Sunday, March 1, 2009


PORTLAND, MAINE - Feb. 25, 2009 – The NBA Development League awarded an expansion team to Portland, Maine for the 2009-10 season, NBA D-League President Dan Reed announced at a recent press conference at Portland High School. The team, which is the first expansion franchise awarded for the 2009-10 season, will play at the Portland Expo Center.

The franchise will be owned and operated by Maine Basketball, LLC, which is principally owned by Bill Ryan Sr., the chairman of TD Banknorth Group and Bill Ryan Jr., who owns and operates Oxford Plains Speedway. Jon Jennings, a partner in Maine Basketball, LLC and former Boston Celtics assistant coach, will serve as the team’s president and general manager.

The announcement, the NBA D-League’s first foray into New England, was held in front of the school’s student body while featuring Reed, Celtics Team President Rich Gotham, the Celtics Dancers, and a speech by the Portland High Student Body President Brian Furey.

“Expansion to Portland is another example of the health and growth of the NBA D-League,” said Reed. “We are very pleased to add Bill Ryan Sr., Bill Ryan Jr., and Jon Jennings to our ownership ranks, as they bring a wealth of business, sports operations, and basketball experience on behalf of the team and the community. I’m confident that fans throughout the state of Maine will enjoy our world-class level of basketball featuring current and future NBA players, as well as appreciate the team's family-friendly environment, affordable prices, and positive impact on the Portland and Maine community."

“I’m overjoyed to bring NBA D-League basketball to Portland,” said Jennings. “We’ve already established strong relationships with the people of this community, and we can’t wait to get underway next season. I know that this team will have a long and exciting future in Maine.”

Portland will be affiliated with two NBA team parent-clubs, which will be able to assign their first and second year players to the club a maximum of three times during a season. Thus far, the 2008-09 NBA D-League season has had 22 NBA players assigned on 24 occasions to NBA D-League affiliates as players continue to develop their game. An announcement regarding Portland’s NBA team affiliations will occur during the offseason.

About the NBA D-League
The NBA Development League, founded in 2001, is the NBA’s official minor league and features 16 teams with direct affiliations to NBA teams. The league has produced 15 percent of the players on 2007-08 end-of-season NBA rosters and continues to develop current NBA coaches and referees. In fostering the league’s connection to the community, its teams, players and staff promote youth basketball, support local needs and interests, and assist in educational development through NBA D-League Cares programs. The NBA D-League also advances the game of basketball as the research and development arm of the NBA. Throughout this season fans can watch all NBA D-League games on NBA Futurecast, the free live Web-streaming initiative found at

Maine Awarded D-League Franchise

The NBA Development League expanded to 17 teams with the announcement of the league's newest team in Portland, Maine. Maine will begin play in the 2009-10 NBA D-League season.

Read more about it, including the official press release and photos of the announcement: See:

The team, as yet unnamed, is owned in part by Jon Jennings. sat down with Jon to get some background on the team, get his take on the NBA D-League, and to learn more about the great, new basketball venture in Maine.

Here's a sampling:

Q: What attracted you to the NBA Development League?

Jennings: I actually got my start in the NBA as an intern with the Indiana Pacers. After my career with the Pacers, I went to work with the Celtics, where I became an assistant coach when I was only 27. When I was coaching and doing scouting for the Celtics, I always believed that the NBA truly needed a minor league system in the way that baseball has one. I remember when the NBA D-League was first created, I was very excited about the prospects. The changes over the course of the last several years, I think, have only made it more exciting. To have a true minor league system is really so important for the future of the NBA.

Q: What qualities of the city will make the NBA D-League successful in Portland?

Jennings: The one thing about Portland is that it embraces minor league sports. It loves the Portland Sea Dogs [baseball], it loves the Portland Pirates [hockey], and it will love our team. The other thing is that the state of Maine has a fanatical love of high school basketball. When I was first getting started in this entire process, I met with the governor of Maine and he gave me a two-hour tutorial on how great high school basketball is in Maine.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Iowa v. Mad Ants and the NBA D-League Showcase

Happy New Year to All!!!

Last night I attended the Iowa v. Mad Ants game and had a chance to spend the day with the superb staff of the Mad Ants. I especially want to thank Jeff Potter, the Mad Ants team president, and Jeff Johnson, their terrific VP of everything. Both guys gave me a good sense of what we will need to do once we finally announce our franchise in Portland!

