Even if (I) don't make the NBA, I'll just frame this practice jersey and tell my kids, 'Yeah, that was me in the NBA.' —Noah Hartsock
SALT LAKE CITY — He's still recovering from an ankle surgery, so Noah Hartsock wasn't able to go through his entire pre-draft workout with the Utah Jazz.
And who knows if the former BYU basketball standout's name will be called at No. 47 in the second round by the Jazz — or at any other time during the upcoming NBA Draft?
Regardless, those things aren't about to spoil Saturday's special opportunity.
In Utah's first workout for prospects, Hartsock had the chance to show Jazz brass his talents against five fellow draft hopefuls, including Purdue big man Robbie Hummel and guards Kim English (Missouri), Jorge Gutierrez (Cal), Toure' Murry (Wichita State) and Malik Wayns (Villanova).
Hartsock was sweating and smiling after the hour of court time he spent sporting a Jazz practice uniform.
"You always dream about coming to the NBA workout and things like that growing up," Hartsock said. "And finally you get your chance and it's just amazing."
Whatever happens in the future, this particular privilege will make a fun family story.
"Even if (I) don't make the NBA," Hartsock said, smiling, "I'll just frame this practice jersey and tell my kids, 'Yeah, that was me in the NBA.'"
Hartsock hasn't been able to play much hoops since helping BYU get to the NCAA Tournament in March. Shortly after the Cougars were eliminated by Marquette, the 22-year-old underwent surgery on his ankle to replace a torn tendon with a healthy tendon from a cadaver.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin and vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin both commended Hartsock for giving his all almost three months later — despite the fact he just started playing basketball again a week ago.
Corbin credited the 6-foot-8 forward for "fighting his way through" the surgery rehab and his ankle and knee injuries and showing his elite shooting skill.
"He's a big guy who can stretch the floor and shoot it," Corbin said. "He demonstrated that (Saturday) that he can shoot 3-pointers. He looked real good for us."
Perrin has seen Hartsock play on multiple occasions, and he has a good opinion of the big shooter. The Jazz, who usually bring in local collegiate players for workouts every year before the draft, still wanted to see Hartsock on their court despite the fact he couldn't participate in a three-on-three scrimmage.
"We knew a little bit about his surgery, but we still wanted to bring him in, take a look at him and see what he could do," Perrin said. "He tried to give it his all out there."
Hartsock came away from Saturday's session particularly impressed by Hummel, a 6-8 forward, and the 6-6 English. The BYU standout said the Purdue big man shot the ball well and lauded the Missouri guard's ballhandling skills.
"I thought that all the guys did a great job of coming and playing hard," Corbin said.
Neither Corbin nor Perrin were about to show the Jazz's hand in what the team is specifically looking for in the June 28 draft, though.
The team will likely host a couple more workouts in the next week or so, but Perrin and Corbin admitted it's harder this year than usual to bring in top-level talent because the Jazz only have a second-round pick.
Hartsock jumped at the opportunity. The Oklahoma native played four years at BYU, served an LDS mission in Salt Lake City and has family that lives in Utah, so he has a soft spot for the Beehive State. For him, that made this experience all the neater.
Hartsock is scheduled to work out with Golden State today and hopes for more opportunities — before the draft, perhaps with a summer-league team and maybe at training camp.
If the NBA doesn't pan out, Hartsock will look to play international hoops. He already has an offer on the table with a team from Belgium and has received interest from Spanish and German squads.
"I think it's really good exposure for me (for) either NBA or overseas. I'm just looking forward to playing again for some team," Hartsock said. "It's just that exciting. It's kind of like going through the recruiting process again — just try to find the right team and the right fit."
Jazz pre-draft workout
Kim English, G, 6-6, 220
Missouri: Big 12 All-Tournament Team; 14.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.6 apg
Jorge Gutierrez, G, 6-3, 195
California: Pac-12 player of the year; 13.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.1 apg
Noah Hartsock, F, 6-8, 230
BYU: All-WCC Team; 16.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.5 apg
Robbie Hummel, F, 6-8, 215
Purdue: AP All-American honorable mention; 16.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.9 apg
Toure' Murry, G, 6-5, 195
Wichita State: Shockers' leading scorer; 12.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.3 apg
Malik Wayns, G, 6-2, 200
Villanova: All-Big East second team; 17.6 ppg, 4.6 apg, 3.8 rpg