The new Suns: Culture change in Phoenix

James Jones Phoenix Suns (Photo by Barry GossageNBAE via Getty Images)
James Jones Phoenix Suns (Photo by Barry GossageNBAE via Getty Images) /
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Cameron Johnson and Ty Jerome Phoenix Suns (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)
Cameron Johnson and Ty Jerome Phoenix Suns (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images) /

James Jones gets the draft

Staying with the theme of youth, the selection of North Carolina small forward Cam Johnson and Virginia point guard Ty Jerome supported the championship culture criteria that Jones and Williams have been working to establish.

Both Johnson and Jerome played for ACC powers that finished in the Top-10 with Jerome starting for the National Champion Virginia Cavaliers.

Johnson is a long-range shooter that started for the Tar Heels with averages of 16.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 50.6% from the field, 45.7% from 3, and 81.8% from the line. He was UNC’s leading scorer last season and was considered one of the most efficient scorers in the nation.

And when you listen to his college head coach Roy Williams, you’ll understand how Jones and Williams see the 6′ 9″ Johnson being a great fit, not just from a production standpoint, but also from a culture perspective.

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

“First of all, they drafted the best shooter in the entire draft,” said Williams on Arizona Sports 98.7 following the draft. “Secondly they drafted a guy who’s ready to play, thirdly they drafted a guy who’s one of most disciplined, focused young men I’ve ever coached. A great human being, but he’s going to be able to come in and play.”

Williams added, “Cam’s going to go to practice, then he’s going to the trainer, and then he’s going to the weight room and then he’s going to get extra shots up. It’s going to be an 8-10 hour day of work for him because that’s the way he approaches things.”

Jerome is known for his basketball intelligence on the court and his ability to make the right decisions – especially during critical moments – which helped lead his UVA basketball team to their first national title.

In college, he achieved the following averages: 13.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 43.5% FG%, 39.9% 3PT%, 74.6% FT%.

But what the 6′ 5″ rookie brings to the table is a dogged tenacity to learn, adapt, improve, and win.

“He’s found ways to just impact the game and the team he’s on to catapult them to a higher level,” explained Tony Bennett, head coach at the University of Virginia. “When he gets between the lines, he figures it out. There’s always an adjustment process on that, but once he gets comfortable and understands things, he impacts winning. He figures out what needs to be done.”

And that’s what Jerome did in his final year at UVA ending with a stat line of 16 points, 8 assists and a steal in leading the Cavaliers to their first NCAA Championship.