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Showcase winds down with D-Leaguers waiting for NBA call

By Art Garcia,
Posted Jan 8 2009 5:36PM

OREM, Utah -- The chatter from NBA types this week is that Courtney Sims is about to join their league. One predicted no later than Saturday.

Mission accomplished. Well, almost.

"You just never know in this business," the Iowa Energy center said. "The NBA is a tough business to break into. There a lot of people in the D-League playing well, but there are so few spots. People don't realize that.

"So I just go out every game and play hard. I can just control what I can control and hopefully the chips fall in my favor."

Teams in search of a skilled big man would be hard pressed to find a more polished NBA Development League product than the 6-foot-11, 230-pound Sims. He's a willing rebounder with an active body and 18-foot range.

Sims' attitude also grades high. One NBA insider at the D-League Showcase here called the Michigan product a "throwback," noting his straightforward approach and obvious work ethic. Sims doesn't invite extra attention. He lets his game do the talking.

Not surprisingly, Sims patterns his game after no-nonsense forwards such as San Antonio's Tim Duncan and New Orleans' David West. Sims grew up following Duncan and has taken part in the Hornets' training camp.

"I try to incorporate the parts of their game they've used to make themselves All-Stars," Sims said. "I watch their demeanor on the court, their attitude, some of their moves and their footwork. Anything in their game, I try to put into mine."

Players aren't the only ones working on their games at the Showcase. Anaheim coach Sam Vincent is doing his thing, and he doesn't even have to. Fired after last season by the Charlotte Bobcats, Vincent still has two years of contract money coming his way.

Vincent could have gone the announcer route or perhaps found an assistant job on an NBA bench. Instead, he chose to return to the D-League. He previously coached with Fort Worth and Mobile, where he won a title in 2003.

"I very much could have stayed at home this year," he said. "The final decision for me is I enjoy transferring whatever knowledge, skills, information that I've been fortunate enough to learn from coaches and players onto other guys.

"I felt this was an opportunity to keep on coaching and keep on growing, and work with some guys who are trying to get to the next level."

Whether Sims or Vincent moves to the next level, they're the reason the Showcase exists. The fifth-annual event concluded Thursday. D-League president Dan Reed pronounced it a success.

"We measure that in terms of the talent level on the floor, and terms of the enthusiasm from NBA scouts and GMs that are here," Reed said. "We had a call-up on the first day [Jermareo Davidson to Golden State] and I think we're going to have a lot more."

Reed added that the Showcase has "morphed from more than just a basketball event." The D-League and its sponsors unveiled a refurbished learning center, partnered with Habitat for Humanity to build a home for a Provo family and conducted a Read to Achieve event for children at the McKay Events Center.

Reed, the rest of the D-League staff and the advisory panel of NBA reps soon will begin discussions on the sixth-annual Showcase. Not only does a location need to be finalized, but a move to a tournament format may be in the works. Each of the 16 teams played twice this year over the four days.

This year, the Showcase was rescheduled to coincide with the start of the period when 10-day contracts can be signed. And Sims may be inking one any day now. He seemingly nailed the audition in front of the 76 NBA player personnel representatives from all 30 teams, averaging 21.5 points, 12 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.

Somehow, Sims wasn't completely satisfied.

"The only negative is that we lost the first game," he said. "I just want to make sure that we win. That also looks good on NBA resumes, when you're performing well and your teams are winning."

Sounds like he's ready.

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