Hornets D-League team gearing up for season

Hornet affiliate player Perry Ellis, left, hams it up with head coach Noel Gillespie during media day.

Hornets D-League team gearing up for season
November 10
03:00 2016

Photo by Timothy Ramsey



The basketball season is upon us once again.  The NBA season just tipped off and now it’s time for the NBA Development League (D-League) to do the same.  The Charlotte Hornets will unveil its newly formed D-league team the Greensboro Swarm this season.

The NBA D-League is the NBA’s official minor league, preparing players, coaches, officials, trainers and front office staff for the NBA while acting as the league’s research and development laboratory.  The D-League began play during the 2001-02 season and is entering its 16th season. The league currently has 22 singly affiliated teams.

The Swarm, an expansion franchise, opened training camp on Wednesday, Nov. 2.  Included in the 15-man roster are three affiliate players of the Hornets – Perry Ellis, Rasheed Sulaimon and Mike Tobey.

Head Coach Noel Gillespie says he wants to “hit the ground running” with his team and has high expectations not only for the affiliated players but the entire roster.

“Obviously, as you can see it’s all coming together,” said Gillespie.  “It was a vision about putting a team in Greensboro, and now we have the actual players, coaches and uniforms.  We are so happy to get started.”

Gillespie thinks having affiliate players from the Hornets on the roster will help set the tone for the locker room and play on the floor.  He says they will help develop the culture on the floor the Hornets are looking for.

The Swarm training camp roster is sprinkled with a few veterans along with a lot of youth and draft picks.  He says the time his three affiliate players spent with the Hornets will be invaluable.

Perry Ellis, Hornets affiliate player, said that playing at a major program like Kansas for four years under head coach Bill Self helped him grow tremendously.  He is recently coming off injury and is now 100 percent and eager to get on the court.

“The thing I always focus on is making sure I go as hard as I can,” said Ellis.  “Since coach was around during training camp with the Hornets, I got the chance to work with him and he’s a smart guy.  I’m just excited just to play and let’s see what happens.”

Former NBA player and native North Carolinian Damien Wilkins is on the roster.  He says he had the opportunity to play overseas for more money but the opportunity to play close to his home was too enticing. Wilkins is the son of 13-year NBA veteran Gerald Wilkins and nephew of NBA All Star Dominique Wilkins.

“I probably have more experience than any of these guys, but every day you try to learn and get better,” Wilkins said.  “I’m here to provide leadership, also to play and play well and help this team be as good as we can be.”

He says his goal is to learn and get better and eventually make it back to the NBA.  He said the tricky part is aligning your goal of making it to the NBA with what the team wants to accomplish on the D-league level.

The Swarm training camp will last until Nov. 11. Officials will have to trim their roster to 13, including their assigned players from the NBA before the end of camp.  The team will play their first game Saturday, Nov. 12, against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants at the Greensboro Coliseum.  The schedule for the D-league is 50 games as compared to the 82 game NBA season.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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