[Boston Howler] From Prized Prospects to All Stars

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[Boston Howler] From Prized Prospects to All Stars

Postby BigCed » March 25th, 2018, 9:37 am

From Prized Prospects to All Stars: Looking Back at the 2015 FBA Draft
Cedric O’Toole, Special to the Boston Howler

Whether you had the chance to go to Lorain for All Star Week as I did, or you watched the festivities at home, you no doubt noticed. A new guard is taking over the FBA. They have paid their dues over their first few years in the league, and now they are poised to lead the way into a new era of basketball. They are the FBA Draft Class of 2015, and they have arrived. Seven players from the 2015 Class played in the All Star Game. Two more competed in the Three Point Shootout.

Given that All Star Week is in the books, and the attention of the basketball world has shifted to the FCAA Tournament and the FBA prospects taking part in it, now seems as good a time as any to look back at a group of players who were prized prospects themselves three years ago.

Then: Montana Taking Bengtzing #6 Overall is a Reach
Now: Bengtzing Was the Only Center for the East All Stars

In 1977, “experts” said Vicki Turner couldn’t compete in the FBA, because she was a woman. Nearly a decade later, they said the same thing about Jeremiah Vanhorn, because he was an avian. You would think people paid to talk about basketball for a living would have learned by now that when you doubt a true baller, they will more often than not prove you dead wrong.

Sterling Bengtzing has proven that to be true once again. The son of FBA champion Ferdinand Bengtzing, Sterling has inherited his father’s passion for the game of basketball and drive to succeed. Scouts and analysts interpreted this as “an attitude problem” and claimed at 6’9” he was “too short” to play his preferred position of center.

Those concerns, tepid back then, are laughable now. Bengtzing has literally grown into the role of FBA center (adding height as well as muscle), and just as he did in high school and college, he plays bigger than his size. After coming within one game of an FBA championship in his second season, he left the Howlers for the VooDoo, marking the start of new chapter for him and the Biloxi franchise. After being selected as the only center to the East All Star team this season, the new era of “Heja VooDoo” appears to be off to a fine start.

Then: Whips Select FCAA Champion Morgan McCarthy
Now: Whips Have 2nd Worst Record in the West

As recently as 2015, the then Santa Fe Whips appeared to have a plan for life after “The Goat”. They followed up signing Lance Wildfyre out of free agency by drafting Morgan McCarthy, a center who had just led Phoenix University to the FCAA title. “Mount McCarthy” appeared to be the hooved heir apparent to Zindendel, the next face of the franchise.

Three years and a move to Arizona later, the future of the Whips couldn’t be less clear. Wildfyre requested a sign-and-trade this past offseason and got a one-way ticket to Bangor. Despite rookie JC Golde starring for them at the off guard, it’s painfully obvious that the team misses Wildfyre running the point. They currently sit near the bottom of the West, with only division rival Texas having a worse record.

There is no doubt that McCarthy is Arizona’s best player. He has said he feels at home with the organization and is currently signed through 2021. But it’s also fair to ask this question: does McCarthy want to waste the prime of his career on a rebuilding team, any more than his former teammate Wildfyre did? Is it possible that McCarthy asks to be traded as well?

Then: Derek Kim Slides Out of the Top 10
Now: Kim Leaves Winnipeg

The most surprising development of the 2015 FBA Draft was Derek Kim, considered by many to be the best pure point guard available, being passed over by several teams that arguably could have used him. The highly touted Kkachi would see 10 of his peers selected before he was finally picked, by Winnipeg at #11 overall.

Though the wait to be drafted for Kim was over, the fact that it was the Voyageurs who picked him, a team that seemed set at guard at the time, was almost as surprising as Kim falling out of the Top 10 in the first place. The question “How good could Kim be?” was soon replaced by a new query, “Can Kim in Winnipeg even work?”

Three years later, both questions seem to have been answered. Concerned that his game was, in his words, “stagnating” in Winnipeg, Kim left for Biloxi this past offseason, joining fellow draftee Sterling Bengtzing. Kim also joined Bengtzing on the East All Star team this season, one in which his game has been anything but stagnant. Only time will tell how the Voyageurs adjust to Kim moving on, but it’s clear that Kim has found the “fresh air” he was seeking down on the Bayou.

