The Northern Arizona Suns had the 1st, 6th, 11th, and 35th picks in the 2017 NBA G-League Draft. Sacramento State center Eric Stuteville was selected with the 1st pick and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson was the 6th overall selection.
"Just putting in a lot of work and seeing that happen, with a pick so high too, it kind of took me back a little bit," Stuteville said in a phone interview. "I just want to get there, get better every day and help the organization as much as I can."
Stuteville, 22, played in 31 games during his senior season at Sacramento State, averaging 11.6 points-per-game and 6.3 rebounds. The six-foot-eleven center shot .632 in his final season with the Hornets, the best mark for a single-season in program history.
"Eric (Stuteville) plays with that toughness, that grittiness," Northern Arizona Suns Head Coach Ty Ellis said. "He's a big that has a high motor, which I think is an underrated skill."
The Northern Arizona Suns acquired the #1 pick, that resulted in Stuteville, and Zach Andrews before the deadline on Friday, October 20th, in a trade with the Iowa Wolves for Elijah Millsap and Michael Bryson.
"What we wanted to do was control the keys to the draft and select the guys we thought best fit into our culture, into our organization positionally," Northern Arizona Suns General Manager Louis Lehman said.
Andrews, 32, is a six-foot-nine forward who has a multitude of experience in the G-League, playing 108 contests in his career averaging 7.6 points-per-game.
Bryson, 23, who was drafted in the first round of the 2017 draft by the Northern Arizona Suns, averaged 5.1 points-per-game during the inaugural season of the team. Meanwhile, Millsap, 30, led the Northern Arizona Suns in scoring with 19.7 points-per-game to go along with 13 double-doubles.
"Both of them (Millsap and Bryson) were consummate professionals, that's the most important thing," Ellis said. "We were focused on doing right by those guys...the fact that Iowa (Wolves) really wanted Michael and Eli is a testament to those guys. They worked hard and it paid off."
Hollis-Jefferson, 26, the sixth overall pick, is a six-foot-six forward from Temple. During the 2014-2015 season with the G-League Delaware 87ers, Hollis-Jefferson played in 36 games and recorded 5.1 points-per-game. However, he received limited playing time; only appearing for 16 minutes all season. Last season in the Canadian league, Hollis-Jefferson was the defensive player of the year.
"Taking Rahlir at six was huge for us, we had been targeting him for a long time," Lehman said. "Our MO and our philosophy is going to be defensive minded. We need tough gritty guys and that is what Rahlir is. He's really physical, he's a strong-wing defender. He can play multiple positions."
"Rahlir brings that toughness, that defensive grit," Ellis added. "He can really play and defend the two, three and four. That's exactly what we were looking for."
"I watched him play this summer and as soon as I watched his game, I fell in love with him," Ellis continued.
Hollis-Jefferson is the older brother of Brooklyn Nets small forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
Former Louisiana Lafayette Ragin Cajun Jay Wright was drafted by the Northern Arizona Suns 11th overall but was traded to the Lakeland Magic following the conclusion of the draft for a non-protected first-round draft pick in 2018.
"As we were going through all of our different offers and options on the table, which were plentiful, Lakeland had a strong interest in trading for #11 (Wright)," Lehman said. "We weighed all of our options and we were happy with the top two picks we made and felt those guys would help fill out our camp roster. So, without needing to add another player right now, we felt it was best to acquire a future asset that we can use later down the road this year in another trade or hopefully a good pick next year."
The team passed on their 35th and final pick.
Also on Friday, the NAZ Suns traded Deonte Burton to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants for a second-round pick in the 2018 draft and traded picks #59 and #60 in the 2017 draft to the Westchester Knicks for Sean Marshall.
Burton, 26, did not suit up for the Northern Arizona Suns last season as he played internationally in France.
Marshall, 32, is a six-foot-six guard and a member of the Eskişehir Basket in Turkey where he led the team with an average of 18.3 points-per-game last season.
Training camp for the Northern Arizona Suns begins Monday, October 23rd, while the season tips-off at 7 pm on Saturday, November 4th, at the Prescott Valley Event Center against the Agua Caliente Clippers.