The ACC Fan’s Guide To The D-League DraftPosted by KCarpenter on November 4th, 2011
We are almost there, but until the college basketball season starts, let’s take a little bit of time and consider what some past ACC players will be doing in America’s premier professional basketball league. The NBA? Oh, no, don’t be silly, the mere prospect of an NBA season is looking grimmer and grimmer. Instead I am talking about the NBA Development League, which held it’s draft Wednesday night. While the NBA players are locked out, the D-League players are ready to play their full schedule. A couple of guys who played in the ACC last season were drafted and I figured since basketball junkies can’t get enough hoops, it would be worth taking a look at the guys who will be playing in what is currently the top professional basketball league in America.
The first ACC player to be selected in the draft was Mustapha Farrakhan, the skilled guard from Virginia, selected 13th in the first round by the Bakersfield Jam. The Jam also includes two Miami players, Adrian Thomas, who got the training camp invite after a strong showing in open tryouts, and Anthony Harris, now a D-League veteran and former point guard for the Hurricanes. The Jam also returns the 2010 D-League MVP, Brian Butch (formerly of Wisconsin), and seem poised to make some noise in the league.
There weren’t any other ACC players selected in the draft until the final pick of the third round, when the Springfield Armor selected Dennis Horner of North Carolina State. Horner, while not an obvious standout at NC State is the kind of player that often gets picked in the draft. The combination of height and shooting ability is always needed in the NBA and the potential to develop Horner into a capable NBA small forward or a hybrid stretch-forward is intriguing to teams like the Armor. Last year, the Armor employed two Wake Forest alumni, Chas McFarland and L.D. Williams, who took home the D-League Slam Dunk trophy before opting to finish the rest of his season overseas. Interestingly, the Armor is one of two D-League teams that functions closer to an MLB-style farm team. The Armor has an exclusive affiliation with the New Jersey Nets, meaning that if Horner makes a name for himself, he could end up suiting up with Deron Williams and Brook Lopez in Jersey.
The final ACC player selected in this year’s draft was Adrian Bowie of Maryland. He was picked tenth in the sixth round by the Erie BayHawks. At this point in the draft, the prospects selected are almost exclusively projects. Looking at Bowie’s mostly unremarkable stint at the Maryland, I can only guess that the BayHawks were attracted to him because of his demonstrated yet underutilized ability to make three-point shots as well as his talent to get rebounds from the guard position. If these abilities can be honed and improved, it’s not inconceivable that a team would be able to use Bowie as a combo-guard off the bench.
The Development League takes a lot of flak from people who imagine a ragtag band of NBA castoffs playing in not so exotic locales like Fort Wayne, Indiana and Boise, Idaho. Despite it’s thoroughly unglamorous reputation, the league is filled with skilled players and high quality basketball. In some ways, following the D-League should be fairly simple for college fans. While NBA players are drafted largely based on raw potential and upside, and the European leagues are filled with names that are simply unfamiliar to most American basketball fans, the D-League is comprised almost exclusively of top-flight college players who have proven themselves at the collegiate level and now want to demonstrate they are ready to take the next step. So if you need more basketball and want to see hungry former ACC players playing for a shot at the big show, give the D-League a try this year — it may be the only way to watch an ACC alumnus take the floor.