Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Entering his sixth season, it'd be fair to describe C.J. Miles as being at a crossroads in his career.
For the moment, he's motoring through the intersection of Untapped Potential and Veteran Expectations.
But on the first day of a training camp that he hope precedes a breakout season, Miles took a quick detour along What Might Have Been Way.
Texas legend Rick Barnes was among the visiting coaches observing Jazz practice Tuesday. As y'all might recall, he would've been Miles coach in college had the swingman not leaped into the NBA out of his Dallas high school.
After watching the 2010 version of Miles, Barnes only wishes the sixth-year pro and 2005 Texas commit still had some college eligibility remaining as another player he once recruited, Deron Williams, jokingly told him was the case.
The comparison of comments that came out of Miles' current coach and the one he committed to play for as a teenager was an interesting paradox.
Barnes, the Miles fan, marveled at how much the 215-pound forward has developed and matured — both his body and game — since he began recruiting him as a sophomore in 2002.
"It's great watching him," he said. "He's totally changed his body and (was) just telling me how much he loved it here and how much he believed in the system and what they're doing."
The Texas coach joked with Miles, a skinny teen when he recruited him, about his more-muscular physique, telling him, "I'd probably have to make you a power forward."
Jerry Sloan, on the other hand, spoke with a more critical still-hoping-to-get-the-message-through tone about Miles. The Jazz coach wants to see him play better defense, pass better and for him to tap out his "ton of talent."
"He should be better," Sloan said, "(and) do all those things you'd expect a guy to do with experience. ...
"His whole process has got to get better," Sloan added, "the whole process of being a better player."
Barnes attended Jazz practice to learn from a coaching staff and time-tested system that he admires, even if — perhaps partly because — Miles can be the recipient of some tough love.
Barnes loves that Miles ended up with Sloan — and Miles loves that, too.
"You look back, it was probably a blessing in disguise that he came here," Barnes said. "Because I know this ... they were patient with him. They stuck with him, too. He said that, that they had really stuck with him and helped him grow, so he's happy."
Miles' focus coming into this season was to regain the fitness he had last year before injuring his thumb — a surgery-requiring mishap that happened in England during a preseason practice and derailed his big-year hopes.
Miles spent much of the summer in New York, again lifting weights and working out with NFL star and friend, Ray Rice. He also camped out in the basketball gym.
"That was a big thing was try to get as strong as I could over the summer, but not too big where I lost athleticism," Miles said. "Then as far as my game, (it) was just being in the gym, getting as many shots as possible, and then try to add certain things to your game and strengthen things that you're not as good at."
In particular, Miles worked on skills like attacking the basket and his off-the-dribble and in-between game. He doesn't want his offensive repertoire to be limited to dunks and 3-pointers.
"I'm just trying to add some go-to moves for my game," he said, adding that he wants to do anything "to help my team as much as possible."
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