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NBA D-League Update: Howell, Brown, Fells, Costner and More

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Richard Howell

Last week, Gino Pilato of D-League Digest broke the news that Richard Howell bought out the rest of his contract with the Idaho Stampede. As one of the top-producing big men in the league, he is leaving to play with the Talk’n Text Tropang Texters of the Philippine Basketball Association

After hearing this, I reached out to Rich in order to determine the reason. After a couple of days of phone tag, Rich texted me with the reason he is leaving the Stampede—and the reason he had been too busy to chat.

“Basically, I just need to provide for my two little girls,” Howell said in a text. “In France [where he played earlier in the summer], I was making good money. I came to the D-League and, to my standards, I needed more money that what I was making.

“I’ve always wanted to play in the NBA, which is the reason I came back to the states. At the end of the day, I want to provide anything that my girls want, and I can’t do that in the D-League.”

Currently, Howell is in Raleigh, spending time with one of his daughters. He will be leaving for the Philippines on Feb. 10.

Other Players Still in the League

Brandon Costner, Los Angeles D-Fenders
(Current Stats: 12 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 34 FG%)

Though he is averaging the worst point total and shooting percentage of his D- League career, Costner is heating up as of late. The 6’9” power forward has scored over 10 points in eight of 11 games in January so far.

Lorenzo Brown, Delaware 87ers
(Current Stats: 17.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 6.8 apg)

Brown continues to seesaw from the 87ers and the Philidelphia 76ers, even playing for both teams in one day. But, fortunately for him, it has not affect his production. Brown has scored over 20 points in three of his last six games.

Courtney Fells, Austin Toros
(Current Stats: 15.1 ppg, 4 rpg, 2.8 apg)

Courtney Fells has been a constant producer for the Toros. Fells has seen an uptick in production lately, averaging 18 points over his last eight games, and scoring over 20 points three of his last six games.

Dennis Horner, Springfield Armor
(Current Stats: 15.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.1 apg)

After a disappointing 2012-13 season where he averaged 12 points, Horner has his career back on track. Horner was last in the NBA in March 2012 with the Nets. He has scored at least 20 points and 10 rebounds over his last two games.

C.J. Leslie, Erie BayHawks
(Current Stats: 12 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 45.7 FG%)

When we last checked in with Leslie, his play was sporatic. That hasn’t changed so far. Though he has had a couple 20-point games this season, he has yet to develop a consistent touch. In his last game against the Iowa Energy on Jan. 26, he went scoreless. This D-League experience is at least doing something positive for his career: keeping him off a terrible Knicks team.

C.J. Williams, Los Angeles D-Fenders
(Current Stats: 13.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.5 apg)

Williams has been relatively quiet this season, but he recently exploded onto the scene. He has scored over 15 points in four of his last five games, and, in his last game on Jan. 27, he scored 36 points of 15-20 shooting from the field, going 4-7 from behind the arc.

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Justin Gainey Named Associate Head Coach at Marquette

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Former NC State Point Guard Justin Gainey (1997-00) has been hired by Marquette as their Associate Head Coach, serving along head coach Steve Wojciechowski, the former Duke point guard.

“We are excited to welcome Justin and the Gainey family back to Marquette,” Wojciechowski said.  “Justin is one of the nation’s top rising coaches and his talents, ability to build meaningful relationships and myriad of experiences alongside some of the game’s best teachers will serve our program, and most importantly our players, incredibly well.” (Link)

This isn’t Gainey’s first stint at Marquette, serving as Director of Operations from 2014-17. The past two seasons, Gainey served as an Assistant Coach with Sean Miller at Arizona. Prior to that, he served as an Assistant Coach at Santa Clara for one season with his former head coach at NC State, Herb Sendek.

Gainey’s coaching career began at NC State, where he served as Director of Operations for three seasons (2006-09), and then he went on to work at Appalachian State and Elon as well.

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Dennis Smith Jr. Showing Love to Fayetteville in the Midst of Covid-19

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Former NC State Freshman of the Year Dennis Smith Jr. never forgets where he came from. The New York Knicks Point Guard is always showing love for Fayetteville, North Carolina.

According to Ian Begley, DSJ is providing food vouchers for 575 first responders at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, and 32 computers for local students in Fayetteville.

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Andrew Knizner Enters 2020 as the #6 Prospect in the Cardinals Organization

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Former NC State Catcher Andrew Knizner enters the 2020 season ranked as the #6 prospect in the Cardinals organization.

Knizner was drafted in the 7th round by St. Louis in 2016, and was called up for the 1st time to the Big Leagues last year, when Yadier Molina was placed on the disabled list.

The jump wasn’t an easy one, with Knizner hitting .226 in 18 games.

Despite some time in the Majors at the end of last season, Knizner will begin 2020 in Triple-A Memphis, where he has already played 83 games, hitting .283.

Cardinals legend Molina is back to full strength, and backup Matt Wieters was signed to a 1-year deal, meaning it’s not quite time for Knizner.

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Will Wilson Enters 2020 as the #10 Prospect in the Giants Organization

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Former NC State All-American Shortstop Will Wilson will is entering the 2020 baseball season ranked as the #10 prospect in the San Francisco Giants organization.

After being drafted by the Angels with the 15th overall pick in the MLB Draft last year, Wilson hit .275 in 46 games of Rookie ball with the Orem Owlz.

In December, the Angels traded him to the Giants.

In his final season at NC State, Wilson led the team with a .335 batting average, 20 doubles, 16 home runs and a .661 slugging percentage, and finished eighth all-time in career doubles (57) and homers (39), and ninth in total bases (409).

Wilson is the 3rd highest draft pick in NC State history, and only the 2nd batter to be drafted in the 1st round, alongside another shortstop who is currently in the league as well: Trea Turner.

According to MLB.com, Wilson is expected to make it to the Majors in 2022.

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