Thursday, February 03, 2011

DeShawn Sims will represent Red Claws in D-League All-Star Game

Twenty of the NBA Development League’s top prospects, including seven who have already been called up to the NBA, have been chosen to join the NBA All-Stars in Los Angeles to play in the fifth annual NBA D-League All-Star Game Presented by SonoSite on Saturday, Feb. 19, on Center Court at NBA All-Star Jam Session presented by adidas. The game will air live on NBA TV at 5 p.m. ET.

Selected to the NBA D-League All-Star East Team were Chris Johnson (Dakota Wizards), Ivan Johnson and Garrett Temple (Erie BayHawks), Walker Russell Jr. (Fort Wayne Mad Ants), Othyus Jeffers, Courtney Sims and Curtis Stinson (Iowa Energy), DeShawn Sims (Maine Red Claws), Patrick Ewing Jr. and Dexter Pittman (Sioux Falls Skyforce).

Chosen to the NBA D-League All-Star West Team, playing host to the East Team in Los Angeles, were Marcus Cousin (Austin Toros), Trey Johnson (Bakersfield Jam), Shane Edwards (New Mexico Thunderbirds), Jeff Adrien and Mustafa Shakur (Rio Grande Valley Vipers), Joe Alexander and Sean Williams (Texas Legends), Larry Owens and Zabian Dowdell (Tulsa 66ers) and Orien Greene (Utah Flash).

Tulsa 66ers head coach Nate Tibbetts and his assistant coach Dale Osbourne will coach the West, while Iowa Energy head coach Nick Nurse and his assistant coach Nate Bjorkgren will coach the East. Nurse and Bjorkgren are coaching their third consecutive All-Star Game, while Tibbetts and Osbourne are making their first All-Star Game appearance. Both coaching staffs were selected based on their teams having the highest winning percentage in their respective conferences through Feb. 1. Prior to the game, Tibbetts and Nurse will choose starting lineups for their own teams.

A combination of voting by the league’s 16 head coaches and fan balloting on was used to select the 20 NBA D-League All-Stars, 10 from each conference. Players who have been selected must be on an active NBA D-League roster to compete in the NBA D-League All-Star Game.

Seven of this year’s NBA D-League All-Stars are currently in the NBA after earning GATORADE Call-Ups this season: Zabian Dowdell (Tulsa 66ers to Phoenix Suns); Larry Owens (Tulsa 66ers to San Antonio Spurs); Mustafa Shakur (Rio Grande Valley Vipers to Washington Wizards); Chris Johnson (Dakota Wizards to Portland Trail Blazers); Garrett Temple (Erie BayHawks to Milwaukee Bucks); Trey Johnson (Bakersfield Jam to Toronto Raptors) and Orien Greene (Utah Flash to New Jersey Nets).

Last season, 11 of the 20 NBA D-League All-Stars who played in Dallas went on to earn GATORADE Call-Ups to the NBA later in the year, including Reggie Williams, who averaged 15.2 points in 24 games with the Golden State Warriors after being called up from the Sioux Falls Skyforce. At the end of last season, one in five NBA players had NBA D-League experience.

“Not only can fans see the stars of the NBA during NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, but also the future of the NBA in the NBA D-League All-Star Game Presented by SonoSite,” said NBA D-League President Dan Reed. “We’re thrilled to bring our exciting brand of basketball and fan-friendly events to NBA All-Star Weekend for the fifth consecutive year.”

On the East Team, Dakota’s Chris Johnson, out of LSU, was called up to the Portland Trail Blazers after averaging 17.2 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.1 blocks in 27 games with the Wizards. Erie’s Garrett Temple, another LSU product who earned three GATORADE Call-Ups to the NBA last season, signed with the Milwaukee Bucks after averaging 13.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists with the BayHawks and Rio Grande Valley this year.

On the West Team, Bakersfield’s Trey Johnson, the former Jackson State star who led the league averaging 25.8 points in 26 games, was called up to the Toronto Raptors for his third career GATORADE Call-Up. Rio Grande Valley’s Mustafa Shakur, the Arizona grad who averaged 16.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists with the Vipers, was called up by the Washington Wizards. Tulsa’s Zabian Dowdell, out of Virginia Tech, led the 66ers in points (14.5), assists (4.6) and steals (2.4) through 18 games before being called up by the Phoenix Suns. Tulsa’s Larry Owens, the Oral Roberts product who averaged 12.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 23 games, was called up by the San Antonio Spurs. Utah’s Orien Greene, the Boston Celtics’ second-round pick (53rd overall) in the 2005 NBA Draft out of Louisiana-Lafayette, led the Flash in scoring (18.0 ppg) through 24 games, and was called up by the New Jersey Nets to add to his 128 career NBA appearances.

Also on the East Team, Iowa’s Courtney Sims, the former Michigan standout who is averaging 16.4 points and 9.9 rebounds, which ranks third in the league, has appeared in the NBA with the Indiana Pacers, Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks. Sioux Falls’ Dexter Pittman, out of Texas, is currently on assignment from the Miami Heat, who selected him in the second round (32nd overall) of the 2010 NBA Draft. Pittman is averaging 14.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in 17 games with the Skyforce.

Completing the East roster are: Erie’s Ivan Johnson, out of Cal State San Bernardino, whose 19.9 points per game currently ranks second in the league; Fort Wayne’s Walker Russell Jr., out of Jacksonville State, who leads the Mad Ants with 16.6 points per game, and is fourth in the league with 7.4 assists per game; Iowa’s Othyus Jeffers, out of Robert Morris-Chicago, who is the current league leader in scoring (21.1 ppg) and is among the league leaders in rebounds (9.2 rpg, 6th) and steals (2.2 spg, 4th); Iowa’s Curtis Stinson, out of Iowa State, who is averaging 17.8 points and a league-leading 9.0 assists; Maine’s DeShawn Sims, out of Michigan, who leads the Red Claws with 18.2 points and 8.2 rebounds; and Sioux Falls’ Patrick Ewing Jr., out of Georgetown, who is averaging 15.6 points and 8.6 rebounds with the Skyforce and the Reno Bighorns.

For the West, Texas’ Joe Alexander, the West Virginia product whom the Milwaukee Bucks selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, ranks third in the league with 19.8 points per game, and second in the league with 10.0 rebounds per game. His Texas teammate, Sean Williams, leads the league with 3.2 blocks per game, and is also averaging 14.5 points and 9.7 rebounds. Out of Boston College, Williams was picked by the New Jersey Nets in the first round (17th overall) of the 2007 NBA Draft, and played in 126 games with the Nets over three years. Rio Grande Valley’s Jeff Adrien, out of Connecticut, played in 15 games with the Golden State Warriors this season, and is the league’s leading rebounder (10.8 rpg) and 12th-leading scorer (17.4 ppg.). Austin’s Marcus Cousin, out of Houston, is leading the Toros with 15.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, while New Mexico’s Shane Edwards, out of Arkansas-Little Rock, is averaging 18.7 points and 7.4 rebounds for the Thunderbirds.

Six of this year’s All-Star selections will make their second NBA D-League All-Star Game appearance: Shakur and Stinson played last season in Dallas, while Jeffers, Trey Johnson, Russell Jr. and Sims appeared in Phoenix in 2009. Every other player will make his first NBA D-League All-Star Game appearance.




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