Nearly every member of the Phoenix Sun came up through the college basketball ranks.

But not all of them got to experience the excitement of March Madness.

Suns coach Igor Kokoskov was an assistant coach of the Missouri Tigers when they made the NCAA tournament during the 1999-00 season.

Devin Booker and Jamal Crawford are both one-and-done players from Kentucky and Michigan, respectively.

Crawford never played in the tournament and was drafted in 2000. 

Booker came off the bench for Kentucky, who was unbeaten before suffering a shocking loss to Wisconsin in the 2015 Final Four. The Wildcats finished 40-1.

But it’s hard to keep up with what’s going on in college basketball until the NCAA Tournament begins.


Devin Booker talks which players and teams he looks forward to watching during the NCAA tournament.
Dana Scott, azcentral sports

“We have people, and obviously as an organization, we have scouts working hard right now and collecting all this information,” Kokoskov said. “I’m going to have access to this information once the season is over, but me personally, I don’t fill these NCAA brackets. I’m just out of it.”

Booker and Crawford are naturally rooting for their respective alma maters to become the NCAA champion. 

The Wildcats are the No. 2 seed in the Midwest region and the Wolverines are the No. 2 seed in the West region.

“Now is the time where I lock into more March Madness,” Booker said. “You never know what could happen this time of year, but I’m watching my Wildcats. They got the two seed, Midwest region. I’ll probably watch every game and hopefully we can get our ninth championship.”

“I got Michigan to win,” Crawford said.


Suns guard Jamal Crawford says he will play his 20th NBA season next year, potentially being a mentor if they select a point guard in the 2019 draft.
Dana Scott, azcentral sports

There are several All-American players such as Murray State’s Ja Morant, Duke’s Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett who Suns fans speculate to be the team’s top draft pick in June.

Breakout performances and teams’ shining moments during the tournament are of accelerants for many unheralded players’ draft stock.

Booker revealed which players he’s keeping his eye on and impressed by the most. 

“The only kid who I’ve watched kind of closely is Tyler Herro from Kentucky,” Booker said. “I’ve kept in contact with him a little bit, through everything he’s been through this season and he’s locked in right now. So, we’ve had a short conversation and look forward to see how he plays in the tournament.

“Like I said, I’m a Kentucky guy but at the same time I love watching the atmosphere and kids excel at the next level and hopefully one day make it to the NBA and live out there dreams.” 

Booker also talked about his affinity for Marquette’s two-time Big East Player of the Year and Chandler native Markus Howard, who faces Ja Morant and Murray State in the first round on Thursday. 

“Bucket getter,” Booker said about Howard. “I’ve watched a little bit of him and the (Ja Morant) kid from Murray State. I’m gonna watch that… Bucket getters, man. I love seeing that. Playing at a high level and I know they have dreams and aspirations of making it here. So it’s time for them to lock in, I think they’re going to be pretty well off.”

The Suns are in desperate need of a talented guard to regulate and spread the offense, and back up Booker. Plus, they will need veteran leadership and a mentor for those roles.

Should the the Suns re-sign Crawford for his 20th NBA season after his one-year deal expires in July, he intends to help the Suns’ next draft picks in their transition from college amateurs to professionals.

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“Yeah, but we’ve gotta see how things go this summer,” Crawford said. “I don’t want to just put the cart before the house. Obviously, I’m gonna play next year and I’m gonna play for the foreseeable future.

“For me, it’s just that wherever I am, being the best teammate I can be for whoever comes in the door.” 

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Suns coach discusses NCAA Tournament


Suns coach Igor Kokosov talks about being too busy to fill out a NCAA tournament bracket and tracking draft prospects after the season.
Dana Scott, azcentral sports