The Mad Ants do everything first class from their printed materials to their theme nights. Last night happened to be 70's Night and they pulled out all of the tricks. The entire staff wore 70's themed clothes which made me glad I was not of age in the 70's! They had a guy at halftime who pretended to be the Village People with fake members of the band strapped to two poles. You may have needed to be there to visualize! He was very entertaining and a possible halftime act for us in the future.

Frankly the best part of the night was the game. Both teams played hard and aggressive from the opening tap. These guys are truly one step away from the NBA! Fortunately for the Mad Ants they pulled the game out in overtime. Both teams had terrific players that will be playing in the NBA soon.

I am off to the NBA D-League Showcase today to start scouting players who may someday play in Portland. The Showcase is where all 16 D-League teams come together for scouts and others to judge talent in one location. The Showcase is broadcast live on FutureCast on the D-League website ( There are four games a day beginning at 11 am Utah time. I hope to post updates once I return.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

From Ridiculous Upside

It's Almost Here
by DakotaWiz on Nov 1, 2008 2:27 AM PDT

We are about a week away from the D-League Draft, so we might as well start looking at some players that should be available to be drafted. Looking at Summer League's, the Portsmouth Invite, NBA camp cuts, CBA draft picks, the NBA pre-draft camp in Orlando, and even the North American Basketball Classic, along with last years veterans and some helpful tips from agents, I've put together a database of about 250players that currently aren't signed overseas, and thus, possible D-League Draft Picks. Today, I'll start with looking at the rookies that could be available.

Since every team needs a rookie, this is probably the most crucial pick to get right. Since he's a guy you have to carry for the season, might as well make him a good one. Here are what I think are some of the better options (more of my thoughts may be coming), with all of the rookies that I could put together if you continue on. Keep in mind that these guys are currently not signed, but with the recent cuts, could head overseas.

Mikheil Berishvili -- That's all you really need to know about the kid. Check out the videos, if that's not enough, come back and I'll let you know what else I know. He's a 6-9 3/4 combo, kind of in an Ersan Ilyasova mold (2005 Bucks 2nd round pick). He's also apparently working on getting better down low, but with the 3-point shot that he shows, he's already got a lot of potential. He's played for the Georgia national team, and has never declared himself eligible for the draft, so, in essence, if he's as good in the D-League as he was overseas, he could be taken in the draft next season, a la Mike Taylor.

James Mays -- James was just cut by the Denver Nuggets, where he averaged 4.5 points and 3.5 boards. With so many guaranteed contracts though, there wasn't really a spot for him. I would expect for him to try his hand in the D-League this season, more than likely as an allocated guy to the 14ers. He plays good defense, can rebound, and has a pretty high basketball IQ, as he moved well and slashed a lot when I saw him down in Vegas. Though he seems to me a bit undersized, though extremely athletic, if he can put together some low post moves, he'd be an early call-up.

Malik Hairston -- Hairston is a pretty solid all-around player. He doesn't too anything spectacular, but he does a lot of things good. His shooting, as a 2-guard, is probably his biggest downfall from what I've seen. He can play defense and rebound very well for his size, as he averaged 5 boards and a block this preseason with the Spurs. Good decision to cut him, as he'll be assigned to Austin, and they can watch him and call him up when needed. Seems like San Antonio is going to use the D-League to its complete potential.

Joe Crawford -- Crawford was drafted by the Lakers in the 2nd round, but was their last cut in pre-season. Another savvy move by a D-League-team owning franchise. Let him play for the D-Fenders, where he can work on rounding out his game, becoming more athletic, and bring him up when he can get playing time.

DeVon Hardin -- Hardin will probably play a role in the D-League like another former Cal grad, Rod Benson. A 6'11 center, he's going to bring energy, rebounds, and a couple blocked shots a game. As big and athletic as he is, he definitely has potential and the D-League would help him develop.

Steven Hill -- Hill is probably my favorite player coming out of this camp. Is it just because I have an affinity for big awkward white guys with long hair and hustle and have named my personal website Schenschational in honor of this? Possibly, but not only because of this. I'd never heard of Hill until I saw him in Vegas with the Trailblazers. He's a legit 7-footer that brings it on the defensive end. He played his college ball at Arkansas, where over his 4 year career, he averaged 20 minutes, 4 points, 3 boards, and 2.5 blocks. Not exactly amazing, but he's got the size and defense to develop into an NBA caliber backup, and for the Blazers to make him the last cut, I'm obviously not the only one thinking this. If Sean Marks still has a job, Steven Hill should as well.

