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Kempton Jr.: NBA Draft workout with Suns holds ‘special place in my heart’

Tim Kempton Jr. participates in his pre-draft workout with the Phoenix Suns. (Photo by Greg Macafee/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns hold a special place in the heart and mind of former Lehigh center Tim Kempton Jr. He grew up playing high school basketball at Brophy Preparatory and watched his father, Tim Kempton, play for the Suns in the 1992-1993 season.

On Friday, after the younger Kempton worked out for his hometown team, he described the experience as “surreal.”

“To kind of even think about it is one thing, but then to come out here and kind of have that experience is a whole other opportunity,” Kempton Jr. said. “Like I said earlier, I’m thankful for any NBA workouts I can get but this one is gonna hold a special place in my heart and my mind no matter what happens.”

If the Suns were to draft Kempton Jr. or if he found his way back to Phoenix through free agency, both Kemptons would have an interesting situation. As a color analyst for the Suns, Kempton Sr. would have the opportunity to call a game featuring his son.

“That’d be unique,” Kempton Sr. said. “It’s kind of funny the guy most notable for it right now is Dell Curry, Steph Curry’s dad, and Dell and I played together with the Charlotte Hornets during the expansion season. So he and I have talked about it over the years and I’ve asked him how it was, never thinking the day would come. It was more or less me inquiring about him calling for his son.”

Kempton Sr.’s NBA career spanned 10-plus years with nine different teams. He played for the Charlotte Hornets, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs, among others. The elder Kempton went to the NBA Finals in 1992-1993 when the Suns fell to the Chicago Bulls.

With his father in attendance, Kempton showed off his shooting range on Friday, often drifting toward the three-point line, which is something he developed during his time at Lehigh University. In his senior season, the 6-foot-10 center shot 40 percent from behind the three-point line.

During his four-year career at Lehigh, he averaged 16.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. His senior season was ultimately his breakout year as he averaged a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds a game. He was named the Patriots League Player of the Year twice and is currently the all-time leader in career rebounds for both Lehigh and the Patriots League.

Although websites like DraftExpress.com and nbadraft.net don’t have Kempton Jr. being drafted, he still drew attention from the Suns during his time in Pennsylvania. Assistant General Manager Pat Connelly joked that despite his bloodline, he still turned out to be successful.

“As you can see he’s strong, a little more toned up than his dad,” Connelly said. “But, I think it does help, growing up around the game because there’s a certain sense you get when you are around the gym from day one.”

As he looks to find a home in the NBA, Kempton Jr. has worked out for the Milwaukee Bucks and has plans to work out in Los Angeles and for other teams in the upcoming weeks. Although playing for the Suns would be the ultimate dream for the Scottsdale native, Kempton Jr. knows that wherever he ends up will be an amazing opportunity.

“Whatever opportunity I can get, whether it’s with the Phoenix Suns, I’d love it, but if it’s with another organization then obviously, I’d love that as well,” Kempton Jr. said.

The Phoenix Suns have the fourth overall pick and two selections in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft on June 22.

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