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Here’s who Suns fans should be watching during March Madness

Believe it or not, the Phoenix Suns are slated to have a first-round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, and they could end up selecting one of the stars of the NCAA Tournament which starts this week.

As things currently stand, Phoenix still holds four first rounders between the 2024 and 2030 drafts, although they don’t have sole possession of any.

For 2024, the Suns will take the least favorable first rounder between the Memphis Grizzlies’ pick, the Washington Wizards’ pick and their own. Right now, the least favorable of the three is their own, sitting at No. 19 after the loss on Sunday to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Here are some players who could have a big impact in March Madness before being in play at No. 19 — or wherever the Suns’ pick ends up.

Dalton Knecht, Tennessee, No. 13 on ESPN’s Top 100

Knecht has the best chance to knock off Purdue big man Zach Edey for National Player of the Year with how he’s led Tennessee this season.

The 6-foot-6, 213-pound wing has worked his way up through junior college to low-major Northern Colorado and now to Tennessee where he led the Volunteers to the SEC regular season title.

The fifth-year senior enters the tournament averaging 21.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists on a career best 39.7% on 6.2 3s per game.

First March Madness matchup: No. 2 Tennessee vs. No. 15 Saint Peter’s on Thursday at 6:20 p.m. on TNT.

Ryan Dunn, Virginia, No. 20 on The Athletic’s mock draft (to Phoenix at the time)

The 6-foot-8, 216-pound sophomore doesn’t offer a ton offensively, but he may be the best defender in the country, with the toughness to hang with bigger players as well.

Dunn is a career 24% shooter on 3s but is a much better 61.9% on 2s. He also blocks nearly 2.5 shots per game in just 27.6 minutes, including five against Duke a couple weeks ago.

First March Madness matchup: No. 10 Virginia vs. No. 10 Colorado State on Tuesday at 6:10 p.m. on truTV.

DaRon Holmes II, Dayton, No. 25 on The Athletic’s mock draft

After starring at Millennium High in Goodyear and AZ Compass Prep in Chandler, Holmes has dominated the A-10 for three seasons now, showing a smooth and versatile game that not many bigs have.

This season, Holmes added a 3-point shot and is hitting 38.5% on 2.5 attempts at 6-foot-10. He attempted just 26 over his first two seasons combined. Averaging over 20 points and two blocks per game, he’s poised to take the Flyers on a run.

First March Madness matchup: No. 7 Dayton vs. No. 10 Nevada on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. on TBS.

Phoenix is without a second-round pick in this draft because it was rescinded after the league found the Suns to have tampered in acquiring Drew Eubanks last summer.

They do have to fill out a G League roster for next season though, so general manager James Jones may end up bringing in undrafted rookies, something he hasn’t really done in his tenure.

Here are some players Jones and the Suns could be looking at in the tournament.

Alex Karaban, UConn, No. 50 on ESPN’s Top 100

Shooting is the big draw for this 6-foot-8 redshirt sophomore who shot 39.8% on nearly 350 attempts over the two seasons he played for the Huskies, with a chance to have championship rings in each season.

UConn’s offense is probably the closest to an NBA offense in all of the field, and Karaban’s ability to connect within that offense — career 3.1 assists per 100 possessions — should endear him to NBA front offices.

First March Madness matchup: No. 1 UConn vs. No. 16 Stetson on Friday at 11:45 a.m. on CBS.

Tyon Grant-Foster, Grand Canyon, unranked

One of the best stories in college basketball because of the medical hardships he has endured, the 6-foot-7 wing is versatile on offense and obsessive on defense.

Grant-Foster is one of the best in the country at getting to the line and creating his own shot in the mid-range, averaging over three stocks (steals plus blocks) on the other end.

He would make for a great marquee headliner for the Suns’ G League team as he develops into a potential difference-maker for the Suns, where his cousin Ish Wainright is on a two-way contract.

First March Madness matchup: No. 12 Grand Canyon vs. No. 5 St. Mary’s on Friday at 7:05 p.m. on truTV.

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