Around Dime HQ, the start of the college basketball seasons always finds us appreciating the passion of college ball, cheerleaders and NBA projections. It also finds us asking, “What happened to ________?” If your favorite player’s name was never called by David Stern in June, then chances are he might have landed in the NBA D-League. Who is poised to make it to the Big Show? Here are five players to watch:
Current Team: Tulsa 66ers
Dyson averaged 15.5 points and 3.1 rebounds in 47 games for the 66ers last season. Not drafted by an NBA franchise in 2010, he made the most of his first season of professional basketball, leading the 66ers in scoring, despite only starting 10 games. Known more for his defense at UConn, Dyson continues to work on his ballhandling and shooting, while still showing great instincts on the defensive end. He’s been lauded by Tulsa coach Nate Tibbetts for his professionalism and team-first attitude.
Current Team: Fort Wayne Mad Ants
After earning All-NBA-D-League second team honors in 2008-09, averaging 19.3 points and 9.4 rebounds in 47 games for Fort Wayne, Hunter realized his NBA dream in 2009-10, appearing in 60 games (nine starts) with the Golden State Warriors, averaging 4.5 points and 2.8 rebounds. He returned to Fort Wayne at the start of the 2010-11 season and played in seven games before tearing his Achilles tendon on Christmas Day. A solid rebounder with the ability to face the basket and knock down mid-range jumpshots, Hunter figures to be one of the better big men in the league.
Current Team: Austin Toros
Lyons appeared in 34 games for the Toros last season, averaging 14.9 points and 6.0 rebounds. Not drafted by an NBA franchise in 2009, after a standout career at Missouri, Lyons has played in the NBA Summer League with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks. A combo forward with a soft touch and advanced offensive skills, Lyons is coming off a strong showing playing for the NBA D-League squad that took part in the Pan American Games. While Dyson was the star of this team, Lyons shot a team-best 66.7 percent from beyond the arc (6-of-9).