Prospect Watch 2012-13: Week Four

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: Top 5 Surprises (So Far) | Last Week's Big Board | Top 10 Prospect Performances of the Weekend
1
Chris
Forward | 6-7, 210 | Affiliate Player
The days are getting shorter. Taxes are still due in April. Daniel Day-Lewis is about to win an Oscar. And, with a league-leading 24.4points per game to go along with 5.4 boards and 4.1 assists, the Hyphenator remains the No. 1 Prospect.
Last Week: No. 1
2
Chris
Wright
Forward | 6-8, 225 | Returning
Pure brawn and bounce, the one-time YouTube king of college basketball's rounded out his game over his 12 months as a professional player (spanning 12 games in the NBA D-League and 24 with the Golden State Warriors in 2011-12, and seven with Maine this year), going for 21.3 points, 9.1 boards, 2 steals and 1.5 blocks a game this year. He needs to improve his 3-point game (from nonexistence) so he can stretch defenses, but as a defender himself, he's capable of making anybody from 2-guards to mid-sized forwards look like DNP's.
Last Week: No.2
3
Ben
Uzoh
Guard | 6-3, 205 | Returning Player
This might be as high as Uzoh gets on this list this year. After reportedly working out for the Wizards last week (and finishing as the weekend's Top Performer), he could be in the NBA by the time the next edition rolls out. Outside of shaky outside shooting, he's performed at an NBA level all season long in Springfield, looking like the player that gave the Raptors a 20-minute burst of potency in the season's final stretch last year. Uzoh always ranked as the No. 1 defensive point guard in the league in 2012-13, but his offensive strides (6 assists per game this year, compared to just 3.9 apg in 2011-12) could make him more than just a role player in The Association.
Last Week: No. 6
4
Andrew
Goudelock
Guard | 6-3, 200 | Drafted
Goudelock's Prospect status, like marriage or Homeland fandom lately, comes for better or worse. Richer or poorer. In makes and misses. A player with the potential to score 15-20 a night in the NBA, nobody has a higher production upside in the NBA D-League. But. He's still shooting less than 40 percent on the year, after a 9-for-16, 29-point night against Tulsa gave way to a combined 10-for-32 performance in his next two games.
Last Week: No. 3
5
Jarvis
Varnado
Forward | 6-9, 210 | Affiliate Player
The first step back. A small one, sure, but a break in the jolting upward momentum Varnado gathered in his first two weeks. After shot-swatting his way to the No. 4 spot on the list last week, Varnado falls a spot this time around after relying a little too much on those long arms and not enough on his feet. He still scored with efficiency last week (15-for-29), but only averaged 6.3 rebounds a game and limited his minutes because of foul trouble. The words that come attached to Call-Ups go like this: ‘high motor,' ‘high-energy,' ‘active.' Sometimes, Varnado looks content to rely on ‘gifted.'
Last Week: No. 4
6
Shelvin
Mack
Guard | 6-3, 215 | Drafted
The reigning Performer of the Week gets his first concrete piece of positive feedback since, probably, springtime. Mack, who backed up John Wall in 2011-12, could have been the starting point guard in Washington if not for some uninspired hoops between Summer League and training camp – which is why he finds himself on an extended audition in the NBA D-League. But, at this rate, he'll get back to the bigs soon, after an average of 22.3 points, 7.3 assists (albeit with 4.3 turnovers), 4.7 rebounds and 41.3 minutes this week showed how much the hard-charging Butler grad can impact the game from the point.
Last Week: No. 7
7
JaJuan
Johnson
Forward | 6-10, 220 | Drafted
Johnson started slow and fell from the No. 1 spot, but he's started to turn things around. He didn't record any seven- or five-block games this week (as he did last time around), but the 2011 NBA first-round pick did post an 18-point, 8-board, 2-block night against Springfield (despite fouling out in 36 minutes). Consistency will pave Johnson's road back to the NBA. But right now, it's still rocky going.
Last Week: No. 5
8
Travis
Leslie
Guard | 6-4, 205 | Drafted
What was it Bill Russell said? You're never as good as you are when you're at your best and never as bad as you are at your worst? Let's throw out Leslie's best game this week (an iPhone-efficient, 10-for-14 night with 21 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks in just 29 minutes) and his worst game (5-for-14, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals) and you're left with the middle: a 21-point, 14-rebound night that should tell a pretty clear story about how hard the shooting guard's scrapping to get back into the Show.
Last Week: No. 9
9
D.J.
