Walker Russell shares the wealth
Stepping Up

Walker Russell, Jr. Ė The NBA D-Leagueís Don of Dish did what he does best on Monday, scoring 19 points with 19 assists in a dynamic day of distribution. Also, itís probably best if you imagine the last line read by Walt Clyde Frazier.

Jarrid Famous, Darnell Lazare and Sadiel Rojas -- The trio of Mad Ants also came away with big nights, as Famous showed why he's viewed as one of the league's best big men with a 20-point, 9-rebound effort; Lazare showed why the Pistons liked him enough to invite him to camp with an 18-point, 12-rebound double-double; and the lightning-quick Rojas came off the bench to score 16 points with eight boards.

A Step Back

Renaldo Major, Adam Koch -- The two Bakersfield prospects went a combined 6-for-23 from the floor, although Koch did pull down 10 rebounds and Major had a stretch that showcased his nearly unparalleled versatility: in one sequence, he cruised in for a layup, then intercepted a pass on the other end and finished the play on the other endÖthen came back and drew a charge.
The two highest-ranking officers in the NBA D-League share their thoughts with NBA TV at the eighth annual Showcase
The Showcase is as much about who's on the court as it is about who's sitting next to it -- in the first edition of our series, we check in with the Warriors' assistant GM

Over the summer, the Warriors promoted video guru Travis Schlenk -- the brains behind a number of NBA D-League acquisitions over the years, including Dorell Wright -- to the role of assistant General Manager/director of player personnel. And, true to his roots, Schlenk was sitting courtside during the first day of the NBA D-League Showcase on Monday, along with scouts and executives representing all 30 NBA teams.

Kevin Scheitrum, NBADLeague.com: Do you come into the Showcase knowing a couple guys you want to focus on, or do you try to keep more of an open mind and see whatís out there?

Travis Schlenk, Golden State Warriors: This yearís a little bit different for myself than other years, because of the labor situation we had in the NBA. Normally when I come to Showcase, Iíve seen every team play once or twice before I get there, so I have an idea of two or three guys I want to focus in on for possible call-ups. This year, with free agency starting in December, the trips I had planned to watch guys play in the D-League I had to cancel, so this is the first time Iíve seen a lot of these guys.

I donít have it quite narrowed down, so itís pretty much about looking at people for the first time.

NBADLeague.com: As far as the talent level, have you noticed an upgrade, or is this pretty much par for the course based on what youíve seen the past couple years?

Schlenk: The one thing Iíve noticed this year that I think is up from past years are the guys on assignment. Thatís nice, every time you get a chance to see the NBAís young guys come down and play. You donít get a chance to see them in NBA games, so thatís up a little bit this year.

NBADLeague.com: One of the things you always hear about scouts and executives at Showcase is that teams already have their scorers, so they come here looking for role players. Is that true for you guys, or would a player like, say, Brandon Costner, be an appealing type of player?

Schlenk: Well, anytime you get a big guy that can make shots, thatís appealing, but generally what guys are saying when they say that is youíre not gonna come out of the NBA D-League and be a star in the NBA. Youíre gonna be a role player, and if you get into the rotation thatís great, but a lot of times you look at guys that are gonna be No. 8 through 12 or 8 through 15 on your roster. So character plays a big part. The last thing you want to do is call up a guy thatís not gonna play a lot of minutes for you and have him be a problem on the bench. The characters of players is something we really look into.

NBADLeague.com: You guys saw a lot of [Dakota forward Edwin] Ubiles during camp. Is he somebody you still have your eye on?

Schlenk: Oh yeah. I was in Rio Grande last Friday to watch Dakota play RGV, and he had a good game there. I think he had 32 there and then I think he followed it up with 38 the next night. We drafted him in the first round Ė the Dakota Wizards Ė and we brought him to training camp with us as a player we like. We think heís got a chance. Heís got good size, good athleticism, and like a lot of guys here he just has a few things he needs to work on. He just needs a chance.

NBADLeague.com: Is there any type of player youíre looking for, in terms of a mold? A rebounder? A guy who can run in transition?

