In continuing our Summer League coverage, I decided to break down the Indiana Pacer's Summer League roster. The Pacers will be playing in the Orlando Summer League starting July 6th and their roster includes names you know and love such as Tyler Hansbrough, Josh McRoberts (wait, are they two different guys?), Roy Hibbert and Brandon Rush. It also includes names you've never heard of, which is why I decided to take on this task - though the Pacers didn't make a spot for my boy Josh Davis last season, despite an excellent Summer League last year, they may try to right their wrong and grab one of the fine fellows I've included here.
I've ranked these prospects from most likely to least likely being on an NBA roster next season. Enjoy!
Trey Johnson - Johnson played for the Bakersfield Jam alongside fellow Pacer camp invitee Derrick Byars. This is a good thing, as they made each other look good, and thus, Pacer fans shouldn't be disappointed in either player - at least not as much as they were drafting Hansbrough 13th, anyway. Johnson was probably my favorite player I didn't talk about enough last season because he should be a known commodity at this point - he was scored 27 points per game at Jackson State and has played a couple minutes in the NBA! Anyway, he can score from pretty much anywhere (41% from deep), he's developed some limited point guard skills, and he's not a complete failure on defense. He's got a good feel for the game and should be able to come off the bench and score in the NBA, so I'm probably going to handicap Clinton Johnson III as the most likely player to earn an NBA contract via the Pacers.
Derrick Byars - Byars was probably in the top 5 as far as talented players in the D-League went last season. Unfortunately, he was also in the top 5 as far as being frustratingly inconsistent from month to month. I'm going to go out on a limb and say if July is one of his ‘up'months, the Pacers will keep him around (unless they do him a dirty like Josh Davis last year). Byars is long, but not athletic, has a nice stroke, but it's streaky, and great size as 2-guard, but not enough speed to defend most NBA 2's. The best thing is, he doesn't try to do too much, just letting the game come to him. He was also the 2007 SEC Player of the Year, but really, it's SEC.
Will Blalock - Blalock is a point guard out of Iowa State a couple of seasons back - a good up-tempo 6-foot point guard without blazing speed and a jumpshot, but long arms and hard nosed on defense. Last season, Blalock played in Europe, but I caught quite a bit of his game the season before with the Anaheim Arsenal. For reasons beyond my control, I'm going to assume he didn't improve playing in Quakenbruck and instead think of the Blalock that played in Anaheim. That season, he was kind of the prototypical sixth grade point guard - if he had an open teammate while he was bringing the ball up the court, he'd pass it; if no one was open while he was coming up the court, he'd attempt to create for himself. In summation, he's serviceable on defense, and could be a third down, change of pace point guard in the NBA if your other option is named Travis Diener. I'm kind of like that Ricky Bobby character when he only talks about Baby Jesus, except Will Blalock, despite playing two games in Jerusalem a couple years ago isn't really a baby, or Jesus.
Leo Lyons - At first when I saw this name on the roster, I assumed that the Pacers marketing team was kicking it up a notch and going with White Guys & Porn Stars as this years team theme. Then I remembered Leo "Rawr" Lyons is actually a good player that many thought would be drafted before Chimenelu Elonu, among others (why'd I pick him? I like his name). Lyons has a great body (pause) and is pretty versatile inside and outside on offense. On defense, he doesn't really do well guarding players in the post and he doesn't really do well guarding players not in the post. You'll probably remember him from Mizzou's NCAA run in March, which was a fluke. If not, check it out, because that's the best basketball Lyons has ever played.
Jared Homan - Let me tell you this: I love Jared Homan, and it mainly only stems that he was with the Bulls Summer League team a couple seasons ago. I've never actually seen much from him, but he'll fit in well with the Pacers - 6'9", 250 pounds and according to Draft Express, his worst case scenario is Jackson Vroman. Well, Vroman (pronounced V-Row Man, like a superhero I assume) played two seasons with three teams in the NBA, so Homan should probably get that same opportunity to show what he can do. In terms of what Homan can bring to the NBA, he's essentially a smaller Bryant Reeves - I probably only say this because Homan looks like his nickname is Big Country. He won't make you say "Wow!" He might make you say "Hey, this guy's upside is just as high as Hansbrough's," or "I like Jared, but I really wish we would have brought Josh Davis back again!" (Sidenote: I have a mancrush on Josh Davis)
A.J. Price - Price is a 6'0 comboish guard with a long history of problems both on the court and off the court. That isn't to say he's not likely to find a spot on the Pacers, but they seem to be trying to erase the Palace issue from awhile back. This probably hurts his chances, as the little guy is probably best known for stealing laptops while at UConn before Marcus Williams then got accused as well and took most of the heat. Anyway, Price also suffered a near-death blood vessel abnormality in his brain his freshman year, which is no fault of his own, but shows he perseveres - which is probably what's going to be needed after the smart little point guard and a sweet outside stroke with bad knees and a criminal record is going to need to make an NBA roster someday.
Aaron Jackson - He didn't play in the D-League and isn't a 6'9 white guy, so I'm not as familiar with Jackson as I am with the majority of the Pacers roster. Therefore, I'm just going to suggest his nickname is Action before regurgitating what I've read about him. Jackson was all A-10 last season and led his team in points and assists, so he's obviously a well-rounded player with something to prove. He's probably hoping Jamaal Tinsley stays where ever he's been - not only because they play the same position, but Jackson was shot in the hand in the horrific Duquesne shooting a few years ago and Tinsley's been known to wields weapons.
Anthony Smith - Well, what can we say about Anthony? Nothing, because I count on Givony to do my legwork when I'm unfamiliar with a player, and Smith doesn't have a DraftExpress profile for me to reference. Instead, I'll tell you he played at perennial powerhouse Liberty, he shot 40% from beyond the arc and he is presumably good at shooting and nothing else. Suffice it to say, the Pacers are scouring the world to find someone that can shoot. I'm going to suggest Larry Bird.
Scott Vander Meer - Now this guy is my kind of player. At first I couldn't find anything on him, but I kept researching and apparently he goes by Vandermeer. Anyway, Vandermeer is more than likely going to be the backup center on this seasons Fort Wayne Mad Ants, and hopefully this Summer's version of Steven Hill. He led the Horizon League in blocked shots and rebounds, he's from Indiana and he actually scored in double figures 18 times his senior season at Illinois-Chicago. None of those reasons suggest he'll make the Pacers, but he will add to the awkwardness that is already the other white bigs (Hansbrough, Homan and Josh McRoberts) on the Pacers Summer League team.