Back in his college days, Channing Frye was one of those centers that drove opponents crazy. At 7’0″ tall, Frye dominated the interior for the Arizona Wildcats, rarely encountering a defender in the Pac 10 that could contain him.
Fast forward a few years, and Frye is now one of the premier three-point shooters in the NBA. I know what you’re thinking. How the hell did this happen?
A product of the Phoenix Suns’ run-n-gun offense, Frye has thrived in his first year in the desert. The 26-year-old spent his first four pro seasons toiling on the benches of the New York Knicks and Portland Trailblazers, receiving limited playing time, and doing so in the mold of a traditional big man.
At just 245 pounds, Frye was often overmatched by bigger opponents in the paint. Hence the lack of minutes, and in turn a lack of respect.
As a free agent for the first time this past offseason, Frye found his way back to Arizona where the coaching staff discovered a new way to use his talents.
Rather than allow him to be exploited on the interior, the Suns’ coaching staff felt the ex-Wildcat could best be deployed beyond the arc. Never mind the fact that entering the ’09-’10 season, Frye had taken just 70 professional treys, connecting on 20 of them (28.6%).
In just half a season, however, Frye has gone from Brad Lohaus to Steve Kerr. Which is funny, since Kerr is the Suns general manager, the same guy who first saw the long-distance potential in Frye.
The center has taken 260 longballs this year, knocking down 144 of them and logging a 43.8% three-point percentage in the process.
And now, in recognition of all his hard work, the NBA has named the center to the All-Star Weekend Three-Point Shooting Contest, the first center to earn such a distinction since 1997 when the Sonics’ (R.I.P.) Sam Perkins was so honored.
It’s been a long, strange journey for Frye, who should hold a special place in the hearts of local sports fans.
For now, Frye will undoubtedly be among the oddest participants in the Three-Point Shootout of all-time. And for that reason alone, you should be rooting for him.