Prospect Watch 2012-13: Week Five

With four GATORADE Call-Ups already, these are the next 30 guys lined up for trips to the game's biggest stage.
Related: Dev Report: Summers in the Winter | Last Week's Big Board | Top 10 Prospect Performances of the Weekend
1
Chris
Forward | 6-7, 210 | Affiliate Player
The obscenely gifted tend to be, by nature, a little restless. So don't hold it against CDR that his scoring's dropped off a little bit lately. Because he's done a lot more of everything else. Instead of taking 18 shots a night like he did for the first few weeks, he's down to single-digits. Meanwhile, his distribution's up -- seven assists per game in his last three, compared to 2.5 in his first four.
Last Week: No. 1
2
Ben
Uzoh
Guard | 6-3, 205 | Returning Player
Uzoh didn't have a particularly scalding week, and back-to-back 4-for-13 nights from the field won't lay to rest the doubts that he can keep defenses from packing the lane against him. That said, even though he didn't crack double-figures in scoring on Saturday against Fort Wayne, he did pull down eight rebounds and dish out eight assists (compared to only three turnovers -- only the second time in seven games that he coughed the ball up more than twice). A great number of the NBA D-League's forwards don't rebound as well as Uzoh. Almost nobody defends like he does.
Last Week: No. 3
3
Chris
Wright
Forward | 6-8, 225 | Returning
Wright, too, slowed down on the offensive end last week. Actually, in his last three, the Red Claws' star (at least among players not currently on the Boston Celtics' roster) has cracked into double-figures just once -- a 10-point night (on 5-of-11 shooting) against Erie on Sunday. A lapse in consistency has him falling a spot this week, but his five steals against Fort Wayne on Friday should serve as a reminder that, when Wright heads to the NBA, it's his defense that'll stamp the ticket.
Last Week: No. 2
4
Jarvis
Varnado
Forward | 6-9, 210 | Affiliate Player
Sure, Varnado blocked six shots against the Austin Toros on Saturday (tied for only his second-highest total of the season, two short of his octet against Springfield a few weeks ago), but two numbers should jump out from that game; 39 and 2. The first: his season-high in minutes, allowing him to pull down 12 boards (six of them on the offensive end) and play all but nine minutes in the Skyforce's loss. The second: his season-low in fouls, as JV relied less on swinging his arms at the last second -- instead of moving his feet -- to defend the rim.
Last Week: No. 5
5
Shelvin
Mack
Guard | 6-3, 215 | Drafted
The NBA D-League Performer of the Week from two weeks ago would've had a good shot to win it again, if only the Red Claws played more than one game (a loss to Erie on Sunday) over the past seven days. But in that lone game, Mack gave his best performance of the season, showing just how far he's come in his quest to turn into a full-on point guard, instead of resting on his old combo guard style from Butler. Not only did he churn out 25 points (sinking his 30th straight foul shot while he was at it), but he also handed out eight assists and accounted for a season-low two turnovers, along with nine rebounds. A more complete offensive option than Uzoh, he doesn't give up much on the defensive end. And now that he's taking care of the ball, after a very charitable run at Summer League and in training camp, he may leap him next week. Unless, of course, he makes the Big One.
Last Week: No. 6
6
Andrew
Goudelock
Guard | 6-3, 200 | Drafted
Blame this one on physics. After a week in which he put up 30.5 points across two games (on 53-percent shooting from the field and 50-percent from 3) and even nothced seven assists in a 35-point game against Austin, Goudelock probably should've stayed at No. 4. But with the way Mack and Varnado have been playing -- and because two objects, the scientists tell us, can't occupy the same space -- Goudelock hits No. 6 this week. A scorer capable of loading up buckets against NBA competition, Goudelock hasn't done a whole lot else, though, so when NBA teams go looking for players to fit specific roles off the bench (as opposed to, say, Desiganted Chucker), Mini Mamba's stock suffers a little.
