The Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday assigned Tanzanian rookie center Hasheem Thabeet to the Dakota Wizards of the NBA Development League on Thursday.
A 7-foot-3 Thabeet, the second overall pick last year, averaged 2.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 50 games.
The former Connecticut player had a career-best 10 points on January 2 this year at Phoenix.
Thabeet was viewed as a player that needed development, but because of his rare combination of size and athleticism he was taken ahead players such as Tyreke Evans, who played at the University of Memphis, Stephen Curry and James Harden.
The Grizzlies have been recently using Hamed Haddadi, a second-year player from Iran, as the primary backup to starting center Marc Gasol.
The 23-year-old Thabeet will be the highest drafted player to play in the NBA's minor league. Portland's Martell Webster, the No. 6 pick in the 2005 draft, held that distinction.
He played eight games for the Fort Worth Flyers in the D-League in 2005-06.
Thabeet made NBA history during the 2009 NBA draft as the first ever player to be drafted to the league from Tanzania.
He arrived to the United States and stayed with a host family while he grew up and eventually attended the University of Connecticut, becoming an imposing defender and all-around star for the UCONN Huskies.
In his career Thabeet has been singled out as an imposing physical specimen who protects the basket like few others.
He has shown excellent timing, patience and quickness for blocking shots.