Ex-Iowa State player Melvin Ejim apologizes to BYU, hopes to impress Jazz
Brody Schmidt, AP
SALT LAKE CITY — There was one subject former Iowa State player Melvin Ejim hoped wouldn’t come up during his visit to Utah for a pre-draft workout with the Jazz.
Early in his interview after Tuesday’s tryout, Ejim was asked if his return to the Beehive State brought back any memories. Without it specifically being mentioned, the NBA hopeful knew the inappropriate hand gesture he directed at the BYU basketball crowd in the Marriott Center last November was being referenced.
To his credit, Ejim apologized after that BYU-Iowa State game. Six months later, the 6-foot-6 forward reiterated that he regretted flipping off the Cougar faithful in the heat of the moment.
“I didn’t want to say anything,” Ejim said with a smile. “But I hope the people of Utah have forgiven me.”
The Jazz certainly have, vice president of basketball operations Walt Perrin said. Otherwise, Utah wouldn’t have brought Ejim in to work out with Towson forward Jerrelle Benimon, Gonzaga forward Sam Dower Jr., Connecticut swingman Niels Giffey, Indiana State guard Jake Odum and Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin in the franchise's third pre-draft workout.
“It’s been good. I’ve had a great reception here. I think that that’s in the past and it was something that happened and I apologized for it and moved on,” Ejim said. “Even after that situation, a lot of BYU fans forgave me and were great about it. I put that in the past, moved on, and I’m just ready to work out and hopefully I’ll continue to play well."
STOCKTON’S ADVICE: It’s not unusual for a Gonzaga player to be asked about Hall of Famer John Stockton whenever they visit Utah, and Dower was no exception. He even texted his former Bulldogs teammate, David Stockton, to let him know he was going to work out for his dad’s old team.
David Stockton’s response to Dower: “You better bring your lunch pail and hard hat.”
Dower, who’s dropped about 12 pounds from his Gonzaga playing weight of 255, said he worked hard hoping to impress Jazz personnel. He also admitted having the Stocktons around him during his college days in Spokane, Washington, was quite the benefit.
Added Dower: “Just playing with David Stockton and also having his dad there to give me pointers and tips during my whole collegiate career really helped me elevate my game.”
MORE WORKOUTS: Perrin said he’s only been able to bring in recent college seniors to work out because agents have held out underclassmen draft hopefuls until they know what spot teams are picking in.
“It will change,” he admitted. “I’ll know after (the lottery) who I’ll be able to get in (because of where we pick) and who I won’t be able to get in.”
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