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Aquille Carr's Second Chance

Upon his release from the NBA Development League, Aquille Carr started a purifying process around him, eliminating distractions and creating a gym regimen. The Delaware 87ers extended Carr an opportunity to train with them for the June NBA draft, but the former high school prodigy understood his run-ins with the team came with consequences and went noticed on the professional level.

So Carr cut his inner-circle, hired new representation (Daniel Hazan of Hazan Sports Management) and constructed a strategy to help rebuild his image. As a heralded phenom out of Maryland, Carr stumbled into problems away from the court. Now, a primary condition in his agency signing was a rebranding of himself through community events and youth basketball clinics in New York.

“I made a couple minor mistakes with Delaware, and I learned from them,” Carr told RealGM in a recent phone interview. “It will never happen again. Delaware was a great experience and I had a lot of fun there. Players and coaches taught me how to be a leader and be responsible. The D-League built my confidence up by playing against older people and more mature guys that played. I had to catch on fast, but I believe I have a good basketball IQ.”

In the weeks after being waived in January, his agency mapped workouts and appearances for Carr to visit elderly men and women and distribute food. Carr received the nickname “Crimestopper” in Baltimore, garnered prominence in an area averse in talent development, and he had been so immersed in this privileged environment, so removed from normalcy.

As Carr says of his experiences through community appearances, “I’ve been wanting to do them, but I didn’t have the support around me to finally go out there. As soon as I told my agency that I wanted to do community events, they were on it. I want to build a new brand, and I don’t want people to think about me as a bad person.”

Even now, Carr doesn’t regret turning pro overseas out of high school, declaring and then forgoing his basketball commitment at Seton Hall University. He wanted a path into the NBA the way Brandon Jennings carved – choosing professional money instead of the payment of tutelage and some sort of education – but stood at 5-foot-6 and became sidetracked.

Signing into the D-League suggested solidified advice, improved voices factoring in his decisions, and Carr averaged 10.7 points, 1.9 assists and 14 minutes in 10 games for Delaware, which drafted him in the third round. He scored 22 points in consecutive games in December. His shooting percentages – 39.1 percent from three-point range, 39.8 percent overall on nearly nine attempts per game – left him putting up more jumpers in the gym with the organization and now in his private workouts, but underscored elevated competition for him. The D-League’s become increasingly respectable, legitimate players old and new, and Carr joined several draft prospects using the platform to showcase in front of executives and scouts.

They all want the same achievement there, Carr noticed, players desiring their own shots and an NBA call-up opportunity. Still, the 20-year-old credits two guiding figures with Delaware: Kendall Marshall, now with the Los Angeles Lakers, and Damian Saunders.

“Kendall was the first one I stopped and asked him to teach me the game, given as long as he’s been playing,” Carr said. “I asked him how I can place people in the right spot, make people better, being more of a point guard, vocal and talkative.

“Damian is an older guy, more mature, and he told me to stay on the good path.”

Soon, Carr will formally declare for the upcoming draft, a hopeful second-round pick in a strong class. Should he go undrafted, has Carr pondered another run in the D-League or possibly another stint overseas?

“No, I haven’t looked past the draft,” Carr said. “My agency and I, we look forward to me getting drafted. I look at getting drafted and working hard until getting that day.”

Kevin Murphy Working Towards Another NBA Opportunity

Kevin Murphy was in Orlando preparing for his second Summer League with the Utah Jazz when he got the phone call.

“I was in the hotel and coach [Tyrone] Corbin called my room and told me to come into his room,” Murphy told RealGM. “That’s when he told me I got traded to Golden State.”

After spending his rookie season with the Jazz, Murphy was one of the final pieces of the three-team deal that sent Andre Iguodala to the Bay Area. Murphy, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard out of Tennessee Tech, had only logged a total of 58 NBA minutes and taken 28 shots before being shipped.

“Going in I knew it was a part of the business. It’s the NBA, you’re going to get traded sometimes and it’s just part of the game,” Murphy added. “I was just ready to get it started in Golden State and make me another opportunity for myself.”

