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Draft prospects come prepared to run when working out for Phoenix Suns

Purdus forward Caleb Swanigan (50) drives on Illinois guard Khalid Lewis during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill., on Sunday Jan. 10, 2016. Illinois won 84-70. (AP Photo/Rick Danzl)

PHOENIX — It may not yet be on par with the Masters in Augusta, but the Phoenix Suns’ run test to conclude pre-draft workouts is quickly becoming a tradition like no other.

Now in its fourth year, it’s a simple test to examine the conditioning, both physically and mentally, of draft-eligible prospects ahead of the June draft.

Players are asked to run the length of the court — making sure to touch the baseline — as many times as possible in three minutes.  Of course, this happens after they have gone through an exhaustive workout, including 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 play.

In past years the closer the Suns workouts were to the draft, the more the players were aware of what was to come when they visited Phoenix.

This year it seems guys are doing their homework ahead of time.

“Whenever I go into something, I try not go in blindsided so I actually (went on) YouTube and Googled a little bit about the workouts and I saw something that said that there would be a three-minute run so I knew a little bit about it,” Wake Forest senior guard Codi Miller-McIntyre said following his workout on Wednesday.

General Manager Ryan McDonough brought the test with him from Boston, where he had spent a decade in the front office prior to joining the Suns in 2013.

“It tells you two things in particular,” he told Doug & Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.  “The first is what kind of physical condition these guys are in. This is serious. This opportunity usually only comes around once, especially in the draft. If you’re not prepared for this, I think that’s a red flag for us.  If you are super-prepared, that’s obviously a good sign. And the second thing, maybe the most important thing, is just see how they fight when things aren’t going well or aren’t going their way.

“Most of the guys handle it pretty well and fight through the adversity and the fatigue. But some guys don’t. Some guys start to go into cruise-mode and shutdown and quit.  In my experiences over 13 or 14 drafts now is that’s a very good indicator of what you’re going to get when you select a player. Obviously the guys who don’t fight through it and quit, we tend to stay away from.”

The record for most line touches on the practice court at Talking Stick Resort Arena is shared by BYU’s Tyler Haws and Arizona’s T.J. McConnell. They each recorded 28 ¾ last season, surpassing the previous mark of 28 ¼ held by Arizona State’s Carrick Felix.

“It’s just like running the mile — find your pace and try to keep it and keep going.  The biggest thing is don’t look at the clock; don’t look at the clock, just keep running,” said Purdue freshman forward Caleb Swanigan, who joined Miller-McIntyre, USC junior forward Nikola Jovanovic and Georgia Tech senior guard Adam Smith in the first Suns pre-draft workout.

“I need to expect workouts like this, and it’s definitely a big-time learning experience,” Jovanovic said.

Smith was Wednesday’s big winner with 27 line touches.

“They did well,” assistant GM Pat Connelly said. “Nobody passed out, nobody quit and so that’s a good sign. All these guys were in pretty good shape and all posted pretty decent numbers.”

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