Arizona Basketball

Brandon Ashley a D-League All-Star: What does it mean?



Brandon Ashley is averaging 13.9 points and 6.4 rebounds a game for Texas (Texas Legends photo)

Brandon Ashley is averaging 13.9 points and 6.4 rebounds a game for Texas (Texas Legends photo)

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The good news about Brandon Ashley’s selection today to the NBA D-League All-Star Game: It means he is being noticed for his contribution to the Texas Legends, posting six double-doubles so far this season.

The bad news: Although it is an honor, and a sign Ashley is reaching his potential, playing in the D-League all-star game does not always guarantee future NBA success.

Since the game was introduced in 2007, the MVP of the event has gone on to be a regular in the NBA only once — Miami’s Gerald Green, who has played in the NBA in the last five seasons. The 2014 MVP, Robert Covington, is in his second year in the NBA, playing for Philadelphia after beginning his career with Houston before his release.

Last year’s D-League all-star game MVP, shooting guard Andre Emmmett, is playing in Korea. The 2011 MVP, center Courtney Sims, is also playing in Korea.

Tucson’s own Bryce Cotton, a Palo Verde grad, played in the D-League All-Star Game last year as a member of the Austin Spurs. This is Cotton’s odyssey since that game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn last February:

Feb. 24, 2015: Cotton signed a 10-day contract with the Utah Jazz.

March 6: Signed a second 10-day contract with the Jazz.

March 16: Signed a multi-year deal with the Jazz with a team option after the first year.

Oct. 20: Waived by the Jazz.

Oct. 30: Reacquired by the Austin Spurs.

Nov. 25: Signed with the Phoenix Suns.


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Jan. 7, 2016: Waived by the Suns after appearing in three games.

Jan. 12: Returned to the Austin Spurs (who have former Arizona guard Nick Johnson on their roster).

Jan. 25: Parted ways with Austin and signed with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association.

What it all means is the odds are stacked against Ashley of reaching and sustaining his NBA dream. He can look at Green’s career development as encouragement. Covington also appears to have found his niche with the Sixers.

But the seven other MVP’s of the D-League All-Star Game have taken the path Cotton unfortunately is on right now, playing overseas. The silver-lining: At least Ashley and Cotton are getting paid to play the game they love and they can always dream the big dream and be motivated to finally find their place in the NBA someday. publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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