Former huskies thriving in the NBA D-League

Daniel Hamilton slams home a dunk in an NCAA tournament game against Colorado on March 17th, 2016. (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

Former UConn players Ben Gordon and Daniel Hamilton have been putting up big numbers in the NBA Development League over the past couple of weeks.

As a shooting guard at UConn from 2001-04, Gordon was an integral part of the Huskies’ 2004 National Championship run. Gordon was drafted No. 3 overall by the Chicago Bulls, and played nine years in the league for the Bulls, Pistons and Bobcats before getting waived before both the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

Undeterred by those setbacks, Gordon signed with the Texas Legends of the D-League midway through the 2016-17 season and has been a dangerous scorer recently. Through 11 games, Gordon has averaged 16.3 points, 3.7 assists and 2.7 points per game on 50 percent shooting from the field, 42.9 percent from the 3-point line and 91.7 percent from the free throw line.

In the Legends’ game Saturday against the Sioux Falls Skyforce, Gordon was a flamethrower. With three minutes left to go in the first quarter, he missed a 25 foot 3-point jump shot. He didn’t miss a shot for the rest of the game, scoring 34 points on 12-13 field goals and 3-4 three pointers. 

The Dallas Mavericks, the Legends’ NBA affiliate, are dead-last in the NBA in points per game, but they’re unlikely to sign Gordon any time soon as the team is moving into full-on tank mode. A much more likely destination for Gordon is a playoff contender looking for bench scoring, Ridiculous Upside’s Francis Adu told the Daily Campus.

“I could see the Wizards considering Ben since they're desperate for bench help,” Adu said. “I feel confident in saying (Bojan) Bogdanovic won't solve those woes himself if at all.”

Although his numbers have been less flashy, forward Daniel Hamilton has been putting up solid numbers for the Oklahoma City Blue in his rookie year.

Hamilton played for the Huskies from 2014-16, choosing to enter the NBA Draft after his sophomore year. He was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in the second round and was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder who assigned him to their D-League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue, in November.

Hamilton has averaged a workman-like 14.7 points, 3.7 assists, and 8.9 boards per game for the Blue, shooting 41.3 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from the 3-point line along with 10 double-doubles on the season.

Gordon and Hamilton squared off last Friday as the Blue faced the Legends. Gordon was quiet, only taking two shots and sinking one three while Hamilton dominated, narrowly missing a triple double with a career-high 32 points, 11 assists and 9 rebounds, including scoring 14 points in the third quarter.  

Despite performing well recently in the D-League, Hamilton might not be prime for a call-up just yet.

“I do have the worry he'll never be quite good enough on the ball to be worth many opportunities,” Adu said. “But he plays with good energy and obviously reads the floor extremely well on both ends.”

Ben Gordon and Daniel Hamilton aren’t the only UConn players in the D-League, however.

Shonn Miller, a guard who was a graduate transfer last year for UConn, currently plays for the Greensboro Swarm, the Charlotte Hornets’ D-League affiliate. He had 18 points, eight rebounds, and was plus-21 off the bench in a win against the Westchester Knicks Saturday.

Roscoe Smith, another former UConn forward in the D-League, is coming off the bench for the Delaware 87ers. Smith played for UConn from 2010 to 2012, winning a championship with the Huskies during the 2011 season.

Two other former Husky guards, Sterling Gibbs and Lasan Kromah, were drafted by D-League teams in October, by the Windy City Bulls and the Westchester Knicks, respectively. Both players were waived mid-season and now play together on Egis Kormend, a basketball club in Hungary.


Luke Swanson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus.  He can be reached via email at luke.swanson@uconn.edu.