FRISCO, Texas — Playing in the NBA Development League is a new experience for Devin Ebanks, but the former West Virginia University standout is definitely excelling in his new environment.In 21 games with the Texas Legends, a franchise owned by the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, Ebanks ranks second in the D-League in scoring at 24.7 points a game and is sixth in rebounding with a 9.6 average.The former Lakers big man ended up in the D-League after being cut by the Mavericks in the preseason. Since then, he's been shooting at almost a 44 percent clip. He's been showing he can consistently make shots — and potentially get an NBA call-up."[I] just showed I can shoot the ball better in my offensive game," Ebanks said. "I think that was a big question while I was in the league. Being able to work on it this past summer and showing it now is helping me."
Ebanks is one of four players on the Frisco-based Legends, a team coached by Eduardo Najera (who played 12 years in the NBA), with experience in the NBA. That mix of experience and youth has helped Texas to a 12-9 start and has the Legends just one game out of a playoff spot."We've got a good mix," Ebanks said. "Our whole starting five has been in the league for at least three or four years or more. It's good to have a team like that. Plus the young guys here can learn from us and really get a feel of what it would be like to be in the NBA."Having several veterans like Ebanks has definitely helped Najera, who is in his second year as the Legends' head coach."Obviously he's very talented," Najera said of Ebanks. "I really, really think he's an NBA player. He's still really young. It's not easy to go to a big market like L.A. He didn't really have an opportunity there to play. But I think he was so young. ... Now he's serious about it, and he wants to be in the NBA. He wants to do all the right things."
Ebanks, 24, left the Mountaineers after his sophomore year and was a second-round pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. He played 63 games, including 15 starts, during his three seasons with the Lakers and averaged 3.6 points and 1.9 rebounds.Los Angeles, however, didn't offer him an opportunity to remain a Laker, so he moved to Dallas during the preseason. After being cut there, he joined the Legends. His great start has already led to interest from several NBA teams."I spoke to a lot of teams in the [D-League] Showcase and they all had positive things to say," Ebanks said. "So right now I'm just waiting on a call to see if I can help a team in the NBA."The ex-Mountaineer has shown he can score, rebound and more."I'm happy we got him here," Najera said. "He brings a lot of scoring and athleticism. He developed his basketball IQ with the Lakers. I think that's the biggest surprise I've seen. His basketball IQ is actually really, really good."Steve Hunt is a freelance writer based in Frisco, Texas.