Summer Suns player capsules

Mike Schmitz and Tyler Lockman take a look at the Summer Suns’ roster. They start play today in Las Vegas at 3 p.m. MST against Houston on NBA TV and continue with games Saturday at 1 p.m. against Toronto on NBA TV, Monday at 5:30 against the D-League, Wednesday at 5:30 against Cleveland and Thursday at 3 against Golden State on NBA TV.

Earl Clark

Pos: F Age: 22 Height: 6-foot-10 Weight: 225

2009-2010: 1.3 PPG, 0.7 RPG in 7.5 MPG (51 games)

Clark is sure to be the Suns’ star player in the summer league and could really take some big strides. Obviously, it’s no mystery what Clark brings to the table — size and athleticism. Summer league should give him a chance to sharpen specific elements of his game.

If Clark can come away with improved strength, better shot selection and the beginnings of bona fide rebounding ability, he’ll almost certainly become a regular rotation guy. The Suns are really high on Clark and believe he can be a great player. This could be his coming out party, or at least the pre-game.

Taylor Griffin

Pos: F Age: 24 Height: 6-foot-7 Weight: 238

2009-2010: 1.3 PPG, 0.3 RPG in 4.0 MPG (8 games)

Big brother will be playing for his team option in the summer league. Obviously Griffin knows the Suns’ system, which may put him a few steps ahead of the rest, but it also may not be enough to warrant keeping him on the roster.

He’ll have some competition for the oh-so-coveted perennial bench warmer spot, but he’ll have to earn it by showing that he has legitimate basketball abilities that can benefit the Suns beyond practice.

Scottie Reynolds

Pos: G Age: 22 Height: 6-foot-2 Weight: 195

2009-2010: 18.2 PPG, 3.3 APG in 30.3 MPG

The first team All-American out of Villanova could be the surprise of the summer for the Suns. If Reynolds can gel with the Suns’ system (which is quite possible), he may earn himself a spot on the bench. Reynolds will need to show that he possesses unique talents to offer the Suns, as they already possess plenty of capable shooters and passers. Ultimately, Reynolds may have the best shot at making the team out of the summer league.

Shaun Pruitt

Pos: C Age: 24 Height: 6-foot-10 Weight: 245

2009-2010: 19.1 PPG, 13.5 RPG in 34.9 MPG

After bouncing around the globe (China, Czech Republic, Greece, Puerto Rico), the former University of Illinois center makes his second Summer League appearance. Pruitt didn’t make the Warriors roster last season, but ended up playing in the Puerto Rican Baloncesto Superior Nacional, where he led the league in rebounding. Pruitt is the only center on the summer roster, and while he doesn’t get up and down the court very quickly, his size could intrigue the Suns. Though it’s nothing Dwayne Jones can’t provide, and Pruitt seems to have maturity issues.

Ryan Toolson

Pos: G Age: 25 Height: 6-foot-4 Weight: 190

2009-2010: 16.7 PPG, 2.2 RPG in 32.9 MPG

A Valley product, you have to imagine Toolson will do anything he can to just sit on the bench for the Suns. The Utah Valley University grad who once dropped 63 points on Chicago State but up decent numbers for Pinar Karsiyaka in Turkey last season while shooting 47.5 percent. The Suns hardly lack accurate shooters though, so Toolson is a long shot.

Gavin Edwards

Pos: F Age: 22 Height: 6-foot-10 Weight: 234

2009-2010: 10.6 PPG, 6.5 RPG in 30.4 MPG

Another Valley native, the Phoenix-born former UConn bench warmer figures to just take up space on the roster and court. The Suns did work him out twice before the draft, but that was almost certainly just scouting for summer league. Edwards made huge strides between his junior and senior seasons for the Huskies, but it will take some tremendous growth to even sniff a roster spot.

Marcus Johnson

Pos: F Age: 23 Height: 6-foot-6 Weight: 210

2009-2010: 9.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG in 31.7 MPG

Johnson spent time at UConn and finished at Southern Cal, but never put up very big numbers. However, Johnson’s real talent is his defense — something the Suns certainly lack. But don’t expect a diamond in the rough, just a serviceable summer league guy with legitimate defensive ability.

