Recent Phoenix Suns predraft workouts enjoy local flavor
PHOENIX — It’s not every day the NBA team in your hometown calls requesting a workout.
But twice now in the past three days, that’s exactly what happened to a pair of former local high school standouts who are pondering pro careers after graduating from college.
Both Chandler Hamilton’s Eric Jacobsen and Laveen Betty Fairfax’s Stacy Davis answered the Phoenix Suns’ call and worked out for the team they grew up watching.
For Jacobsen, who just ended a four-year run at Arizona State, the moment was surreal.
“This is the first time I’ve been able to come and actually see the behind-the-scenes facility,” he said, referring to Talking Stick Resort Arena. “Growing up here, I’ve been to plenty of Suns games; went to all of them when (Steve) Nash and (Amar’e) Stoudemire were here. It was cool and come play on the court they practice on.”
On Saturday, the Suns matched Jacobsen up against Zhou Qi of China, a 7-foot-2 big man with a 7-7 ¾ wingspan that ranked among the longest ever at the NBA Combine.
Qi is receiving late first-round interest because of his mobility, soft shooting touch and rim-protection ability.
“He’s a lot bigger than a lot of guys I’ve played against, especially in the Pac-12. I think he would be the biggest guy in the Pac-12, if he played,” the 6-10 Jacobsen said. “He got me a couple of times. On those turnarounds, he’s a lot longer than I thought he would be. Usually guys his size and young like he is aren’t as athletic as him, so I’m sure he has a very high potential.”
The workout was the first for Jacobsen, who averaged 7.7 points and 5.1 rebounds with a team-best 31 blocks while shooting a team-high 57.6 percent in 32 starts last season.
Jacobsen is hoping he showed enough in the workout and at ASU to “open the door for more opportunities to come in the future” as he eyes the NBA.
“If I could stay (stateside as opposed to going overseas), the NBA is considered the best league on the planet, so the goal is to play against the best guys in the world. I’m shooting for the stars. Wherever I land is where I’ll be.”
Davis, meanwhile, played four years at Pepperdine after leading Betty Fairfax to the Division II state quarterfinals in 2012.
A three-time All-West Coast Conference first-team selection, Davis, a 6-foot-6, 235-pound forward, finished as Pepperdine’s all-time leading scorer (1,786) and second-best rebounder (994), becoming the first player in program history to lead the team in rebounding all four years.
On Monday, Davis joined a six-player group workout of second-round hopefuls that included UC-Santa Barbara senior guard Michael Bryson, Notre Dame junior guard Demetrius Jackson, Louisville senior guard Damion Lee, Iowa State senior forward Abdel Nader and Alabama senior guard Retin Obasohan.
“It was my first (workout). It was definitely a learning experience,” said Davis, who spent his first three high school years at Tolleson Union before transferring to Betty Fairfax. “It was good to come back home and work out for the home team. I’m grateful for the organization for bringing me out.”
Unlike Jacobsen, however, Davis wasn’t a Suns fan growing up.
“I was actually a Cavs fan growing up,” he said, smiling. “I moved here when I was about 10. I moved from California, so I was always against the Suns, especially when they played the Lakers in their heated battles so I always got a lot of stuff for it when I was younger.”
Davis, though, does have Suns ties. He and current backup center Alan Williams played on the same club team, the Arizona Stars, for a year.
“He’s always been like a bigger brother to me; very much a mentor,” Davis said, referring to Williams, another local product out of Phoenix North High. “So to watch the steps that he’s taken to get to where he’s at has been very inspiring. I’ve (reached out to him) every now and again. He’s definitely motivation for me, but I know there’s a lot of other guys who look up to him as well.”
For the Suns, when they bring in a local player for a workout, it’s nothing but positive.
“It’s always more fun,” assistant general manager Pat Connelly said. “We love rewarding guys that are local with coming in and working out for us. You can see the excitement and a lot of them grew up Suns fans. It makes it really interesting when you have a guy locally come in.”