EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Dayton coach: Suns’ Toumani Camara knows ‘who he is’ as player

Jun 23, 2023, 12:42 PM

Toumani Camara #2 of the Dayton Flyers shoots the ball against Hunter Maldonado #24 of the Wyoming ...

Toumani Camara #2 of the Dayton Flyers shoots the ball against Hunter Maldonado #24 of the Wyoming Cowboys during the Legends of Basketball Showcase at United Center on December 17, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Toumani Camara is going to receive an opportunity that not many picks in the 50s get. The No. 52 selection by the Phoenix Suns in the 2023 NBA Draft is going to be able to compete for playing time right away.

Due to the Suns’ limited avenues of adding depth to the roster this offseason, the 23-year-old forward is going to be in a position where, if he impresses enough in summer league and training camp, he will be under consideration for minutes.

Dayton head coach Anthony Grant knows this is something Camara is ready to pounce on.

“He brings it every day,” Grant told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke. “He’s not a guy that you gotta turn him up in terms of him being ready to go. I can tell you, I had him for two years and never one game or never one practice where I felt like he didn’t bring the effort and the energy that he needed to bring him. He loves the game, he loves the work.”

That’ll fit right in with Phoenix’s program, as will Camara’s defensive acumen under new Suns head coach Frank Vogel. Grant noted Camara’s explosiveness, body type for the NBA and ability to guard multiple positions as strengths for the rookie’s game.

Grant, who has been the head coach at Dayton since 2017, originally recruited Camara out of high school but the Belgian initially went to Georgia for two years before transferring and becoming a Flyer for the last two years of his time in the NCAA.

With that in mind, the coach knows what Camara is about.

“Just a super human being, a high-character guy,” Grant said. “Has a great work ethic, comes from a great family. Just a guy I think will endear himself to your fanbase and the community just with who he is. He’s very mature, goes about his business in a very mature way. He’s a guy that I think walking in the door is ready to help.”

Camara transferred in to a younger Dayton team that was in need of more leadership, which Grant successfully got from Camara. The forward set an example with his consistency in his work every day and also grew vocally. Dayton won 20-plus games for Camara’s two seasons in Ohio.

There are obvious points of improvement for Camara, as Grant pointed out the reason why Camara was even available at that point in the draft was because of where he has room to get better as an offensive player. Grant noted Camara’s perimeter shot and how the forward has worked extremely hard at it already to have his percentages rise each year.

Camara’s still got some positive attributes to himself on the offensive end, such as how well he moves without the ball and plays in pick-and-roll, as well as his finishing around the rim. Hoop-Math had Camara down as a 72% shooter at the basket last season, excellent efficiency.

Something Grant said regarding Camara’s game speaks to why the Suns front office sees value in younger players that are more seasoned and why Camara will have a chance to impact games as a rookie.

“One of the things I think that he really found here is who he is,” Grant said. “Just in terms of what he does well and how to become great at what he’s good at and understanding how to impact the game with what he does well. … I think his confidence is going to be really high because he works at it.”

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