He spent the Vegas Summer League playing sparingly for the Warriors’ squad, but was waived after the event. Only a year after being a second round pick, Murphy no longer owned an NBA roster spot.

***

Coming out of high school, Murphy was considered a steal for Tennessee Tech. He was rated a three-star prospect by Rivals.com and chose the Golden Eagles due to the loyalty and commitment invested in him throughout the recruiting process.

He instantly made an impact at Tennessee Tech, playing in all 30 games during his freshman season and starting in 19 of them. He was named to the Ohio Valley Conference All-Newcomer team after he averaged 9.6 points per game.

After successful sophomore and junior seasons where he averaged 15.3 and 17 points per game respectively, Murphy made national headlines during his senior year. He led the conference in scoring and was 10th in the nation at 20.6 points per contest. The biggest performance of the year was in a 98-80 win over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville where Murphy set the school’s single-game scoring record with a 50-point display on 16-of-21 shooting. It was the most points scored in Division I games during that season.

With all of his collegiate accolades, the Utah Jazz selected Murphy with the 47th pick of the NBA Draft. He was the third player from Tennessee Tech to be drafted and the first since 1993.

“It was like a dream come true,” Murphy said of the selection. “It was a dream come true for me, my family, and my wife. It was overwhelming.”

After being the primary scoring option throughout his collegiate career, Murphy rarely saw the floor in the NBA and spent 14 games in the D-League with the Reno Bighorns. He only appeared in 17 games for the Jazz.

Murphy was still optimistic of his season, saying, “It was a great experience being in the NBA, but it was all a learning experience as well.”

***

Without a guaranteed roster spot, Murphy was now one of the best players in the basketball world without a contract. He received offers to attend multiple training camps, but wanted to go to a place where he had a good chance of making a team.

“There wasn’t really a spot like that, where I felt I could go and make a team, so I didn’t want to go to training camp just to say I went to training camp,” said Murphy. “So I decided to go to France and make a little money.”

He signed a contract with the French team Strasbourg IG and averaged 7.6 points per game but started to “butt heads” with the organization. Murphy decided to come back to the States in December and was acquired by the D-League’s Idaho Stampede.

“It was the best interest to me to come back over here and train while I’m still young so I can stick with the main goal and have a good shot of getting back in the NBA,” he said. “That’s what I’m trying to do now.”

Murphy’s goal of returning to the NBA seems to be only a matter of time at this point. He’s averaging 26.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while shooting 51 percent from the field. He’s especially effective when utilizing a crossover to attack the rim or set up mid-range jumpers. Murphy is shooting 66 percent from inside the three-point line while his 36 percent clip from deep is no weakness either. The D-League’s website currently ranks him as the sixth best prospect in the league.

His production has been especially important with Idaho’s loss of Pierre Jackson. Without a call-up on the horizon, Jackson decided to play in Turkey as an attempt to make additional money for his family. He was averaging 29.1 points per game in the D-League and left a big void in the scoring column.

Since Jackson’s departure, Murphy is averaging 33.2 points per game on 52 percent shooting. The Stampede rattled off three straight wins before losing back-to-back games to the Santa Cruz Warriors.

“Me, Pierre, and Dee Bost had a good relationship on and off the court so we played really good together,” said Murphy. “Now with him gone, I think me and Dee Bost have stepped up pretty good to show teams that we can play the game of basketball. Everybody’s just trying to get an opportunity.”

When the opportunity does come, Murphy hopes to provide instant offense off an NBA bench. He’s working the hardest to improve on the defensive end.

“Teams already know I can score the ball, it’s just about being aggressive and showing that I can play defense and show that I can be a good defender at the next level,” he added.

At this point, Murphy has done basically all he can do to earn a 10-day contract in the NBA. He hopes to continue winning in Boise for the time being, but the obvious goal is to earn another chance in the NBA.

“Right now it’s just a waiting game basically, just waiting for the call,” said Murphy. “All I need is one team to like me. I’m just trying to wait for the opportunity.”