Schlenk: Not really Ė weíre just coming in here looking for a guy we think has a chance. Thereís not one spot in particular where weíre coming in saying we have to fill this spot. Right now, like I said, this is the first time Iíve had the opportunity to see a lot of these guys, so weíre pretty open-minded.

NBADLeague.com: Mike James really impressed a lot of people this morning with the way he played, looking like a 26-year-old instead of a 36-year-old. When you come to something like this, is there an age limit where you, as an evaluator say, Ďno matter how good you are, we might not pull the trigger because youíre not really a long-term prospectí?

Schlenk: Well, no, youíve already seen Jamaal Tinsley get called-up by Utah this year, and a lot of times, even for a reserve role, coaches are going to have a lot more trust and faith in a veteran than a young guy who maybe doesnít have much experience. It depends on what the teamís looking for. In the Utah situation, they wanted a point guard that could go into the game and control the game for them, so obviously a veteran like Jamaal makes a lot of sense.

But youíll see other guys get called up this year where teams see potential in him, so theyíll call him up for their coaches to work with him as a project thinking maybe he can help the team next year or years down the road.

The two highest-ranking officers in the NBA D-League share their thoughts with NBA TV at the eighth annual Showcase
After another huge scoring effort, the D-Fenders' star forward talks to the media
The D-Fenders' big man scores a game-high 29 points to pace the D-Fenders to a win

Name In Lights

Through the first 17 minutes of play on Monday, Brandon Costner had 15 points in 11 minutes, hadnít missed a field goal and only bricked a free throw when a fan was making Field of Dreams and The Postman references from the bleachers. He finished with 29 points to lead all scorers, getting buckets inside and outside at will during certain stretches.

However (isn't there always one?), he did have only three rebounds, preferring to spend his time on the perimeter instead of using his big frame to battle for boards. Still, he had a brilliant day as a scorer, and that does, in fact, count for something.

Stepping Up

Zach Andrews Ė Andrews wonít steal the spotlight from Brandon Costner, Elijah Millsap, Gerald Green, Orien Greene or any of the other members of LAís star brigade, but he will help them do their jobs. Like former NBA D-Leaguer Ivan Johnson did for the Hawks last week, Andrews threw his body around the lane, out-muscling and out-hustling everyone else to grab a game-high 12 rebounds.

Point of Order

Springfield star point guard JamesOn Curry led all Springfield players in scoring, scoring 19 points to go along with a team-high eight assists. But he struggled from the field, going only 5-for-18 over 43 minutes.

Unearthing a Gem

Courtney Fortsonís stat line didnít turn any heads, but he just kept doing what he has done all year Ė making the D-Fenders better every time heís on the floor.

Courtesy of Sam Farber:

While Fortson is a little undersized defensively, his positive impact has been felt by the D-Fenders so far this year. When he is on the floor, the D-Fenders OffRtg (pts per 100 poss) increases from 103.5 to nearly 110. Also, they move the ball better with nearly 60% of FGM assisted vs. 55% when he's off the floor. Also they average 4 fewer TO per 100 possessions when Fortson is running the point. I think he could bring his energy and offensive prowess to an NBA bench at some point.

With today's first two games on NBA TV, viewers around the world can chat live on NBADLeague.com!
To add your voice to the conversation, tweet with hashtag #showcase to have your tweets appear in our live chat!

Also, tune in at the start of the third quarter of Monday's second game (between the Springfield Armor and the L.A. D-Fenders, tipping at 3:45 p.m. ET) to chat with NBADLeague.com writers Kevin Scheitrum and Sam Farber to get their views from courtside!

Several NBA D-League players re-inventing the definition of 'prospect'
The eighth annual Showcase has suddenly become the place to rediscover talent, writes NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper. Ex-NBA veteran big men Greg Ostertag and Mikki Moore are scheduled to be there, hoping to show the NBA they still belong, as will former NBA frontcourt players Ricky Davis, Mike James, Willie Warren, Mardy Collins and others.

The former NBA star shone brightest in Game 1

Biggest Leap

- Mike James: The former NBA regular, who started 50 games for the Wizards in 2008-09, was by far the biggest story of the game. He not only led Erie in scoring and assists (23 and 5, respectively), but led all scorers in a game that featured three NBA assignments (Idahoís Luke Babbitt, Julian Stone and Armon Johnson). James turns 36 in June, but on Monday, he played like the guy who starred for the Raptors in 2005-06. When we release the updated Prospect Watch tonight, youíll see his name.

