EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Toumani Camara arrives to Suns ‘comfortable’ with identity on court

Jun 27, 2023, 7:27 PM

Toumani Camara #2 of the Dayton Flyers passes the ball against the Wyoming Cowboys during the Legen...

Toumani Camara #2 of the Dayton Flyers passes the ball against 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)

PHOENIX — Reality is still setting in for Phoenix Suns second-round pick Toumani Camara. That is understandable.

“Felt like a dream, really,” Camara said Tuesday of getting picked 52nd and being at the NBA Draft for it. “Didn’t feel real at the moment, just going down the steps, shaking his hand and everything, putting the hat on. Something I’ve been dreaming about since the age of seven.”

Camara admitted playing with the likes of Devin Booker and Kevin Durant hasn’t hit him yet.

In an even more surreal angle, Camara attended a NBA basketball camp in his hometown of Brussels, Belgium when he was 12 years old. Camara met a player there, Suns center Bismack Biyombo. Camara even still has a picture with Biyombo from back then.

With that being said, the 23-year-old has a mature outlook on the situation. With good size on the wing at 6-foot-8 and a knack for defensive versatility, Camara embraces what he will be in the NBA and knows success is going to come for him as a role player.

“I think I’m really comfortable with it because they are asking me to be who I am,” Camara said of the fit. “Which is play hard, play with a lot of energy, be a defensive guy and rebound at a high level and then make open shots offensively. Just stay true to my game and try to expand on that throughout my career.”

Camara guarded everyone for Dayton in his last two years of college ball and was the head of the snake on its press, giving him the responsibility of pressuring ball-handlers and recovering quickly on the front line of it.

“I think that’s where I can excel,” Camara said of defense.

The hope is for Camara to play in Summer League for the Suns, with some formalities left to tidy up before then.

He’s picked a good time to come into the NBA. The value of versatility on both ends is at an all-time high. When Camara was asked about how he was also used as a screener offensively in college, he brought up how hard it can be on other teams when he’s defending as a big man because of his ability to switch onto different teams.

“(It) helps teams tremendously,” he said, noting when done right it can break down plays and systems.

Due to the Suns’ top-heavy roster and the unknown of their depth entering free agency, Camara’s currently in a position to compete for minutes in training camp. Even after some signings come in, that will likely still remain the case. If Camara shows an immediate understanding for the league’s defensive concepts and knocks down open shots offensively, he could provide value right away.

This is not a young player still discovering who he is, and that’ll go a long way in helping Camara assimilate quickly.

“That’s who I am, that’s the person that I am now and I am accepting that,” he said of a potential role on the Suns.

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