By: Kayla Mortellaro
PHOENIX— Just 115 miles separates the University of Arizona campus and U.S. Airways Center.
And all it took Brandon Ashley was less than a two hour drive to be one step closer of continuing his dream of playing professional basketball. Ashley participated in pre-draft workouts with the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.
“It went pretty well,” Ashley said after the workout to the media. “I think I did a pretty good job of knocking down shots and competing.”
Ashley did a very good job of competing for the Wildcats and statistically improved every year. Ashley’s 2013-2014 season was cut short due to a torn ligament in his right foot. But as a fully healed member of the Cats, Ashley averaged 12.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per game in 27.8 minutes of play in 2014-2015. As a big man, 6’9” and 230 pounds, he shot the ball well. Ashley knocked down 51.4 percent of his shots from the floor and 70.3 percent from the free throw line.
“I just want to be picked up,” Ashley said. “What I’m hearing is that I can go anywhere from the late first round to mid second.”
The Suns currently hold the 13th pick in the June 25th draft.
Until then, Ashley just wants the opportunity to prove himself.
“I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to play, for the opportunity to showcase my skill set and to prove myself at the next level,” Ashley said.
Ashley played a lot of basketball at the four-position for the U of A and he still considers that to be his true position.
“For a guy like me who considers himself a stretch four, one of the things I definitely have to show is that I can shoot the ball pretty well from the outside,” Ashley said.
Good news for Ashley, among several things the Suns need, a stretch-four player is on the team’s radar.
“Brandon is very skilled, good shooter at that size, has a good feel for the game,” Suns GM Ryan McDonough said. “I think he has true position in the NBA at the four, that stretch-four, kind of that play-making four, a guy who can shoot off the catch or make a play on a close-out or off the dribble.”
No matter what position Ashley thinks is suitable for his game, the fact that he is coming from Sean Miller’s program at the University of Arizona is a positive.
“They know what they’re doing, you can tell they have been well coached especially on the defensive end of the floor,” McDonough said. “They rotate properly, they switch at the right times and they are pretty competitive guys. The Arizona guys are pretty tough, they are gritty.”
Ashley told the media the Suns are already his fifth destination for pre-draft workouts. He previously had workouts with the Bulls, Spurs, Grizzles and the Lakers. He still has workouts scheduled with the Warriors, Cavaliers, Wizards and Celtics.