Defense, Carson Highlight Second Pre-Draft Workout

Zac Walberer/
by Matt Petersen

If it wasn’t Josh Huestis or Patric Young trying to block a shot, it was Jahii Carson or Tim Frazier attempting to pick someone’s pocket.

Wednesday’ pre-draft workout at US Airways Center was, in short, marked by speed, defense and physicality.

“There weren’t a whole lot of easy shots and easy buckets today in this workout,” said Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough.

It’s not surprising given the group involved. Four of the six players at the workout earned all-defensive honors in their respective conferences, including a former SEC Defensive Player of the Year in Young.

“We had a good mix,” said Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek. “We had some great athletes and some big strong bruisers like Patric. I think the guys really battled. They hit each other a few times. A few guys got knocked to the ground.”

ASU’s Carson Exhibits Speed, Shooting

Carson provided the local flavor to the group. The former Arizona State star showed off his trademark speed in the open court during scrimmages while also exhibiting and improved jump shot behind the longer NBA three-point line.

“We like his quickness,” McDonough said. “He can get a shot off, really against anybody with his ability to drive to the basket and his strength. He’s also very explosive at that size. He’s one of the better leapers we’ve had over the last couple of years. I think that will be Jahii’s role, as a scorer, to come in and put some points on the board.”

“When we got up and down, it didn’t look like he ever needed a drink,” Hornacek added. “He kept running and running and pushing the ball. In our style, that’s helpful.”

A native of the Phoenix area, Carson admitted to keeping tabs of the Steve Nash-led Suns while growing up and dreaming of playing in a Suns uniform. With the NBA now a reality fast approaching, the 5-11 guard feels he left enough good impressions in his hometown.

“Just my leadership qualities,” he said. “Chatting, uplifting guys and doing what I do in transtiiong. I think those two things stood out today for me.”

Young Makes Presence Felt

The NCAA-to-NBA transition can be a chasm, physically. College players often require months, sometimes years, to obtain the all-important “NBA body.”

That part, at least, won’t be a concern for Patric Young.

“He’s got an NBA body, an NFL body,” Hornacek joked. “He’s a big strong kid. With the physical play in the NBA, he’s not going to have a problem with that.”

Young stood out by appearance alone. He measured 6-10 and 247 pounds at the Draft Combine, and it was easy to see in person that most of that frame was chiseled muscle. He and fellow Wednesday participant Cory Jefferson sported the smallest body fat percentages among projected post players at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.

More importantly, he exhibited the basketball skill set to go along with the basketball body.

“I think Patric Young has very good defensive instincts,” McDonough said. “I like his ability to bang in the post. He’s obviously a physical specimen. He defends well, not only around the basket but also on the perimeter. He moves his feet pretty well and guards the pick-and-rolls. He’s been very well coached at Florida. He just has a good feel for where to be and how to switch off defensively.”

“Offensively it’s a work in progress for him,” McDonough said. “He’s strong around the basket. He gets some put-backs. He needs to keep developing his touch away from the basket. But certainly he’s a guy, where you talk about a four-year guy who potentially would be ready to come in and play right away, physically there’s no question that he could do that.”

Huestis Shows Versatility, Defense

Shattering school records in blocked shots evokes images of a seven-foot behometh manning the paint.

Not at Stanford, where 6-foot-7 Josh Huestis shattered the previous Cardinal record by 33 last season (190 blocks total). His personal brand of athleticism and defense, he said, fit right in with Wednesday’s workout group.

“When you get guys that are defensive players and athletic, guys really get after each other,” Huestis said. “It was great to come in here and see that. Guys really got into each other, made each other better today.”

The Montana native has made it a point since the end of the NCAA season to work on his jump shot, knowing he’ll need to make the tricky transition from college power forward to NBA small forward.

“That’s where Josh will have to, I think, keep improving, is working on his handle and making plays away from the basket,” McDonough said. “He has good length, his stroke looks pretty good and he has all the intangibles you’re looking for, as well.”