2014 Summer League Roster Breakdown
Among this year’s Wolves Summer League roster, there are quite a few familiar faces, and even more unfamiliar ones. Here’s a breakdown of each member of the 2014 Summer League roster and a little bit of background on their basketball careers.
LaRon Dendy (F Ferro-ZNTU-Ukraine)
Dendy came out of Middle Tennessee State in 2012, but was not taken in the NBA Draft. Since that year, he has been playing various places around Europe, most recently for the Ukranian Basketball Super League team Ferro-ZNTU. At Ferro-ZNTU last season, he averaged 14.5 points per game, 8.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks over 18 games. During college, he played one season for Middle Tennessee State—after stints at Indian Hills Community College and Iowa State—where he was named the Sun Belt Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Year. At Middle Tennessee State, he averaged 14.6 points per game, 7.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks.
Mamadi Diane (F Boulogne-France)
Diane comes from the French Pro B league where he plays for Boulogne. In his nine games with the club, he averaged 9.1 points per game, 2.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists. Before going to Europe, Diane played for the University of Virginia for four years. In Europe, he has played for Spain’s CB Penas Huesca, Slovakia’s Edymax SPU Nitra, Lativia’s BK Ventspils and then again in Spain for UCAM Murcia.
Gorgui Dieng (F/C Minnesota Timberwolves)
Wolves fans know Dieng, as he has been a member of the team for over a year now. He was thrown into the fire in the middle of the 2013-14 season when Nikola Pekovic was suffering through an injury. He filled in to the best of his abilities, and only improved as the season went on.
Dieng was selected out of Louisville by the Wolves with the 21st pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. As a rookie, Dieng received more and more playing time throughout the course of his first season. In the month of March, after an impressive set of games, Dieng was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month. Over the team’s final 18 games, he averaged 12 points per game, 11.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. Also during that stretch, he had nine double-doubles.
At Louisville, he was named Big East Defensive Player of the Year in his final season with the Cardinals, averaging 9.8 points per game, 9.4 rebounds and 31.1 minutes in that year.
Kyrylo Fensenko (C Canton Charge NBDL)
Fensenko comes from the NBA D-League after spending five seasons in the NBA. In the D-League, he played for Delaware and Canton, where, between the two clubs, he played in 25 games and averaged 9.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.3 points per game. Prior to his D-League move, Fensenko was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 38th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. He was traded to the Utah Jazz on draft day, and spent four seasons with the Jazz, playing in 132 games. At the end of the 2011-12 season he was signed by the Indiana Pacers, and over three games averaged 2.7 points and 3.0 boards.
Brady Heslip (G Baylor)
Heslip left Baylor after one of the best collegiate careers in school history. He ranked 20th in career points—finishing with 1,140—and had the highest 3-point shooting percentage in school history. He not only made history at Baylor, but also within the greater Big 12 conference. Heslip’s 3-point shooting percentage ranks third in conference history, and during his senior season he made 118 shots behind the arch, tying him for the second-best number in Big 12 history. He is a sharpshooter and will look to make an impact off the wing for the Wolves during Summer League.
Dennis Horner (F Bakersfield Jam NBDL)
Horner has had a three-year career in the NBA D-League, playing for the Springfield Armor and Bakersfield Jam. He played for the Jam last season and averaged 14.1 points per game, 6.9 rebounds and played in 47 games with the team. Horner also played for a season in the NBA following the lockout in 2011. He played for eight games with the New Jersey Nets, and during that time averaged 0.6 points per game and 0.6 boards.
Matt Janning (G Montepaschi-Italy)
Janning, who played college-ball at Northeastern and came out for the 2010 NBA Draft, has been playing in Europe for the past three years. He went undrafted in 2010, and since has played in the NBA D-League for a season with the Maine Red Claws and Rio Grande Valley, and seasons in Italy and Croatia. In his last season with Montepaschi in Italy, Janning averaged 8.6 points per game, 3.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists. During his college career, he finished fourth in school history with 1,836 career points and received All-CAA First-Team honors in 2009 and 2010. Playing with the Wolves for Summer League is like coming home for Janning, who is originally from Watertown, Minn.
