Ennis Impresses, Early Shoots, Smith Comes Back

Ryan Wolf/Suns.com
by Matt Petersen

The Suns’ final pre-draft workout before the June 26 draft kept up with the theme of across-the-board talent.

Tyler Ennis was the headliner, a former Syracuse standout who runs the point with far steadier hands than most 19-year-olds.

After averaging 12.9 points, 5.5 assists and 2.1 steals per contest in his lone year with the Orangemen, Ennis appears a lock to be selected somewhere in the first round. He said he has worked out for teams selecting as high as seventh (the Lakers) and as low as 20th (Toronto).

The Suns hold three selections in that phase of the draft.

Ennis was matched up against Louisville point guard Russ Smith, who was making his second pre-draft appearance in Phoenix. Hornacek said Smith exhibited more of a “playground” style of play than Ennis, who impressed with his own brand of point guard play.

“He doesn’t try to really push things in terms of forcing things,” said Suns Head Coach Jeff Hornacek. “He just takes what’s given. He’s got great reads. He pulls guys to him and then makes a pass. At the point guard position, that’s what you’re looking for.”

Early Pegged as Small Forward

After flip-flopping back and forth between the small and power forward position at Wichita State, Cleanthony Early doesn’t think his NBA transition will be complicated.

“[I’ve proved that] I can play the three position,” Early said. “Everyone’s saying I’m a four man trying to the play a three, but…it’s kind of a lie. I’m obviously a basketball player and I can score in different ways.”

The 6-7, 209-pound prospect proved as much with the Shockers, putting up 16.3 points while hitting 37.6 percent from three-point range. He boasts athleticism to match the shooting stroke, having logged a 40-inch vertical leap at the Draft Combine in Chicago.

Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough agrees that Early will be more than capable of manning the perimeter-oriented forward spot in the pros.

“He shoots the ball well enough,” McDonough said. “He’s long (6’10.75” wingspan). He’s athletic enough. I think that will be a fairly easy transition for him.”

Smith’s Second Go-Around

Louisville’s star guard was back in Phoenix less than three weeks after his first workout for the Suns. That’s notable only because no other prospect has worked out here a second time. It was also the first team that asked Smith to come in for more than one look.

Smith is pegged by most mock drafts and experts as a second-round pick.

“We like how he pushes the ball,” McDonough said. “Obviously that’s how we play. We like his energy and defensive ability, his ability to pick up full-court and guard some guys. He has some pretty unique stuff off the dribble where he’s able to create his own shot, create shots for others.”

“He’s a guy we’re interested in,” he continued. “We give him credit for coming back. He’s in demand with other teams…With Russ, we asked him and he said ‘sure.’ We said ‘great.’ We appreciate that. That shows us something that he’s willing to come back and work even after coming to Phoenix the first time a few weeks ago.”