The NBA’s Development League isn’t just a stepping stone designed to help players get the experience they need to advance to the game’s highest level.
It’s also a training ground for aspiring NBA coaches.
Among them is former North Carolina star Jerry Stackhouse, who Wednesday was named the D League’s Coach of the Year in his first season on the job. The Kinston native earned the award in a vote of the league’s head coaches after leading Raptors 905 to a 39-11 record, its first Central Division championship and the top overall seed in the playoffs.
Raptors 905 is an affiliate of the Toronto Raptors, located in Mississauga, Ontario. In addition to posting the D-League’s best record, Stackhouse’s team also set a new mark with 21 road wins and finished the regular season with the league’s best defense while holding opponents to an average of 98.8 points per game and 42.8 percent shooting from the floor.
An 18-year NBA veteran and two-time all-star as a player, Stackhouse previously served as an assistant with the Toronto Raptors before taking over the D-League assignment.
Among his top players is former NC State star C.J. Leslie, whose strong effort on Sunday got Raptors 905 off to a fast start in its best-of-three Eastern Conference final against the Maine Red Claws.
Leslie scored 33 points in just 21 minutes of action in Game 1, a 109-84 victory, going 12 for 18 from the floor (3 of 7 on 3-pointers), with 11 rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot. His team was plus-19 while he was on the floor. The 6-foot-8 forward managed only two points with seven rebounds in Game 2 on Wednesday, but Raptors 905 still cruised to a 103-88 victory and a spot in the D-League championship series.
For the season, Leslie is averaging 11.4 points and 6.0 rebounds while shooting 54.4 percent from the floor.
Raptors 905 will take on the Rio Grande Vipers for the league title.
Rio Grande swept the Oklahoma City Blue in the Western Conference series, winning Game 1 118-105 on Sunday with UNC alumnus J.P. Tokoto contributing three points, two rebounds and two steals in 12 minutes. Tokoto played only three scoreless minutes in Wednesday's series-clinching 114-102 win.
For the season, Tokoto averages 13.6 points and 5.7 rebounds.
Another former Tar Heel, P.J. Hairston, is also on Rio Grande’s active roster, but he has yet to play since being reinstated from a five-game suspension handed down last month for a violation of the league’s drug policy.
Here are the final regular season stats of all D-League players from North Carolina college:
- Cat Barber, NC State (Delaware/Greensboro): 40 games, 16.4 ppg, 3.2 apg, 4.7 rpg
- Lorenzo Brown, NC State (Grand Rapids Drive): 11 games, 23.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 4.0 apg
- Quinn Cook, Duke¹ (Canton Charge): 39 games, 26.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 6.7 apg
- Andre Dawkins, Duke (Windy City/Texas): 42 games, 11.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 0.9 apg
- Courtney Fells, NC State (Westchester/Texas: 40 games, 11.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.7 apg,, 1.9 spg
- P.J. Hairston, UNC (Rio Grande Valley Vipers): 10 games, 11.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg,, 1.6 apg
- Ryan Kelly, Duke (Maine Red Claws): 22.8 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 1.1 bpg, .508 FG, .359 3P
- C.J. Leslie, NC State (Raptors 905): 45 games, 11.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.5 apg
- Kendall Marshall, UNC (Reno Bighorns): 21 games, 15.1 ppg, 3.8 apg, 9.0 rpg
- Marcus Paige, UNC (Salt Lake City Stars): 46 games, 12.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.2 apg
- Marshall Plumlee, Duke⁴ (Westchester Knicks): 15 games, 12.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.3 bpg
- Jaleel Roberts, UNC Asheville (SLC Stars): 15 games, 2.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg
- Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke (Greensboro Swarm): 49 games, 13.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.2 apg
- J.P. Tokoto, UNC (Rio Grande Valley Vipers): 43 games, 13.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.7 apg, 2.4 spg
- Ralston Turner, NC State (Greensboro Swarm): 37 games, 4.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg
- Terry Whisnant, ECU (Iowa Energy): 45 games, 9.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.0 apg
- C,J. Williams, NC State (Texas Legends): 50 games, 12.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.8 apg
- Coron Williams, Wake Forest (Maine Red Claws): 50 games, 7.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.4 apg
- Prince Williams, ECU (Greensboro Swarm): 24 games, 3.0 ppg, .0.6 rpg, 0.5 apg
- Scott Wood, NC State (Santa Cruz Warriors): 50 games, 14.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.2 apg
- 1-called up by New Orleans Pelicans, 2-called up by NY Knicks, 3-called up by Atlanta Hawks 4-called up by LA Clippers