De’Aaron Fox does not just follow the leaders.
In a recent interview with Chris B. Haynes of ESPN, one of the top point guard prospects exhibited that, even at a young age, he can break ranks with his peers by trusting his own gut feelings over the whispers of agents and “positioning”.
Most of the top 10 prospects for the Draft are skipping the Combine this week, knowing that they will be personally visiting the cities of the franchises who might draft them later in the month anyway.
They’ve begun to avoid the Combine because it’s likely all a top-10 prospect can do is create more questions and hurt their stock. Miss a few threes on an unexpectedly bad day? Red flag. Stumble and slog through an agility drill because you’re sick, or simply feeling run down that day? Red flag. Arms a half-inch shorter than GM’s thought they would be? Red flag.
But Fox doesn’t care about that. He is going to enjoy himself.
"Ever since I was younger, I've always wanted to go to the combine. It's a part of the draft process so I've always pictured myself going. Some guys don't go but for me, I just wanted to be there."
Fox sound like a competitor that just enjoys being on the court and doing whatever he can to help a team win, noting that he’s a good rebounder and defends well on top of the obvious scoring and passing skills every point guard needs.
Is he okay being drafted behind Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball? What about other point guards?
"I'm fine with it. At the end of the day, we still got to get on the court and play. If they're picked ahead of me, then they're picked ahead of me. At the end of the day, it doesn't mean much but I just want to be productive on the court."
Fox talked about how he able to help the Kentucky Wildcats rebound from an earlier loss to the Ball’s UCLA Bruins when they met up again in the NCAA tournament. Fox scored 39 points while hounding Ball, who scored only 10 points with 8 assists.
Honestly, they beat us the first time, so I didn't want to let my team lose again. Especially getting that far. I didn't want to lose to a team that we had already lost to. I came out and I started performing and I was playing well at the beginning of the game. Coach and my teammates, they just told me they were going to ride with me and I ended up having a good game."
You might have already picked up on this one - but you know GM Ryan McDonough loves him some Kentucky guards and Fox is yet another one on the board.
The Suns already have 20-year old former Wildcat Devin Booker entrenched at shooting guard, and former Wildcats Tyler Ulis, Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight in the back court. Drafting Fox would just add to that stable initially, though it’s likely a pick of Fox would initiate a trade of one or both of Bledsoe and Knight by training camp.
Fox know there’s something special about the Kentucky fraternity.
"It's extremely cool. It doesn't matter if they played at Kentucky eight years ago or last year, everybody just treats each other like family.”
Fox models his fire and passion to Kevin Garnett (“he gave 110% every time”), his overall point guard game to John Wall.
What does he want teams to know, when they interview him during this predraft process?
"That I'm a winner and I'm just somebody good to have in the locker room. I won't cause any trouble, I'm a good team player. Even though coming in young, I want to be able to help a team, be able to lead a team. I want them to know they're getting a winner."
Reading the rest of the article, you’ll find Fox says a lot of the same things the Suns’ Devin Booker has been saying about being an alpha, being a leader despite his young age, being good in the locker room and competitive on the court.
The more I see of Fox, the more I want him on the Phoenix Suns next year. He still has a lot of room for growth, but his size (6-4”), defensive effort, speed and competitive spirit will help him succeed until the super-fine skills are honed.
He averaged 16.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting 48 percent from the field in one year at Kentucky. He didn’t shoot well most of the year, but can attack the basket with both hands and uses his speed to blow past perimeter defenders to get into the paint to score.
If the Suns don’t nab the #1 overall pick, they really ought to consider taking De’Aaron Fox with whatever other pick they have.