Utah Jazz draft picks arrive rarin' to go

Maynor and Suton ready to make NBA dreams come true

Published: Saturday, June 27 2009 12:22 a.m. MDT

Eric Maynor, Utah's first-round draft pick and the 20th selection overall, meets the media Friday at the Zions Bank Basketball Center.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

Not counting a cross-country flight delay, things went smoothly for both Eric Maynor and Goran Suton as they met with Utah media Friday at the end of a whirlwind week and less than 24 hours after being drafted by the Jazz.

Smoothly for the most part, that is.

Not surprisingly, the players — one raised on a country road, the other in a war-torn country — acted humble. They smiled and were positive about being in Utah. They talked about how thrilled they were to be drafted by the Jazz. And, while seated on the training-facility dais between general manager Kevin O'Connor and coach Jerry Sloan, they wisely proclaimed themselves ready and willing to work hard on and off the court.

"I'm excited to be a Utah Jazz. This is a dream come true for me," said Maynor, a point guard from Virginia Commonwealth University who was drafted 20th overall by Utah. "I've worked my whole life just to get to this point."

"This is a great organization, great coach, great people," added Suton, the 6-foot-10 center from Michigan State who was Utah's second-round pick. "And I just can't wait to get on the court, start working and start playing for coach Sloan."

The smooth "Kumbaya" moment had one minor exception — one that resulted in an outburst of laughter and perhaps some embarrassment — to the smooth start for Utah's new backup point guard. During the press conference, it was revealed that Maynor has some family history with his future coach.

"This is weird," Maynor said with a grin after being asked how close his dad, George, came to making the NBA.

"Let's not talk about that," O'Connor joked.

But Sloan didn't back away.

"I guess," he admitted, "I cut his dad when I was coaching in Chicago."

No need to worry, though. His dad, Maynor reassured everybody, has not held a grudge since having his NBA dreams crushed about 30 years ago. In fact, the new Jazzman didn't even know that had happened until his dad, his hoops mentor and hero, dropped him off at the airport on Wednesday before Maynor made a last-minute trip to interview with Utah.

"He's a Utah Jazz fan now," Maynor laughed. "I didn't even know about the situation. He just told me as he was dropping me off, 'Tell Jerry Sloan I say hello.' "

Fortunately for Maynor, the Jazz are much more optimistic about his future in the league.

O'Connor said the Jazz were "very, very comfortable" when Maynor was still available for them and called the 6-foot-3 playmaker, who averaged 22.4 points and 6.2 assists as a VCU senior, one of the three or four "true point guards" in the backcourt-loaded draft.

In need of more consistency behind Deron Williams in the point guard position, the franchise's front office is as impressed with Maynor's hoops knowledge, including of the pick-and-roll, as they are with his play — highlights of which included him helping his team beat Duke in a memorable NCAA first-round game in 2007 with a last-second jumper and twice earning Colonial Athletic Association player of the year honors.

"If you look at the success that he's had and ... you look at the success he's had when it's counted, whether it's been in the conference tournament or whether it's been in the NCAAs, I think you see a player that's stepped up to the challenge," O'Connor said.

"He's got a pretty big challenge ahead of him now," the Jazz GM added, "and we expect him to step up to it."

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