Last Week: No. 4
7
Travis
Leslie
Guard | 6-4, 205 | Drafted
Leslie still needs an outside game (he's attempted just nine 3-pointers in seven games this year), but it's tough to find much else wrong with his game at the moment. Scoring 17.3 points per game, hitting at better than 54 percent from the field and rebounding like the stock market (8.7 a game, compared to just 3.2 last year), he's made a habit of making the ball come alive -- which should help redefine the perception of Leslie as a player who just leaned on his athleticism.
Last Week: No. 8
8
D.J.
Kennedy
Guard | 6-6, 215 | Returning Player
Kennedy plays like a motivational poster. He's a collection of Call-Up cliches: active. high-impact. high-motor. Nobody spreads his game across the stat sheet like the former St. John's star, who averaged 19 points, 9.5 boards and 7.5 assists in two games last week (not to mention 19.4, 9.0 and 4.8 on the season). The issue with Kennedy remains his arctic touch from outside (just 24 percent from 3-point range this year), but his explosiveness, ability to find (or create) space in the lane, nifty left-handed handle and constant spark elevate him over the usual collection of NBA D-League tweeners. .
Last Week: No. 9
9
JaJuan
Johnson
Forward | 6-10, 220 | Drafted
Nine games into the season, Johnson finally posted a game where he more than 50 percent of his shots (going 5-for-9 against Springfield on Saturday). He's having one of the top 10 defensive seasons of anyone in the NBA D-League (9.2 rebounds, 2.4 blocks per game), but that 35.2-percent clip from the field has pretty effectively smudged his work on the other side of the floor.
Last Week: No. 7
10
Chris
Wright
Guard | 6-1, 205 | Affiliate Player
Wright took 16 shots on Friday and missed 13 of them. But, with the kind of season the Iowa point guard's having, it seemed only fitting that a 3-for-16 night from the field just served to show what else he can do when his jumper's a little jumpy. In that one, a loss to Erie, he also notched seven boards, five steals and seven assists (and just two turnovers). A night later, he followed that up with 20 points, nine assists, seven boards and two steals. His turnover numbers may cause some concern (at 3.14 a night), but his assist/turnover ratio still sits at 2.35.
Last Week: No. 12
11
Arinze
Onuaku
Center | 6-9, 275 | Drafted
Of all NBA D-League players to average more than 20 minutes a game this year, only one player Terrence Jones, in his two-game assignment to RGV has pulled down more rebounds per 48 minutes than Onuaku. The former Syracuse center's grabbing 9.3 rebounds in just 20 minutes a night (which, if you're feeling generous during the holidays, would be what he'd play in the NBA) which puts him at 22.4 per 48 minutes. His shooting's improved of late, too, with Onuaku going 61.3 percent from the floor over his last three.
Last Week: No. 26
12
Henry
Sims
Center | 7-0, 240 | Affiliate Player
Sims hasn't had much trouble finishing at the rim this year, with the former Georgetown star going for 16.4 points on 50.5-percent shooting. It's just that, historically, he wasn't particularly good at what happens after a miss. But after a collegiate career that always seemed a couple rebounds a night shy of what you'd expect from a 7-footer -- not to mention a four-game stretch this year in which he averaged just 6.25 a game (!) -- Sims has hammered glass over his last three, averaging 10.6 boards and two blocks. And he's got a good chance to show the Knicks just how much he's grown, with the BayHawks practicing at the Knicks' facility this week.
Last Week: No. 11
13
Darnell
Jackson
Forward | 6-9, 253 | Affiliate Player
The veteran of 138 NBA games has looked the part lately, and rarely more than his 20-point, 11-rebound, 4-assist and 4-steal night against the D-Fenders on Dec. 15.
Last Week: No. 17
14
Damion
James
Forward | 6-7, 225 | Affiliate Player
If you're going to go 6-for-18 during a game, you might as well go 3-for-6 from long range, like James did in a 23-point, 11-rebound, 4-steal night against the Reno Bighorns -- and their many, many assignments on Dec. 10. While the former Net's shooting touch has thawed lately, he'll need a little more consistency -- especially from outside -- to crack into the Top 10.
