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Zach Collins works out for Suns in ‘bittersweet’ return to Valley

PHOENIX — Returning to Phoenix resulted in mixed emotions for former Gonzaga center Zach Collins.

“Last time I was here, I fouled out and we lost the national championship,” the 7-foot freshman said. “It was bittersweet, but at the same time it was one of the best basketball weekends of my life.”

Collins worked out for the Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Tuesday. Although his team did not come away with the title, his performance in the Final Four at University of Phoenix Stadium and NCAA Tournament overall helped his draft status.

“It definitely helped confidence-wise,” Collins said. “If I didn’t play well in the tournament, who knows if I would be here right now.”

Collins, a projected top-15 pick on DraftExpress.com and NBADraft.net, played one season at Gonzaga, where he averaged 10 points, 5.9 rebounds and 17.2 minutes per game. Although he did not secure as much playing time as some others in the draft, Collins does not believe it will hurt his stock.

“These guys in the NBA, they are pretty smart,” Collins said. “They get the best players in the world so they are going to see talent no matter what.”

The Suns did not seem bothered by his limited playing time either.

“When you’re a really good team and you’re playing well, you’re playing behind a really good veteran center in (Przemek) Karnowski, you understand why his role is what his role was,” Suns Assistant General Manager Pat Connelly said. “His flashes and his numbers are pretty indicative of a guy who … (can post) pretty impressive numbers.”

At the end of the workout, as they did for Malik Monk and many other prospects, the Suns had Collins run up and down the court for three minutes. It was a drill that came as somewhat of a surprise to Collins.

“I hadn’t heard about it until I finished my workout in Sacramento,” Collins said. “They were like ‘Oh, you’re going to Phoenix? That means you have that three-minute run.’ ”

The Suns have the fourth overall pick and two second-round picks in the NBA Draft, which is June 22.

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