Another guy who apparently wants to be a Jazzman.
Kyrylo Fesenko was wearing a Utah Jazz T-shirt last Thursday night when he was watching the NBA Draft at his agent's home in Miami Beach, Fla. He had a Jazz duffle bag with him, said agent Jason Levien.
"Yes it's true," said Fesenko, a 20-year-old, 7-foot-1 Ukrainian center nicknamed "Fess," who is now a Jazz "work-in-progress," said Jazz senior vice president of basketball operations Kevin O'Connor Monday as Fesenko was introduced as Utah's second-round selection.
He came via Philadelphia, which drafted him for the Jazz with its 38th pick in a trade for Utah's 55th pick (Herbert Hill of Providence) and other considerations last Thursday.
"In my soul, I was really hope the Jazz would draft me," said Fesenko, who was a bit puzzled when Philadelphia chose him because the 76ers had worked him out but not asked Levien many questions about his Ukrainian team's buyout or other things, the way the Jazz had.
He said he was "jumping, I was screaming; it was the happiest moment probably in my life," when his name was called in connection with the Sixers, but then Levien got a phone call telling him of the trade. "When he come back and say, 'You traded to Jazz,' you have to see me at that moment," Fesenko said. "I was really happy. I think that Utah Jazz can be the team that can help me, and I can help her to be better."
Jazz first-round draft pick Morris Almond, introduced to Utah media last Friday, had also appeared at his agent's office about 10 days before the draft wearing a Jazz T-shirt because that's where he said he felt most comfortable.
Fesenko could be a year or more away from playing for the Jazz. Negotiations were continuing Monday between O'Connor, Levien and Fesenko's Ukrainian team, Cherkaski Mavpi, located about four hours from Kiev.
No one could or would say Monday what the buyout options are, though indications were it may not be massive.
"We're optimistic, cautiously optimistic," said Levien.
The Jazz drafted Russian Andrei Kirilenko when he was a teenager and waited three years before he came to play in Utah.
O'Connor said he didn't think it would be that long, partially because the Jazz now have the Orem Flash in the NBA Development League and would have close control should they be able to bring Fesenko here quickly.
O'Connor and Levien did not know if Fesenko will be able to play for the Jazz in the Rocky Mountain Revue July 13-20 since negotiations are ongoing.
The Jazz first saw Fesenko in Ukraine three years ago when he was in an 18-under league, and O'Connor said some visa problems that prevented him from going to a European pre-draft camp that is similar to the Orlando NBA pre-draft camp in early June probably helped Utah to get him.
"He's not afraid to play basketball, not afraid to play it the right way," O'Connor said.
Levien said several teams got interested in Fesenko after he did a whirlwind of NBA workouts the last few weeks to make up for missing Treviso and Orlando (his Ukrainian team was playing in championships at that time), but he said he spent a great deal of time with Jazz player personnel director Walt Perrin getting him tapes to look at and information on his contract and team.
Fesenko said he plans to spend the next three weeks in Salt Lake City preparing for the Revue, at first on his own with a friend and then with the team, but Levien indicated they will go back to his home in Florida first.
Fesenko's home in Ukraine is near the mountains, somewhat like Salt Lake City, which he planned to explore soon, but he said he's never played for a team in the mountains. Cherkaski held some training at high altitude, and when it got back to a lower level, "You beat everybody, you run like a beast," Fesenko said.Comment on this story
Fesenko has played three seasons with a Ukrainian professional team, the youngest man there, playing with 30-year-olds and, in his opinion, holding his own with one of the few European teams that allows youngsters to get some playing time.
He said it was a friendly team, and all the players gave him pointers on his game, including former Utah Jazz draft choice Kaniel Dickens from Idaho and former Denver Nugget Arthur Johnson from Missouri.
Fesenko likens himself to Golden State Warrior Andris Biedrins, but his agent compared Fesenko's "passion" for the game and his energy and enthusiasm to Joakim Noah, drafted ninth last week by Chicago from the back-to-back champion Florida Gators.Levien calls Fesenko a physical player who's broken his own nose and the noses of others with that enthusiastic play. He loves to dunk, perhaps at the expense of other parts of his game, but he has a reasonable 10-12-foot shot, Levien said, and he's very hard on himself, thinking he didn't impress people when they were enthusiastic about what they'd seen in his workouts recently.