Last Week: No. 13
15
Courtney
Fortson
Guard | 5-11, 185 | Returning
The D-Fenders' resident electrical current had a big weekend. Going off for a 27-point, 7-assist, 7.5-rebound, 3.5-steal line in the D-Fenders' two games against the Bighorns, Fortson continued to show off his growth not only as a combo guard, but as a leader on the court.
Last Week: No. 21
16
Micah
Downs
Forward | 6-8, 200 | Affiliate
Downs can play. The 6-8 forward out of Gonzaga -- and Celtics training camp invitee -- has made himself into a basically ever-present force on the court for Maine, affecting the game on both sides of the floor all year long. While Fab Melo's come along, Downs has provided a constant force on the boards and in the lane for Maine, including a 13-rebound night against the BayHawks and their two-center crew (Sims, Keith Benson) on Dec. 16.
Last Week: No. 19
17
Justin
Dentmon
Guard | 6-0, 185 | Returning
Dentmon put up 17.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg and 5 apg over the last week, but it took 17.3 shots and 4.7 turnovers a night to get there. A bottomless source of offense last year, Dentmon's production has dropped almost across the board. Expect a return to the mean. And when it happens, he'll climb this list quick.
Last Week: No. 16
18
Christian
Eyenga
Forward | 6-7, 210 | Drafted
Eyenga took some time to get going in Texas. But ever since December broke, Eyenga's looked like, well, an NBA bench-player-in-waiting. Eyenga came to the NBA D-League as a sort of extraterrestrial-level athlete who could defend like a district attorney. But now, he's showing off some other chops, too. In six games this month, he's shot worse than 50 percent only once, propping up his 8.2-rebound average over his last five games.
Last Week: No. 15
19
James
Mays
Forward | 6-9, 230 | Affiliate
Jeff Adrien's Call-Up had to be a little bittersweet for Mays. Tough, because Adrien and Mays bring nearly identical games to the floor every night (though Adrien tends to hit more of his shots). But also promising for Mays because, well, the NBA Called-Up his clone. And Mays even has an inch or two on Adrien. A worker til the whistle, Mays needs to improve his offensive efficiency and overall defense, but he's turned himself into a force in the middle, averaging 19.6 points and 9.6 boards a night.
Last Week: No. 25
20
Mychel
Thompson
Forward | 6-7, 215 | Returning
The Knicks liked Thompson -- the brother of Klay and son of NBA Legend Mychal -- enough to keep him around as an affiliate player with the BayHawks. The BayHawks like him enough to, well, keep him on the floor for pretty much the entire game. Though his stats don't shout out (and he could certainly stand to hit more than 32.6-percent of his shots from 3-point range) Thompson's quickness and length (6-foot-7) make him a constant curtain on the defensive end.
Last Week: No. 20
21
Justin
Harper
Forward | 6-10, 225 | Drafted
Wait for it. Harper's had to give away minutes lately, with Portland's assignments of Victor Claver, Will Barton and Joel Freeland chewing up big portions of the former Magic forward's court time. But, to Harper's credit, when he did get a chance to play, he delivered, going for seven boards and seven points in just 19 minutes last Friday.
Last Week: No. 10
22
Vernon
Macklin
Guard | 6-10, 227 | Waiver Claim
When Macklin came to the NBA D-League on assignment from Detroit last year, he played like somebody with a whole lot stored up. Averaging 14.5 points and 14.5 rebounds in 10 games with Fort Wayne, Macklin owned the lane. Now, after signing with the Reno Bighorns and promptly getting traded to Rio Grande Valley, he's playing in an Houston organization that's as invested in its NBA D-League team as anyone in the league.
Last Week: Unranked (Signed Dec. 18)
23
Keith
Benson
Forward | 6-11, 230 | Returning
This is the Benson that Gene Cross worked so hard to land. After slogging out to a slow start in Erie, Benson's gotten back to the form he showed during a sometimes-dominant Summer League showing, averaging 10 boards and 2.7 blocks (including a 15-board, 5-swat night against Iowa) in his last three.
