NEW YORK, Feb. 8, 2012 – Twenty of the NBA Development League’s top prospects, including eight who have NBA experience, have been chosen to play in the sixth annual NBA D-League All-Star Game Presented by 26 Seconds on Saturday, Feb. 25, on Center Court at NBA All-Star Jam Session. The game will air live on NBA TV at 2 p.m. ET.
Chosen to the NBA D-League All-Star West Team are Justin Dentmon and Lance Thomas (Austin Toros), currently a member of the New Orleans Hornets; Brandon Costner, Gerald Green, and Elijah Millsap (Los Angeles D-Fenders); Blake Ahearn and Andre Emmett (Reno Bighorns); Greg Smith (Rio Grande Valley Vipers); and Jerome Dyson and Marcus Lewis (Tulsa 66ers).
Selected to the NBA D-League All-Star East Team, playing host to the West Team in Orlando, are Tyrell Biggs (Canton Charge); Edwin Ubiles (Dakota Wizards); Keith McLeod (Erie BayHawks); Darnell Lazare and Walker Russell, Jr. (Fort Wayne Mad Ants), currently a member of the Detroit Pistons; Marqus Blakely (Iowa Energy); Charles Garcia (Sioux Falls Skyforce); and JamesOn Curry, Jeff Foote, and Jerry Smith (Springfield Armor).
Austin Toros head coach Brad Jones and assistant coaches Taylor Jenkins and Alex Lloyd will coach the West, while Iowa Energy head coach Kevin Young and assistant Gene Cross will helm the east. Young and Cross are each making their first NBA D-League All-Star appearance, while they represent an Energy team who has sent coaches to the NBA D-League All-Star Game for the last three seasons. Jones is also making his first trip to the NBA D-League All-Star bench. Both coaching staffs were selected based on their teams having the highest winning percentages in their respective conferences through Feb. 7. Prior to the game, Jones and Young will choose starting lineups for each of their teams.
A combination of voting by the league’s 16 head coaches and fan balloting on nba.com/dleague was used to select the 20 NBA D-League All-Stars, 10 from each conference. Players who have been selected must be on an active NBA D-League roster to compete in the NBA D-League All-Star Game.
The shot clock during the game will be extended to 26 seconds in order to drive awareness to the fact that a student drops out of high school every 26 seconds in America. The goal of 26 Seconds, a State Farm Public Awareness Campaign, is to increase the high school graduation rate.
Two of this year’s NBA D-League All-Stars, Russell and Thomas, are currently in the NBA after earning GATORADE Call-Ups this season. Russell, who earned his call from the Mad Ants to the Pistons on Jan. 20, is averaging 4.0 points and 2.8 assists in 19.2 minutes over 11 games for Detroit, including an NBA-career-high 12 points and six rebounds on Feb. 1 at New Jersey. Thomas, who earned his second GATORADE Call-Up of the 2011-12 season on Feb. 6, has yet to appear in a game for the Hornets.
Last season, eight of the 20 NBA D-League All-Stars who played in Los Angeles went on to earn GATORADE Call-Ups to the NBA later in the year. At the end of last season, almost one-in-four NBA players had NBA D-League experience. Over the NBA D-League All-Star Game’s five-year history, 59 of the 100 players have had, or subsequently earned, NBA experience.
“We’re thrilled to bring 20 of the NBA’s top prospects to Orlando to participate in NBA All-Star festivities,” said NBA D-League President Dan Reed. “The NBA D-League All-Star Game presented by 26 Seconds gives NBA fans an opportunity to watch future NBA players while enjoying our signature brand of exciting, fan-friendly basketball for the sixth consecutive year at NBA All-Star Jam Session.”
Four players with NBA experience highlight the West Team’s roster, including Green, who was the NBA’s Slam Dunk Champion in 2007, before competing again in 2008. Joining Green on the West squad are fellow NBA D-Leaguers with NBA experience Thomas, Emmett, who played with the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2004-05 season, and Ahearn, who has earned two GATORADE Call-Ups to the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs, respectively.
