By GARY GRAVES, AP Sports Writer
LEXINGTON — Archie Goodwin is looking to build off a surprising effort in the summer league in which he played like somebody with something to prove.
There were doubts about Goodwin after he joined Kentucky teammate Nerlens Noel in the draft pool following an inconsistent freshman season with the Wildcats. The Oklahoma City Thunder nonetheless took him late in the first round before trading him to the Golden State Warriors, who then shipped him to the Phoenix Suns that night.
Goodwin went on to lead the Suns to the NBA summer league title in competition against fellow rookies and second-year players. In seven games he averaged 13.1 points and shot 50 percent from the field but impressed many with his explosiveness and willingness to draw contact.
Noel, Goodwin and fellow former Wildcats Julius Mays and Twany Beckham were back on campus Monday assisting Kentucky coach John Calipari’s pro camp for youth players.
Other parts of his game remain a work in progress for Goodwin, but the 6-foot-5, Little Rock, Ark., native believes his performance suggests what he’s capable of providing for the rebuilding Suns.
“I knew that people would have negative things to say just because of the way our season went,” said Goodwin, Kentucky’s leading scorer last season at 14.1 points per game. “But at the end of the day I knew what I was capable of, I knew what I was going to do. I control my own fate and just continue to work hard and block out what people are saying.”
Goodwin added that Suns coach Jeff Hornacek has indicated that he will be part of Phoenix’s offense.
“He’s telling me that I’m going to play right away. He wanted to make that clear,” he said. “They were excited to get me as I was excited to be there. They said from the get-go that I was going to be a special player and be one of the better players out of this draft. I felt the same, and with my work ethic and the way I compete, I’m going to make that happen.”
Mays went undrafted after transferring to Kentucky and playing last season as a fifth-year senior. But he has worked out for several NBA teams and is exploring possibilities overseas.
He said he’s “got a lot of great opportunities to choose from.”