The Northern Arizona Suns participated in the franchise’s first D-League Draft today, less than 24 hours after the team offloaded the rights to three of its best players in Xavier Munford, Alec Brown and Cory Jefferson.
The shift away from Brown, Munford and Jefferson likely reflects the team’s commitment to getting D-League playing time for its core young players - Tyler Ulis, Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender - and perhaps guys like Alan Williams and Derrick Jones Jr.
The D-League Draft featured 22 teams, drafting in 6 rounds. The Suns had a first round pick, 2 second round picks, and a fifth round pick. They chose not to use their sixth round pick.
In the first round, the team selected Michael Bryson, a 6’4 shooting guard out of UC Santa Barbara who some of you may remember from his brief stint with the Summer League team. Bryson’s performance in Las Vegas was largely forgettable, though the word was that he was a high-energy player at practice. At UC Santa Barbara, he was a four year starter, volume three point shooter and above average rebounder for his position. His senior year, Bryson averaged 18 points, 6 rebounds, 2.5 assists and a steal; he shot 48% from the field, 38% from beyond the arc, where he launched 6 shots per game. He had great games early in the season against Cal (23 points) and Arizona State (23 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds).
With the team’s first pick in the second round, the Suns selected Mikh McKinney out of Sacramento State. McKinney, a point guard, was a three year starter for the Hornets. He graduated in 2015, and drew little interest domestically. Instead, he played for the Port of Antwerp Giants of the Belgian First Division. He started the season as a reserve for the Giants, before taking over the starting duties towards the end. McKinney really began to play well in the Europe Cup, a trans-European competition featuring higher level competition. In 17 games in this competition, he averaged 8 points, 2.5 assists and 2 rebounds in 19 minutes per game.
Next, the team selected Greg Mays, a 6’9 forward out of UW Green Bay. Mays, a former teammate of the now-traded Alec Brown, was a three year starter at Green Bay and graduated in 2015. In his senior season, he averaged 12 points and 5 rebounds. He played last season with the Albury Wodonga Bandits of the South East Australian Basketball League (a league even I haven’t heard of...). There, he averaged 22 points and 7 rebounds.
The Suns’ final pick of the draft was veteran D-Leaguer Ralph Sampson III. Sampson, 26, is a 6’11 center who played college ball at Minnesota before ending up in the D-League. He has played the last two seasons with the Maine Red Claws, the affiliate of Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics. Last season, in 11 minutes per game, Sampson averaged 4 points, 3 rebounds, a block and 2 personal fouls.
The Northern Arizona Suns should announce their full training camp roster in the coming days.