Today, the Phoenix Suns worked out a group of mostly free-agent hopefuls, headlined by Jarnell Stokes (PF, Tennessee) who has the potential to be a late first round to early second round pick.
Stokes is a powerful, rebounding machine from Tennessee. He averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds per game this past season. He is also a respectable shot blocker with an ability to bang down low on offense and challenge the opponent in the low post on both ends of the floor. He already possesses an NBA body and the strength to go with it, and has also proven himself to be an underrated passer for a big man as well. His combine performance was also a bonus, as he measured in with a 7'1" wingspan and a 36" vertical...which is impressive for a guy with his size. His lateral agility was not as impressive, but it will have limited effect on his defensive ability in the low post where he is at his best.
The other notable name on the list is Aaron Craft, a four-year starting point guard for Ohio St., who has been listed anywhere from the second round to undrafted in various mocks. Craft is known for his defensive ability and also his high b-ball I.Q.. He averaged approximately 10 points and 5 assists per game his senior year, and was named Big-Ten defensive player of the year. The obvious knock on Craft is his lack of ability as a shooter, and his average athleticism. But before you start getting flash-backs of Kendall Marshall, know that Craft is a very adept and craft-y (pun intended) scorer near the basket, and is able to use his quickness and agility to beat his man of the dribble.
One of the lesser known prospects that I personally like a lot is Casey Prather, a super-athletic, explosive small forward who progressed each season at Florida. His senior year, he averaged nearly 14 points along with 5 rebounds per game. Although he's undersized at only 6'5", he has a 6'9" wingspan and a 37.5" vertical to help make up for it. He isn't a great shooter, shooting only 33% from the college three, but he has the ability to score from inside the arc and loves to get to the rim. Prather has also shown the ability to be a very good defender, using his length and athleticism to shut the opponents down on the perimeter. Although he probably won't be drafted, he could be a very solid pick up for the right team.
Here's a breakdown of the full list of prospects in attendance today, below:
- Jarnell Stokes (PF), 6'9", 263 lbs, 20, Tennessee, Ranked #41 in DX Top 100, Projected Pick #31 in DX Mock Draft
- Fuquan Edwin (SF), 6'6", 207 lbs, 22, Seton Hall, Ranked #70 in DX Top 100
- Aaron Craft (PG), 6'2", 192 lbs, 23, Ohio St., Ranked #74 in DX Top 100
- Markel Starks (PG), 6'2", 166 lbs, 23, Georgetown, Ranked #81 in DX Top 100
- Casey Prather (SF), 6'5", 199 lbs, 23, Florida, Ranked #95 in DX Top 100
- Tarik Black (PF) 6'9", 253 lbs, 22, Kansas, Not in DX Top 100
As for the workout portion, once again the three-minute full-court sprint drill was all the media was able to see. For what it's worth, Aaron Craft showed off his tremendous condition by easily beating the other prospects in the drill, and although I lost count, the coaches reported that he tied the record for the number of laps so far...I'm not sure if that includes Archie Goodwin or not.
Speaking of Archie, during the media session interviews, Goodwin was once again working on his three-point shooting and having fun with the staff while he was at it. After competing against Coach Hornacek yesterday, Goodwin was feeling even more confident this afternoon exclaiming "I'll beat anybody today! Who else wants some? Where's Steph Curry at? Bring him out!"
Goodwin was clearly joking around and just having fun...but you can also see his confidence growing, and he has certainly built a great relationship with the staff. Good stuff.
On Jarnell Stokes
"Jarnell Stokes is an interesting player...He's a physical specimen, maybe the strongest guy we've had in here. He weighed 270 today. He has very good hands and feet for his size. Very productive rebounder. I think there's a lot of room for growth there. He's a junior, but really by his age he's a sophomore even a freshman...he just turned 20 earlier this year. He showed pretty good touch from the mid-range...He had a good work out for us today."
On Aaron Craft
"He's excelled at pretty much everything his whole life...on the court off the court, he's a winner. His defense stands out, his ability to run a team and get guys in the right spots stands out. He's in terrific shape, I think he tied our high in the conditioning drill. It looked like he could have kept going another three minutes if he wanted to. We place a value on winning...and that's what he's done his whole life."
On relating to the less-heralded players
"I think every coach kind of looks at guys maybe how they were as a player. I hear a lot of times they're saying this guy isn’t that fast or he isn’t that quick, and then I think that was kind of like me, and I made it. You try to look past some of those things...and look at their determination."
On Aaron Craft as a winner
"You have to give a lot credit and look at that part of the game. Certain guys, it’s like what is he going to do when he comes into the league? A lot of guys they get their NBA status and their money, and then they just play basketball. A kid like him, it’s not going to matter how much money he makes, he’s going to compete. He’s going to do the little things to try and help a team win. Again, you can’t have enough of those guys."
On his strengths and characteristics
"I think I'm one of the more competitive guys out there...I'm going to do what it takes to win, offensively, defensively, whatever it takes. I think there's a lot of stuff behind the scenes too that people don't get to see, stuff in the offseason, before and after practice, those types of things that I know I do...that's just who I am"
On whether or not his game translates to the NBA
"I think so, absolutely. A lot of guys that come before me have done similar things, and I think I can do the same"
On four-year college experience
"I think it helps. I think any type of experience, like at Ohio St. playing with some of the best players in the country, playing in big games, and big atmospheres, I think that helps a lot."
On conditioning and performance
"I'm a little behind right now...I had to take a week off running after I got in a car accident on the way to the airport. I'm just trying to work my way back into shape. I think I did ok (in the three-minute drill), I heard my number was 24 (laps), but compared to guys like Aaron craft it didn't look that good. I think I shot the ball pretty well, I gave all I could give, but it was a pretty tough workout."
On being a traditional vs. stretch four
"I'm just a basketball player, whatever the coach wants me to do. I shot the ball very well, so I feel I can extend my range out to the three-point line in due time. But right now I'm more of a (traditional) power forward."
On shooting range
"Right now I'm very confident from the college three. I'm shooting the ball very well at the college three. I think the biggest thing will be from the (NBA) three point line, being able to hit that shot. But as of right now I'm not too worried about it."
Another workout coming tomorrow...stay tuned.