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Jared Dudley: Ayton could change course of Suns

Phoenix Suns forward Jared Dudley reacts after hitting a 3-point basket against the Denver Nuggets during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

With the NBA Draft two weeks away, Jared Dudley knows whose name he wants to hear Adam Silver announce with the No. 1 selection.

All indications point to his wish being granted.

Projected number one pick Deandre Ayton after his workout with the Suns on Wednesday stated that he will not work out for any more teams and believes he’s going No. 1 in the draft.

“You definitely get excited even as a vet,” said Dudley on 98.7 Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf. “You get excited for talented players, players that can change the course of your team.”

Dudley, a native of San Diego, has followed Ayton since he was a sophomore in high school and attended Dudley’s basketball camps.

“This is a guy with a unique skillset. When he was in high school in San Diego before Arizona he went to my basketball camp,” said Dudley“He was the MVP of my basketball camp for two years. I knew he was a one-and-done when he was a sophomore and he was dunking on every kid.”

Ayton is bringing an excitement around the Suns franchise that hasn’t been felt during the eight-year postseason drought.

Dudley has not only been impressed by Ayton’s skills on the basketball court but also his confidence in his talent.

“He’s putting the pressure not only on himself, on the organization, on Robert Sarver and Ryan McDonough. Saying ‘I believe I’m number one, and that I can lead this team. I believe me and Booker are Kobe and Shaq’, so he’s letting you know ‘I like playing with another star.’ And I think he wants to be here in Arizona,” said Dudley.

Dudley has taken on the leadership role during his second tenure with the Suns. Part of his job as the veteran is to make sure the young players are both improving, and learning how to put in the necessary work to make them successful in the NBA.

Dudley has helped bring along the Suns’ recent draft picks Marquese Chriss and Josh Jackson.

“One thing that you can’t have is someone who is not responsible, that you don’t hold accountable and that’s lazy. Those are the three things as a vet you just can’t let slide through,” said Dudley.

Dudley believes his prior relationship with Ayton will help in the learning curve he goes through his rookie season, but how a player learns from his mistakes determines how great a player can become.

“If he gets drafted we’re expecting him to play right away. We’re expecting him to struggle defensively in rotations. But when you come in the next day are you coming in late? Or, are you watching film of your mistake? Are you working on how you struggled offensively? And that’s when you see the growth,” said Dudley.