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Five Reasons To Watch Springfield vs. Fort Wayne On VERSUS, Saturday 11 p.m. ET
by Matthew Brennan, NBA D-League.com
This Saturday the Fort Wayne Mad Ants host the Springfield Armor on VERSUS at 11:00 p.m. ET. Here are some reasons why you should check out Saturday's NBA D-League game.
The Evolution of Scottie Reynolds
Springfield Armor guard Scottie Reynolds has had an interesting rookie season. The Villanova All-American originally passed on an NBA training camp invite to play overseas, but then opted to return to the United States and become a first-round pick in the NBA D-League Draft. Traded to the Armor, Reynolds has been making a transition from his college role as a scoring guard to a floor general in the NBA D-League. Despite his team's struggles, Reynolds has proven that he can thrive at the point guard spot in the pros. Springfield's representative to the NBA D-League All-Star Game, Reynolds is fifth in the league with 6.0 assists per game while still showing his scoring ability with 13.2 points on .452 shooting. Reynolds also ranks eighth in the league with a 2.34 assist-to-turnover ratio. With the NBA D-League season winding down, Reynolds has definitely developed as a point guard, and time will tell if he can continue his growth and make his way onto an NBA roster.
Mr. Mad Ant Returns In Search Of Call-Up
Fort Wayne has dealt with injuries and overseas defections of key players this season, but the team is adding some offensive firepower this week with the return of team mainstay Ron Howard. An NBA D-League All-Star in 2010, Howard has appeared in all three of the Mad Ants' seasons while posting a career line of 16.3 points in 124 career games. The 6-5 Howard, who originally made the Mad Ants after attending an open tryout, had his best season last year with 20.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in 29 games. He's also appeared in NBA training camps with the Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks during his career. If he returns to his 2009-10 form, Howard should be one of the league's top scorers and a viable GATORADE Call-Up candidate over the last few weeks of the season.
Nets Rookie On Assignment
One NBA player will be in action on Saturday night in the form of New Jersey Nets rookie guard Ben Uzoh. The undrafted free agent became the second Nets player to join the Armor (Terrence Williams played for the Armor earlier in the season before being traded) when he was assigned on Tuesday. The 6-3 Uzoh has appeared in 32 games for the Nets this season, but will get a lot more playing time during a tenure with the Armor that is expected to last at least four games. Expect more Nets to head north to Springfield in the future, as New Jersey will take over Springfield's basketball operations starting next season in the NBA D-League's second hybrid-affiliation partnership.
Mad Ants On Brink Of First Postseason
The Mad Ants have enjoyed great fan support during their first three years in the NBA D-League, but they're still waiting to reward their supporters with a postseason berth. That could change this year as the Mad Ants currently have the eighth best record in the league, which would land them in the playoffs as the last team to get in. The postseason berth is far from a lock, as the Mad Ants and their 19-23 record are only a half-game ahead of Texas and Austin and 1.5 games up on Idaho for the final spot. Springfield will be looking to play spoiler and turn the tables after dropping their first six games to the Mad Ants this season before Thursday and Saturday's meetings.
More Prospects In Action
Neither the Mad Ants or the Armor have had a player called up to the NBA this season, but both squads have some talent that could makes it's way to an NBA roster. Springfield's JamesOn Curry is back for a second season with the Armor after becoming the first GATORADE Call-Up in team history last year. The NBA veteran leads the team with 16.6 points per game from the guard spot. In the paint, former UConn big man Gavin Edwards has had a solid rookie year with 11.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. Edwards, second in the BIG EAST in blocks last season, played for the Phoenix Suns during the Las Vegas Summer League. Fort Wayne's Marvin Phillips had been one of the league's top rebounders this year, checking in at fourth in the league with 9.3 boards per game, while Rod Wilmont is currently the team's leading scorer with 15.3 points per contest. Former Maine forward Darnell Lazare has established himself as an inside presence after a preseason trade to the Mad Ants. The 6-8 former LSU Tiger averages 15.2 points and 7.0 rebounds.