Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tuesday at the D-League Showcase. Frank Hassell is large.

Reno, NV. ...I caught two games live today in the NBA D League Showcase from the Reno Events Center. The best word I can use is "interesting". The penultimate (fancy word for next-to-last) game of Tuesday, featuring the Texas Legends and the Tulsa 66'ers had 126 humans in attendance. Yes I counted (less scouts, and media - which probably outnumbered fans).

On one hand you have teams taking coaching from the approach of 'let's have a veteran coach TEACH our young developing players'. That approach seems less concerned with the final score. On the other hand - you have young coaches trying to prove themselves - which means tighter rotations and more emphasis on winning the games.

I witnessed Greg Ostertag clogging the paint - in better shape than he has a right to be. Likewise - fellow NBA vet - Keith McLeod looked like he could step onto an NBA floor and hold his own. But you all know the reason I am here on my own dime (with help from the Sacramento Kings PR staff), is to evaluate some of the younger players that are on the cusp of an NBA call-up. I am anxiously awaiting seeing Marqus Blakely (Wednesday night).

Frank Hassell was cut by the Spurs but we think he will find
his way back into the NBA. 
I was most impressed by Frank Hassell (Old Dominion 2011) in the games I saw live Tuesday. He is a BIG, wide, Power Forward that was the MVP of the 2011 Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Tournament. He improved his scoring average, and free throw percentage in each season at ODU. Beyond that - he played well at the Portsmouth Invitational where his team won the title. He is 23 years old.

Hassell owned the paint in the Canton vs. Dakota nightcap game. He is so wide in the shoulders (think, the late Lorenzo Charles) that his opponents just bounced off him. He snatched 17 rugged rebounds, scored 14 points, and stole the ball three times in his 26 minutes off the bench. He is a lefty, and despite his 6'8" height - which is a bit small for an NBA four-man, he still gets his shot off inside. He was alert and coachable all game from my position near the Canton bench.

Christian Eyenga - on assignment from the Cleveland Cavaliers, was spectacular at times but left me wishing he would impose his will on the game more. He has NBA athletic ability and size (6'7", 210) for a shooting guard. The same could be said - although not as impressive, for Dakota's Edwin Ubiles. It appears he could score much more by using his size and ball-handling skill. He scored easily on a right-handed half hook in the paint but he he didn't go to it enough.

Two other players in the late game showed promise. Dante Milligan, a 27 year old PF from U-Mass made his presence known in the paint for Canton. He is averaging 11 points and ten boards for the D-League season. Meanwhile - Dakota's Mike Anderson played with contagious energy. The former VCU forward has a skinny frame but he plays hard. He was all over the court Tuesday night with 19 points, six rebounds, and four blocked shots.

I was frustrated with a couple of well known guards and their inability to recognize certain clock situations. In the Tulsa game - Jerome Dyson (Connecticut 2010) jacked a bad shot in a situation where he should have been holding for the last shot of the quarter. He finished with six turnovers. In Tuesday's final game - Manny Harris, who played with the Cavs all last season, was guilty of shooting early in the shot-clock and looking like he was out there for himself.

It was plays like the above that had NBA-lifer coach Del Harris ready to explode. His Texas Legends seemed extremely unorganized. Chris Roberts seemed to not know Del's plays.

NOTES from Tuesday at the D-League Showcase: Sean Williams is on assignment from the Dallas Mavericks. He displayed his signature shot blocking ability, and seemed in my estimation to be working on being a better teammate. He encouraged and cheered for his mates in their win. ...The D League's rebounding leader - Marcus Lewis was disappointing. He is out of shape and he had seven turnovers. ...I tweeted that Larry Owens, playing for Tulsa, would be an NBA regular if he had a consistent jump shot. He does everything else well. ...Dwight Buycks, an excellent perimeter defender, also showed the ability to put the ball in the hole. He had 21 points in 23 minutes for Tulsa.

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