Beyond about 10 players they figured for sure would be gone, the Jazz had no idea who would be there — and more importantly which among them would be highest on their board — when they picked at No. 20 in the first round of Thursday night's NBA Draft.
But the franchise's consensus guess earlier Thursday, general manager Kevin O'Connor said after making the pick, was Virginia Commonwealth University senior point Eric Maynor.
And they were right.
So the Jazz went with Maynor, a 22-year-old who apparently will fill a reserve role along with last season's No. 3 point, Ronnie Price, behind starter Deron Williams.
Utah also took 6-foot-10 Bosnian center Goran Suton of Michigan State at No. 50 in the second round.
"We're really happy (Maynor) was there (at 20)," O'Connor said, "because I think it gives us somebody you can put the ball in the hands of."
The Raeford, N.C., native averaged 22.4 points and 6.2 assists per game last season, when he was a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award presented to the University of North Carolina's Ty Lawson as the nation's top collegiate point guard.
"I'm coming in there to work, man — doing whatever the team needs me to do," said Maynor, who was mid-major Colonial Athletic Association's two-time Player of the Year — and who left VCU, which has never before produced a first-round NBA pick, as its all-time leader in scoring (1,953 points), assists (674), free throws made (503) and games played (130).
"Deron Williams is one of the best guards in the NBA," added Maynor, who also had a 21-point, seven assist performance in an NCAA tournament game this year against UCLA and who hit the game-winning 15-foot jumper with 1.8 seconds in a first-round NCAA tourney upset victory over Duke during his sophomore season. "For me to come in there and learn from a guy like that, I figure it will be great for me."
Maynor is the point who had to cancel a workout scheduled for last Saturday because of back spasms, but whom the Jazz quietly brought into town Wednesday for an interview with franchise officials.
Now he's glad he came.
"I knew I needed to have a spot where I knew I wasn't going to go past," he said, "and Utah's a great place... So I just told my agent I'm willing to fly wherever, (because) we're talking about my future right now."
Long-distance shooting is not Maynor's forte.
And at 6-2 (without shoes, 6-3 with) and 164 pounds, the guard who O'Connor said needs "to get stronger" yields about 50 pounds to the similarly tall Williams.
"I think he needs to work on his body, No. 1," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "Get in the weight room, work on his body."
Yet Maynor does emerge from college in much the same fashion as Williams, a USA Basketball Olympic point, in this regard: "He can run a team," O'Connor said.
"He seems to have a pretty good feel," Sloan added, "of finding people in open areas and knowing what you're doing in an offense."
Still, the selection was met by as many boos as cheers at a Jazz draft party in EnergySolutions Arena.
"It's what my wife wanted me to do," O'Connor joked when he filled in the crowd on Utah's plans.
But seriously, O'Connor said later, "I think if you look the success that Eric's had in his college career, you'll understand why we're happy to have him... He sees the floor well, and each year he got better."
Maynor called himself "a true point guard," and O'Connor said he's "probably more (NBA) ready than a lot of kids drafted before him."
The Jazz did have high hopes for landing University of North Carolina product Tyler Hansbrough, but those were dashed when Indiana picked the senior power forward from this year's NCAA champs at No. 13 overall.
O'Connor acknowledged the loss.
"Remember just a few years ago when we didn't get J.J. Redick and we got Ronnie Brewer?" O'Connor asked a draft-party crowd gathered at EnergySolutions Arena.
Along with Duke shooting guard Redick in 2006 and Georgetown center Roy Hibbert last year, Hansbrough joins a growing list of players the Jazz seem to have targeted, only to have them go before they got a chance to pick. Redick went to Orlando in the same draft that the Jazz took Brewer — now their starting shooting guard — from the University of Arkansas.
Another possible Jazz pick for this year, Wake Forest power forward James Johnson, went 16th to Chicago, and Wake point Jeff Teague, much-liked by the Jazz, went 17th to Atlanta in a point-strong draft.
University of Pittsburgh swingman Sam Young and Pitt power forward DeJuan Blair — each came to Utah for a workout — both were still on the board when the Jazz picked Maynor, who according to Sloan should fit in well on Utah's bench.
"He gives us the ability," the Jazz coach said, "to have a young player that maybe can come in and play behind Deron Williams and Ronnie Price, and hopefully make himself a better player."
Price will be an unrestricted free agent as of late Tuesday night, but the Jazz apparently plan to re-sign the Utah Valley product — and to not re-sign veteran and also soon-to-be free agent Brevin Knight, who was Williams' primary back last season.
"Ronnie probably didn't get the opportunities he needed last year, looking back on it," Sloan said.
"He played hard every time we put him out there. He made mistakes, but the kind of mistakes he made were hustle mistakes. We need to get more of those kinds of things out of all our players if we're going to be competitive."
More on draft inside
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No players with Utah ties selected, D6Heady
TextEric Maynor file
Selection: 20th pick, first round
Position: Point guard
Size: 6-3, 164 pounds
Team: Virginia Commonwealth (VCU)
Age: 22 (June 11, 1987)
Hometown: Raeford, N.C.
Career highlights: Completed college career with 72 consecutive starts and ended as VCU's all-time leader in scoring (1,953 points) and assists (674) ... Honored as Colonial Athletic Association player of the year for junior and senior seasons ... Sank game-winning jumper against Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as a sophomore in 2007 ... Senior season averages: 22.4 ppg, 6.2 apg, 3.6 rpg, 46.3 FG percentage, 3.0 TOs.
NBA.com analysis: "Gets into the lane easily. Makes excellent decisions."
DraftExpress analysis: "Has a good combination of scoring and playmaking skills. Proved to be a clutch player at the college level."Heady
Textwho can hit mid-range shots, according to the NBA Draft Guide.
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