PHOENIX — A handful of seniors are expected to hear their names called in round one of the June 26 NBA Draft.
The Phoenix Suns worked out two of them on Friday in Michigan State power forward Adreian Payne and Washington shooting guard C.J. Wilcox.
They joined a group of prospects that included UCLA sophomore shooting guard Jordan Adams, Oklahoma State senior shooting guard Markel Brown, Cincinnati senior shooting guard Sean Kilpatrick and Georgia Tech senior center Daniel Miller.
Payne ranked seventh in the Big Ten in scoring (16.4), third in rebounding (7.3) and sixth in three-point shooting (42.3).
It’s his range from the outside, which he said he started to develop as a junior, which has many believing he could be a late lottery pick.
“Since I’ve been knocking that (shot) down a lot of teams had to cover me different and had to cover our offense different. It opened up a lot of players and also myself,” said Payne, who set a Michigan State school record with 141 career blocked shots.
The Suns own the last lottery pick, No. 14 overall.
“Adreian is a nice combination of a guy who can step out and make shots on the perimeter. He moves his feet very well defensively for a guy that size. He’s pretty long as well, but also wiry strong,” GM Ryan McDonough said of the 6-foot-10, 239-pound all-conference performer. “I think he’s best facing the basket right now, but he’s a guy that you can see developing a back-to-the-basket game as well.”
Added head coach Jeff Hornacek, “You don’t just want a stretch-4 guy who does nothing but shoot the ball. You want a guy that can go in the post some, can play inside a little different if teams want to play with a smaller 4 then you can punish them inside. I think Adreian can do both of those. He can shoot the outside shot and he can go in the post and get you some buckets there, too.”
Of course, the Suns, who want the floor spaced for point guards Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, do already have a pair of players that fit that description.
“We do have that option with Channing (Frye). We have that option with Markieff (Morris) as well. And so, more guys you can kind of slot in that role and not have to change your style of play the better, especially if they can shoot it pretty well and pretty consistently which Payne has done over the course of his career,” McDonough said.
For that reason, Payne has been linked to the Suns in several mock drafts.
“No, I don’t really pay much attention,” he said of his draft prospects. “But I like it out here. If they pick me, then that’s great.”
The Suns also draft 18th and 27th in the first round, in the range of where a team may select the 6-foot-5 Wilcox, who is second all-time at Washington in scoring with 1,880 career points and holds the school’s career record for three-pointers with 301, sixth-best in Pac-12 history.
“That’s my number-one strength. That’s what got me here. That’s my specialty. That’s what I feel like I’ll be drafted on,” he said of his shooting, which ranked second in the conference from beyond the three-point line at 39.1 percent.
Counting the group on Friday, the Suns have worked out 54 different players over nine pre-draft workouts in the past two weeks.
“We’re certainly not done,” McDonough said. “Just because guys have come and gone here doesn’t mean we’re done evaluating them.”