The Northern Arizona Suns announced their 2016-17 roster today. The announcement comes after a week-long training camp.
Northern Arizona entered training camp with 16 players, including affiliate players, local tryout players, returning players and players selected in the 2016-17 D-League draft.
4 players were cut at the end of training camp. Bo Barnes, Mikh McKinney, Langston Morris-Walker and Waly Niang were all cut by the team to trim the roster to 12.
3 players that made the final roster came from the Suns’ Local Tryout. Asaad Woods, a 24 year old 6’4 guard, played college basketball at Limestone College. Josh Gray, 6’1 and 23, is a point guard from LSU. Daniel Alexander is a local product, a 6’9, 25 year old forward who played for Grand Canyon, lists as his most recent employment work as a freelance fashion model.
The Suns are bringing back 4 players from years past. Askia Booker, a 6’1 point guard from Colorado, struggled at times with efficiency last season, but looked improved in Summer League, where he averaged 4.5 points, 2 rebounds and an assist in 11 minutes per game. He’ll likely be the starting point guard going into the season. Derek Cooke Jr., the team’s starting center, also returns and looks a shoe-in to start. The other two returners are veterans. One is Elijah Millsap, who last played for the team in 2014-15, during which season he was called up by the Utah Jazz. He appeared in 67 games across 2 seasons for the Jazz before being cut in January. Xavier Silas also returns. The shooting guard appeared in 27 games last season, and was a team leader. Millsap and Silas will be expected to provide veteran leadership given their age (29 and 28), but its likely that at least one ends up moving on to more lucrative pastures.
The Suns kept two of their picks from the Draft, both of whom have a strong chance to carve out an early role with the team. Michael Bryson, a 6’5 guard picked in the first round, played college ball at UCSB. His size and athleticism will allow to coaching staff to experiment with him at both wing positions. Greg Mays, a 6’8 forward, played with the dearly departed Alec Brown at UW Green Bay. Mays will look to win minutes at the power forward spot.
Two players from the Phoenix Suns’ training camp are being kept as affiliate players with NAZ. Gracin Bakumanya, the only true center on the roster at 6’11, is a 19 year old player from the Congo with professional experience in France. Shaquille Harrison, meanwhile, is a rookie who played for Tulsa last season and will look to compete with Booker for the starting point guard position.
Last, but not least, is Derrick Jones Jr., the 19 year old member of the Phoenix Suns who has been assigned to the team and will be a core part of the roster. All indications are that the Suns intend to leave Jones assigned to Prescott for some time.
The NAZ Suns open play on November 12th, against the Iowa Energy. The game will be at 7 pm Arizona time. Check the D-League website for more information on catching the game live!