Utah Jazz: Hibbert impressed with Jazz tradition

Published: Thursday, June 5 2008 12:07 a.m. MDT

Georgetown center Roy Hibbert is interviewed after working out with the Jazz at Zions Bank Basketball Center on Wednesday.

Ashley Lowery, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

He was 24 inches at birth.

By eighth grade, he stood 6-foot-9.

Now listed at what seems to be a quite legit 7-foot-2, and 275 pounds to boot, Roy Hibbert has always worn large.

XL.

XXL.

XXXL.

But the chiseled senior center from Georgetown University finally has a fit that feels like the right-sized glove, and it just happens to be with the Jazz.

"I love watching them play," Hibbert said not once but at least twice after working out for the Utah franchise Wednesday morning in advance of the June 26 NBA Draft.

The Queens, N.Y., native felt so good about being in Utah, he suggested he hopes to be back soon.

Real soon.

"This is a great organization, and I'd love to come here," Hibbert said after the private audition in front of Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor and assistant coach Phil Johnson. "Hopefully, I'll see you guys a lot more next year, if I have my way."

It didn't seem to be just lip service, either.

Hibbert really does sense a match, and O'Connor thinks he knows why.

"I think there are people that recognize that maybe they could fit into a position, or a place, here," the Jazz GM said.

Let Hibbert, the first of what is bound to be several bona fide big-men prospects working out in Utah this month, expound.

"There's rich history of ... tradition of ... winning here," he said.

"And I'd love to try to be, like, a little cog in their little clockwork. To do my part," added Hibbert, who regularly watches edited tapes of virtually every post move ever made by not only veteran NBA center and fellow Georgetown product Alonzo Mourning but also Jazz All-Star power forward Carlos Boozer. "They're a winning franchise already. I'd love to come here and try to help."

Hibbert — not just big but also articulate and, based on initial impression, rather well-mannered — is not alone in sensing what seems to be a potentially ideal connection between him and the Jazz, owners of the No. 23 overall first-round selection in the upcoming draft.

No fewer than five established Internet-site mock drafts project Utah really will take Hibbert.

Why?

Here's a sampling of explanation, from ...

ESPN.com's Chad Ford/ESPN: "Is there a better fit for Hibbert than Utah? He needs a team that excels in half-court sets. His size and scoring ability make him an asset as long as you don't ask him to run the floor or play 40 minutes a game."

RealGM.com's Christopher Reina: "Hibbert is one of the best passing big men in this draft and would easily become a key cog in Jerry Sloan's offense. He instinctively knows how to make crisp passes to cutters because of his experience in John Thompson III's hybrid Princeton offense. His footwork on the pick-and-roll is very good, and he has excellent vision and anticipation for where his teammates and their defenders will be."

* SI.com's Ian Thomsen: "Hibbert fills Utah's need for size up front. He'll be a solid backup center and fit nicely in their half-court offense."

O'Connor is well aware of the presumed mutual interest.

"I just thought we'd get the whole process over with," he said of Hibbert's early workout in Utah, his first before stops today in Sacramento and Friday in Seattle.

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