RealGM's D-League Weekly Wrap-Up (Jan. 12-Jan.19)

RealGM will be compiling D-League Weekly Wrap-Ups for the rest of the season. Here’s our first edition, featuring a heavy dose of information compiled from January 12th to 19th.

RealGM’s Player of the Week: Rodney Bartholomew (Tulsa 66ers)

The 6-foot-8 forward from Indiana Tech had a breakout week in a pair of victories for the 66ers. Bartholomew had 32 points in each game along with a combined 32 rebounds on 26-of-37 shooting. He’s a high-energy power forward who gets most of his offense off of pick-and-roll situations. Bartholomew also attacks the offensive glass aggressively which showed in his 11 total offensive rebounds in two games. He may lack prototypical size for a power forward at the NBA level, but Bartholomew’s play this week earned him RealGM’s D-League Player of the Week honors.

Game of the Week: Idaho Stampede 119, Santa Cruz Warriors 118 (OT)

In a battle for first place in the West Division, it took an extra three minutes to decide this one. With the Warriors up by one and inbounding with 3.7 seconds left in overtime, Idaho’s point guard Dee Bost stole the in-bounds pass and heaved up a layup attempt that didn’t hit anything. It was then Reggie Hearn who caught the ball and finished with 0.7 left to win a wild one in Boise.

Bost led all scorers with 30 points to go with seven assists. Dallas Lauderdale had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds while E.J. Singler chipped in an additional 23 points. Pierre Jackson did not have his best night, scoring 15 points on 5-of-18 shooting, but led Idaho with a game-high nine assists.

For Santa Cruz, Seth Curry finished with 23 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Daniel Nwaelele had 16 points while Golden State Warriors assignee Ognjen Kuzmic had 15 points and 16 rebounds.

Five Stars

Ike Diogu (Bakersfield Jam): The 30-year-old with eight years of NBA playing experience averaged 21.3 points and 7.7 rebounds in three games for the Bakersfield Jam. Diogu shot 54 percent from the floor this week although Bakersfield lost all three of its contests. The 6-foot-8 stretch four can battle down low or knock down the mid-range jumper. The Arizona State product has had a good year for the Jam at the back end of his career.

Devin Ebanks (Texas Legends): One of the top prospects in the D-League, Ebanks averaged 23.3 points and 6.7 rebounds on 44 percent shooting in three games this week. His length and 6-foot-9 frame helps him on the defensive end as well. The small forward who spent the previous three seasons with the Lakers could be receiving a call-up before the season is over due to his defensive ability and improving offense.

Tiny Gallon (Delaware 87ers): Gallon averaged 17.3 points and 7.5 rebounds on 64 percent shooting in four games this week. His highlight performance came against Sioux Falls on Saturday where Gallon finished with 30 points and 17 rebounds. A second round pick in 2010, Gallon never played in an NBA game and has struggled to find a fit at the professional level. He’s shown the ability to compete this month and his 6-foot-9, 290 pound body type makes him tough to guard down low.

Tony Mitchell (Fort Wayne Mad Ants): The 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Alabama averaged 21.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in two games off the bench this week. Last year’s Rookie of the Year has shown his ability to get to the basket but will look to improve on his three point shooting. He was 5-of-11 from three-point range this week, but is 31 percent from behind the arc this season.

Sadiel Rojas (Fort Wayne Mad Ants): Rojas exploded for 36 points on 13-of-18 shooting and a 5-of-6 display from three-point range against Iowa on Saturday. He added an additional 10 rebounds to complete a double-double. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Oklahoma Wesleyan is averaging 12.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game this season.

Call-Ups

Chris Johnson (Rio Grande Valley Vipers): Johnson signed a 10-day contract with the Boston Celtics on Friday. The 6-foot-6 wing from Dayton was averaging 19.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game for the Vipers and had shown the ability to defend while being a glue guy offensively. He has not yet played a game for Boston.

