October 4, 2012: Suns’ player development staff finalized
LA JOLLA, Calif. — The Suns got bigger Thursday.
They added two centers: one 7-foot-4, the other 6-foot-10. Now while the two will see time on the court, neither will suit up in uniform.
The Suns announced officially the additions of Ralph Sampson and Sean Rooks to the team’s Player Development Department.
Sampson, recently inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, will serve as the department’s assistant coordinator under coordinator Lindsey Hunter. Rooks, who was a UA Wildcat from 1988-1992, will join the department in a supporting role.
Both have been with the team since the start of camp but their roles had not yet been defined.
“Great bunch of guys, could do great things if they focus and get together and play hard,” Sampson said after a couple of days around the team.
The number-one overall pick of the 1983 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets, Sampson was a four-time all-star and 1984 Rookie of the Year.
A four-year standout at the University of Virginia, Sampson was a three-time Naismith College Player of the Year, three-time Adolph Rupp Trophy winner as the nation’s player of the year and still remains as the only two-time winner of the John R. Wooden Award (National Player of the Year).
Rooks, meanwhile, spent 12 seasons in the NBA after the Dallas Mavericks chose him 30th overall (second round).
“I love the game so much,” he said. “I feel that’s what I have to offer here. I want to set a precedence that I’m here to work hard and help the team be successful and gain as much experience as I can. So yeah, I’m definitely going to try to get in the trenches with the players.”
Rooks has spent the past three years coaching in the D-League, most recently with the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
“I want to go as far as I can with the coaching,” he said. “As you see, there’s a lot of experience here, guys that have been doing it for years.”
The two hires round out a staff that already included Mercury head coach and general manager Corey Gaines as well as former Suns player Mark West, who heads the off-court efforts as vice president of player programs.