Why Phoenix Suns Fans should be excited about Jared Harper

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - MARCH 29: Jared Harper #1 of the Auburn Tigers dribbles against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2019 NCAA Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional at Sprint Center on March 29, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - MARCH 29: Jared Harper #1 of the Auburn Tigers dribbles against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2019 NCAA Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional at Sprint Center on March 29, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

After the craziness of the draft and the befuddling strategy applied by James Jones and the Phoenix Suns, some news came out Friday morning that provided more hope for the team’s future.

Jared Harper, the ex-Auburn point guard signed on to play Summer League with the Phoenix Suns before deciding what his future holds.’

This seems to be a perfect fit as the Suns lack a point guard, with Elie Okobo being the only true point currently on the roster.

In the immediate future, the Suns are planning to somehow land a PG in free agency to start ahead of Ty Jerome, the guard that was selected out of Virginia who they traded trade with the Celtics for who has point abilities, although that isn’t his natural fit.

Jared Harper spent three seasons at Auburn honing his point guard skills, but while undersized, I believe he provides hope as a long-shot option for Phoenix at point guard in the future.

Many will question that perspective because of his size, which is a fair, but before digging deeper, allow me to share my personal contact with the young man.

I spent four years at Auburn, working as a Manager for the basketball team all four years.

In March of my Sophomore year (2014), Bruce Pearl was hired as Head Coach and he brought in an entirely new staff. As my junior year progressed one of Bruce’s assistants, Todd Golden, current Head Coach of the University of San Francisco, started mentioning this guard he was recruiting who would be a program changer if he committed.

I was personally skeptical to say the least as two seasons of Auburn basketball filled with losses had left me extremely jaded. But Coach Golden talked about this kid with the utmost praise which brought me hope.

It was later that Coach Golden would reveal Harper as the kid he was raving about and after Harper came on a visit and I saw his size, I maintained my doubts despite Harper’s Youtube highlights revealing promise.

Coach Golden though continued to pump him up to me and eventually, Harper signed with Auburn.

I graduated in May 2016 before Harper would arrive on campus for his freshman season (2016-17), but stayed close with many people at Auburn including coaches and managers.

I reached out to them and only received back glowing recommendations about the young potential star. Specifically, the praise I received from Thomas Northcutt, a Manager I am close friends with who works as a Graphic Design Assistant for Rutgers, and who’s praise for Jared was lavish.

Thomas said Jared was “always in the gym, [always] going 100%,” Jared “bought into the process” and “studied film and the playbook constantly.” He continued that Jared’s work ethic, commitment, and basketball IQ was so high that by the end of his second season, Bruce trusted Jared to call plays and manage the offense.

The piece of information I cared most about, however, was Thomas mentioning the Jared treated everyone with respect – especially managers.

I believe you can learn a ton about a person based on how they treat those “below” them and Thomas being adamant that Jared went out of his way to treat the managers well is a great sign to me.

Jared’s work ethic produced results, he started 104 of 106 games while at Auburn, and was a key leader along with Chuma Okeke, who was drafted 16th by the Orlando Magic, and Bryce Brown, who is set to play for the Kings in Summer League, as part of Auburn’s Final Four run this season.

In the end, it seems Coach Golden was right on the money with the assertion that Jared would be a program changer, as Auburn looks to set up for long-term success.

It is easy to look at that and respond that while Jared has a great story, he remains undersized and many players with great stories don’t make it in the league.

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This is where I bring some numbers in to show why I believe in Jared so much.

Jared finished his junior season averaging 15.3 points and 5.8 assists, adding 1 steal and shooting 37% from 3 on nearly 7 attempts per game. Jared improved in every statistical category year over year and I would expect he will continue to consistently improve.

Jared also posted an assist rate of 32% ranking in the top-50 in the country and drew nearly 5 fouls a game while shooting 83% from the line.

He was also the steady hand that controlled Auburn’s offense and corralled the craziness when the run and game style got away from the team.

Still, there are legitimate questions about Harper’s size. At just 5’11 in shoes weighing only 169 lbs, his slight frame hampered his finishing ability.

However, where Harper should inspire is that the rest of his measurables are not just impressive – but elite.

Harper’s wingspan is 6’5.5 which is a +6.5 inches to his height. His hand width is 9.5 inches which are in the top 1/4 of all measured athletes. His vertical both standing  (33.5) and max (40.5) rank in the top 86th percentile or higher and his lane agility (10.77 seconds) is in the 73rd percentile.

Jared has the length and athleticism to make up for his height issues at the next level. He makes highlight plays, he sparked many Auburn runs and ended many opponents runs with step-backs and deep pull-up 3s.

He can absolutely run a team effectively as well.

Next. The Method to James Jones' Draft Day Maddness. dark

Harper is in the position of players like Fred VanVleet who although undrafted, has a chance to make a difference.

Jared Harper will have to overcome his size but based on his other measurables, stats, and history, he displayed at Auburn, he could be the guy to ignite the Phoenix Suns and make a huge difference.