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Mad Antics

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Howard named all-star; big trade for Ants

Ron Howard has been a big part of the Mad Ants success this season – they have won 10 of their last 14 games and at 16-11 overall are one game back of Canton for first place in the East Division – and he was rewarded Monday with a selection to the All-Star Game.

The Mad Ants also bolstered this roster with the acquisition of center Brian Butch, a former all-star.

Howard was the only Fort Wayne player selected by D-League coaches. It’s the third time he has been picked and the game will be Feb. 15 at Sprint Arena in New Orleans, La.

“I’m very happy for him,” Mad Ants president Jeff Potter said. “He’s such an important part of everything we do. Not just on the court, but off. And he’s having one of his best seasons. It’s a well-deserved honor and they will need some alternates and I hope someone like Trey McKinney-Jones will be recognized.”

The game, which is part of the NBA All-Star Jam Session, will be broadcast live on NBA TV at 3 p.m.

Last season, seven of the 20 D-League All-Stars went on to be called up to the NBA; Howard, 31, is awaiting his first regular-season time with an NBA team.

This season, he is averaging 22.2 points per game, fourth most in the D-League behind Idaho’s Pierre Jackson (29.1), Texas’ Devin Ebanks (24.5) and Rio Grande Valley’s Troy Daniels (23.4).

Howard has played every season with the Mad Ants since their inception in 2007 and he was also picked for the All-Star Game in 2010 and 2013.

Howard will be on the “Prospects” team, which will be coached by Rio Grande Valley’s Nevada Smith. The “Futures” team will be coached by Canton’s Steve Hetzel.

The Mad Ants play Wednesday at Erie, Penn., and they will have a new player – Butch, a former all-star center with the Bakersfield Jam, who is averaging 11.8 points and 8.8 rebounds this season.

Butch, 29, played in college for Wisconsin-Madison from 2004 to 2008.

The Mad Ants gave up a 2014 second-round pick and the rights to Anthony Richardson, who played with Fort Wayne last season.

Butch was MVP of the D-League All-Star Game in 2010 and he’s played four seasons with the Jam. He’s also spent time with the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Hornets and Utah Jazz, though he hasn’t played in a game. He’s also played in China, Germany, Greece and Puerto Rico.

“We’ve got a lot of 6-foot-8 type of guys. He’s 6-11 and is a guy who can help us when we go up against the taller players in our league,” Potter said. “And he can shoot the ball from outside and spread the court. He’s a nice complement to Will Frisby, Chris Porter and Darnell Lazare in the way he can get the points in the post. He’s also someone who has to accounted for behind the 3-point line as well.”