Andrew Goudelock. Shelvin Mack. Travis Leslie. Tim Ohlbrecht. Willie Reed.
NBA fans may recognize the names of these up and coming young guns now, but there's a good chance they wouldn't have this time last year. Not only did all five of these players receive NBA call-ups last season, but each of them also came up through the D-League via the 2012 NBADL Draft.
With a new basketball season upon us, this year's D-League Draft is all but weeks away. A new mix of intriguing talent is making its way up as a bevy of prospects sign minor league contracts and officially become draft eligible. Such names may not pop out from the pages at this point, but there's a good chance come this time next year, we'll all be looking back and recognizing a handful of promoted NBADLers from the bunch.
The D-League Draft not only serves as a hub for an array of future minor league stars to find new homes, but some potential soon-to-be NBA players as well.
The aforementioned five may stand tall now as the true headliners from their respective draft class, but as the D-League season progressed, other notable and/or impressive talents continued to emerge as well. The number one overall pick from last year's draft (JaJuan Johnson) is a former NBA first round draft selection. In the most unique of circumstances, Glen Rice Jr. went from falling into the laps of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in round five, to (less than a year later) rising up as an early second-round draft selection in this past summer's NBA (rookie) Draft by the Washington Wizards.
But the talk of success for these young guns doesn't just end there. Plenty of others became key contributors for their NBADL teams over the course of the season, and then cashed in on their success by snagging NBA Summer League gigs. Such players include Tony Taylor (Miami Heat), Dominique Sutton (D-League Select), and Liam McMorrow (New York Knicks). As it just so happens, all three of the players mentioned here have since gone on to take advantage of lucrative offers overseas for the coming year.
Other players have taken a different route to potential success instead. Some have chosen to risk it all for that ultimate shot at breaking into The Association. The likes of Toure Murry (Knicks), James Nunnally (Phoenix Suns), and Arinze Onuaku (New Orleans Hornets) have all caught on with NBA teams for training camp following strong Summer League performances.
How many of these players go on to stick with their respective big league teams this coming season remains to be seen. That said, one thing that can't be denied is how quickly each one has come since rising from obscurity. In just one year, a good number of players from the 2012 D-League Draft have made tremendous strides in getting their names out there while being noticed. At the very least, each of the highlighted players has thrusted himself into an NBA conversation.
Needless to say, such progress undoubtedly gives this year's new band of otherwise unknown prospects hope that they too can go on to achieve success as well. If that's any indication to casual basketball fans, these very players (that at this point, may be unknown to most) may be worth making note of early on.