Rocky Mountain Revue: Trying again: Utah high school product working to find way onto another NBA roster

Published: Thursday, July 20 2006 12:00 a.m. MDT

TAYLORSVILLE — Every time Jackson Vroman steps on the basketball court at SLCC's Lifetime Activities Center, his audition continues.

Though he doesn't have to deal with singing, obnoxious comments from Simon and Paula and/or impressing speed-dialing teenage girls watching the tube at home, the Rocky Mountain Revue is his basketball career's version of American Idol.

Vroman, a Utah product who's playing with the Dallas Mavericks, even has his own "Soul Patrol." The former Viewmont High and Snow College standout has had about 40-50 friends and family members show up to watch each of his performances in the annual summer league.

The 6-foot-10 post player is just hoping the critics who count — the NBA coaches and scouts — like his stuff enough to let him move on to the next round. He'd much prefer not to deal with the European Idol scene.

"I'm playing with these guys (Mavs), trying to make the team. But basically when you're trying out for one team, you're trying out for all the other teams that are there, too," he said after practice Wednesday. "Even teams that aren't here at the Revue have staff here watching. It's pretty much a mass tryout."

So far — in "AI" terms — Vroman hasn't exactly been Taylor Hicks, but he hasn't been William Hung, either.

His shining moments came in Dallas' first victory, when he made some key plays — collecting a steal, a free throw and taking a charge — at the end of regulation to help force overtime. In four Revue games, he's averaged 7.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, one steal and .75 blocks.

Vroman's getting a shot to prove his worth. He's logged more playing time (82 minutes) than anybody else on the Dallas roster.

His biggest non-shining moment came against San Antonio on Monday. With seven seconds left, he was whistled for a technical foul by a referee. He said all he told her was, "That's so bad" and that she didn't appreciate the "eye contact" he supposedly gave her.

"I was frustrated," he said. "Maybe I shouldn't have said anything."

Other than that, he said he's having fun playing this close to home.

"All in all, it's going well," said Vroman, who recently turned 25 years old. "I'm doing some things well and still need to work on other things. There are positives and negatives."

Vroman, who played on a Miami Heat summer-league team earlier this offseason, hopes his strengths will be noticed — and wanted — by the defending Western Conference champions.

"They play defense and run the ball — those are two of my strengths," he said. "So, I'd really like to be able to get on there."

Vroman said the Mavericks hadn't yet given him any personal pointers — coaches have been emphasizing things like rebounding to the whole team — but he is trying to improve his jump shot and build strength after being sidelined for four months this year due to a broken wrist.

"I can only do what I can do," he said. "I don't know who else they're looking at or exactly what they're looking for, so I'm just trying to play my game to the best of my abilities and hopefully they'll go for me."

After only playing his senior season at Viewmont High — he bounced from school to school for various reasons after moving here from Alaska in junior high — Vroman blossomed at Snow College and Iowa State. He finished with the Cyclones' second all-time-best career field-goal percentage (.558) and was the Big 12's leading rebounder as a senior.

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