The Northern Arizona Suns drafted four players in the 2016 NBA Development League Draft on Sunday. The Suns selected guard Michael Bryson (8th overall), guard Mikh McKinney (2nd round, 25th overall), forward Greg Mays (2nd round, 30th overall) and center Ralph Sampson III (5th round, 86th overall).
“We’re really excited with how the draft turned out. We feel like we added four really valuable players to our training camp roster that will help compete for spots on the team,” said NAZ Suns Assistant General Manager Louis Lehman. “Starting off with our first pick Michael Bryson, he’s somebody that we’ve had our eye on for a while. Michael played [in the] Summer League with the Phoenix Suns this summer. Really good shooting guard, we like his ability to stretch the floor, he’s a great athlete that can get his head down and attack the basket. We really think he can add a lot to the current group of guys that we have and we’re really looking forward to him.”
Bryson is a 6-foot 4-inch, 200-pound guard out of the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was a part of the 2016 Phoenix Suns Summer League team and played in five games, where he scored 2.6 points per game. The 22-year-old played all four years for the Gauchos and led his team in scoring with 18.0 points per game his senior year. Bryson started 32 games in his final season at UC Santa Barbara, where he also recorded 6.4 rebounds per game (led the team) and 2.4 assists per game in his 33.7 minutes on the court per game (led the team). Last season, Bryson led UC Santa Barbara to a 19-14 record (11-5 in Big West conference play).
“Michael Bryson was a part of the Summer League and so we feel comfortable with him. We know him. He’s a shooter, and most importantly, he’s a tough kid. He’s a fighter,” said NAZ Suns Head Coach Tyrone Ellis. “I think he can defend the one, two, three and possibly four with certain lineups, and he can shoot it. He was one of the better shooters in college, and so I’m really excited to have him. Most importantly, he’s a high character guy, and we really tried to focus on that with that pick, for sure.”
Bryson owns his school’s record for most career three point field goals made with 241 in 124 career games. Through his four years with the Gauchos, Bryson averaged 13.1 points on 45.1 percent from the field (37.0 percent from the three point line), 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. The Sacramento, California, native was named the Big West player of the week five times. Bryson played with current Phoenix Suns big-man Alan Williams for three years at UC Santa Barbara.
McKinney is a 6-foot 1-inch, 170-pound guard out of Sacramento State who played last season overseas. The 24-year-old was a member of the Port of Antwerp Giants in the Belgium-Euromillions League. There he averaged 7.2 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game in 18.2 minutes of play on the court in 19 games. At Sacramento State, McKinney played three years and scored 19.2 points per game in his final year for the Hornets. In his time with Sacramento State, McKinney was named the Big Sky Conference Player of the Year following his 2014-15 season, and became the first player in school history to be unanimously named to the Big Sky’s first-team for his 2013-14 season. The Union City, California, native averaged 16.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.6 steals per game in his three years with the Hornets.
Mays is a 6-foot 8-inch, 220-pound forward out of the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, who played last season for the Albury Wodonga Bandits from the South East Australian Basketball League. In his one season with the team, Mays averaged 21.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game in 26 contests. The 23-year-old played four years for the Phoenix and averaged 8.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game. Mays is originally from Chicago, Illinois, and averaged 12.0 points and 4.7 rebounds in 33 games (all starts) in his final season, 2014-15, with Green Bay.
Sampson is a 6-foot 11-inch, 253-pound center who most recently played for the Maine Red Claws. Last season, Sampson scored 4.0 points per game and grabbed 3.3 rebounds per game in 31 contests. Sampson was a member of the Red Claws for two seasons after getting drafted by the Reno Bighorns in 2012. In his three seasons in the D-League, Sampson has averaged 4.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Before reaching the D-League, Sampson played four years at Minnesota, where he averaged 8.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. He is the son of Hall of Fame NBA player and former Phoenix Suns’ assistant coach (2012-13) Ralph Sampson.
The 2016 NBA D-League Draft was made available to fans via teleconference from the league’s New York headquarters, as a record-number 22 teams picked from the 182 eligible players.
The NAZ Suns inaugural season tips off on Saturday, November 12th at 7PM, against the Iowa Energy at the Prescott Valley Event Center and are excited to bring affordable, family-friendly entertainment and quality basketball to Northern Arizona. A variety of season ticket membership packages are available, with packages starting as low as $8 per game for the full season.