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January 11, 2008 in D-League

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The NBA was the last place Chuck Hayes thought he would be after his most recent D-League game.

That was two years ago, and the Rockets forward hasn’t had to worry about the minor leagues since.

Players looking to make the same leap Hayes did have their chance to get noticed next week at the fourth annual D-League Showcase, being held Monday-Thursday in Boise, Idaho.

That was Hayes’ goal in 2006 while playing for the Albuquerque Thunderbirds. He just didn’t think things had worked out as he planned, especially after a four-point performance against Austin in the showcase.

“We had two games, a back-to-back. First game, I played well, played really well,” Hayes said. “Second game I played terrible. Then the next day the Rockets called me up.

“And after the second game I was like, ‘Oh man, I’m never going to get my call-up.’ I was discouraged. I was like, ‘Man, I had my opportunity and I blew it the second game.’ But the next day we were traveling and my layover in Chicago, (Rockets trainer) Keith Jones called me up and told me to catch a flight to Houston and I’ve been here ever since.”

All 14 D-League teams will play two games in the event, with every game being televised by NBA TV. The NBA expects scouts or other personnel from nearly all of its teams to be at Qwest Arena.

“They love the showcase, they love the opportunity for players to be seen by their scouts,” NBA commissioner David Stern said. “The opportunity to have that kind of exposure causes a real high number of players to stay home in the D-League so they can be seen. And that’s causing our teams to evaluate their investments in the D-League in a positive way.”

Eleven players have been called up to the NBA this season, and somebody else can earn a shot with some strong play next week. Just ask Hayes, who has started every game this season for the Rockets.

“Just do what do well,” he said. “Play to your strengths, there’s a role for you. There’s a spot here for you.”

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