Michelle Tessier, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Before he even came to town Monday, Utah Jazz officials already knew plenty about Noah Vonleh.
They knew the former Indiana center was a legitimate 6 foot 10, that he had the largest wingspan of any player at the NBA combine (7 foot 4), that he had the second-largest hands of any player in the history of the combine, and at 18 years old is the second-youngest player in next week’s draft.
Monday’s workout with five other players, which went longer than previous workouts the Jazz have conducted, gave the Jazz a chance to see Vonleh up close and personal, watching him compete in three-on-three drills against a few players his size.
“What I was excited about was that his agent allowed him to work out in a six-man workout versus going by himself,’’ said Jazz VP of basketball operations Walt Perrin. “It was good to see him go through some full, three-on-three stuff instead of trying to do stuff one-on-one.’’
Perrin was impressed overall with Vonleh, but wasn’t exactly doing cartwheels about his performance Monday at the Zions Bank Basketball Center. Perhaps he's holding back a bit, so as to not tip his hand on next week's draft, which could include the Jazz selecting Vonleh.
In talking about the whole group of six players that worked out, Perrin said, “Shooting wasn’t as great as we hoped, but it’s understandable because of the way they worked during the workout.''
When asked what kind of shape Vonleh was in, Perrin paused for a second before saying, “He got through the workout. He struggled a little bit. I think he’s in pretty good shape. Now, is he in shape for 82 games here in Salt Lake? No. But we can get him that way.’’
As for his defense, Perrin said, “He’s got a little ways to go, but he’s got a body where he’ll bang and his feet aren’t bad.’’
Perrin said his positives were “His length, his hands, his ability to score.’’
He added, “We have watched him play numerous times and gone in and watched him practice. Watching him last summer he was more perimeter-oriented and with Indiana they put him more back to the basket. We saw a different part of his game at Indiana and so it really bodes well for him this summer that he can do both, go inside and outside.’’
Vonleh was quite mature and well-spoken for his age and showed his knowledge of the Jazz organization.
“Coach Jerry Sloan was here and they just got a new coach. I don’t know much about him, but he looks like a pretty good guy. I know they had guys like Karl Malone and John Stockton. I watched Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams a lot when they were here. They’ve got Trey Burke and a few other guys.’’
Could he fit into the Jazz?
“I definitely could,’’ he said.
“Whoever takes me, I’ll be willing to go there and from day one work hard and better myself as a player and help my team get better. I’m only 18 years old — I’m going to get a lot stronger as the years go on.’’
The Jazz have the No. 5 pick and several mock drafts project Vonleh going to the Jazz. Is he worthy of a top-five pick?
“We’ll see,’’ said Perrin with a smile.
Other players who worked out in the same group as Vonleh were Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown, George Mason guard Byron Allen, UCLA forward David Wear, Syracuse forward C.J. Fair and Marquette forward Jamil Wilson.
In an earlier workout Monday morning, Utah State’s Jarred Shaw was back for a second time this summer in the first session Monday that included just him and UTEP center John Bohannon.
“I did a lot of pick-and-pops. They wanted to see if I could knock down jumpers,’’ said the 6-10, 235-pound Shaw, who had some off-the-court issues at USU. “I want to show them what kind of guy — I’ve changed and I’m making strides to become a better human being.’’
The Jazz don’t plan to have any players in Tuesday, but will have more workouts later this week, including a top-10 draft prospect, although Perrin wouldn’t say who it will be.
With the eight who came in for workouts Monday, the number of players who have worked out for Utah now stands at 83 since May 7. That doesn’t include the 27 who came in for a minicamp last week.
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