7-Foot Siler Invited to Suns Training Camp

by Jeramie McPeek
VP, Digital
Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
Posted: Sept. 20, 2010

One of the raps heading into the season you’ll hear is that the Suns will be undersized. Well, that’s definitely not the case for their latest invite to training camp, Garret Siler.

Siler, who stands 7 feet and 300 pounds, worked out with the rest of the Suns on Monday at US Airways Center. An enormous center that hails from Division II Augusta St. in Georgia, Siler was the only player in the Peach Belt Conference to rank in the top five in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage and blocked shots during his senior season.

“Basically they have been talking to my agent for a while after seeing me play in summer league,” Siler said. “I was a player that needed a good team and the Suns are a good team to go to and so we’ve been working out a deal to bring me into camp.”

The former NABC First Team All-American led the nation in field goal percentage for the three consecutive seasons and was named the NCAA Southeast Regional's Most Outstanding Player after leading ASU to the regional title and a berth in the Division II Final Four.

Siler was the only Division II product to earn an invitation to the prestigious Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, a 12-game showcase that features the top 64 NCAA seniors in the nation. The Augusta St. standout earned All-Tournament honors after ranking second in field goal percentage (.636), fourth in scoring (16.7 ppg) and eighth in rebounding (8.3 rpg) over the four-day event.

It is believed that Siler first popped onto new Suns GM Lance Blanks radar at the event. After spending summer league in Minnesota, Siler played the 2009-10 season in China with the Shanghai Sharks. The team, whose owner is Yao Ming, finished fourth in the Chinese Basketball Association with a 25-7 record.

Siler was the team’s second-leading rebounder and third-leading scorer. He played alongside NBA journeyman John Lucas III, who led Shanghai in scoring (27.9 ppg). Perhaps Siler’s best performance came against Stephon Marbury’s and Maurice Taylor’s Shanxi’s team, racking up 31points, 12 rebounds and three blocks on 12-of-15 shooting.

His play in China earned him a spot on the summer league roster of both the Nets and the Heat, playing in both the NBA’s Orlando and Las Vegas Summer Leagues. Now Siler has another chance at the NBA with the Suns, but one that already has 14 players under some sort of contract.

“They seem like a good group of guys,” the big fella said. “I like the way they play and I just want to be a part of the team.”

Although his team in China played up-tempo, the Suns are another story. However, Siler has come a long way since entering college as a 360-pound project. He said his time in China taught him a great deal, as did his conversations with owner Yao Ming, who came to roughly 10 of his team’s games.

“He sees me play and tells me, ‘Garret, you need to do this,’” Siler recalled. “’That was a good move, but make sure you do this more too.’ He has a real country Texas twang that’s pretty funny.”

As for his first day with the Suns, he says all the guys are looking out for him.

“You can see it’s a good group of leaders,” Siler said. “They want you to get better and they want you to do the right things so they’re going to tell you. But if you make a mistake they’re not going to be barking down on you, they’re going to tell you what you need to do to make it better.”

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