The following were compiled by Mike Schmitz:

Gani Lawal

Position: PF

College: Georgia Tech

Height: 6-foot-9

Weight: 233 pounds

2009-2010: 13.1 points, 8.5 rebounds in 25.8 minutes

Lawal turned in a solid three-year career at Georgia Tech and enters his rookie season with a ton of opportunity ahead of him. Depending on what the Suns do the rest of the offseason, Lawal could end up being Phoenix’s second big man off the bench. He will definitely make the team, but his role will partially be determined by how he plays this summer. He should start on this summer team and will have a tremendous opportunity to show off his game while learning the system along the way. With such a raw offensive game Lawal has a ton of learning to do, and what better time than summer league to get a head start?

Dwayne Collins

Position: PF

College: Miami

Height: 6-foot-8

Weight: 241 pounds

2009-2010: 12 points, 7.8 rebounds in 24.7 minutes

Collins should make the Suns’ roster before it’s all said and done, but he most likely has to have a solid showing in Vegas to do so (if he is even healthy enough to play after June 18 knee surgery). His 7-foot-4 wingspan alone should earn a roster spot, but this summer will prove if he has the skills to go along with that. I expect Collins to turn some heads with his high motor and athleticism this summer, and he may even eclipse Lawal on the depth chart. Collins is basically battling with his fellow second-rounder for playing time. It should be fun to see which raw and athletic big man has the edge going into training camp.

Zabian Dowdell

Position: PG

College: Virginia Tech

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 190 pounds

2009-2010: 12.9 points, 3.7 assists in 26.3 minutes (10 games for the Tulsa 66ers)

Dowdell made a great impression on the Suns when he played with them in last summer’s Vegas league. He was expected to play in training camp but earned a contract to play overseas, which he chose instead. He played with the Tulsa 66ers of the D-League for 10 games last season before heading overseas to play for Unicaja Malaga. Dowdell is a bit of a combo guard with great scoring ability and good length. Of the non-roster Suns he probably has the best shot of making the team as a third point guard, although Scottie Reynolds is a close second. He’s yet to earn a shot in the NBA at age 25 and has to be thirsting for a shot with the Suns. With an impressive summer league, Dowdell could very well be on the Phoenix Suns’ roster heading into next season.

Matt Janning

Position: SG

College: Northeastern

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 198 pounds

2009-2010: 15.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists in 36.1 minutes

Janning turned in an impressive career at Northeastern, averaging over 35 minutes per game in all four years and posting over 11 points per contest every season as well. He has sneaky athleticism and play making ability to go along with a solid stroke and good basketball IQ. But Janning is a long shot to make the club with so many shooters already under contract. However with a solid showing he could garner interest from a few other NBA teams.

Antron Ponkrashov

Position: SG

College: Russia

Height: 6-foot-7

Weight: 205 pounds

2009-2010: 2.8 points, 1.2 rebounds in 8.2 minutes (Euroleague, 20 games)

The 24-year old has been playing professional basketball in Russia since 2001 and was a member of the 2007 Russian FIBA championship team. He is a member of the Russian National Team and most recently played for CSKA Moscow He’s a lot like most European players — rail thin, sneaky athleticism, skilled but extremely soft. He can supposedly play everything from point guard to small forward, but Ponkrashov undoubtedly won’t make the roster.

Lawrence Hill

Position: SF

College: Stanford

Height: 6-foot-8

Weight: 220 pounds

2009-2010: 15.2 points, 4.1 rebounds in 30.5 minutes (Halcones Rojos de Veracruz, Mexico League)

Hill was a stud at Deer Valley High School and turned in a solid four-year career at Stanford. He wasn’t NBA material out of college, however, and played 57 games for Halcones Rojos de Veracruz in the Mexico League. He has NBA size for a small forward to go along with solid athleticism. He is somewhat of a tweener without much shooting range, but Hill could surprise some people this summer. He is a long shot to make the club, but he’s proven he can play at a high level and could be a deep sleeper of sorts.

Brandon Johnson

Position: PG

College: University of San Diego

Height: 6-foot

Weight: 200 pounds

2009-2010: 14 points, 3.4 assists in 32 minutes per game

Johnson burst onto the national scene his junior season when he averaged 16.9 points per game in the West Coast Conference. He helped lead USD to a first-round upset over UConn in 2008, scoring 18 points. He ruptured his Achilles 10 games into his senior season, but was granted a fifth season because of the injury. He’s a scoring point guard and an intriguing prospect to keep your eye on. Johnson is a heck of a competitor and should also be in the conversation with Scottie Reynolds and Zabian Dowdell for a spot as the Suns’ third point guard.

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Tags: Dwayne Collins Earl Clark Gani Lawal Taylor Griffin

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