D-League Special: Pac-12 Players

Posted by Kevin Danna on November 21st, 2014

Kevin Danna is a broadcaster for the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA’s Development League.

Curious whatever happened to that dude who killed it in college but you knew wouldn’t be able to translate his success at the NBA level, at least not right away? He’s probably in the D-League, the NBA’s 18-team minor league that is home to both experimental rules and very experimental styles of play (the Reno Bighorns forced 39 turnovers in an exhibition game this season… and lost 158-135). At the moment, as far as I can tell (because rosters are always changing in this league with guys coming and going to and from Europe, the Phillippines, China and, of course, the NBA), there are 19 D-League players who have Pac-12 experience, four who have played a game on assignment from their NBA club, and one more who was in a D-League training camp before getting the call upstairs.

A Surprise NBA First Round Pick This June, Josh Huestis Is Cutting His Teeth In The D-League (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

A Surprise NBA First Round Pick This June, Josh Huestis Is Cutting His Teeth In The D-League (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Probably the most intriguing Pac-12 D-League case is Josh Huestis, who was a first-round draft choice of the Oklahoma City Thunder last June. Instead of signing his rookie deal with the Thunder, who had its roster spots more or less filled, Huestis agreed to spend a season in the D-League and is thought to be the first “domestic draft and stash” in NBA history. Through a couple of games in the 2014-15 D-League season, Huestis is averaging 7.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game for the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder’s D-League affiliate. There’s a little more Pac-12 love in OKC, as former Golden Bear Richard Solomon is a starter for the Blue and Arizona’s Grant Jerrett has spent some time on assignment there as well.

Other Pac-12ers who have spent time on assignment in the D-League this year include Stanford’s Dwight Powell, UCLA’s Jordan Adams and Oregon State’s Eric Moreland. Adams’ lone D-League game was an exhibition game and he has since been recalled to the Grizzlies, but there is the definite possibility with how well Memphis is playing that Adams could find himself in an Iowa Energy uniform again. Multiple assignments and recalls are the norm.

Powell and Moreland, on the other hand, figure to spend a lot of their rookie seasons in the D-League. Powell dominated in his first regular-season D-League game, exploding for 21 points and 17 rebounds for the Maine Red Claws, the little brothers of the Boston Celtics. It has been a busy post-Stanford career already for Powell, who was drafted by Charlotte and traded to Cleveland on draft day before being shipped off to the Celts. Moreland, signed as an undrafted rookie by the Kings, has been in Reno since the Bighorns opened training camp. Moreland has posted averages of 15 points, 13 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game for the Bighorns, but Reno plays at an absolutely ridiculous pace of 124.66 possessions per 48 minutes (not a misprint), so his numbers are probably at least a little inflated (the Bighorns run NCAA Division III Grinnell’s system, famous for a kid dropping 138 in a game a couple of years back).

UCLA Bruins David Wear and Alfred Aboya are also in Reno alongside Oregon’s Tajuan Porter. Reno’s offense is perfect for Porter, who dropped 24 in an exhibition game but has struggled a bit in the regular season. Wear has looked really good for Reno, while believe it or not, Aboya is shooting threes after working on it during the offseason (without much success thus far, though).

Former Bruin (and New Mexico Lobo) Drew Gordon has already received a call-up to the Philadelphia 76ers (and had the best plus-minus for the Sixers in that disgraceful 53-point loss to Dallas last week), and perhaps the guy next in line for an NBA deal is the Iowa Energy’s Patrick Christopher. Going back to last season, Christopher has scored at least 20 points in seven consecutive D-League games and averaged 33.7 points per game in three playoff contests for the Energy last season. This newfound partnership between Iowa and the Memphis Grizzlies has been a boon to Christopher’s professional career, as he spent training camp with the Grizzlies and made it through most of the preseason until being cut right before the start of the regular season.

If Christopher isn’t the next Pac-12er to get a ring from an NBA club, then it could be Arizona State’s Carrick Felix. A casualty in the Cavs’ quest for Kevin Love, Felix was shipped from Cleveland to Utah and was unable to crack the Jazz’s opening-day roster. As such, he became the No. 4 pick in the D-League draft in November and is doing a little bit of everything for the Santa Cruz Warriors with averages of 11 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, a steal and a block per game through two contests. Felix also spent nine games on assignment with the Canton Charge (Cleveland’s D-League team) last season, so he is no stranger to the D-League. Christopher’s and Felix’s teams coincidentally met last Saturday night, and the two Pac-12 alums jawed at each other back and forth all game long. Christopher nailed a deep late-clock three-pointer in Felix’s face to tie the game up down the stretch, helping his Energy win, 102-100.

Here’s a “full” list of D-League players with Pac-12 experience. This list could change tomorrow, so take it for what it’s worth.

Player Pac-12 School D-League Team
Malcolm Lee UCLA Delaware 87ers
Drew Gordon UCLA Delaware 87ers (called up to Philadelphia 76ers)
Victor Rudd Arizona State Delaware 87ers
DJ Seeley Cal Delaware 87ers
Marcus Simmons USC Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Renaldo Woolridge USC Grand Rapids Drive
Aaron Dotson Utah Idaho Stampede
Patrick Christopher Cal Iowa Energy
Jordan Adams UCLA Iowa Energy (assigned from Memphis, since recalled to Grizzlies)
Jabari Brown Oregon Los Angeles D-Fenders
Josiah Turner Arizona Los Angeles D-Fenders
Jason Calliste Oregon Maine Red Claws
Dwight Powell Stanford Maine Red Claws (assigned from Boston)
Omari Johnson Oregon State Maine Red Claws
Josh Huestis Stanford Oklahoma City Blue
Richard Solomon Cal Oklahoma City Blue
Grant Jerrett Arizona Oklahoma City Blue (on assignment from Thunder)
Alfred Aboya UCLA Reno Bighorns
Eric Moreland Oregon State Reno Bighorns (assigned from Sacramento)
David Wear UCLA Reno Bighorns
Tajuan Porter Oregon Reno Bighorns
Carrick Felix Arizona State Santa Cruz Warriors
Larry Drew II UCLA Sioux Falls Skyforce
Jamil Wilson Oregon Bakersfield Jam


Last year, four different Pac-12ers – Dewayne Dedmon, Jorge Gutierrez, Mustafa Shakur and Grant Jerrett – earned NBA call-ups from the D-League.

AMurawa (999 Posts)

Andrew Murawa Likes Basketball.

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *