Pair Of Former Santa Cruz Warriors Help NBA D-League Select Team Win First Summer League Contest

Gino Pilato

Connections run deep for the NBA D-League Select team here in Las Vegas. In fact, two former Santa Cruz teammates helped ensure victory for the team led by NBADL Coach of the Year Alex Jensen. Stefhon Hannah and Mickell Gladness both contributed in their own distinct ways, and look ready to leave onlookers in Vegas impressed.

The NBA D-League Select team is undefeated (1-0) here in Las Vegas at NBA Summer League. The team of previous NBA D-League standouts defeated Shabazz Muhammad, and the Minnesota Timberwolves, 83-81 partly because of the two former Santa Cruz Warriors and their contributions.

Stefhon Hannah wrapped up his 2012-2013 NBADL year winning Defensive Player of the Year honors for the second consecutive season. In his first outing with the D-League Select team, it was his offense which spoke volumes and turned heads inside the Thomas and Mack Center. Hannah finished with 23 points (all in the second half), and shot 4-for-6 from beyond the arc.

The experienced D-League point guard looked fresh, new haircut and all. Hannah spoke with RidiculousUpside.com after the game about what activities he took part in once the NBADL season finished up. "After the D-League season, I went to the NBA D-League Elite Mini-Camp and then went overseas to play in Venezuela. I came back two weeks ago to get prepared for this. I worked out with my conditioning trainer, and he had me box and also do some running in sand drills. After that, I trained with my best friend who is also my basketball trainer. He basically has me work on things which need attention in his opinion, and will make me a better player."

Hannah was counted on as a leader while he was with Santa Cruz this past season in the NBADL, and the former Mizzou product thinks that leadership and connecting with teammates is important, even at NBA Summer League. "Its bigger than basketball, trying to get to know everyone is key here because once we get to know each other off the court, it will make things easier on it, because we will trust each other." Hannah said.

One teammate which Hannah won't need very much time bonding with is Mickell Gladness, who enters NBA Summer League after participating NBA D-League Elite Mini Camp himself. Gladness was nominated All-Defensive Third Team this past season, averaging 2.3 blocks per contest for the Sea Dubs.

Gladness also caught up with RidiculousUpside.com after the win, and explained what he's looking to accomplish going forward. "I just really want to continue playing like I did in the first half today. Having consistency is a big thing for me." Gladness swatted away three blocks, including a vicious deflection which left the court, and was followed by a long stare down.

Gladness continued, "I'm not going to be a guy who they run post up plays for. I know shot blocking is my niche, so that's what I'm going to showcase no matter where I'm playing, and especially here." Gladness meshed easily with Hannah while the two were playing together in their first contest. "Playing with Stef is like second nature, it felt good, it's like we're picking up where we left off." Gladness concluded.

The two former teammates look poised to be influential members on this year's NBA D-League Select team. If the team finds further success in Sin City, it will likely be because of the former Bay area duo.

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