Last Week: No. 28
24
Micheal
Eric
Center | 6-11, 240 | Affiliate Player
If you're feeling charitable -- and it is the season for that -- Eric's probably a year away from relevance as a scorer. Which makes his skills on the offensive glass (in addition to his two blocks a game) so important. Of Eric's 6.7 boards a night (in 20 minutes a game) this year, 2.9 of them have come on the offensive end. He might not finish a possession, but he'll certainly keep it alive.
Last Week: No. 22
25
Gary
Flowers
Forward | 6-8, 214 | Returning
Flowers debuts on the list this week not only for hammering Reno last week to the tune of 18.5 points, 8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 3.5 blocks and 3 steals in a pair of wins, but also for running out to one of the best starts of anyone in the NBA D-League. Concerns about his size (6-foot-8) have put him here, but his defensive abilities (a combined 4.6 blocks and steals a game) should get him out. Potentially soon.
Last Week: No. 21
26
Chris
Roberts
Forward | 6-4, 205 | Returning Player
Jared Cunningham's assignment has forced Roberts onto the bench in the Legends' last two games, but up to that point, few players in the NBA D-League had come close to matching the end-to-end impact that Roberts had churned out. Good for 16.2 points, 6.2 boards and 1.8 assists and steals apiece (with just 1.33 turnovers a night), the only true hole left in his game is out on the 3-point line, where he's shooting just just 34.5 percent.
Last Week: No. 29
27
Durrell
Summers
Guard | 6-4, 205 | Drafted
Far more able to get into the lane -- and far more willing to play defense and grab rebounds -- than he was during his Michigan State career, Summers has found a way to spread his contributions around, meaning that he can still make a similar impact on nights when his shot's not working (like his 18-point night against Santa Cruz last Friday) as he can when it is (like his six-rebound night while shooting 4-for-14 from the field a night later).
Last Week: No. 23
28
Andy
Rautins
Guard | 6-4, 190 | Affiliate Player
Rautins' stroke -- which had him firing at better than 50 percent from 3-point range after the season's first six games -- has iced over a bit, but the former 'Cuse marksman still presents one of the league's most unique values, with the proven ability to come into games off the bench and knock down shots at a second's notice.
Last Week: No. 24
29
Garrett
Temple
Guard | 6-5, 180 | Returning Player
Temple's put up at least six assists and 11 points in five straight games, with highs of 9 and 25, respectively. And until he went against the defensive brushfire that is Courtney Fortson over the weekend, he'd turned the ball over three or more times just once this year. At 6-foot-5 with a point guard skill set, Temple's set to scale these charts.
Last Week: Unranked
30
Tyler
Wilkerson
Guard | 6-8, 240 | Affiliate Player
Riding three straight double-doubles -- and five in his last seven games -- the former Marshall big man has been Austin's efficiency king, cranking out a 16.2-point, 8.9-rebound average in just 28.9 minutes a game this year, including a 53.8 field goal percentage. Listed at 6-foot-8 -- a size that might as well be a scarlet letter in the NBA D-League -- the Spurs training camp invitee has nonetheless made up for it in athleticism and positioning, blocking 1.6 shots a night.
Last Week: Uranked
On the Cusp
  • Elijah Millsap, F, L.A.
  • Rick Jackson, F, Austin
  • DaJuan Summers, F, Maine
  • Chris Johnson, F, Santa Cruz
  • Jerome Jordan, F, Reno Bighorns
  • Dominique Sutton, G, Tulsa
  • Jarrid Famous, F, L.A.
  • Walker Russell, G, Fort Wayne
  • Demetris Nichols, F, Sioux Falls
  • Taylor Griffin, F, Santa Cruz
  • Marcus Landry, G, Reno
  • Troy Hudson, G, Sioux Falls
  • Jorge Gutierrez, G, Canton
  • Mike Davis, F, Sioux Falls
  • Brian Butch, C, Bakersfield Jam
  • Wesley Witherspoon, G, Rio Grande Valley
  • Mickell Gladness, C, Santa Cruz
  • Stefhon Hannah, G, Santa Cruz
  • Sean Evans, F, Idaho
  • Willie Reed, F, Springfield

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