Collison, Thornton headline summer roster

Thursday, July 1, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

New Orleans will open its game participation in the 2010 NBA Summer League on Friday, July 9 in Las Vegas, facing Golden State at 9 p.m. Central time. Hornets-Warriors is the first of four New Orleans games that will be televised live by NBA TV.
Here is some additional information and comments from Hornets director of scouting Brian Hagen on each member of the Hornets’ roster. Hagen plays a prominent role in putting together the squad each offseason:

HORNETS VETERANS
Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton

Hagen: “We’re excited to have them working with our new coaching staff. They’re going to get a chance to get a lot of practice time in with them. That’s going to be the greatest benefit, along with playing in the games. To their credit – and this is one of the reasons why we loved them when they were coming out in the draft – they both love to play. They’re both ballers. There is not a lot of superficial stuff about them. We didn’t even have to approach them and say, ‘Hey Darren and Marcus, would you like to play summer league?’ Right after the season was over, they wanted to do it. I think it’s a credit to them, their work ethic and their love of the game.”

NBA EXPERIENCE ON OTHER TEAMS
Maurice Ager

The Michigan State shooting guard has played 78 career games in the NBA over three seasons, most recently in 2008-09 with New Jersey when he made 20 appearances. Hagen: “He’s a former first-round pick of the Dallas Mavericks. He played last season with the Maine Red Claws in the developmental league. He’s still young with a high level of potential. He worked out here in 2006, the year he came out for the draft, and we had a good opinion of him. We continue to watch guys like that – former first-round picks who maybe didn’t get the opportunity they needed to play (in the NBA). As a rookie, he went to a very deep (Dallas) team with a lot of good players.”

HORNETS SUMMER LEAGUE EXPERIENCE
Brian Cusworth

The Harvard University product will be in his second season with New Orleans’ summer squad. Hagen: “He’s a big 7-footer. He’s a sharp player – he went to Harvard – and played really well for us last year. He’s a hard worker who we really welcomed back.”

NO NBA EXPERIENCE
Armon Bassett

“He’s a guy who transferred from Indiana to the University of Ohio and had a very solid year last season. He put up 32 points in an NCAA Tournament first-round game (against Georgetown, an upset victory for the 14th-seeded Bobcats over the No. 3 Hoyas). He’s a young guy we’re going to take a look at.”

Josh Carter
“He’s a swingman from Texas A&M. We had a high opinion of him in college and felt that he was very versatile. He went overseas last season and played well. We kept an eye on him. We’re going to have a chance to really evaluate him closely in Vegas.”

Aubrey Coleman
“He led the nation in scoring (at the University of Houston) last season (25.6 points per game). He worked out for us in a real competitive workout that also included Xavier Henry, Gordon Hayward, lottery picks. I talked to his agent immediately after the workout and told him that we didn’t have a second-round pick, but that if he went undrafted, we would really like to have him on our summer league team to look at him even further. We were texting during the draft and I told his agent at about pick 50, ‘There are 10 more spots. If he doesn’t get picked, let’s sign him up for summer league.’ We got that done the night of the draft. He’s a high-level scorer. Like all of these guys who didn’t play in the NBA last season, he’s got something to work on. But Aubrey has a solid resume of really being able to put the ball in the basket.”

Nikola Dragovic
The 6-foot-9 forward just completed his four-year career at UCLA, including three seasons as a Bruins teammate of Darren Collison. Like Peja Stojakovic, Dragovic is a native of Serbia. Hagen: “We’ve obviously seen Nikola play at UCLA. It will be a good opportunity for him to show his talents to us, as well as to the rest of the league.”

Kyle Hines
“He’s a power forward from UNC Greensboro. He played overseas this past year and had a terrific year. We’ve kept up with him in Europe and we feel like he’s someone with a bright future.”

Liam Potter
The native of England averaged 9.5 points and a team-leading 8.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game at Sacred Heart University in 2009-10. Hagen: “He’s a 7-footer with potential.”

Sean Sonderleiter
“He’s a veteran big. He’s been in the D-League and had a solid year for Fort Wayne when he got the opportunity to play. He’s a rugged banger, rebounder and defender. He’ll bring a veteran presence to the lane.”

Carlos Wheeler
A New Orleans native, Wheeler attended Marion Abramson High School, before playing college ball at Campbellsville (Ky.).
“He’s a solid small forward/power forward who has had some excellent years in the D-League. We’ve had our eye on him there. He has been here in New Orleans recently, spending some time working out. We think he’ll be a good fit.”