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Dakota's Chris Johnson Named NBA D-League Defensive Player of the Year

NEW YORK, April 16, 2011 – Dakota Wizards center Chris Johnson, currently of the Portland Trail Blazers, has been chosen as the NBA Development League’s Defensive Player of the Year, as voted on by the NBA D-League’s 16 head coaches.

Johnson joins Iowa Energy guard Othyus Jeffers, who ended the season with the Washington Wizards, Texas Legends center Sean Williams, Tulsa 66ers forward Larry Owens, who also ended the season with Washington, Utah Flash forward Tony Gaffney and guard Orien Greene, who earned a GATORADE Call-Up to the New Jersey Nets this season, on the NBA D-League All-Defensive First Team.

The All-Defensive Second Team features Idaho Stampede guard Cedric Jackson, Maine Red Claws guard Mario West, who ended the season with the New Jersey Nets, Erie BayHawks forward Ivan Johnson, Utah forward Ronald Dupree and Austin Toros center Marcus Cousin, who is currently on the Houston Rockets’ roster, on assignment to Rio Grande Valley. Both All-Defensive teams were also voted on by the NBA D-League’s head coaches.

“This season, our defense started with Chris, with his athletic ability and timing to block shots,” said Dakota coach Rory White. “By working hard on the defensive end, it set the tone for the rest of the team.”

In 35 games with Dakota this season, Johnson averaged 16.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks, ranking as the NBA D-League’s second-leading shot-blocker and sixth-leading rebounder. An NBA D-League All-Star, Johnson was the only player in the NBA D-League this year to block eight shots in three separate games. Johnson earned three GATORADE Call-Ups to the NBA this season, one with the Boston Celtics and two with the Portland Trail Blazers, with whom he’ll appear in the NBA Playoffs starting today.

“Chris grew his reputation as a defensive game-changer throughout the course of the season, and it’s no wonder he earned three GATORADE Call-Ups to the NBA,” said Chris Alpert, Vice President of Basketball Operations and Player Personnel for the NBA D-League. “I congratulate Chris on his accomplishment as he prepares for the NBA Playoffs, as well as the accomplishments of the All-Defensive First and Second Teams.”

Johnson joins Greg Stiemsma (Sioux Falls, 2009-10), Brent Petway, (Idaho, 2008-09), Stephane Lasme (Los Angeles, 2007-08), Mouhamed Sene (Idaho, 2007-08), Renaldo Major (Dakota, 2006-07), Derrick Zimmerman (Austin, 2005-06; Columbus 2004-05), Karim Shabazz (Charleston, 2003-04), Mikki Moore (Roanoke, 2002-03) and Jeff Myers (Greenville, 2001-02) as winners of the NBA D-League’s Defensive Player of the Year Award. This is the first year the NBA D-League has named All-Defensive teams.

2010-11 NBA D-LEAGUE ALL-DEFENSIVE FIRST TEAM

Guard: Orien Greene Utah Flash
Guard: Othyus Jeffers*, Iowa Energy
Forward: Tony Gaffney, Utah Flash
Forward: Larry Owens*, Tulsa 66ers
Center: Chris Johnson*, Dakota Wizards
Center: Sean Williams, Texas Legends

2010-11 NBA D-LEAGUE ALL-DEFENSIVE SECOND TEAM

Guard: Cedric Jackson, Idaho Stampede
Guard: Mario West*, Maine Red Claws
Forward: Ivan Johnson, Erie BayHawks
Forward: Ronald Dupree, Utah Flash
Center: Marcus Cousin#, Austin Toros / Rio Grande Valley Vipers

*Currently on an NBA roster.
#On assignment from an NBA team.