PHOENIX – Yes, Wildcats and Sun Devils can co-exist.
The Pac-12 rivals shared the same practice court at US Airways Center during what was the Phoenix Suns seventh pre-draft workout.
Arizona junior forward Brandon Ashley joined Arizona State senior guard Bo Barnes in a six-player group highlighted by potential lottery selection Sam Dekker of Wisconsin.
Between Ashley and Barnes, it’s more likely Ashley hears his name called in the June 25 NBA Draft, most likely in the second round.
“I just want to be picked up,” he said. “What I’m hearing is I could go anywhere from the late-first to mid-second, so hopefully, I can be a first-rounder; if not—I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to play, for the opportunity to showcase my skill set and to prove myself on the next level. So, regardless of where I go, I’m going to do my best to make the most of the situation I’m in.”
Ashley, listed at 6-8 and 228 pounds, said he considers himself a stretch-4 and knows he must show consistency with his shooting, especially from long range, where he made 12-of-36 3-pointers last season.
Named the Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player, Ashley was an honorable mention all-conference performer with averages of 12.2 points and 5.2 rebounds while shooting 51.4 percent overall from the field.
“Brandon is very skilled, good shooter at that size,” General Manager Ryan McDonough said.
The Suns were Ashley’s fifth workout having made previous stops in Chicago, San Antonio, Memphis, and the L.A. Lakers with visits coming up at Golden State, Cleveland, Washington and Boston.
For Barnes, his workout came as a surprise.
On his way to play some pickup ball, Barnes’ phone rang asking him if he might change his plans and head downtown. He was and 30 minutes later he arrived at the arena.
“It was an honor to be down here working with these guys,” said Barnes, who is hoping to land a contract to play overseas. “It was a lot of fun. All these guys are incredible basketball players, just to be able to come out and compete with them is something I won’t ever forget. It was an awesome experience.”
A standout at Scottsdale Christian Academy, Barnes transferred to ASU in 2012 following one season at Hawaii.
He averaged 6.9 points and 2.3 rebounds in 33 games last season.
UC-Irvine senior forward Will Davis II was in the group of six initially, but he sprained an ankle during a vertical testing drill and was unable to continue the workout.
“We probably have to give Bo Barnes the MVP for today,” McDonough said. “He showed himself well. We get two visits with these guys, so he’s a guy we may bring back. I told the guys that there’s a good lesson to be had there, whether you’re at the end of the bench or just sitting at home, always be ready, stay in shape.”
Another ex-Wildcat joined the workout; guard Daniel Bejarano, though his time in Tucson lasted eight games before he transferred to Colorado State in 2012.
As a sophomore, Bejarano was named the Mountain West’s Sixth Man of the Year. He followed with two years of earning all-conference selections, including a third-team honor after averaging 11.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists this past season as a senior.
Bejarano, who previously worked out for the Denver Nuggets, is a former Arizona High School Player of the Year from Phoenix North and grew up watching the Suns.
“Jason Kidd, (Leandro) Barbosa, Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, I can keep going and going,” he said. “It means everything. I’m just blessed; just getting an opportunity and just get out here and show them what I can do. I’m just blessed.”