5 Things to Know about Suns Rookie Marquese Chriss
The Suns made plenty of headlines on draft night last month when they swung a deal to land Marquese Chriss.
Phoenix and the 6-10 forward from Washington expressed mutual interest in each other leading up to the draft, but most figured that ship had sailed when the Suns took Dragan Bender fourth overall.
Fortunately, General Manager Ryan McDonough and his staff still managed to get their guy by swapping a package of picks and the rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic for Chriss, who the Sacramento Kings selected eighth overall.
As we did with Bender, we scoured the internet to find some lesser-known facts about the 19-year-old with unlimited potential and only five years of basketball under his belt.
1. His first love was football
There was a time when Chriss' future appeared destined to unfold on the gridiron.
Throughout his childhood, he dreamed of starring in the NFL. And after convincing his mother to sign him up for a youth league, Chriss showed promise as a tight end, defensive end and safety.
But following a collarbone injury on a hard tackle in eight grade, Chriss' mom informed him that football would no longer be an option.
"I miss it, but I don't think it fits me anymore," said Chriss, who can reportedly throw a pigskin 75 yards downfield. "Basketball is more for me. It's the thing that I should do."
For what it's worth, Chriss would be the tallest player in the NFL right now. We think he made the right choice.
Chriss also played baseball growing up, including for a little league Arizona Diamondbacks team.
2. He was almost cut from his high school team
As a freshman at Pleasant Grove High School in Sacramento, Calif., Chriss was one of 25 kids who showed up for tryouts. The school only had junior varsity and varsity teams, which meant that roster spots were limited, especially for a player like Chriss who previously had zero competitive experience in the sport.
"At that time, I had four what you would call big men, and Marquese was the fourth one that was over 6 foot," JV coach Sheridan Crite said. "It was a numbers game. Marquese almost didn't make it, but his energy and effort stood out."
Chriss began the season as a reserve before eventually working his way into the starting lineup. A year later, the relative newcomer to basketball started for the varsity team and led the school to a 28-6 record and a state championship.
Colleges began offering Chriss scholarships that season - the first coming from Northern Arizona.
3. He's been posterizing opponents for years
At this spring's NBA draft combine, Chriss posted a 38.5-inch vertical leap, the fourth-highest of any forward in the 2016 class.
That athleticism has been on full display ever since Chriss first stepped on the floor. He frequently rises well above the rim, a feat that left more than a few high school kids in his wake as a prep star.
4. He's obssessed with pizookies
Near the tailend of his Washington career, Chriss picked up a new hobby: baking.
The forward, along with his college roommates, discovered the "pie cookies" on Snapchat one day after practice.
"I was like, 'We've got to make them,'" Chriss told The News Tribune. "We went to the store and got the pie sheets, then you put the cookie dough in there and it just spreads out like a big cookie. Then you put ice cream on it and just eat it."
Phoenix residents, of course, will likely recommend the rookie check out Oreganos, a local pizza chain famous for its pizookies.
5. He already has a signature shoe... kind of
It's not uncommon for NBA players or fans of the game to be shoe aficionados.
But while most of his peers are sneakerheads, Chriss' taste strays just a bit from the norm.
"I wear Crocs more than Js," Chriss tweeted last December.
In case you're unaware, Crocs are colorful clog-style shoes that have become infamous for their, uh, unique appearance.
Chriss was rewarded for his brand loyalty earlier this spring when the company produced a sweet custom pair for the prospect.
— Marquese Chriss (@Quese_22) April 22, 2016