Alex Oriakhi is getting another chance with the Phoenix Suns, as he will represent the team in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas for the second second straight year.
Ryan McDonough and the Suns selected the Missouri product with the 57th overall pick in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft. The 6-foot-9 power forward spent last season playing in France, Israel and finally ending up in the D-League.
“It’s been crazy,” said Oriakhi. “But it’s been enjoyable at the same time, playing in the D-League and overseas. Getting the experience I think prepares me for something like this.”
In France, he played for Limoges CSP, which is a part of the LNB Pro A league.
“I would probably say France,” Oriakhi replied when asked about what was the highest level of competition he faced last season. “I was in France for about three months. It’s more physical. Obviously you play 40 minutes instead of 48. The kids are pros when they are 16.”
Once Oriakhi returned to the U.S., he had significant success in the Development League. He was named to the NBA D-League All-Rookie First Team, splitting time between the Erie BayHawks and Sioux Falls Skyforce. Oriakhi averaged 7.2 points on 49.8 percent shooting with 6.2 rebounds in 43 games.
The Suns kept in contact with Oriakhi as he traveled to let him know what they wanted him to work on. Since he was their second-round pick, Phoenix still holds his exclusive rights, even though he wasn’t with the team last year.
“They did a great job of watching me and scouting me in the D-League,” he said. “Being in elite shape, and that’s something I’ve concentrated on. Just getting myself in the best shape possible. I’m getting good feedback from the coaches. They said I’m a lot better from last year as far as my conditioning, me being comfortable out there and my overall play.”
Phoenix opens up its Las Vegas Summer League schedule on Saturday against the Golden State Warriors. The game can be seen on NBA TV at 5:00 p.m. MST.