Manny Harris (Los Angeles Defenders): After averaging 43 points on 60 percent shooting during his last three games in the D-League, the Los Angeles Lakers saw enough to sign Harris to a 10-day contract. He logged 40 minutes in two games with the Lakers and scored 14 points on 5-of-15 shooting. The 6-foot-5 combo guard from Michigan should provide some scoring off the bench that Lakers could definitely use.

Dewayne Dedmon (Santa Cruz Warriors): The 7-foot center had been a force in the D-League this season, averaging 15.2 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game for the Santa Cruz Warriors. Dedmon spent the preseason and a short four-games with the NBA Warriors this year, but showed more potential than production. He rapidly developed in the D-League and showcased his defensive prowess to go with an improved offensive skill set. The Philadelphia 76ers signed Dedmon to a 10-day contract and he has immediately made a contribution. Dedmon has played 52 minutes in three games where he has scored a combined 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting to go with 21 rebounds and four blocks. He could stick with the 76ers for the remainder of the season.

And One: Former lottery pick and Delaware 87ers point guard Kendall Marshall has been blossoming for a depleted Los Angeles Lakers squad since earning a call-up. The North Carolina alum has recorded a double-double in his last five games for the Lakers and is averaging 13 points, 12.2 assists, and four rebounds per game as a starter. The biggest concern about Marshall’s game before heading to the D-League was his scoring ability and capability to knock down threes at a consistent rate, but after working on his game Marshall has vastly improved in both areas. His 13 points per game as a starter are more than enough to earn him playing time due to his exceptional passing ability while he’s also shooting 47 percent from three as a starter. Marshall is the type of player the D-League was built for and his success at the next level is an encouraging sign for all players on this stage.

Beverley, Lin And The Rockets' Meritocracy

Patrick Beverley could be the Rockets' point guard of the future, a tremendous coup considering how they acquired him. He’s the new poster boy for the benefits of mining Europe for talent as well as a walking embarrassment for every point guard-hungry team in the league.

If Pro Sports Were Actually Run Like A Business..

Franchise relocation is a race to the bottom that pits city against city, which owners of all four major professional sports leagues in North America have used to their benefit.

The Alan Anderson Effect

There’s no bright line dividing proven NBA rotation players like Landry Fields and free agents playing overseas like Alan Anderson. For the most part, “NBA experience” isn’t worth the extra cost. Just as in tennis, the distribution of talent in basketball is pyramidal. The difference between LeBron James or Novak Djokovic and the #350 player in their respective sports is immense.

The Reserve Big Man Problem

Like quarterbacks, quality big men are difficult to find. Here is a look on how the lack of strong frontcourt depth could harm teams like the Knicks and the Clippers in a compressed regular season.

No Need For Hysteria, NBA Will Survive

The lockout will unquestionably damage the NBA, but not to the extent its fans fear or its detractors hope. There are several important reasons why it is so well-positioned in the long-term.

The Limiting Nature Of How Young Talent Is Developed In The USA

Many blamed the youth development system for Team USA's loss in the Women's World Cup. Those same arguments can be applied to the consequences of American basketball players raised on an AAU-dominated system.

D-League Versus Europe, Part II

While more money can be made in Europe, some current and former D-League players were pleased to receive the opporturnity to be seen by NBA scouts on a consistent basis and play in their home country.

D-League Versus Europe, Part I

Players who go to Europe rave about the opportunity to play at a high level while making good sums of money; unlike what is available in the D-League

Welcome To The New RealGM

RealGM is pleased to be releasing the initial, beta phase, of our new basketball website with dozens of brand new features.

D-League Showcase Recaps (Thursday)

Justin Dentmon starred with 38 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds.

D-League Showcase Recaps (Wednesday)

Cole Aldrich had 19 points and five rebounds in Tulsa's win over Dakota.

D-League Showcase Recaps (Tuesday)

Shane Edwards, Anthony Goods, Brandon Costner and Chris Johnson had standout performances in Tuesday's D-League Showcase.

D-League Showcase Recaps (Monday)

Jeff Adrien, Othyur Jeffers, Orien Greene and Dar Tucker had big days on Monday.

 

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