Kennedy
Guard | 6-6, 215 | Returning Player
Kennedy just keeps getting better. What a week Erie's second-year swingman had, with the former St. John's star (and Cavaliers Summer-Leaguer) going for 21 points, 9 rebounds and 4.3 assists a night. How can you tell Kennedy's ready? On a shooting night where things weren't falling (3-for-16 against Maine on Dec. 6), he forced his way to the foul line (and went 10-for-11), created for his teammates (9 assists) and only turned the ball over once in 39 minutes. At 6-foot-6, he does need to develop more reliability from long-distance, but he can finish in traffic and draw contact as well as any guard in the NBA D-League right now. .
Last Week: No. 10
10
Justin
Harper
Forward | 6-10, 225 | Drafted
Harper suffered at the hands of two Portland assignments this week, as Victor Claver and Will Barton edged out his minutes. They didn't, however, take away his 6-foot-10 length or his ability to can any open look from the outside. He's worked harder to grab more rebounds, said coach Will Voigt – a trait that keeps the former Orlando Magic big in the Top 10 despite some early shooting woes.
Last Week: No. 8
11
Henry
Sims
Center | 7-0, 240 | Affiliate Player
The No. 1 center Prospect coming into the season hasn't done anything to dislodge himself, but at nearly seven feet tall, he probably should rank a little higher than 25th in the NBA D-League in rebounding (8 rpg). He has made 52 percent of his shots, though, and has improved his positioning when the ball's in the air, working to improve his board scores.
Last Week: No. 11
12
Chris
Wright
Guard | 6-1, 205 | Affiliate Player
We've written a lot about Chris Wright over the past week. But not enough. It's a rare thing to see somebody so comfortable at running the point – and not fighting back every impulse to just fall back on their shooting guard skill set – in the NBA D-League. And it's something to behold. Able to hit from outside and weave his way into the lane with control, then kick the ball out to open teammates, he was a runner-up for Performer of the Week with an average of 21 points and 6 assists over two games.
Last Week: No. 19
13
Damion
James
Forward | 6-7, 225 | Affiliate Player
The shots aren't falling for James, the former Net, at the moment. Luckily, when they come down, 7.5 of them are falling into his hands per game. He's always rebounded far above his height, and his intensity on the defensive end makes his opponents vanish like crumbs in his beard.
Last Week: No. 16
14
DaJuan
Summers
Forward | 6-8, 240 | Waiver Claim
The 6-foot-8 former Georgetown big could use a few more inches, but he makes up ground with a soft stroke from the outside. After signing with the Red Claws on Dec. 3, he's averaging 13 points and 8 rebounds in 24.7 minutes, which projects to 21 points and 13 rebounds per 40.
Last Week: Unranked (Signed Dec. 3)
15
Christian
Eyenga
Forward | 6-7, 210 | Drafted
The stat sheet just gives a glimpse at what Eyenga – a 6-foot-5 coiled spring – can do. But even that's looking better lately, with the former Laker and Cavalier going for 15.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.5 blocks over his last two games, giving him 3.3 blocks a night on the year.
Last Week: No. 12
16
Justin
Dentmon
Guard | 6-0, 185 | Returning
Dentmon shot quite a bit better over his last trio of games, going 46 percent from the floor (though that number includes a 10-for-20 mark from 3-point range), but the reigning MVP's sacrificed assists and rebounds in the name of scoring. Note, though, that Dentmon's turning the ball over one fewer time per game this year than he did in his electric 2012-13 season, with 2.83 a night compared to 3.88.
Last Week: No. 15
17
Darnell
Jackson
Forward | 6-9, 253 | Affiliate Player
The veteran of 138 NBA games made more than 50 percent of his shots last week and pulled down 7.7 rebounds a night and looks to be moving better than he did in his time in the NBA .
Last Week: No. 14
18
Rick
Jackson
Forward | 6-9, 240 | Affiliate Player
The post patrolman out of Syracuse pasted himself to the boards over his last three games, grabbing 11.3 rebounds in just 25 minutes a night. Expand those stats across 40 minutes and that's 18 boards a game, along with a 73.9 shooting percent over the trio.
Last Week: No. 17
19
Micah
Downs
Forward | 6-8, 200 | Affiliate
Downs can jump. He can run. He can board. He can shoot a bit, too. The only real issue for somebody who's near the league leaders in scoring (19.9 ppg) with a line of 7.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.4 blocks is that Downs plays like one of those guys that spins in foosball. He'll score a bunch, but control ain't his forte. To his credit, though, he'll drive you clinically crazy.