A Step Back

- Chris Daniels: Not only did Erie's big man get into foul trouble early (a problem of late), picking up his third foul early in the second quarter, he looked a step behind the play all day. He did score 19 points, but hauled down only six rebounds. His feet looked slow, and although he made two open 3-pointers, he didnít use his body effectively enough inside to create his own shot. He did make some big late free throws, however.

The Assignments

- Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson didnít disappoint, as the Portland Trail Blazersí pair of NBA D-League assignments combined for 34 points. Babbitt cooled off after scoring 10 points in the first quarter, but they both looked poised and collected.
The defending NBA D-League MVP will debut at Showcase

The defending NBA D-League Champions Iowa Energy have officially re-signed reigning league MVP Curtis Stinson. The 6í3Ē point guard most recently played in Slovenia prior to his return to the Energy, and will return to the team during the 2012 NBA D-League Showcase.

Read the full story here!
Idaho's Seth Tarver has a secret admirer
Idaho Stampede second-year guard Seth Tarver (Oregon State) had a pretty quiet first half, as the Performer of the Month finalist scored only three points with one assist. However, we have a feeling that whoever wrote his bio on Wikipedia won't be deterred:

Seth Tarver (born July 1, 1988 in Santa Maria, California) is an American professional basketball player currently playing for the Idaho Stampede of the NBA's development league, the NBA D-League. He is widely known for his beautiful smile, and Greek-god like body.

Read the full Wikipedia page here. Better yet, check out his official bio page.
Armon Johnson cans the three right before the first-quarter bell
After 24 minutes, the two Trail Blazers on assignment with the Idaho Stampede have looked every bit the NBA players they are.

Going into the half, Luke Babbitt (11 points) and Armon Johnson (10) leading the Stampede in scoring, including this buzzer-beating there at the end of the first quarter by Johnson.

The Top 15 Prospects to know...at least for now

The NBA D-League's goal, above all else, is to get its players to the next level. And there's no better opportunity for advancement than the NBA D-League Showcase.

Never before has the league gone into Showcase week with as much across-the-board, NBA-ready talent as it has now. Never before has the link between NBA rosters and the NBA D-League been stronger. And what that all means is that we could be primed for a string of GATORADE call-ups in our immediate future. To get you ready for Monday's games, these are our picks for the top 15 prospects.

Your one-sheeter on the biggest event on the NBA D-League calendar
What is a Prospect after all? How do assignments work, and how many of them are there? Are the scouts looking for scorers or role players?

Have no fear...

Get the NBA D-League Showcase Cheat Sheet Here | Or read/print as PDF
Previous Entries
A day-by-day breakdown of our coverage from the NBA D-League's premier event

2012 Showcase Schedule

Monday, Jan. 9, 2012
Erie 103, Idaho 101 - Game Info | Highlights
L.A. 97, Springfield 82 - Game Info | Highlights
Ft. Wayne 100, Bakersfield 96 - Game Info | Highlights
Reno 116, Rio Grade Valley 99 - Game Info | Highlights
Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012
Maine 98, Sioux Falls 92 - Game Info | Highlights
Austin 111, Erie 88 - Game Info | Highlights
Texas 94, Tulsa 86 -- Game Info | Highlights
Canton 99, Dakota 94 -- Game Info | Highlights
Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012
Los Angeles 106, Dakota 94 -- Game Info | Highlights
Bakersfield 113, Idaho 98 -- Game Info | Highlights
Texas 98, Sioux Falls 95 -- Game Info | Highlights
Reno 107, Iowa 72 -- Game Info | Highlights
Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012
Austin @ Dakota10 a.m.NBA TV
Tulsa @ Ft. Wayne12:45 p.m.NBA TV
RGV @ Springfield3:30 p.m. Futurecast
Canton @ Iowa7 p.m. Futurecast
FULL SCHEDULE *All times local (Pacific)

Names to Know

No other event on Earth brings together as many scouts, general managers and bona fide NBA Prospects as the NBA D-League Showcase. Before action tips Monday, get acquainted with these names.