Summer League Guard Matt Janning Excited About Opportunity With Suns

Matt Janning, who played well as part of the Suns Summer League roster, was signed to a non-guaranteed multi-year deal. Janning is excited about the opportunity to compete for a spot on the team.

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Matt Janning Excited For Opportunity To Earn Roster Spot With Suns

Matt Janning is from Minnesota where the winters are brutal and the summers are hot and humid; but nothing like an August in Phoenix. He might still adjusting to the hundred-plus degree "dry heat" but is already comfortable on the court with NBA legends like Steve Nash and Grant Hill.

During informal workouts at the Suns facility today he even got a chance to get some run with Amare Stoudemire who made an appearance.

Matt looked pretty solid playing opposite from swingman Josh Childress and running the point at times. Matt's shot was falling and he showed his defensive smarts that Suns coach Dan Majerle raved about during Summer League.

We caught up with Matt after his workout and asked him about his opportunity with the Suns.

"It's all you can hope for coming out of Summer League undrafted," The 6-foot-4 combo guard from Northeastern said.

Janning was signed to a contract for training camp but is not guaranteed for the season. He had similar offers from a few other teams but picked Phoenix because the Suns showed the most interest and he feels like he has more of an opportunity to compete for a roster spot here.

The Suns have an abundance of guys who can play shooting guard on the roster already (Jason Richardson, Josh Childress, Goran Dragic and even Jared Dudley or Grant Hill). What they are likely interested in seeing from Janning is if he can make the team as a third-string point guard.

"Getting some work at the one (point guard) against NBA players, NBA talent, that's going to give me confidence going into camp and help elevate my game even more," Janning said. "Playing the point is going to be a primary focus for me at least right now in the offseason and through camp just to get used to everything."

Matt's not willing concede his ability to play off the ball either though and still considers himself a true combo guard. It will be very interesting to see if he has the size and strength to play the two or the quickness to play the one. It's those kinds of question about his tweener status that probably resulted in him going undrafted.

In Vegas during Summer League the Suns staff talked about Janning's ability to use his basketball IQ to overcome those limitations. He was compared to a Jared Dudley or Jeff Hornacek who both were able to be quite successful in the NBA despite similar concerns.

Janning will compete with Zabian Dowdell, a true point guard with more experience, for the back-up point guard role but it's a challenge that Matt is looking forward to.

"I feel good (about my chances). Everyone's got to go in and compete, my spot's not guaranteed. Zabian's a great player,  I'm looking forward to going in and competing with him and competing with all the guys and really just earning my spot the way I should," he said.

For now though, Janning is enjoying the opportunity to spend time on and off the court with his legendary teammates.

"It's pretty amazing when you really sit down and think about it. Sometimes it doesn't really hit you (that) you're playing with great guys," Janning said. "Learning from these guys is amazing and you've got guys like Amare coming in and playing, it's really been a dream fulfilled in that respect but I'm not quite there yet."


Scottie Reynolds Takes Italian Money Over Suns Training Camp

A lot of fans were excited about the potential of Scottie making the Suns roster as the third point guard but he took the guaranteed money offered by an Italian team over the prospect of competing for a job that might not exist.

Reynolds went undrafted after winning All-American honors coming out of Villanova.

Scottie played well with the Suns Vegas Summer League team but faced an up-hill battle finding a significant role on an NBA team due to his size and questions about his ability to defend NBA point guards.


Summer Suns Fall To Cavaliers 93-82

The Suns were unable to build off the positive momentum they found on Monday, as they fell to the Cavaliers 93-82 on Wednesday evening.

The Cavs’ J.J. Hickson scored 34 points and snatched 9 rebounds. According to SBN Arizona’s Seth Pollack, “He was clearly a class above any player on the floor.”

Earl Clark had an uneven contest, scoring only 13 points. Here’s some coverage from Bright Side of the Sun:

I asked Coach Majerle how he played in his fourth summer league game, "Not great. Sometimes Earl mistakes trying to have a good game with getting his shots or getting his points.

“He’s better when he plays within himself and makes other people better and takes what’s given to him instead of trying to force it. That’s tough because he’s such a talent player being here in Summer League I’m sure he wants to show what he can do but he’s just got to be patient and take what’s given to him, make plays for other people and do the other things instead of trying to go one on one and make plays for himself.”

He played better in the second half but in the first half he got too selfish but he wasn’t the only one according to Majerle, “I was disappointed with the effort in the second quarter. I think guys stopped playing hard especially on the defensive end. We only had 13 points in the second quarter and I think that had a lot to do with guys looking for their own shot instead of just playing within the system and making the right play.”

For more on today’s game, head on over to BSotS.


Profile: Undrafted Matt Janning Impressing Suns And Others

The first two games I saw undrafted guard Matt Janning play for the Suns in the Vegas Summer League, I was underwhelmed. He was overmatched on the defensive end of the floor by bigger, stronger shooting guards Jermaine Taylor (Houston) and Sonny Weems (Toronto). Both Taylor and Weems had big games with Janning defending them.