Last Week: Unranked
20
Mychel
Thompson
Forward | 6-7, 215 | Returning
Thompson's going through either a shooting spell or a crisis of identity/confidence – possibly all three – at the moment, with the BayHawks' wing hitting just 32 percent of his shots. Touch fails all shooters sometimes, but Thompson isn't really rebounding (5.5 a game), creating (2.5 apg) or getting to the foul line enough to attract attention away from the clanks. Defense, however, remains an NBA-ready skill.
Last Week: No. 13
21
Courtney
Fortson
Guard | 5-11, 185 | Returning
The rims aren't smiling down on Fortson right now, either, but the shard of lightning running the point in LA keeps fashioning himself into a better and better creator. With 7.3 assists to just 1.7 turnovers a night last week, along with the peskiness of a little brother with which he plays defense, he looks like a man on his way to another Call-Up – especially when 10-days start.
Last Week: No. 21
22
Michael
Eric
Center | 6-11, 240 | Affiliate Player
Eric got himself into foul trouble -- deep foul trouble -- in all three of his games last week. But he still managed to pick up 10 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in 22.3 minutes a game.
Last Week: No. 20
23
Durrell
Summers
Guard | 6-4, 205 | Drafted
If Chris Wright's march into the Top 15 has been the surprise of the year, Summers' rise has made for one of the best stories. Once destined for a first-round selection into the NBA out of Michigan State, Summers had floundered since the start of his senior year. An injury last year knocked him out of the NBA D-League after just 14 games. But now he's back. And he's, in many ways, different. No longer content to settle for the outside shot, Summers has brought an intensity to his game – not to mention 16.2 points and 5 rebounds a night.
Last Week: No. 27
24
Andy
Rautins
Guard | 6-4, 190 | Affiliate Player
If you're only going to play 26 minutes a night, this is how you do it. Lately, with all the assignments in Tulsa, Rautins has played a similar role to what he'd be doing in the NBA. Specifically, sitting on the bench for a while before being asked to come in and hit a bunch of threes. He's done just that, firing at at 50-percent clip from behind the arc on 6.3 attempts per game.
Last Week: No. 28
25
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
26
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: Unranked
27
Walker
Russell
Guard | 6-0, 175 | Returning
The guy who spent most of last year with the Detroit Pistons makes his return to the Prospect Watch after a 29-point outpouring (despite a dramatically uncharacteristic eight turnovers) against Maine on Sunday. The league – and NBA talent evaluators – know that Russell can distribute as well as anybody in the league, but the 30-year-old veteran's hitting shots at a better rate (47.6 percent) than any other point in his career, addressing one of his needs in the hopes of forcing defenders out to him on the wing to open up the middle.
Last Week: Unranked
28
Keith
Benson
Forward | 6-11, 230 | Returning
If not for the off nights, Benson could be in the Top 15. In truth, if not for the off nights, Benson could be in the NBA. An effective shot-blocker and rebounder at the NBA level when he's engaged, Benson all but grabs a bag of popcorn when he's not. In two of his games last week, he averaged 20 points and nine boards. In the other game, he had two points and five boards in 19 minutes. The potential's there. It just can't flicker as often as it does.
Last Week: No. 22
29
Chris
Roberts
Forward | 6-4, 205 | Returning Player
The 6-foot-4 guard out of Bradley has been good for 18.6 points a game this year, teaming up with Chris Douglas-Roberts to create one of the most potent pairings (of people with and without nearly identical names) in the league, along with 6.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.7 steals a night.
Last Week: Uranked
30
Ron
Howard
Guard | 6-5, 185 | Returning
At 30 years old, Howard had to do a lot to break onto this list. And he has. Among players with five or more games, he's the league's third-leading scorer – thanks mostly to the fact that he gets to the line (11.4 times a game) more often than a bowling league. Toss in five boards and a steal and a half a night, and Howard's made himself very relevant.
Last Week: Unranked
On the Cusp
  • Garrett Temple, G, Reno
  • Dominique Sutton, G, Tulsa
  • Jarrid Famous, F, L.A.
  • Troy Hudson, G, Sioux Falls
  • Jorge Gutierrez, G, Canton
  • Demetris Nichols, F, Sioux Falls
  • Taylor Griffin, F, Santa Cruz
  • Marcus Landry, G, Reno
  • Mike Davis, F, Sioux Falls
  • Wesley Witherspoon, G, Rio Grande Valley
  • Gary Flowers, F, L.A.
  • Mickell Gladness, C, Santa Cruz
  • Stefhon Hannah, G, Santa Cruz
  • Orien Greene, G, Los Angeles
  • Sean Evans, F, Idaho
  • Willie Reed, F, Springfield
  • Mustapha Farrakhan, G, Iowa

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