Utah Jazz sign former Marquette star Jerel McNeal from D-League
Jody Genessy, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz are taking another player for a test drive.
Point guard Jerel McNeal has been signed to a 10-day contract by the Jazz, bringing the team's roster to a maximum of 15 players.
This is the second NBA stint for McNeal, who had been playing for the Bakersfield Jam in the D-League.
"For me, it's just really exciting and just humbling to be able to come from where I just came from," McNeal said, "and today, this morning, be in an NBA locker room. It means a lot to me."
McNeal is a 6-foot-3, 200-pounder who played with former Jazz shooting guard Wesley Matthews at Marquette. The 25-year-old is the Golden Eagles' all-time leading scorer.
McNeal has been in town for two days but was officially signed this morning in time to participate in shootaround. He'll be available to play tonight, although it's unlikely the guard will be in uniform.
"I was just excited about it," McNeal said. "I was ready to get the paperwork and everything done so I can get things rolling and get to the fun part, which is tonight and this morning, the basketball aspect of things."
Matthews congratulated McNeal on Twitter this morning after receiving a phone call from the new Jazzman. The former teammates will get a chance to see each other Friday when Utah visits Portland.
"Just the type of guy he is, he's super excited for me and just happy I'm getting an opportunity to just to get to showcase my skills and get another shot at this level," McNeal said. "I think it means a lot to him and obviously it means a whole lot to me, too."
McNeal went undrafted in 2009, but had a 10-day contract with New Orleans in March 2011. He's participated in three NBA training camps, including Toronto (2012), Houston (2010) and the Los Angeles Clippers (2009).
Originally from Chicago, McNeal averaged 18.1 points, 5.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds in 44 games with the Jam this season. He is a two-time D-League All-Star.
McNeal is the 10th player to be called up from the D-League by the Jazz. Guard Travis Leslie was the most recent, having spent a short stint with the team earlier this month.
McNeal will wear No. 23, like Leslie.
"I'm trying to make the most out of the opportunity, whether that be helping out in practice or if I'm fortunate enough to get any playing time in the game," McNeal said. "Whatever it may be, I just want to do whatever I can to show the organization and the coaching staff that not only am I a great guy off the court, but I'm able to contribute something on the court, too, if I'm able to get the opportunity."
— Starting guard Randy Foye did not participate in shootaround because he is dealing with gastric distress. He will be a game-time decision tonight against Phoenix. Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin does not speak to the media after home shootarounds, so it's uncertain who might start for Foye if he can't go tonight.
— Small forward Marvin Williams has right heel bursitis, but he did go through shootaround and will play tonight.
— McNeal is now the only player on the Jazz whose NCAA team is still alive in the tournament. Marquette faces Miami in the Sweet 16. He smiled but said he didn't mention Marquette's second-round win over Butler. "I didn't say anything to Gordon," McNeal said. "I don't think he knows where I went to school anyway." At least one Jazz player does, though. "DeMarre Carroll, he just dropped the bomb on me. We lost to Missouri in the NCAA Tournament, so he just threw it out there kind of early."
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