Here are some other Rookies that are currently unsigned, that I could think of. Please contact me if you can think of any more.

Will Bullard Community College
Rashad West Hampton – NCAA
Aaron Smith Prairie View A&M – NCAA
Brandon Smith Minnesota – NCAA
Terrance Whiters Arkansas Tech – NCAA2
Kyle Chones Colgate
Jeremy Clayton Appalachian State
Mikheil Berishvili Georgia National Team
Lester Hudson Tennessee-Martin – NCAA
Robert Vaden UAB – NCAA
Keith Brumbaugh Hillsborough Community College
Patrick Sanders UC-Irvine – NCAA
Gavin Grant NC State – NCAA
AJ Graves Butler – NCAA
James Mays Clemson – NCAA
Marcus Hubbard Angelo State – NCAA2
Malik Hairston Oregon – NCAA
Mike Cook Pittsburgh – NCAA
Joe Crawford Kentucky – NCAA
Emmanuel Little North Dakota – NCAA2
Othyus Jeffers Robert Morris – NCAA
Robbie Cowgill Washington State – NCAA
Gary Forbes UMASS – NCAA
C.J. Giles Oregon State – NCAA
Daniel Dillon Arizona – NCAA
Patrick Ewing Jr. Georgetown – NCAA
David Padgett Louisville – NCAA
Rob Kurz Notre Dame – NCAA
Maureece Rice George Washington – NCAA
Russell Robinson Kansas – NCAA
Marcel Jones Oregon State – NCAA
DeVon Hardin California – NCAA
Steven Hill Arkansas – NCAA
Damone Morris Eckerd – NCAA2
Charles Rhodes Mississippi State – NCAA
Jawann McClellan Arizona – NCAA
Lanny Smith Houston – NCAA
Reggie Larry Boise State – NCAA
Brandon Cotton Detroit Mercy – NCAA
Taj McCullough Winthrop – NCAA
Rob McKiver Houston – NCAA
Keith Benjamin Pittsburgh – NCAA
Marcus Malone Houston – NCAA
Roy Bright Delaware St. -- NCAA
Dion Dowell Houston – NCAA

Monday, October 20, 2008

NBA D-League Draft Set for November 7

Tulsa 66ers To Pick First In 2008 NBA D-League Draft

Oct 14, 2008 - New York - The Tulsa 66ers won the 2008 NBA Development League's draft lottery and will have the first overall selection in the 2008 NBA D-League Draft on Friday, Nov. 7. The lottery took place in Dallas, TX today at the League's annual Fall Meetings.

“Having the number one pick is what teams always hope for, and we’re excited to have it,” said 66ers head coach Paul Woolpert. “Now we have to compile a list, do our homework, and start building a team for the fans in Tulsa.”

The Colorado 14ers secured the second selection, while the Idaho Stampede, Sioux Falls Skyforce and Bakersfield Jam rounded out the top five.

The 2008 NBA D-League’s Draft will take place live from the NBA TV studio in Atlanta, GA. The eighth-annual event will be telecast on NBA TV and streamed on-line ( beginning at 7 pm EST.

The NBA D-League Draft utilizes a “serpentine” format, meaning the order will alternate in each of the ten rounds. For example, the team picking last in the first round will select first in the second round, giving them the 16th and 17th overall choices.

“With the draft order in place, we’re one step closer to getting the 2008-09 season underway,” said Chris Alpert, Vice President of Basketball Operations and Player Personnel for the NBA D-League. “It’s exciting to welcome top NBA prospects into our draft and our league.”

The order of the first round will be:

1. Tulsa 66ers

2. Colorado 14ers

3. Idaho Stampede

4. Sioux Falls Skyforce

5. Bakersfield Jam

6. Fort Wayne Mad Ants

7. Erie BayHawks

8. Anaheim Arsenal

9. Utah Flash

10. Reno Bighorns

11. Dakota Wizards

12. Rio Grande Valley Vipers

13. Los Angeles D-Fenders

14. Albuquerque Thunderbirds

15. Iowa Energy

16. Austin Toros

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Naismith Hall of Fame Weekend

Congratulations to Cathy Rush, Adrian Dantley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, Dick Vitale, Bill Davidson, and Pat Riley for their induction into the Naismith Hall of Fame. All are extremely deserving of this highest honor in basketball.

