Suns remain focused on youth movement

From left, Josh Jackson, Alec Peters and Davon Reed hold up Suns jerseys with the number 17, indicating they are part of the 2017 Phoenix Suns draft class.

Courtesy of John Arlia/Cronkite News

From left, Josh Jackson, Alec Peters and Davon Reed hold up Suns jerseys with the number 17, indicating they are part of the 2017 Phoenix Suns draft class.

PHOENIX – The Phoenix Suns took the next step toward building what they hope will grow into a championship contender when General Manager Ryan McDonough and Coach Earl Watson introduced Josh Jackson, Davon Reed and Alec Peters as its 2017 NBA Draft class.

“We think it was a great night for us in terms of the talent we added,” McDonough said. “But more importantly in terms of the people we added, who they are and … what we think they can become in this league as players and as men.”

After plenty of trade speculation, the Phoenix Suns decided to hold onto the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and used it to select Kansas freshman Josh Jackson.

The 6-foot-8, 207-pound small forward averaged 16.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game on his way to becoming a Wooden All-American and the Big 12 Freshman of the Year in his only season with the Jayhawks.

“We think Josh’s defensive ability and athleticism, his length, his passing ability all really complement two very talented offensive wings in Devin (Booker) and T.J. (Warren),” McDonough said.

Shortly after the selection, Jackson told ESPN that he was excited to come to Phoenix and be a part of the team’s youth movement. The 20-year-old will join Booker, Warren, Marquese Chriss, Tyler Ulis, Derrick Jones Jr. and Dragan Bender as Suns players under the age of 24.

“I think we can learn a lot together and over the years, we can grow to be something really special,” Jackson said. “Just being able to grow together, I think that’ll make our team chemistry a lot better.”

McDonough said that defensive ability was something the Suns were looking for throughout the pre-draft process and it was one of the reasons the team selected Miami Hurricanes guard Davon Reed with the 32nd pick.

“He’s got pretty good size, strength and length for a two-guard,” McDonough said. “He can defend his position and he can hit an open shot. He can make a three-point shot.”

Reed averaged 14.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game and was named to the ACC All-Defensive team in his senior season. He wasn’t sure where he stood after working out twice with the Suns over the past month, but was happy to be back in the Valley a third time.

Alec Peters, who was named Horizon League Player of the Year in his senior season at Valparaiso, also talked about how thankful he was to be there, given the difficulty of his pre-draft process. Peters has been rehabbing a foot injury and was unable to work out for any prospective teams, which made him worry that he was out of sight out of mind among league front offices.

“It got pretty lonely,” Peters said. “It got pretty hard, but at the end of the day, I knew I was getting my opportunity and I couldn’t be happier to have my opportunity here in Phoenix.”

McDonough said that the team will likely hold Peters out of Summer League play, but plans to have him available in time for training camp in September.