FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – So much for easing his way back into things.
Channing Frye, on the third day and fifth practice of training camp, practiced five-on-five, full court Thursday inside the Rolle Activity Center at Northern Arizona University.
“I’m tired man. Not even going to lie, my body hurts a little bit, but it’s good,” he said with a towel draped over his head down to his shoulders. “Running up and down, I’m not too bad. My conditioning kind of sucks, but it will get better. I’m glad to be out here.”
Frye was expected to be limited this week as he returns to basketball activities following a 17-month break because of an enlarged heart. But he participated fully on day one, except for the end-of-practice scrimmage, and gradually increased his workload to five-on-five half court and five-on-five full court drills.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised in terms of him pushing through it,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “Obviously, a guy who’s been out that long, he’s been doing some things, but he’s pretty beat. He continues to go out there and try to get himself in better shape. That’s been great.”
Frye has even surprised himself with how far he’s come in such a short amount of time.
“I was shocked,” he said. “I literally did not even get a mouthpiece because I was like, ‘No, I’m not going to play five-on-five.’ But I started to practice; okay, I feel kind of good, and then did a little half court, feel kind of good.
“I think the biggest thing for me is getting back into details, not any wasted movements and being able to read the defense a little faster, but that’s all going to come. I’ve just got to get used to the physicality of it and the speed and being able to make assessments. We have so many new people, it’s like, ‘I don’t even know where half these dudes are going.’ I’ve got to figure that out.”
The Suns are still being cautious with the former Phoenix St. Mary’s High and UA standout, but what they’ve seen thus far leaves them excited.
“I didn’t expect him all year, quite honestly from the original thoughts that he wasn’t going to play,” Hornacek said. “It’s a big surprise for us and another guy, who with his shooting, we need on this team.”
No doubt Frye can help. It’s just a matter of when.
“Yeah, I’m out here practicing, but I still got a ways strength wise. I got to get my hops back, my medium hops back,” he said smiling.
The toughest part of the scrimmage, Frye admitted, was banging inside with fellow power forward Markieff Morris.
“Hey, Markieff is a strong sucker,” he said. “I shouldn’t get that tired guarding him like that and I got real tired. That’s just sign a conditioning. Once we get back in a regular rhythm, get back in the weight room — give me a couple of weeks, we’ll see, I might surprise some people.”
He’s done a pretty good job of that already.