Saturday, November 10, 2012

Breaking Down D-League Rosters Pt. 5 : Fort Wayne Mad Ants

This past Friday marked the 2012 D-League draft while each team also released their training camp rosters a few days earlier.  Teams can currently carry 17 players on their training camp rosters.  That number will be whittled down to 10 by November 21st at 5pm eastern time.  There were a bevy of trades on Monday which lead to today's current rosters.  In part five of this series I'll be taking a look at this year's Fort Wayne Mad Ants.

The Mad Ants will be affiliated with 4 teams this season, Charlotte, Detroit, Indiana & Milwaukee. They finished last season with the worst record in the D-League but things are looking brighter this year after they selected JaJuan Johnson with the first overall pick in the draft.  Johnson was drafted 27th overall in the 2011 NBA draft and saw roughly 8 minutes per game last season for the Celtics.  the 6'10" combo forward was traded to Houston this offseason in the Courtney Lee deal and was one of the last Rockets training camp cuts.  As a senior at Purdue he averaged 20.5 pts, 8.6 reb & 2.3 blk per game on his way to being named a Consensus All-American.  Along with that honor he was also named Big Ten Player of the Year and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.

#1 overall pick JaJuan Johnson
Fort Wayne returns 4 players from a season ago including 2012 call-up Walker Russell.  Russell was an All-Star last year with averages of 16.0 pts & 9.9 reb before being tabbed in January by the Pistons.  He would go on to play 28 games in Detroit before summer league duties with the Knicks and signing on with the Thunder in training camp.  He has played 4 of the last 5 seasons in Fort Wayne with stints in Germany & China mixed in between.  Ron Howard returns for his 6th consecutive season in Fort Wayne after playing his college ball at Valparaiso.  He averaged 17.5 points in 2011-12 after splitting time the season before between Fort Wayne, the Adelaide 36ers in Australia & Netanya in Israel.  Sean Sonderleiter returned to the Mad Ants last year after spending a season with Ratiopharm Ulm in Germany.  He had spent the previous 2 seasons in Fort Wayne making this his 4th season in 5 years.  The big man saw his role diminish last year as compared to the 2009-10 season.  Lastly, Sadiel Rojas is back.  Rojas saw only 17.7 minutes per contest but averaged 5.9 pts & 5.2 reb as a rookie.  He starred for Oklahoma Wesleyan, a NAIA team, where as a senior he averaged 25.7 pts, 11.9 reb & 2.8 stl per game.

Walker Russell was a call-up last year 
A couple of former Dakota Wizards also join the team.  Forward Mike Anderson spent the last 2 years in Dakota and was acquired for last year's All-Rookie 1st team member Cameron Jones.  Anderson averaged 10.5 pts & 4.8 reb per game in 46 contests.  He played his college ball at VCU and played professionally in Slovakia, Austria & Canada before making the D-League via tryout two seasons ago.  The second player is former NBA draft pick Tommy Smith.  Smith was picked 53rd overall in 2003 by the Bulls after his college days at Arizona State.  He was released before ever playing a game in Chicago and was then signed & released by the Bucks a year later.  After travelling the world to such places as China, Germany & Syria, Smith returned to the states last year and averaged 7.8 pts & 5.0 reb in 19.5 min per game for Dakota.  The soon to be 32 year old big man is looking for one more chance at his NBA dream.

Dairese Gary begins his career
The Mad Ants parted ways with Jarrid Famous & one of their 4th round picks, Darnell Dodson, to acquire L.A.'s first round pick in this year's draft, Dairese Gary.  Gary played his college ball at New Mexico where he put up 14.2 pts & 5.5 ast per game as a senior in 2010-11.  He was named the Mountain West Conference's All-Defensive Team as well as being All-MWC 1st Team.  His season tragically ended with a torn ACL in the semifinals of the MWC tournament.  After a year off rehabbing, Gary will finally be able to begin his rookie campaign.

2nd rd pick Dominic Cheek
In the second round of the draft Fort Wayne selected Villanova rookie Dominic Cheek.  The former McDonald's All-American out of St. Anthony's in Jersey City entered the NBA draft after his junior year but wasn't picked.  The shooting guard averaged 12.5 points per game a season ago.  Before the draft, Fort Wayne sent Thomas Baudinet to Canton for a 3rd round pick that they used to select Lenny Daniel.  Daniel attended Cal State Northridge where as a senior in 2010-11 he was named All-Big West First Team by averaging 16.3 pts & 9.4 reb.  As a rookie, he played in Israel's 2nd division with Ironi Kiryat Ata and dominated to the tune of 22.7 pts & 8.9 reb per contest.  America East Player of the Year Darryl Partin was selected in round 4.  The Boston University star put up 19.6 points per game last season and gives the Mad Ants yet another scoring option in the backcourt.

Darryl Partin heads to Fort Wayne
5th round selection Bernard Toombs is a 6'10" center out of the University of Troy who spent his rookie season with Eco Orebro in Sweden.  Fort Wayne's remaining three picks all played in other U.S. leagues last year.  6th rounder Jason Warren played in the IBA with the Gary Splash.  He played college at division 2 Missouri Western and averaged 12.9 pts & 8.8 reb two seasons ago for Maziekiai in Lithuania.  Dante Williams was the choice in round 7 and he was a member of the IBA's Battle Creek Knights last year.  He played his college ball at East Tennessee State but did not play as a junior or senior.  8th round pick Bryant Austin played in the ABA last year with the Lima Explosion and graduated from Indiana Tech in 2009.

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