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November 18, 2020

Jalen Smith

Bristol, Connecticut, USA

Q. Why don't you start off with a statement about what you'll bring to your new team.

JALEN SMITH: Pretty much what I bring to the Phoenix Suns is defensive versatility. Like I said before, every team has tremendous scorers. So we have Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton. I feel that's where I can make my impact the most, help them create the offense.

Q. Just your overall thoughts when you were picked and your reaction, and if you could expand a little bit more on your thoughts on how you fit in, particularly playing with someone like Deandre Ayton down low.

JALEN SMITH: Pretty much once I got drafted by them, it was a surreal moment. Everything was up in the air because of this year. It wasn't a traditional draft. But at the end of the day, the Phoenix Suns would know that I was the best fit for them. I feel like that's someone I can work with and continue to grow there in Phoenix.

Being beside Deandre Ayton is going to be a major thing, just because I always had a dominant big next to me every time I was playing basketball, and I was able to learn from them. I feel like that's something I can pick at with Deandre Ayton throughout my career.

Q. I'm wondering how much contact you had with the Suns in this process and what they kind of talked to you, if they did, about your role here in that regard.

JALEN SMITH: Pretty much throughout this process, they had the in-person workouts with me, and I had two medias with them. One was with just the scout team, and another was with Monty Williams and James Jones. They asked me about Maryland and how I evolved over the years.

When they came in person, they talked to me about coming into the league, you don't know how you're going to react until you get tested, and just to be ready for everything, and I've got to come ready to work because it's harder to stay than it is to make it. So that was their main pitch.

Q. Just talk about getting to play with Chris Paul. Obviously you probably grew up watching him as a kid. What's that feeling like?

JALEN SMITH: It's going to be an amazing feeling. Growing up in AAU, always playing against his AAU team and him being there, it's going to be surreal being under a top veteran guard like him and just being able to learn from him and pick from him to help me evolve my game.

Q. I'm curious with all of this extended draft process that's been so weird for everybody, what are the skills you think you've been able to add or what are you most proud of adding to your game or your body over this period of time?

JALEN SMITH: This whole offseason I've been focusing on getting my lower body strong and just becoming more flexible in the hips and the ankles. On the court, being able to create for myself and being able to explode with my back to the basket and just extending my three-point range.

Q. I noticed you rocked the goggles. DeAndre Hopkins does that. Amar'e Stoudemire did that back in the day. Why do you choose to rock the goggles?

JALEN SMITH: I'm going to continue to do it. I don't like contacts much, so it's going to be my second substitute. It's the only way I can see on the court, so I have to stick with them.

Q. The television cameras there in the draft caught kind of an emotional moment for you after hearing the news that you were a Sun. Can you take us through the emotions you were feeling and kind of it all bubbling over for you there on television?

JALEN SMITH: It was a crazy feeling. This whole night coming in I told my family I wasn't going to cry, and they kept telling me you're going to cry, even though I didn't think I would. Once that moment hit, those tears kept falling.

And just lucky to be in this moment, because so many people want this in their lifetime. Just to be one of those people to get it, there was nothing I could do to stop it.

Q. Your freshman year you played with another big that's kind of a little bit like Deandre Ayton, Bruno Fernando. How comfortable is it for you to be playing in the same type of environment knowing that you played with just as talented a big when you were a freshman? Does it make it easier for you?

JALEN SMITH: Yeah, it makes it a whole lot easier. My freshman year Bruno took me under his wing, and I pretty much followed him every step of the way and just continued to learn from him.

I feel as though I can do the same with Deandre Ayton. Being able to learn from him, how he got adjusted to the league and just continue to evolve my game and try to mimic some of the things that he does.

Q. You're going to be playing with a true shooter and scorer as well in Devin Booker. What's it going to be like for you in your mind playing with someone who can space the floor that well, not just obviously with Chris Paul coming but a pure shooter?

JALEN SMITH: It's going to be an amazing feeling. In college, I didn't get to show off a lot of my playmaking skills. I feel as though coming into the league I'll be able to playmake into his open shot and get a lot more assists off him and rebound and continue to start fast breaks for him for him to get going.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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