Utah Jazz select VCU guard Maynor with pick No. 20

Published: Friday, June 26 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Eric Maynor drives against Darren Collison of the UCLA Bruins during the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament.

Jim Mcisaac, Getty Images

Beyond about 10 players they figured for sure would be gone, the Jazz had no idea who would be there — and more importantly which among them would be highest on their board — when they picked at No. 20 in the first round of Thursday night's NBA Draft.

But the franchise's consensus guess earlier Thursday, general manager Kevin O'Connor said after making the pick, was Virginia Commonwealth University senior point Eric Maynor.

And they were right.

So the Jazz went with Maynor, a 22-year-old who apparently will fill a reserve role along with last season's No. 3 point, Ronnie Price, behind starter Deron Williams.

Utah also took 6-foot-10 Bosnian center Goran Suton of Michigan State at No. 50 in the second round.

"We're really happy (Maynor) was there (at 20)," O'Connor said, "because I think it gives us somebody you can put the ball in the hands of."

The Raeford, N.C., native averaged 22.4 points and 6.2 assists per game last season, when he was a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award presented to the University of North Carolina's Ty Lawson as the nation's top collegiate point guard.

"I'm coming in there to work, man — doing whatever the team needs me to do," said Maynor, who was mid-major Colonial Athletic Association's two-time Player of the Year — and who left VCU, which has never before produced a first-round NBA pick, as its all-time leader in scoring (1,953 points), assists (674), free throws made (503) and games played (130).

"Deron Williams is one of the best guards in the NBA," added Maynor, who also had a 21-point, seven assist performance in an NCAA tournament game this year against UCLA and who hit the game-winning 15-foot jumper with 1.8 seconds in a first-round NCAA tourney upset victory over Duke during his sophomore season. "For me to come in there and learn from a guy like that, I figure it will be great for me."

Maynor is the point who had to cancel a workout scheduled for last Saturday because of back spasms, but whom the Jazz quietly brought into town Wednesday for an interview with franchise officials.

Now he's glad he came.

"I knew I needed to have a spot where I knew I wasn't going to go past," he said, "and Utah's a great place... So I just told my agent I'm willing to fly wherever, (because) we're talking about my future right now."

Long-distance shooting is not Maynor's forte.

And at 6-2 (without shoes, 6-3 with) and 164 pounds, the guard who O'Connor said needs "to get stronger" yields about 50 pounds to the similarly tall Williams.

"I think he needs to work on his body, No. 1," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "Get in the weight room, work on his body."

Yet Maynor does emerge from college in much the same fashion as Williams, a USA Basketball Olympic point, in this regard: "He can run a team," O'Connor said.

"He seems to have a pretty good feel," Sloan added, "of finding people in open areas and knowing what you're doing in an offense."

Still, the selection was met by as many boos as cheers at a Jazz draft party in EnergySolutions Arena.

"It's what my wife wanted me to do," O'Connor joked when he filled in the crowd on Utah's plans.

But seriously, O'Connor said later, "I think if you look the success that Eric's had in his college career, you'll understand why we're happy to have him... He sees the floor well, and each year he got better."

Maynor called himself "a true point guard," and O'Connor said he's "probably more (NBA) ready than a lot of kids drafted before him."

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