He couldn’t make layups when he was 12 —UCLA guard Jordan Adams about Utah Jazz center Derrick Favors
SALT LAKE CITY — One of Derrick Favors’ old buddies worked out for the Utah Jazz on Thursday.
UCLA guard Jordan Adams, who played on the Atlanta Celtics with Favors before they became teenagers, even gave away an embarrassing secret about his former AAU teammate.
“He couldn’t make layups when he was 12,” Adams said, smiling when jokingly asked to dish out some dirt on Favors.
“So,” Adams continued, “to see what he’s become now is actually amazing. He’s come a long way.”
Favors offered a quick rebuttal tweet when Adams’ revelation surfaced on Twitter: “Lol long time ago lol.”
A decade later, the 6-foot-10 Georgia product has become an established low-post presence in the NBA, in part because of the work ethic and effort he showed as a kid to improve his struggles around the rim. Yes, of course, his size certainly helps, too.
“He got past that point. We didn’t really tease him. He always worked and got better at it,” Adams said. “We were younger. The coaches took their time to work with him. He put in the work too. Each year we saw him get better.”
Likewise, the 6-foot-5 Adams has made strides and is on the verge of getting a chance to make an NBA team like his friend. The shooting guard is a projected second-round pick by mock drafts after earning All-Pac-12 first-team honors with the Bruins last season as a sophomore.
“He’s a really good shooter. He kind of knows how to play the game strong, going to the basket,” Jazz vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin said. “He can space the floor for you because he can shoot it.”
Perrin added that Adams needs to work on ballhandling and defense, but he averaged 16.4 points on 46.7 percent shooting while at UCLA.
Another of Adams’ former teammates, Kyle Anderson, will be at Zions Bank Basketball Center on Friday when the Jazz host their 13th pre-draft workout this spring. That group will also include Arkansas State guard Melvin Johnson III, Tennessee forward Jeronne Maymon, Dayton forward Devin Oliver, Southeast Missouri State forward Tyler Stone and Delaware guard Davon Usher.
Perrin said the Jazz hope to get more lottery-bound players to visit Salt Lake City ahead of the June 26 draft. He’s optimistic that Indiana power forward Noah Vonleh will come to Utah for a workout, and he confirmed that the Jazz are trying to get Australian guard Dante Exum in town for a visit.
Perrin admitted it’s been nice to have new Jazz coach Quin Snyder at workouts this past week. He gave Snyder a list of player videos to watch in order to get up to speed on possible Jazz picks. That will count as the coach’s homework assignment as he returns to Atlanta for the weekend to be with his family after a packed first week in Utah.
On Thursday, the Jazz also wrapped up their free agent minicamp and worked out Princeton guard T.J. Bray, Wisconsin-Green Bay big man Alec Brown, Missouri guard Jabari Brown, Massachusetts guard Chaz Williams and Florida center Patric Young.
Young is the highest-ranked of the players from Thursday’s session. The 6-foot-9, 240-plus big man is ranked No. 33 on ESPN expert Chad Ford’s Top 100 list.
The most surprising revelation about Young, a muscular man who looks like he could challenge Karl Malone in an arm-wrestling match, is that he used to be a baseball pitcher.
Perrin was shocked when Young told him that at breakfast. He replied to Young, “Boy, it’s got to be pretty intimidating watching you on the mound throwing a fastball.” Young chuckled when a similar comment was made during his post-workout media interview.
“I never had to go up there and bat against myself. I heard I was intimidating,” he said. “I still miss it (baseball) a little bit, but basketball is the sport for me.”
Brown, perhaps best known as being “The Other Jabari,” is a possible second-round pick. He acknowledged that he gets asked about his first name quite often, but hopes that works to his advantage on draft night.
“It comes with the territory,” Brown said. “If they took me top five (thinking I was Jabari Parker), I’d take that mistake any day.”