March 25, 2010

Former Claw just happy filling a role

Mario West sees little action for the Atlanta Hawks, but proves a valued practice player.

(Continued from page 1)

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Mario West’s time with the Maine Red Claws included a thundering dunk over Taylor Griffin on New Year’s Day. Now he’s signed with the Atlanta Hawks for the rest of the season.

2009 Press Herald File

Atlanta Hawks Media Day
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Mario West

Over the course of the season, Jennings said he's fielded calls from NBA teams inquiring about almost every player, if not for a call-up this year, perhaps about a summer-league invite.

Recently, Jennings said he's had interest in leading scorer Morris Almond (21.6 ppg), center Paul Davis (15.3 ppg), and guards Maurice Ager (15.2 ppg) and Russell Robinson (15.4 ppg).

"Those are four players people have consistently talked to me about. I think there is a strong level of interest," said Jennings. "It's a funny position to be in. You don't necessarily want to have your players called up. It doesn't mean it will translate into wins for you. But that is our ultimate responsibility, to get the players to the next level. It's what we're here for."

Some D-League success stories this year: Reggie Williams, a 6-foot-6 small forward from Sioux Falls signed with the Golden State Warriors and is averaging 25 minutes a game and 14.2 points.

Anthony Tolliver, a 6-9 forward, scored 25 points against Phoenix on Monday night for the Warriors. He was playing for the Idaho Stampede just two months ago.

Cedric Jackson was playing for the expansion Erie BayHawks as a rookie before signing a 10-day contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this month with guard Tony Parker injured.

Sundiata Gaines, the No. 3 point guard for the Utah Jazz, found himself with a very key shot just a few games after being called up from the Stampede.

"He was not in a camp, gets called up to the Jazz, and in his third or fourth game with three seconds left, the ball is in his hands," said Alpert. "He shoots. Wins the game. This is a guy on a 10-day contract whose coach believed in him to put the ball in his hands with seven seconds left.

"We still think we have a lot of very talented young prospects."

West counts his time in Maine as a critical period, and has higher aspirations for his NBA future.

"It was a wonderful growing process for me," said West. "The fan support was great. The teammates and coaching staff were great. When I got called up I was really, really excited. Nervous. I had every emotion. I love every bit of it."

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

jmenendez@pressherald.com

 

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