FOUR VIPERS SELECTED TO PLAY IN EIGHTH ANNUAL NBA DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE ALL-STAR GAME
MCALLEN, Texas, February 3, 2014 – Twenty of the NBA Development League’s top prospects, including 16 who have NBA experience, have been selected to play in the eighth annual NBA D-League All-Star Game on Saturday, Feb. 15, at Sprint Arena inside NBA All-Star Jam Session at New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The game will air live on NBA TV at 3 p.m. ET.
Four Rio Grande Valley Vipers have been chosen to play on the NBA D-League Prospects Team, including Isaiah Canaan (Rio Grande Valley), Robert Covington (Rio Grande Valley), Troy Daniels (Rio Grande Valley) and Chris Johnson (Rio Grande Valley). The Prospects squad will also include Ike Diogu (Bakersfield), Devin Ebanks (Texas), Melvin Ely (Texas), Ron Howard (Fort Wayne), Othyus Jeffers (Iowa) and Jarvis Varnado (Iowa). Rio Grande Valley Vipers head coach Nevada Smith and his staff will lead the Prospects team in New Orleans. They earned the right to coach the All-Stars having had the highest winning percentage with a 19-6 record in games play through Jan. 26.
Chosen to the NBA D-League All-Star Futures team are Hilton Armstrong (Santa Cruz), Seth Curry (Santa Cruz), Dewayne Dedmon (Santa Cruz), Justin Hamilton (Sioux Falls), Manny Harris (Los Angeles), Pierre Jackson (Idaho), Kevin Jones (Canton), DeAndre Liggins (Sioux Falls), Malcolm Thomas (Los Angeles) and Chris Wright (Maine). The Futures team will be helmed by Canton Charge head coach Steve Hetzel and his staff, who earned the trip to New Orleans by virtue of winning a tie-breaker with Nate Bjorkgren and the staff of the Iowa Energy, which had the same 16-9 record through games of Jan. 26, for the League’s second-best winning percentage.
“We’re excited to bring 20 top young NBA prospects to New Orleans to compete as NBA D-League All-Stars,” said Chris Alpert, Vice President of Basketball Operations for the NBA D-League. “The NBA D-League All-Star Game is not only an excellent opportunity for the League’s bright young stars to showcase their talents, but gives basketball fans from around the country the chance to watch up-and-coming NBA players in the midst of NBA All-Star festivities.”
The field of 20 players was selected by a vote of the NBA D-League’s 17 head coaches and was divided into two teams by League officials. Players were eligible to be selected based on having played in at least half of their team’s games through Jan. 26. Each player must be on an active NBA D-League roster at the time of the NBA D-League All-Star Game in order to compete.
Eight players with NBA experience are featured on the Prospects roster, including three current NBA players: Canaan and Covington, who have played in Rio Grande Valley on assignment from the Houston Rockets, and Johnson, a member of the Boston Celtics by way of a GATORADE Call-Up. Diogu, Ebanks, Ely, Jeffers, and Varnado round out members of the Prospects team with NBA experience.
An additional eight players with NBA experience make up the Futures roster, including Harris and Thomas, currently playing for the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz, respectively. Armstrong, Curry, Dedmon, Jones, Liggins, and Wright have also logged NBA minutes.
Last season, seven of the 20 NBA D-League All-Stars who played in Houston went on to earn GATORADE Call-Ups to the NBA later in the year. Over the NBA D-League All-Star Game’s seven-year history, 87 of the 126 players have had, or subsequently earned, NBA experience.
The 2014 NBA D-League Dream Factory presented by Boost Mobile will be integrated into Saturday’s NBA D-League All-Star Game, with action beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET when the League’s sharp shooters take to the court to participate in the NBA D-League Boost Mobile Thre-Point Contest. Skills competition activities will continue during the game’s halftime break, with the NBA D-League Boost Mobile Slam Dunk Contest.
About the RGV Vipers and NBA Development League
The two-time champion Rio Grande Valley Vipers are the NBA Development League affiliate of the NBA Houston Rockets. The Vipers won the NBA Development League Championship in 2010 and 2013. In 2013, the Vipers were also named the NBA Development League Development Champions, which recognizes the team that best embodies the NBA D-League’s goals of developing NBA-caliber basketball talent via call-ups and assignments. The NBA Development League is the NBA’s official minor league, preparing players, coaches, officials, trainers, and front-office staff for the NBA while acting as the league’s research and development laboratory. Featuring 14 teams with direct affiliations to NBA franchises, the league offers professional basketball at an affordable price in a fun, family-friendly atmosphere. Thirty percent of players in the NBA at the end of the 2012-13 season boasted NBA D-League experience. In fostering the league’s connection to the community, its teams, players and staff promote health and wellness, support local needs and interests, and assist in educational development through NBA D-League Cares programs. Fans can watch all NBA D-League games on nbadleague.com.