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Tue, March 19

Northern Arizona Suns announce two open tryout dates

PRESCOTT VALLEY — In preparation for their inaugural 2016-2017 campaign, the Northern Arizona Suns announced Tuesday afternoon they will hold two open tryouts prior to the NBA D-League’s draft on Oct. 29.

And with a 10-man roster to fill and 17 players allowed to attend training camp, Northern Arizona assistant general manager Louis Lehman said the Suns are looking for “under the radar” type players.

“I know there’s a lot of good talent [out there] that hasn’t been discovered,” said Lehman, a former Catalina Foothills High School player and former AAU alum. “It’s an opportunity for guys to get in front of our D-League staff and showcase their skills to our organization.”

The Suns’ 10-man roster will be made up of returning players, affiliate players, drafted players and local tryout players, Lehman said.

Last season in Bakersfield, California, four players were invited to training camp from the local tryouts, and Derek Cooke Jr. out of Wyoming made the 10-man roster.

D-League teams can select up to five players from the open tryouts to attend their respective training camps.

Northern Arizona will host the first tryout Sunday, Sept. 18, at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, while the second tryout will take place at the Prescott Valley Event Center on Saturday, Oct. 8.

The team plans to cap its allotment of tryout players to 80 total in Phoenix, and 60 in Prescott Valley.

Lehman said the Suns are looking for players with a high “basketball IQ.”

“[We want them] playing the game the right way, not trying to go out there and score every single point,” Lehman said. “We want to see how they move the ball, how they cut, how they play defense and communicate.”

Lehman added he wants to see a “maximum effort” from players, and will have an eye on their ability to be a good teammate.

“We’re looking for someone that has no ego,” Lehman said.

Upcoming Important Dates

Sept. 18: Phoenix Open Tryout (Talking Stick Resort Arena)

Oct. 8: Prescott Valley Open Tryout (Prescott Valley Event Center)

Oct. 29: NBA D-League Player Draft

Oct. 31: Northern Arizona Suns Training Camp Begins

Nov. 12: Iowa Energy at Northern Arizona (Season Opener)


Per D-League bylaws, each team is allowed 10 active players on their roster, but teams can carry 12 players, with two inactive. Players not on the active roster are not paid.

“Assignment" players for Northern Arizona in 2016-2017 could very well include recent Phoenix Suns draft picks Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss and Tyler Ulis.

Lehman said players like Bender, Chriss and Ulis earn “Assignment” status to give them an opportunity to play for the parent club’s D-League affiliate without affecting its 10-man roster.

All active players on a D-League 10-man roster are also eligible to be called up by any NBA team, with the only exception being a draft-rights player. For those NBA franchises that don’t own a D-League squad, they can assign their own players to any D-League team after a bidding process. That process for a player is called a "Flex Assignment."

Lehman said the goal of most D-League teams is to get their guys signed by an NBA franchise, whether it’s with the parent club or not.

“Any NBA team can sign the 10 guys on our roster, and we want to see that, even if it’s not with the Phoenix Suns,” Lehman said.

International players and those who played at an NCAA Division I institution and were selected an All-Conference or All-American performer are eligible for the draft, and are not given the designation of “local tryout” status.


Players will be put through various drills in the morning sessions, then transition into scrimmages with each player earning minutes in two to five games.


Registration for each session will begin at 8 a.m., with tryouts beginning promptly at 9 a.m. and running until approximately 4 p.m. Those interested in participating in open tryouts can sign up online at

Registration fee for each session is $150 per person now through Sunday, Sept. 11, and $200 per person beginning Monday, Sept. 12.

Brian M. Bergner Jr. is a sports writer and columnist for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud at @SportsWriter52, or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Reach him by phone at 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.


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