D.J. Kennedy (G Hapoel Holon-Israel)
Kennedy came to the NBA after four years at St. John’s University and a season with the Erie BayHawks of the NBA D-League. He played two games with the Cleveland Cavaliers and averaged 6 points with 3.5 rebounds per game. In his season at Erie, Kennedy averaged 15.7 points per game, 7.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists. He spent last year, the 2013-14 season, with the BCM Gravelines in France’s Ligue Nationale de Basket Pro A, and recently signed with Hapoel Holon in the Israel Basketball Super League.
Zach LaVine (G UCLA)
LaVine is one of the members of this year’s Summer League squad that has the most pressure and expectation following him around. After being taken by the Wolves with the 13th pick in this year’s NBA Draft, LaVine has already become a big name around the Twin Cities.
He started one game at UCLA, and he came into the 2014 NBA Draft after only one season with the Bruins. During that season, he averaged 9.4 points per game, 2.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists. In a draft-day press conference, Flip Saunders cited his athleticism and ability to get up and down the floor as they type of assets he was looking for in a first-round draft pick.
Saunders called LaVine a human highlight reel and, with a little hard work, he could become a solid one-two combo guard for the Wolves in the near future. Summer League should help him gain more experience, especially playing against NBA-caliber talent.
Jordan Morgan (C Michigan)
Morgan, a teammate of Wolves second-round draft pick Glenn Robinson III at the University of Michigan, had a long career with the Wolverines. He played in 142 games at Michigan—starting 122 of them—which set a school record for most games played. During that time, he averaged 6.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. Morgan was a member of the 2013 Michigan team that reached the NCAA national title game as well as the 2014 squad that went to the Elite Eight.
Shabazz Muhammad (G/F Minnesota Timberwolves)
Muhammad has spent a year with the Wolves already, coming off the bench in 37 of the team’s games last season. During that time, he averaged 3.9 points per game, 1.4 rebounds and nearly eight minutes on the court. He shot a nice 46 percent from the floor, and the Wolves coaching staff asked him to trim down a bit this offseason to help him get up and down the floor faster so that he can get more shots.
Muhammad should be in the starting lineup in his second year playing at Summer League, and look for him to take plenty of shots and work on his drive to the hoop with LaVine running much of the point.
Glenn Robinson III (F Michigan)
Robinson III comes to the Wolves from the University of Michigan. He was the 40th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft this season, and Saunders said he was selected, like LaVine, to bring more athleticism and quickness to the squad. He played two seasons for Michigan, where he started every game and was a member of the 2013 and 2014 teams that made long runs through the NCAA tournament. During college he averaged 12 points per game, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists.
Many people recognize Robinson III thanks to his father, Glenn Robinson, who had an illustrious career in the NBA. He was the first overall draft pick in the 1994 Draft and played for 11 years in the NBA.
Robinson III said after the draft that being taken in the second round gave him a chip on his shoulder, and something to prove heading into this season. And that all starts with his first Summer League games with the Wolves.
Alexey Shved (G Minnesota Timberwolves)
Shved is entering his third season with the Wolves, after he was signed by the team before the 2012-13 season. Through his first two years with Minnesota, he has averaged 6.5 points per game and 2.5 assists. His production dropped off a bit last season after great success as a rookie—ranking second among rookies in assists per game and fifth in scoring.
Saunders said that the Wolves were looking for Shved to improve his stamina, and that he’ll be participating in Summer League to get some extra practice and game reps.
Markel Starks (G Georgetown)
Starks came out of Georgetown this year after playing his senior season with the Hoyas. During that season, he averaged 17.3 points per game (second on the team), 4.1 assists per game (leading the team), and made 57 3-point field goals (second on the team). Starks was named to the All-Big East First Team as a senior, and he finished his career at Georgetown ranked fifth in school history with 165 made 3-point shots in his four years there.
**Chase Budinger has been practicing with the team this week and will travel with the Wolves to Las Vegas. Saunders said Tuesday, though, that it is unknown whether he will get time in games or primarily practice with the squad.