Then: Misha Maxwell Traded on Draft Night
Now: Maxwell Shares a Backcourt with Ryan Malone in Las Vegas

A somewhat less surprising development on draft night was Roslindale’s own Misha Maxwell, celebrated locally for her four years starring for Havaardwak, being traded on draft night. The team that selected her, Williamsburg, was set then as now at guard, with Vera La Tierra at the point and Crystal Davis at the off guard respectively. Not long after picking her, the Minutemen sent Maxwell to Las Vegas in a deal that included Sebastian Kosciusko and the #21 overall pick, which Williamsburg used to select Conor Caracal.

Since arriving in Sin City, the cheetah from Rozy has shined as bright as any of the lights on The Strip. This past offseason saw her performance rewarded with a big Vegas payout in the form of a five year, $64.5 million contract. But before you could say “house pays out”, the Wildcards decided to raise the stakes by signing Ryan Malone, longtime face of the Dakota Bikers, out of free agency. Now with two shooting guards who considered themselves starters, one of them would have to make the move to the point.

By the time the season began, the starting lineup was set. The veteran Malone would run the offense from the point, after over a decade of mostly playing at the off guard and despite Maxwell arguably being the better passer of the two. The result so far? Probably not as good as Vegas hoped for, as the Wildcards currently sit a few spots out of the playoffs in the West.

Then: Dakota Takes Matthew Silvius #14 Overall
Now: Silvius Has Been an MVP Candidate for Most of the Season

Three years ago, Dakota used their first of two first round picks to draft Matthew Silvius, a sharpshooting weasel guard out of Atlanta Tech. At the end of his second season, the Bikers finished with the league’s worst record, and the team had a big decision to make. Would they sign Silvius to a high priced extension and build around him? Or would they let their leading scorer walk, not wanting to pay top dollar for a player that may or may not take the next step towards superstardom?

Ultimately, Dakota decided to spend the money to bring Silvius back. They then followed that deal by bolstering the lineup around the weasel, signing Jonathan Lawyer out of free agency, trading for Ben Durby, and bringing back Dylan Redfield.

With the team reloaded and reenergized, Dakota has gone from worst to first. What’s more, Silvius has proven his worth, ranking as one of the top passers, scorers and shooters in the league. After suffering a hairline clavicle fracture on March 11, which will take a month to recover from, Dakota’s star player may fall out of the running for FBA MVP. But unfortunate injury aside, it appears that the three point shooter who went in the middle of the first round in 2015 has blossomed into the best player from a great FBA Draft class.

Then: Yesina Selas Selected at the End of the First Round
Now: Selas is Enjoying a Comeback

The FBA Draft Class of 2015 is as deep as it is talented. Lindsey Morrison, picked #41 overall, now starts for the Baltimore Spirits. Christian Ashbury, picked with the first selection of the second round by Montana, represented the Howlers in the Three Point Shootout this season. And at the end of the first round, just before Ashbury was drafted, the Santa Ana Spectrums selected a red ruffed lemur by the name of Yesina Selas.

With the draft positions at the end of the first round usually belonging to the league’s elite teams, who boast both star talent and depth, little if anything is expected of a player like Selas. So it was when the defending FBA Champions took her #24 overall. In her first few seasons, Selas didn’t do much to exceed those low expectations. She followed up a rookie season which saw her represent the West in the Rookie All Star Game with an unremarkable sophomore campaign. By the start of this season, it appeared that Selas would be left to fade away into obscurity in the D-League.

As it turned out, Selas wouldn’t remain in the D-League for long. In December, the Albany Alphas, in rebuilding mode with Umaechi having left for Baltimore, signed Selas to a league minimum contract. She has taken advantage of the opportunity, working her way into the starting lineup. Wins have been few and far between for the Alphas this season, but when the team does manage to win, the fiercely competitive lemur is the one who drives them. She has left no doubt that she belongs in the league, and this time she is here to stay.

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