Tyler Ennis is poised to enter a potentially cluttered backcourt after he was drafted by the Phoenix Suns with the 18th pick of the 2014 NBA Draft. Ennis left Syracuse after one season that saw him guide the Orange through the second round of the NCAA tournament before succumbing to Dayton.
The Canadian posted solid averages of 13 points, six assists and two steals per game during his freshman year at Syracuse. Ennis took some time at this year’s NBA Rookie Transition Program to discuss his path to the NBA, what the journey has been like off the court, his rookie season and more with Hoops Habit.
HoopsHabit: Why did you become a basketball player?
Ennis: I come from a family that’s really serious about basketball. As a kid, I was always in the gym. My dad’s a coach and my brothers play. My mom is into it. It wasn’t a decision. I just had a natural love for the game.
HoopsHabit: When did the dream become a reality?
Ennis: I’ve always believed I was going to get to this level. I started believing when I had a bunch of college coaches calling. I realized I was going to get the opportunity to play at that level [NBA], whether it took one to four years. I [knew] I would be able to open some eyes.
HoopsHabit: Have you felt a change off of the court?
Ennis: No not at all. After the draft, I went to summer league and had training camp. I’ve been working out but I took a week off, that’s probably the first time I took a week off for the past couple of summers. That’s probably been the biggest difference, having the time to take a couple of days off and not worry about where I’m going next or where I’m playing.
HoopsHabit: How has your family handled your new found success?
Ennis: Everything has really been normal. It’s not like I just got a big check out of nowhere.
HoopsHabit: Have you made any lifestyle changes?
Ennis: No not yet. The next couple of weeks are going to be different. Finding a place in Phoenix, getting my own spot. That’s probably going to be the first change.
HoopsHabit: Who have you leaned on throughout this process?
Ennis: Anthony Bennett is somebody I’m close to who has went through the same thing, pretty much the same situation. We have the same agent. Michael Carter-Williams is someone who’s talked to me, the night before the draft I was able to talk to him about some stuff. He kind of reassured me that he went through the same thing. It’s good to know that you’re not the only one who feels the way you do before the draft.
HoopsHabit: Have you set any goals for yourself this season?
Ennis: I always have personal goals, team goals but the thing that I want to do is play in the rookie-sophomore game. That kind of recognizes you as one of the better rookies of the first half of the season and then hopefully be in the running for Rookie of the Year. I definitely want to be a big part of Phoenix, that’s my main focus and if we’re able to do that then who knows how far we’ll be able to go in the Western Conference, which is not easy.
HoopsHabit: Who was the first player to contact you from Phoenix?
Ennis: I was in Phoenix the day after [the draft], the Morris twins were out there already. I think they’re one of the leaders of the team, somebody that I’d be able to talk too. Ish Smith was there at the time, he congratulated me when I was there. I haven’t met everyone from the team but I’ve met a lot [of the team].
HoopsHabit: Just to end the interview on a light note, has anyone ever told you that you have a striking resemblance to recording artist J. Cole?
Ennis: [laughs] I’ve gotten it on Twitter. I’ve seen people talk about it. I don’t know, I don’t see it. I guess it’s because I’m light skinned.