus decided to head back overseas to play in Germany this season.
  • Frank Robinson - Robinson never really stood out in the box score for the Los Angeles D-Fenders last season, but watching the team one could tell they were much better with him on the court than without.  The Lakers saw this as well, inviting him to play for their Summer League entry.  He played well enough in Vegas, but ultimately decided to head to Europe this season to play with Maccabi Haifa instead of trying to go to an NBA training camp.
  • Russell Robinson - RussRob was probably thisclose to making an NBA roster this season after looking more like a point guard and less like an undersized shooting guard after being traded to the Maine Red Claws last season.  He followed that up with solid minutes for both the Indiana Pacers and D-League Select team this summer, but ultimately apparently decided that Europe was the better option this year as he is signed to play in Spain this season.
  • Mustafa Shakur - Shakur played well last season for the Tulsa 66ers and has been rewarded with a partially guaranteed contract with the New Orleans Hornets.
  • Sean Sonderleiter - Sonderleiter used the D-League quite aptly, going from a rather unskilled 28-year-old before the Fort Wayne Mad Ants drafted him in the tenth and final round of the 2008 NBA Development League Draft to a polished-as-he'll-ever-be near-30-year-old Summer League invitee of the New Orleans Hornets.  Instead of returning for a third year in the D-League where the odds were probably stacked against him getting a call-up, Sondy will play this season in Germany with John Bryant.
  • Curtis Stinson - Stinson will probably be invited to an NBA training camp after averaging 15.2 points, 10.9 assists and 5.6 rebounds for the Iowa Energy last season, but I don't think the D-League would be the right career move if that doesn't work out.  By that, I mean I'm not sure what else he could do in the D-League after a quick ook at those numbers the fact that he'll be another year older.
  • D.J. Strawberry - Strawberry played well for the Reno Bighorns last season and followed that up with solid play (and solid minutes) for the Lakers' Summer League team.  I am under the assumption that he'll probably go to camp with an NBA team, but he could possibly try the D-League if it doesn't work out as he would more than likely be at the top of the call-up list especially under new coach Eric Musselman.
  • Donell Taylor - Taylor was a bit under the radar last season, partially due to a poor start in Erie when he was forced to play out of position at the point.  A midseason trade to the run-and-gun Idaho Stampede, however, was just what he needed as he went on to average the bloated numbers a former NBA player should in the D-League.  Taylor then put up respectable numbers for the Orlando Magic during the summer, but it came at a cost as he shot just 38% from the field.  At 28, I would assume the D-League probably wasn't in his plans for another season so he's signed in Italy's second division.
  • Darian Townes - Townes has never had much luck in the D-League, but big-bodied dudes that know how to play basketball are always going to get NBA looks - and he did, most recently with the Utah Jazz during the Orlando Summer League.  The 6-foot-10 Townes made just two of his 10 shot attempts, however, likely forcing his hand in Europe as his past year in NBA-affiliated leagues has been subpar at best.  Townes is currently signed to play in Hungary this fseason.
  • Cezary Trybanski - Did you know Trybanski is going to be 31 this month, has played for four different NBA teams and had both the best offensive and defensive rating while playing for the Reno Bighorns in the D-League last season?  Now you do.  Following that impressive performance up, the 7-foot-3 Polish sensation had a rather terrible performance on the Summer League circuit.  All is not lost, however, as recent reports tell me that he's currently working out with the Phoenix Suns.  He was also supposed to play in the Czech Republic this season, but last I heard that plan fell through - regardless, Europe is obviously an option he's pursuing.
  • Mark Tyndale - Tyndale was a respectable role player for the Iowa Energy for the second season in a row before breaking out with this remarkable game winning shot to finish off the NBA Summer League in style.  Most recently, Tyndale joined along with a couple of his fellow D-League cohorts on a trip to Asia.
  • Jonathan Wallace - Wallace was never one of the standout players for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers this past season, but in his defense it would have been pretty hard to stand out on that team with all of the talent around him.  The D-League apparently recognized this, though, as he was invited to play for the D-League Select team down in Vegas.  Wallace's three-point shot failed him, though, as he shot just 1-of-12 from beyond the arc.  The guard is currently signed to play in Germany next season.
  • Deron Washington - Washington was never my favorite player in the D-League, but he did produce when called upon for the Tulsa 66ers and even played well for the Milwaukee Bucks during the Summer League in Vegas.  That doesn't really matter now, though, as Washington is slated to play in Spain's second division next season.
  • Carlos Wheeler - Wheeler has been quite the anomaly in the D-League, having joined the Utah Flash at the ripe old age of 30 prior to the 2008-2009 season.  He's shown he can still play at a relatively high level, however, and made his first contact with the NBA this offseason as a member of the New Orleans Hornets' Summer League team despite being 32 years old. I am unsure what the D-League could possibly offer him this season, but since he's yet to sign overseas, I'm going to assume another season in Orem is in his future.
  • Marcus Williams - Oh, Marcus Williams. I just don't what you're doing with your career.  Why would you turn down an NBA call-up only to do exactly what that call-up would have provided you?  I won't pretend I know what's going on with Williams currently, but he's unsigned after not playing particularly impressive for the Indiana Pacers this summer.
  • Curtis Withers - Withers is immensely talented, but had trouble putting it all together as the first round pick of the Dakota Wizards last season.  He finally put that talent to good use for the D-League Select team in Vegas, though, and his agent reports that the Portland Trail Blazers and Milwaukee Bucks have shown interest in inviting him to training camp.
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