But talking to a Suns staffer about him after the second game, I was advised not jump to conclusions so fast.

In the third game, I paid a little more attention to the former Northeastern Husky and was rewarded with a guy who worked hard on both ends of the floor and played a solid game, showing court awareness, athleticism and vision.

Janning, 6-foot-4 and 22 years old, played four years for the Huskies, where he averaged 15 points, three rebounds and four assists in his senior year.

What impressed Suns Director of Player Personnel Todd Quinter the most about him was his basketball IQ and all-around game. He compared Matt to a Jeff Hornacek-type player who has a chance to make it in the NBA if he improves his shooting and strength.

Suns coach Dan Majerle had a similar opinion: "I love Matt. I think he's great. He can really shoot it. He's athletic. What I like about him more than anything is he knows how to play. He's got a (great) basketball IQ and understands what we're looking for. He's a hell of a player. I like him a lot.

"What he lacked physically, as far as his strength, he can make up for. He knows how to play and that makes a big difference."

Janning played point guard in two games for the Celitcs Orlando Summer League team before coming to Vegas to play off-the-ball for the Suns (summer league stats).

Matt thinks he will be a combo guard at next level.

"Having the ball in my hands, I can do a lot more things than people think," he said, "but I am very comfortable playing off the ball because I've done it the last three years. It's something that just comes natural to me."

Janning has already received invitations to training camp from the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, but is hoping for more, including a possible invitation from the Suns. With several invitations pending, Janning understands that he will have an important decision.

"You've got to try and find a spot where you can make the team and make an impact and be a player that will push guys in practice," Janning said. "As a rookie coming in as a free agent, that's my slot, that's what I'm looking at. I'm not going to be looking at playing 30 minutes a night, especially when (the Suns) have Dragic and Nash in there and then the other guards."

Janning is hearing through his agent, Jim Buckley, that he is "close" to making it on an NBA roster. Buckley recently tweeted that Janning is getting "heavy interest from the NBA and top European clubs."

"I have to weigh the options when this is over. Hopefully, I'll have a few more (camp invitations) coming in and then just pick out the best situation for me and go through that. If I make it, that would be amazing. Hopefully, it does happen, otherwise I should have some good overseas options, as well," Janning said about his immediate future.

If Janning does not make an NBA roster coming out of training camp, he has the option of playing in the D-League or going to Europe. He said that he would be interested in the D-League if he believes he would be called up to an NBA team during the season.

Janning felt that Europe, where the pay and competition is much better, would be the direction to go if he believed he would be "hanging around" the D-League for a year or two.

Janning is a perfect case for the Summer League. A little known player coming out of college who went undrafted, he has parlayed solid performances with two teams into a real shot at making an NBA or European team.

"I feel good. I'm in a good position. I'm close to getting there," Janning said.

Video of Janning's dunk during yesterday's game via


Summer Suns Get First Win, Earl Clark Improves

Earl Clark came to Vegas Summer League out of shape and was pressing his first two games. Tonight, in a 96-88 win over the D-League Select team, he was much improved.

Coach Dan Majerle talked about Clark's progress, "Earl struggled a little bit (in previous games), but he got his legs under him a little bit more and started playing his type of game. I think he was pushing the first couple of games, more looking for his shot and not trying to make anybody better, but today I think he played more within himself and played a lot better."

The game also featured the debut of Villanova point guard Scottie Reynolds. The un-drafted former All-American strained his Achilles tendon last week and was unable to play in the Suns' first two games.

His scoring and ability to push the tempo gave the Suns a lift according to Majerle, "When you get Scottie in there, he's going to push the tempo... In this situation we want to get out and run and play the way we do in the regular season and that's look at shots early if they're good shots and try to stay out of set plays and just get out there and run."

For more on the game, visit Bright Side of the Sun.


Coach Dan Majerle Issues Not-So-Veiled Warning To Earl Clark

After yesterday's poor showing in Game 1 of the Vegas Summer League, Earl Clark promised to come out today and do better. He didn't.

According to his coach, Dan Majerle, Clark needs to work harder and do a better job helping his teammates.

"I don't really care about him making shots right now. I just want him to play hard and make other people better," Majerle told SB Nation Arizona after the game before issuing this warning, "He's not doing that right now, but he's got to figure it out or he'll find himself riding the pine again."

Clark admitted to his lack of conditioning, "I'm not in as much as good of shape as I thought I was when I came out here. I was tired a little bit."

The Suns were defeated 103-69 by the Toronto Raptors.

The only bright spot for the Suns was the play of unsigned rookie, Gani Lawal.

From Bright Side of the Sun:

Lawal ran the floor well again, but today showed some impressive post moves, at one point spinning around Joey Dorsey and finishing with a two-hand slam.

Dan Majerle commented on the rookie's play, "He plays really hard. He loves posting up and he's got some good explosive moves. Once he gets in condition and learns the NBA game, I think he's got a chance to be pretty good."

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