MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The 2006 NBA Draft seems like a lifetime ago for Mike Gansey.
In a way, it probably is for the former West Virginia star.
Now two countries and two NBA Developmental League cities removed from the 14.4 points he averaged in two seasons with the Mountaineers, Gansey is today as close as he's been to the NBA as he was on draft night four years ago.
It was there, though, where things started to unravel, first undrafted and later victimized by a MRSA infection.
Today, the dream remains about as evident as it was before, offering hope to not just Gansey, but also to Da'Sean Butler, Devin Ebanks and even Wellington Smith, no matter what happens in Thursday's draft. They've each left their WVU careers behind in pursuit of a pro basketball career some how, some way, somewhere.
"I think I'm at the top of where I've been playing-wise since I left," said Gansey, who just finished his best professional season as a starter for the D-League's Erie BayHawks. "Playing in the D-League is right below the NBA level and there are a lot of guys who should be in the NBA and have been in the NBA at one time.
"Playing so well, I got a lot of exposure and kind of put my name out there again. When I got sick, my name fell off the radar. I feel like I'm back on there now. People know my name again."
Gansey, 27, was acquired by the BayHawks in a midseason trade from the Idaho Stampede. The Stampede had a strong team with three players called up to the NBA during the season. Gansey was able to start only once in 11 games and averaged just 21 minutes before the trade.
In Erie, Gansey started 26 of 27 games and averaged 43.2 minutes, 18.4 points, 8.2 rebounds - roughly double his Idaho figures - and 2.8 assists. He played more than 40 minutes 20 times, and the full 48 five times.
Along the way, Gansey learned an NBA general manager likened him to former NBA guard Bob Sura.
"Change of scenery," Gansey said. "When I think about it, it didn't hit me until the end of the year. In the D-League you're playing four or five games a week, back-to-back games, sometimes 48 minutes a game, and in the D-League it's up-and-down.
"It's not like college or Europe where you bring the ball up and play from there. I was in pretty good shape and I think people saw that and thought, 'Wow, Gansey's playing 48 minutes, 42 minutes and he's playing well and the team's winning some games.'"
When the season ended, Gansey started to look for opportunities for next season. There were NBA teams interested in offering a roster spot for the NBA Summer League next month in Las Vegas, but Gansey opted for the D-League Select team.
The 10-player squad plays in that same summer league. It was 2-3 last year.