Utah Jazz: Workout attendees well aware of team's point guard situation
Jody Genessy, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — With zero point guards under contract for the 2013-14 season and beyond, it's no wonder the Utah Jazz's first pre-draft workout included several intriguing playmaker possibilities.
Not surprisingly, the guys brought in for this spring's first tryout session knew a few things about the Jazz: 1) Utah has a "Help Wanted" sign up for its guard positions; and 2) this organization has a rich point guard history.
"Utah does need a point guard. Everyone's aware of that," Texas guard Myck Kabongo said. "I'm just privileged to be here. I was excited to come out here to Utah."
Kabongo, whose first name is pronounced "Mike," was joined at Saturday's workout at the Jazz's practice facility with two other guards — South Dakota State's Nate Wolters and Florida State's Mike Snaer.
"I know John Stockton played here," Snaer said. "I know it's a great place to play. I would love to come here."
"I remember my dad was a huge Jazz fan going against the Bulls in the finals the last couple of years," Wolters added. "They were fun teams to watch."
The Jazz, who have two first-round picks and a second-round selection in the June 27 draft, also brought in Long Beach State swingman James Ennis, Delaware power forward Jamelle Hagins and Colorado State center Colton Iverson.
The players went through a private workout with Jazz brass, playing scrimmages and doing shooting drills.
"It was great. It was competitive," Kabongo said. "Everyone went hard every drill. Everyone was coachable. It was a fun group of guys to be around."
How did management think they fared?
Only they know.
Breaking a long-standing tradition of media availability, the Jazz decided to not conduct interviews with the press after the workout.
Kevin O'Connor, the Jazz's executive vice president of basketball operations, did walk over to Hagins and told the 6-foot-9 athlete within earshot of media, "It's a tough workout. You did a great job."
That was an appreciated compliment for Hagins, who admitted he was nervous and felt the higher altitude in his lungs.
"I know who he is. It's a good feeling. I'm just here trying to work hard and just trying to get that kind of reaction out of guys, trying to show them what I can do," Hagins said. "I can push through the workout. I was kind of tired at the beginning of the workout, but I pushed through it."
None of the six players, mostly second-round mock picks, are household basketball names, although Kabongo was considered a potential lottery prospect when going to Texas out of Toronto. The 6-1 guard is hoping to join Serge Ibaka in making the NBA out of Congo, where he lived before relocating to Toronto with his family when he was 6 years old.
Asked about his NBA skills, Kabongo responded, "I love playing defense. Obviously, leadership. I feel like I'm a leader and just a guy who's going to bring it day in, day out."
Stockton isn't the only Jazz player he's aware of, either.
"They have great young players. Alec Burks is great, and Hayward," the 21-year-old said. "They have a good cornerstone and two bigs — Enes Kanter. They have a great core. I'm very aware of what the team has. I'm pretty young myself. I think I'd fit right in with them."
And how do the Jazz feel about the suspension Kabongo served this past season for providing false information about breaking NCAA rules by participating in an offseason camp paid for by an agent?
Only they know.
The smiling Kabongo, who missed Texas' first 23 games, sounded like a guy looking to push ahead from that past mistake.
"I'm confident in myself because I know I'm a hard worker. All those games I missed, it's unfortunate," said Kabongo, a 2012 All-Big 12 Honorable Mention player who averaged 14.6 points and 5.5 assists in only 11 games this year.
"It's time to move forward, and I'm just moving forward and enjoying this process."
At 6-4, Wolters has good size for a point guard. The third-team AP All-American averaged 22.3 points, 5.8 assists and 5.5 rebounds for South Dakota State last season. He is the school's all-time leading scorer and passer.
Wolters believes he'd be a "a good fit" with the Jazz, and said he's pretty good at reading defenses, running pick-and-rolls and loves to "just get teammates involved and make plays for others."
Snaer, a 6-5 guard, made a name for himself in college by hitting six game-winning shots in 14 months for the Seminoles, including one in a March win over Virginia. He scored 16 points in Florida State's 88-70 win over BYU last November.
Because of his ability to score, pass and dribble and his quickness, the athletic combo guard believes like he'll be an asset for an NBA team as a point guard and a shooting guard.
"Either way," he said, "I feel like I'm a matchup problem."
NOTES: Ennis, Kabongo, Iverson and Wolters will all participate in this week's NBA draft combine, which begins Wednesday in Chicago. BYU big man Brandon Davies was among the 60 players invited to the elite pre-draft camp, which will be attended by Jazz front-office members. Iverson, who transferred to Colorado State for his senior season after three years at Minnesota, was the oldest player of this group. He'll turn 24 on June 29. "I think I've got a lot of experience. I can step in and I'm ready to play right away," he said. "I've got a little more of an old man game right now." Asked to define "old man game," he laughed and said to media members, "I'm sure you guys can relate." Ennis has a former Jazz player's number in his phone: Bryon Russell, who also went to Long Beach State. "We communicate a lot. He just gives me good advice," Ennis said. "He says it's a good team (the Jazz), a good team to play for." Ennis laughed when told there's already an Enes on the Jazz. ... Utah hasn't announced when its next workout session will take place.
Saturday's Jazz workout participants
Myck Kabongo, PG, 6-1, 180, Texas
Mike Snaer, SG, 6-5, 202, Florida State
Nate Wolters, PG, 6-4, 190, South Dakota State
Forwards James Ennis, SG/SF, 6-6, 235, Long Beach State
Jamelle Hagins, PF, 6-9, 235, Delaware
Colton Iverson, C, 7-0, 255, Colorado State
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