Four members of the East Team come to the NBA D-League All-Star Game with NBA experience, including Russell, Blakely, who earned a GATORADE Call-Up to the Houston Rockets last season, Curry, who was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 2007 and earned a GATORADE Call-Up from the Armor to the L.A. Clippers in 2010, and McLeod, who has seen action with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz, Golden State Warriors and Indiana Pacers.
Five players who went to NBA training camps in 2011 make up the West Team’s roster, including Dentmon who is averaging 22.8 points and 5.1 assists for the Toros, and Dyson, who is averaging 19.3 points and 4.3 assists for the 66ers. Both were with New Orleans during the preseason. D-Fenders teammates Millsap, who is averaging 20.5 points and 6.7 rebounds, and Green, who is averaging 18.6 points and 4.6 rebounds, each played with the L.A. Lakers during the preseason. Lewis spent the preseason with the Milwaukee Bucks and is averaging 14.3 points and 13.2 rebounds for the 66ers. Smith, who is averaging 16.8 points and 8.3 rebounds for the Vipers, and Costner, who is averaging 22.2 points and 5.3 rebounds for Los Angeles round out the West Team’s roster.
All six additional players on the East Team roster spent time in NBA training camps in 2011, including four with their NBA D-League team’s parent team. Smith, who played with the New Jersey Nets during the preseason, is averaging 17.7 points and 5.2 rebounds for the Armor; Biggs, who was with the Cleveland Cavaliers in training camp, is averaging 16.3 points and 5.8 rebounds for the Charge; Ubiles, who is averaging 20.7 points and 5.7 rebounds for Dakota, spent time with Golden State during the preseason, and Lazare, who was with the Pacers in training camp, is averaging 18.5 points and 8.0 rebounds for the Mad Ants. Additionally, Foote is averaging 14.6 points and 8.5 rebounds for Springfield, having spent training camp with the Portland Trail Blazers; and Garcia, who was with the Atlanta Hawks during the preseason, is averaging 14.9 points and 6.6 rebounds for Sioux Falls.
|F||Marqus Blakely (Iowa)||6-5||220||Vermont|
|F||Tyrell Biggs (Canton)||6-8||240||Pittsburgh|
|G||JamesOn Curry (Springfield)||6-4||200||Oklahoma State|
|C||Jeff Foote (Springfield)||7-0||265||Cornell|
|C||Charles Garcia (Sioux Falls)||6-10||230||Seattle|
|F||Darnell Lazare (Fort Wayne)||6-8||240||Louisiana State|
|G||Keith McLeod (Erie)||6-2||190||Bowling Green|
|G||Walker Russell (Fort Wayne) *||6-0||175||Jacksonville State|
|G||Jerry Smith (Springfield)||6-2||190||Louisville|
|F||Edwin Ubiles (Dakota)||6-6||204||Siena|
Head Coach: Kevin Young (Iowa)
Assistant Coaches: Gene Cross (Iowa)
Athletic Trainer: Jeremy MacVarish (Iowa)
|G||Blake Ahearn (Reno)||6-3||190||Missouri State|
|C||Brandon Costner (Los Angeles)||6-9||235||North Carolina State|
|G||Justin Dentmon (Austin)||6-0||185||Washington|
|G||Jerome Dyson (Tulsa)||6-3||180||Connecticut|
|F||Andre Emmett (Reno)||6-5||220||Texas Tech|
|F||Gerald Green (Los Angeles)||6-8||220||Gulf Shores Academy, TX (HS)|
|F||Marcus Lewis (Tulsa)||6-8||245||Oral Roberts|
|G||Elijah Millsap (Los Angeles)||6-5||215||Alabama-Birmingham|
|C||Greg Smith (Rio Grande Valley)||6-10||250||Fresno State|
|F||Lance Thomas (Austin) *||6-8||225||Duke|
Head Coach: Brad Jones (Austin)
Assistant Coaches: Taylor Jenkins (Austin), Alex Lloyd (Austin
Athletic Trainer: Nixon Dorvilien (Austin)
* - Indicates a player currently in the NBA