Regardless of what happens with free-agent-to-be Steve Nash, the Phoenix Suns believe they have their point guard of the future after selecting North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall with the 13th pick in the 1st-round Thursday night.
“I’m excited about it,” Marshall said in a conference call after the selection. “As a rookie there’s going to be a learning curve. Decision-making is one of my best attributes, as well as getting up and down the floor. I know it’s going to take time.”
“We are ecstatic,” Suns General Manager Lance Blanks told the assembled media moments after the selection. “Looking at our board and who was there with the 13th pick, that was the guy we were targeting all along.”
Marshall is a pass-first floor leader who UNC head coach Roy Williams called the best passer he’s ever coached. He averaged 9.8 assists last season winning the Bob Cousy Award as the nation’s top point guard.
“Kendall came here and had a wonderful visit,” Blanks said. “He came back and we got a second look at him.”
The 20-year old from Arlington, Virginia set the ACC single-season assist record dishing out 351 dimes last season for the Tar Heels. At 6’4, he brings great size to the point guard position and has improved his jump shot. Marshall shot just under 47% from the field and 70% from the line in 2011-12.
“Quite frankly, Kendall represents where we are as an organization,” Blanks explained. “He represents everything we want to be about as a player and a person. Most importantly, if you look in his background and his history, he’s a winner.”
Before Thursday the Suns picked 13th twice, selecting Colorado point guard Jay Humphries in 1984 and forward Markieff Morris from Kansas last year.