On a personal level I was thrilled when it was announced Patrick Ewing had made it into the Hall. I had the great honor of being an assistant coach in the 1991 NBA All Star Game in Charlotte along with Don Casey and Chris Ford. We had some of the greatest who have ever played the game on that team.

One of my favorite players from that weekend was Patrick. In my opinion he is not only one of the greatest players who played the game, but one of the best coaches in the game today. I believe Patrick will be coaching his own team in the near future. It is wonderful to see such a great person such as Patrick receive the kind of personal recognition he so richly deserves.

Another highlight from induction weekend was learning more about Cathy Rush. Rush coached tiny Immaculata University to three consecutive national championships finishing her career with a 149-15 record! She is definitely one of the greats of the game. As a student of the game, I am glad the Hall recognized her great achievements.

The induction of Bill Davidson was richly deserved. Mr. Davidson bought the Pistons in the 1970's and built the team into a championship caliber franchise. While the Pistons were always our rivals in the 1980's and 1990's when I was with the Celtics, you could not help but admire their organization.

I cannot recall how many conversations I had over the years about Adrian Dantley with Red Auerbach. Red knew Adrian when he was growing up in Washington, D.C. through one of his close friends, Morgan Wootten, the greatest high school coach and Hall of Famer. Coach Wootten coached Adrian in high school and Red thought Adrian one of the greatest to play the game. Red was always interested in finding a way to bring Adrian to the Celtics. I am sure Red would be thrilled Adrian has joined him in the Hall of Fame.

Finally, I want to congratulate my friend Val Ackerman for receiving the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hall of Fame. Val is one of the greats in the game and more importantly, a great person. Val was the original president of the WNBA and is currently the president of USA Basketball. Val is one of the people most responsible for our basketball success in the Beijing Olympics.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Portland Boys and Girls Club Dinner

Basketball group waiting for go-ahead
Potential owners of a D-League team in Portland are eager to get the franchise and start work.

By JENN MENENDEZ, Staff Writer August 15, 2008

K.C. Jones was an NBA rookie in 1958 when he came to Maine for the first time.

He loaded into a car to drive from Boston to play a string of exhibitions with the Boston Celtics. He recalls getting stuck riding with Coach Red Auerbach at the wheel.

Stuck, he says, because Auerbach "just didn't drive well. So the rookies went with him."
Jones hopes to make a few new memories of Maine.

So does Jon Jennings, who brought Jones to Portland on Thursday to speak at a fund-raising dinner for the Boys and Girls Club. They are part of the ownership group trying to bring an NBA Development League team to Portland for 2009-10.

Jennings hoped to be given a franchise by the end of this summer, but is now preparing to wait until the fall while the league works on expanding east.

The 16-team league primarily operates in the Midwest and West. But league officials are trying to bring a cluster of teams to the Northeast, which would create natural rivalries and reasonable travel costs.

"The great thing from our standpoint is the NBA wants to do this right," said Jennings. "I think it's fair to say we've done everything they've required of us and we've been working our tails off to get this thing done."

The D-League president, Dan Reed, was unavailable for comment.

Ideally, Jennings said, the ownership group would have at least a year to prepare. The team is interested in being an affiliate of the Celtics, making improvements to the Portland Expo and building a fan base.

"There's an enormous amount of work to be done," said Jennings. "So all of us are hoping a decision will be made in the near future."

Jones' role, said Jennings, is likely to expand if Portland is awarded a franchise.

"We hope in the future he'll take a more sizeable role," said Jennings, a former assistant coach with the Celtics. "K.C. has been like a father to me. He brought me into the Celtics. And he was the first guy I called when I decided to do this."

The group is led by Jennings, Bill Ryan Jr., owner of Oxford Plains Speedway, and Bill Ryan Sr., chairman of the board of TD Banknorth. The group announced its intentions last winter, originally hoping it might be possible to begin operations for the 2008-09 season. That idea quickly faded, and playing in the 2009-10 season became a more realistic timetable.

In March the group ironed out a five-season lease agreement with the city to play at the Expo, which would cost $42,000 a year to start. The team would pay $250,000 for building improvements, as well as be responsible for all team operating costs at the Expo.

Jones, who wore a shiny gold NBA championship ring from 1986 on his left hand, also toted his gold medal from the 1956 Olympics to share with kids from the Boys and Girls Club.

He said he's grown to believe in the merits of the D-League -- the reason he became involved.
"They have a chance to get to the NBA," said Jones. "I think the D-League would do well here. It would give players a chance."

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

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