Ish Wainright relishing new opportunity with Phoenix Suns

Oct 26, 2021, 7:56 AM | Updated: 11:45 am
Ishmail Wainright #12 of the Toronto Raptors brings the ball up the court against the New York Knic...
Ishmail Wainright #12 of the Toronto Raptors brings the ball up the court against the New York Knicks during the 2021 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on August 8, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Raptors defeated the Knicks 89-79. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Newly signed Phoenix Suns forward Ish Wainright has played his fair amount of professional basketball, but the 27-year-old is just now getting his opportunity in the NBA.

After spending training camp with the Toronto Raptors, Wainright joined the Suns last week, signing a two-way contract after being waived by Toronto.

“Happy and blessed to be here,” Wainright told reporters following Monday’s practice. “Ready to learn, ready to play, ready to win.”

Wainright’s road to the NBA was by no means ordinary. The Missouri native played college at Baylor but didn’t get an opportunity in the league immediately after college.

He played all four years at Baylor and was named to the Big-12 All-Defensive Team as a senior in 2016-17, when he averaged 5.5 points, 3.2 assists, 1.7 steals and 5.1 rebounds per game.

Wainright even spent some time playing for Baylor’s football team after his basketball career with the Bears. He caught two touchdowns as a tight end,then went through the draft process and signed a contract with the Buffalo Bills in the 2018 offseason.

But he ended up turning back to basketball. His path to the NBA has been anything but direct.

In 2018, the forward signed with the Nurnberg Falcons, a team in ProA, Germany’s second division.

In the 2018-19 season, Wainright averaged 11.5 and 7.8 rebounds for Nurnberg. The following year, he joined Rasta Vechta, in Germany’s top league.

He would then stay overseas and head to France the following year, playing with Strasbourg in France’s top division, where he averaged 11.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in 34 games.

Noticed by Toronto, Wainright finally spent a training camp on an NBA roster, where he flashed in Summer League. However, it wouldn’t last as the Raptors moved on before Phoenix extended another opportunity the forward’s way.

“I got an offer for a two-way and I’m not going to say no,” Wainright told reporters on how he ended up in Phoenix.

From asking him, Wainright couldn’t be happier to land in Phoenix.

“Top to bottom, the whole organization is championship quality,” he said. “To be able to learn from CP3, learn from D-Book … can’t go wrong with that.”

When asked about his new team, Wainright said the Suns are a player-led team, crediting a lot of that to the team’s veteran leadership. Spending camp with a different team, he says he’s getting up to speed with the terminology the Suns use as well as getting familiar with his new teammates.

Wainright is still waiting to see his first action in an NBA regular season game but hopes its something he can do so for a long time in a Suns’ uniform.

“My goal is to be here the rest of my career,” he said. “That’s how I go into things.

“Good things happen to good people.”

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