I Know You...But From Where?
It's a paved road, sure. One that's been walked down by hundreds of players before. But going from the NBA D-League to the NBA can still be a long road. Some players, though, don't even need an NBA trip to become household names.
Some are already there -- in the basketball community at least -- based on their exploits in college. Below are players eligible for the 2012 NBA D-League Draft (live via Cisco WebEx) that either made an impact on March Madness, caught your attention by playing in some of the year's biggest games or might have just been your favorite player at your alma mater. Here's a dozen high-profile NCAA players that look to call the NBA D-League home (for now) this season.
>> Related: Live Draft Room | Full List of Draft-Eligible Players | Making Sense of the Draft Selection
This 6-foot-4 former Cougar is coming off an ACL tear his senior year. Prior to the injury, Aden was averaging 14.5 points in just 24 minutes per game -- making him the Pac-12 leading scorer per 40 minutes. He has good size for a guard and he did receive some NBA looks this summer. He'll look to show off that he healed from his injury in the early part of the year, and if he does, he could latch on with an NBA team in no time.
The Big Ten has been right up there in terms of talent production with the Big East and ACC in the last half decade and Bryce Cartwright was right in the thick of things at Iowa. Blessed with great speed and agility, the 6-foot-1 guard was named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten his junior season when he averaged 10.9 points and 5.9 assists per game. His numbers dipped a bit his senior campaign, but he is the type of backcourt playmaker that can thrive in the NBA D-League.
They say rebounding translates to all levels, so "they" will like Old Dominion alum Chris Cooper. All 230 points of him. The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 10.5 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 29 minutes per game for the Monarchs as a senior in 2011-12. A Second Team All-CAA selection, Cooper pulled down a career-high 22 rebounds in a game versus James Madison his senior season.
Dairese Gary is one of the players that helped put New Mexico basketball back on the map. He was the team's starting point guard during the Lobos' 30-win season in 2009-10 and he was honored by being named First-Team All-Mountain West and part of the All-Defensive Team in both his junior and senior years. During his senior year, the 6-foot-1 Indiana native led the Lobos with 14.1 points and 5.5 assists per game while also chipping in with 3.2 rebounds a night.
Trevor Gaskins, a 6-foot-2 guard, transferred to Louisiana Tech his senior year where we was named to the WAC All-Defensive team and Honorable Mention All-WAC team for averaging 11.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Prior to his time at Louisiana Tech, you may know him better for being a key bench player for Ole Miss. As a junior in 2010-11 for the Rebels, he averaged 6.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.
2011-12 Pac-12 Player of the Year. 2011-12 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. Those are just two of the accolades for this California alum and you'll be hard pressed to find many players in this draft that had as prolific a college career as Jorge Gutierrez. He played the point as a Golden Bear, but at 6-foot-3 he can play multiple positions, on the college level at least. His senior year he averaged 13.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists. He got a look from the Golden State Warriors before the draft and he figures to be on many NBA teams' radar from the start. He can score, rebound well for a guard and, most importantly, defend -- he's a three-time Pac 12 All-Defensive Team selection.
At 6-foot-5, Wichita State alum Toure Murry has decent size for a wing player, projecting as a shooting guard or small forward. His senior year at Wichita State, he put up 12.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.3 steals per night on a team that went 27-6. He played for the Lakers this summer in NBA Summer League and combined for 10 points and seven rebounds in 35 minutes over four games.
The pride of BU basketball, Darryl Partin was a scoring fiend his senior year, lighting up scoreboards for nearly 20 points per game. For his efforts, he was named America East Player of the Year. At 6-foot-6, Partin has great size for a guard and that's one of the reasons he is bursting with potential. Once drafted, the NBA D-League could be a valuable stop for him -- he needs to improve on his outside shooting and defense -- as he tries to impress an NBA or international scout.
This is a name you definitely know, as his father, Glen Rice Sr. played 15 seasons in the NBA. Junior isn't too shabby himself, however, having averaged 13.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game before being dismissed from the Georgia Tech team with six games remaining in the 2011-12 season. A versatile player at 6-foot-5, Rice Jr. can fill up a box score, often thriving in a point-forward role. If he can continue to improve his outside jumper -- something his father was famous for -- and proves to teams he's dealt with the maturity issues that knocked him out of competition his senior year, he could follow his dad's footsteps to the NBA. At the very least, he'll help an NBA D-League team this season.
Playing on a team at Vanderbilt that had three players drafted to the NBA -- including two first-round picks -- it was easy for Steve Tchiengang to get lost in the shuffle. He started nine games in 2011-12, filling in at center for one of those first rounders, Festus Ezeli, and he averaged 3.4 points and 3.3 rebounds per game over the course of the year. At 6-foot-9, 245 pounds, he is a proven big body that will get the attention of some NBA D-League teams.
As a senior in 2010-11, Tucker was third on Maryland in scoring, putting up 9.6 points in 24 minutes per night. A 6-foot-6 wing, his athleticism is his main attribute. He can connect from behind the arc and also contribute on the boards, but to be a truly successful wing player in a league flooded with players of his type, he's going to have to use the NBA D-League to perfect those skills.
During his senior season, Alexis Wangmene played over 20 minutes a game, including starting 26 games, for one of the nation's top programs, averaging 4.6 points and 4.7 rebounds. At 6-foot-7, 241 points, Wangmene projects as an undersized power forward in the NBA. But, given time in the NBA D-League, and the NBA's new reliance on more versatile big men, the Cameroon native may be able to work on some of the perimeter aspects of his game and become valuable to an NBA team down the line.