PHOENIX — Arizona State point guard Jahii Carson worked out for the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday afternoon, and for obvious reasons was the media’s most popular player out of the six participants — Taylor Braun, Tim Frazier, Josh Huestis, Cory Jefferson and Patric Young were the others.
Carson grew up in Phoenix and played high school ball at Mountain Pointe for two years and Mesa High School for two more. He remained in the Valley to play college basketball in Tempe. And there he was, working out for the hometown team that he grew up cheering for.
“Its crazy being a hometown kid in Phoenix, going to Mesa and staying home for college and being here,” Carson said. “It’s a triple threat and not every kid can do that. I just thank God for the opportunity.”
Carson added that playing for the hometown Suns would be a “dream come true” for him. He grew up watching Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire, and his grandma is a die hard Suns fan.
If that dream is to be a reality though, the Suns will have to like what they see from the 5-foot-10 point guard.
For the better or worse, today was not a first impression for Carson on the Suns staff. General manager Ryan McDonough watched many Arizona State games last season, and Jeff Hornacek has had a personal relationship with Carson going back to his high school days, when Carson played against his son in high school summer league.
Today, Carson showed off his transition game and perhaps surprised the Suns staff with the way he shot the NBA three-ball.
“He would fit well with the pace and tempo that we play at,” McDonough said. “He is good at the open court because we push the ball. He seems like he was in pretty good shape today, and shot the NBA three well in the drills we did, and he had a good show.”
Carson said he has been working on his jump shot in the past few months and felt good about how he shot it during the workout. At Arizona State, Carson averaged 18 points per game in each of his two seasons on campus. Last year he improved his three-point percentage seven points from the 32 percent clip he shot during his sophomore year. His two-point percentage dipped from 47 percent to 43 percent, which ranks him the third-lowest among top-100 collegiate prospects, according to DraftExpress.com.
As a small point guard, Carson needs an effective jump shot, and it sounds like that is not too much of a concern from the Suns brass. Hornacek also mentioned that Carson looked good shooting the ball today.
“He is a point guard that can score,” Hornacek said. “He shot the ball well and when we got up and down, it didn’t look like he ever needed a drink. He just kept running and running and pushing the ball, and that fits our style.”
Carson’s strong transition game could make a match with the Suns a perfect fit. The Arizona State product feels like he will go somewhere in the 25 to 40 range of the draft, which would fit perfectly with the Suns 27th pick in the first round.
That said, his focus is not on where he is drafted. His focus is on showing teams the things he does well. And he feels like he accomplished that with the Suns today. He also showed off the skill he is known most for — his leaps.
“They had a vertical thing again, and I got a 43 and a half again,” Carson said. “I do like to show my athleticism.”