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NBA D-League All-Star Game Preview

Courtney Sims, Iowa Energy
Melissa Majchrzak/Getty Images/NBAE

by Matthew Brennan,

Twenty of the D-League's best players will take the floor on Saturday in Phoenix in the 2009 D-League All-Star Game. This year's edition is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET at Jam Session Center Court in New Orleans. If you are in Phoenix for All-Star Weekend, you can attend the game on Saturday afternoon at the Jam Session Center Court at the Phoenix Convention Center, with tip-off scheduled for 2 p.m. local time. The game will also air live on NBA TV and on a half-hour delay on NBA Futurecast. This All-Star Game will be a little different than your standard All-Star event, because these players will be looking to impress the NBA scouts who will be in attendance. Last year's MVP, Jeremy Richardson, received a GATORADE Call-Up to the NBA less than one week after he excelled in the All-Star Game.

Red Team

The Red Team features players from four different teams, including three members of the Dakota Wizards. Iowa Energy head coach Nick Nurse will lead the Red Team, and and he will bring two of his top players to Phoenix. Energy center Courtney Sims is no stranger to Phoenix, as he received a GATORADE Call-Up to the Suns earlier this season. Sims has been the most dominant big man in the league this season, averaging 22.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, and a league-leading 2.1 blocks per game. His teammate Othyus Jeffers was a late replacement on the roster and checks in at 11th in the league with 19.6 points per game.

The rest of the Red Team's frontcourt consists of Idaho's Lance Allred, making his second straight All-Star appearance, Dakota's Richard Hendrix, the league's leading rebounder at 11.8 boards per game, and Idaho Stampede teammates Luke Jackson and Brent Petway. Petway and Jackson were instrumental in Idaho's run to the D-League title last season and will be making their first appearances in the All-Star Game.

The Red Team is well-stocked at guard with the Dakota Wizards' tandem of Blake Ahearn and Maurice Baker. Ahearn, last season's Rookie of the Year, is currently the league's third-leading scorer with 22.9 points per game. He recieved a GATORADE Call-Up from the San Antonio Spurs earlier this season. His backcourt mate Baker is the Wizards' all-time leading scorer and one of the league's best all-around players with averages of 15.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 5.4 assists. Rounding out the Red Team is the Bakersfield Jam duo of Trey Johnson and Derrick Byars. Johnson just received a GATORADE Call-Up from Cleveland and has been a top scorer for the Jam this season, averaging 20.1 points per game. Byars, the SEC Player of the Year at Vanderbilt, is averaging 18.4 points per game for Bakersfield.

Blue Team

James White, Anaheim Arsenal
Ron Hoskins/Getty Images/NBAE
The Blue Team, coached by the Austin Toros' Quin Snyder, should have no trouble lighting up the scoreboard, as both of the league's top scorers are on the roster. Albuquerque's Will Conroy and Anaheim's James White have battle back and forth for the scoring lead all season, with Conroy and his 26.4 points per game leading White's 25.8 points per contest. Conroy enters this game having scored 32 or more points in four consecutive games. White went off for 37 in his final game before the All-Star break and holds the current D-League season high with 47 points in a game back in January.

The Blue Team guard corps also features the league's top assists man in the form of Fort Wayne's Walker Russell. Russell is dominating the league rankings this season with 11.4 per game, nearly 3.0 more than any other player. Anaheim's Cedric Bozeman, who averages 17.2 points per game, rounds out the Blue Team guards.

The forwards of the Blue Team consist of some of the league's top scorers, highlighted by players such as Erie's Erik Daniels, Austin's Marcus Williams, and Reno's Antonio Meeking. Daniels, a late injury replacement, is one of only two D-League players in the top five in both scoring and rebounding, ranking fifth with 21.5 points and also fifth in rebounding with 10.1 boards. Williams, who received GATORADE Call-Ups to the Clippers and Spurs last season, is eighth in the league with 20.8 points per game while Meeking has sparked the expansion Bighorns with 18.2 points and 8.2 rebounds.

Colorado's Josh Davis and Fort Wayne's Chris Hunter are the Blue Team's big men. Davis, a former NBA player, leads the 14ers with 19.1 points per game and was named NBA D-League Performer of the Week earlier this season. Hunter averages a double-double with 17.6 points and 10.1 rebounds, leading the Mad Ants in both categories. He ranks fourth overall in rebounding in the NBA D-League.

Blake Ahearn (Dakota) G 6-2 190 5/27/84 Missouri State
Maurice Baker (Dakota) G 6-1 195 7/28/79 Oklahoma State
Derrick Byars (Bakersfield) G 6-7 220 4/25/84 Vanderbilt
Trey Johnson (Bakersfield/Cavaliers) G 6-6 215 8/30/84 Jackson State
Othyus Jeffers (Iowa) G/F 6-5 200 8/5/85 Illinois-Chicago
Luke Jackson (Idaho) F 6-7 212 11/6/81 Oregon
Richard Hendrix (Dakota) F 6-9 255 11/15/86 Alabama
Brent Petway (Idaho) F 6-8 205 5/12/85 Michigan
Lance Allred (Idaho) C 6-11 260 2/21/85 Weber State
Courtney Sims (Iowa) C 6-11 230 10/21/83 Michigan
Head Coach: Nick Nurse (Iowa), Assistant: Gary Garner (Iowa)
Athletic Trainer: Tim Moran (Iowa)

Will Conroy (Albuquerque) G 6-2 195 12/8/82 Washington
Walker Russell (Fort Wayne) G 6-0 170 19/6/82 Jacksonville State
Cedric Bozeman (Anaheim) G 6-6 207 3/7/83 UCLA
James White (Anaheim) G 6-7 200 10/21/82 Cincinnati
Marcus Williams (Austin) F 6-7 205 11/18/86 Arizona
Ronald Dupree (Utah) F 6-7 209 1/26/81 LSU
Antonio Meeking (Reno) F 6-7 270 8/24/81 Louisiana Tech
Josh Davis (Colorado) F 6-8 242 8/10/80 Wyoming
Chris Hunter (Fort Wayne) C 6-11 240 7/7/84 Michigan
Erik Daniels (Erie) F 6-8 225 4/1/82 Kentucky
Head Coach: Quin Snyder (Austin), Assistant: Wendell Alexis (Austin)
Athletic Trainer: Daisuke Yamaguchi (Austin)