ELMHURST, Ill. – Summit League alumni received half of the NBA Development League awards announced this season. Ron Howard (Valparaiso, 2004-06) was named NBA D-League Co-MVP and garnered the Sportsmanship Award for the second consecutive season. Frank Gaines (Fort Wayne, 2010-13) was voted as the D-League's Most Improved Player. NBA D-League awards are voted on by the 17 head coaches.
Howard, who became the NBA D-League's career scoring leader in March, appeared in 49 games, averaging a career-best 20.5 points along with 4.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. He led the Fort Wayne Mad Ants to their first NBA D-League Championship after posting a franchise record and D-League best 36-14 record, the East Division Championship and top overall playoff seed. Howard led his team in scoring 24 times and was the high-assist man in 22 games during the regular season. He earned his third All-Star honor during the 2013-14 campaign.
Off the court, Howard is active in the Fort Wayne community and mentors boys at Northwood Elementary School while also volunteering with the Feed My Starting Children Program. He earned the D-League's Jason Collier Sportsmanship Award for the first time in 2012-13. Summit League alumni have won the award in four consecutive seasons, including Larry Owens (Oral Roberts, 2005-06) in 2010-11 and Moses Ehambe (Oral Roberts, 2005-08) in 2011-12.
Gaines averaged 22.4 points, fourth-highest in the D-League, along with 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 48 games. He averaged 19.2 points per game from Nov.-Jan. before improving to 25.4 points per contest Feb.-April. Gaines also earned honorable mention all-league recognition and was selected to the all-rookie team. He was the first pick of the second round of the D-League's 2013 Draft.
Howard and Gaines were two of a record 10 former Summit Leaguers on NBA or D-League rosters this season. Joining the duo in the D-League were Damen Bell-Holter (Oral Roberts, 2010-13), Ehambe, Reggie Hamilton (Kansas City, 2008-09/Oakland, 2011-12), Trey McKinney-Jones (Kansas City, 2009-10) and also a member of the Mad Ants D-League Championship team, Owens and Charlie Westbrook (South Dakota, 2012).
The 2008 and 2013 Summit League Players of the Year enjoyed success in the NBA this season. Former first round pick George Hill (IUPUI, 2005-08) is in his third season as a starter for the Indiana Pacers and led the team to the best record in the Eastern Conference. 2013 second-rounder Nate Wolters (South Dakota State, 2010-13) started 31 games, including seven of his first nine as a pro, for the Milwaukee Bucks before a hand injury ended his rookie campaign.