Patrick Finley: Workout with Suns 'a really big deal'

2013-06-27T00:00:00Z 2013-06-27T02:21:55Z Patrick Finley: Workout with Suns 'a really big deal'Contact reporter Patrick Finley at 573-4658 or pfinley@azstarnet.com. On Twitter @PatrickFinley Patrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Aaron Anderson's agent left a voice mail eight days ago while he was at the dentist.

"It's urgent," he said.

The Mountain View High School graduate went back home - to the backyard of his mom's house - and called back.

The Phoenix Suns wanted the 6-foot-7-inch, 220-pound forward to work out for them the next day.

The 22-year-old Kennesaw (Ga.) State graduate called his family.

They didn't believe him.

"I didn't have time to be nervous," he said.

When he woke up the next day after a night in a swanky Phoenix hotel, Anderson saw the following players:

  • Kansas All-American and reigning NCAA Co-Defensive Player of the Year Jeff Withey, a 7-foot center who once was on the Arizona Wildcats roster.
  • All-American Deshaun Thomas, the Ohio State forward who led the Big Ten in scoring last year and torched the UA for 20 points in a Sweet 16 win.
  • Colorado State center Colton Iverson, who led the Mountain West in rebounding last year and was an honorable mention All-American.
  • Minnesota small forward Rodney Williams, whose vertical leap ranks among the best of the players eligible for tonight's NBA draft.
  • And Brazilian power forward Augusto Cesar Lima, who might be selected in the second round.

"I was impressed," Anderson said. "I just sat there, and let them talk."

Anderson is no slouch. He averaged 9.6 points and an Atlantic Sun-best nine rebounds last year. His 22 rebounds in his last college game set KSU's single-game mark. He owns the career mark, too, after only three years.

Still, he won't get drafted tonight.

Anderson had never worked out with an NBA team until last week, and hasn't since. Thomas and Withey, by contrast, did more than a dozen apiece.

"It was another walk in the park for those guys," he said. "I was in a different boat than all of them.

"For me, it was a really big deal."

How awesome is that?

Even better, the Suns are Anderson's favorite team.

Last week, he gawked at photos of former greats on the wall and recognized current players on the court.

He received a workout jersey and shorts, which he got to keep.

"It was surreal," he said.

He worked out in front of Suns coach Jeff Hornacek and GM Ryan McDonough.

"I couldn't take it all in," he said. "At the same time, I had a job to do."

He was back in Tucson by 4 p.m.

Anderson suspects he was a close-by, last-minute fill-in for the Suns, but the club said they'd be in touch. His professional career will likely begin in Europe; his agent specializes in Finland, Poland, Spain and Turkey.

Just working out for Phoenix was amazing enough. When he graduated from Mountain View in 2009 after being named to the Star's first-team All-Southern Arizona squad, he had one Division I-A offer, from Idaho State.

He decided to attend Central Arizona College, where coaches found him a scholarship at KSU before he played his first junior college game.

He transferred to the school 20 minutes north of Atlanta after his freshman year at CAC.

There, he became an A-Sun fixture, averaging nine rebounds per game in each of his past two seasons as an undersized big man.

Anderson graduated in May with a communications degree and hopes to get into television when basketball's done.

At school, he met his girlfriend, Belmont basketball player Taylor Mills, with whom he's driving to San Diego today - and then on to Disneyland on Friday.

He might catch some of the draft today on TV.

Anderson's basketball future - probably in Europe - will start soon enough.

"I wouldn't trade it for anything," he said. "If I'm playing basketball and making money, it's the dream."

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