Over the past month and half, the Utah Jazz have held several pre-draft workout sessions to get a look at some of the prospects available for this year's NBA Draft.
There's plenty of anticipation because the Jazz hold the fifth, 23rd and 35th picks in Thursday's draft. Will Utah try to trade up to try and grab Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker or will they stay put at No. 5 and grab a Noah Vonleh or Aaron Gordon?
What kind of talent will be available to Utah in the late first and early second rounds of the draft?
Here's a look back at the Deseret News' coverage of this year's Jazz pre-draft workouts, including links to extended workout stories (click on the in-story links) and profiles on each player (click on the dates):
Beginning the workout evaluation process for this year’s draft, the Jazz brought in guards Bryce Cotton (Providence) and Stephen Holt (Saint Mary’s), as well as forwards Taylor Braun (North Dakota State), Akil Mitchell (Virginia), Mike Moser (Oregon) and Ronald Roberts Jr. (Saint Joseph’s) for the team’s first player workouts.
“I’m just working my butt off,” Mitchell told the Deseret News. “I feel like everything will work itself out in the end.”
Another six players rolled in to Salt Lake City to work out in front of the Jazz brass one day after the team’s first player workouts. They included guards Travis Bader (Oakland), Justin Cobbs (Cal) and Joe Jackson (Memphis), guard-forwards Cameron Clark (Oklahoma) and Fuquan Edwin (Seton Hall) and forward Josh Huestis (Stanford).
“Teams are expecting me to come in and be a defender. That’s what I’m known for — defense,” Huestis said. “I’m going to be a hustle guy, a hard-worker. I have a good motor.”
A pair of athletes who played against BYU last season — Iowa State forward Melvin Ejim and Gonzaga center Sam Dower — were among those who participated in Utah’s third player workout. Also at the workout were guards Jake Odum (Indiana State) and Scotty Wilbekin (Florida), guard-forward Niels Giffey (Connecticut) and forward Jerrelle Benimon (Towson).
“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,” said Ejim, who flipped off the BYU crowd during the Cyclones’ victory over the Cougars in November. “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."
Several big-name programs were represented at this Jazz player workout, including guards Semaj Christon (Xavier) and DeAndre Kane (Iowa State), as well as forwards Luke Hancock (Louisville), Wally Judge (Rutgers), Travis Wear (UCLA) and Jamil Wilson (Marquette).
“We’re all looking for the next Wes Matthews,” Jazz vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin said afterward. The former Jazzman Matthews went undrafted, a likely destination for these six players who worked out, but he is now a starter with Portland.
A pair of Ohio State stars — guard Aaron Craft and forward LaQuinton Ross — highlighted this group. Other players included guards Billy Baron (Canisius) and James Bell (Villanova), as well as forwards Cameron Bairstow (New Mexico) and Roscoe Smith (UNLV).
"Obviously, he’s a great kid," Craft said of Jazz point guard Trey Burke, who played collegiately at the Buckeyes' rival, Michigan. "He’s a great player. Utah’s very, very lucky to have him. I would love to join him."
Wiggins and A.K. showed up for this workout. No, not Andrew Wiggins, one of this draft's top prospects; it was his brother Nick Wiggins, a guard from Wichita State. And no, it wasn't former Jazzman Andrei Kirilenko; this A.K. was Russian center Artem Kleminko. Also at the workout were guards Jordan Clarkson (Missouri), Deonte Burton (Nevada) and Sean Kilpatrick (Cincinnati), and center Alex Kirk (New Mexico).
“Growing up, he didn’t really know who Kirilenko was,” Klimenko's interpreter told the News' Brad Rock. “It was probably about five years ago that he really became known to him.”
On the same day news broke that Quin Snyder would be the team's new head coach, it was a double dose of workouts on this day with two six-player groups. There was a local flavor, with Utah State center Jarred Shaw and Weber State guard Davion Berry in attendance. Shawn Glover (Oral Roberts), who once played for the Utes, also participated.
Also a part of the workouts were guards Keith Appling (Michigan State); Jahii Carson (Arizona State); Drew Crawford (Northwestern); Jerry Evans Jr. (Nevada); and Trevor Releford (Alabama), as well as forwards Talib Zanna (Pittsburgh); Thanasis Antetokounmpo (D-League's Delaware 87ers); James Michael McAdoo (North Carolina); and Dwight Powell (Stanford).
Several big-name prospects hit the practice court for the Jazz in this group. They included Utah's first look at a potential top-five draft pick, Arizona power forward Aaron Gordon, during the workout process.
“I’m a basketball player. I can defend wherever they want me to play, so that’s the main thing. I feel I can fit in a lot of different systems and excel," Gordon said. "If I come here I’m going to find my niche and I’m going to thrive.’’
Also hitting the court were forwards Adreian Payne (Michigan State), Jerami Grant (Syracuse), Jarnell Stokes (Tennessee), Khem Birch (UNLV) and Cory Jefferson (Baylor). One the three guards participating was David Stockton of Gonzaga, John Stockton's son, as well as Roy Devyn Marble (Iowa) and Patrick Miller (Tennessee State).
One of the storylines from this workout — filled with players who could be selected from the middle to the end of the first round — was P.J. Hairston being unable to participate after experiencing back spasms. Hairston played collegiately at North Carolina and in the D-League last season.
Working out this day for the Jazz was C.J. Wilcox, the Pleasant Grove High graduate who developed a reputation for his sharpshooting abilities at Washington.
“It’s kind of cool to come back and be able to work with them, (the Jazz) growing up from here,” Wilcox told the News' Jody Genessy. “You kind of imagine yourself being in this position.”
Also at the workout were forwards Cleanthony Early (Wichita State) and Glenn Robinson III (Michigan), as well as guards Xavier Thames (San Diego State) and Kendrick Perry (Youngstown State).
A pair of players who could be on the draft board when the Jazz pick 35th in the second round joined this group full of shooters: UCLA guard Jordan Adams and Florida forward-center Patric Young.
“He’s a really good shooter. He kind of knows how to play the game strong, going to the basket,” Perrin said of Adams. “He can space the floor for you because he can shoot it.”
Also working out this day were guards Jabari Brown (Missouri), T.J. Bray (Princeton) and Chaz Williams (Massachusetts) and forward-center Alec Brown (Green Bay).
In addition, the Jazz hosted a free agent minicamp that week in which 27 players participated, including three former Utah players: Carlon Brown, who transferred to Colorado from the U., Weber State's Nick Covington and the Utes' Jason Washburn.
Group 12: June 13
UCLA guard-forward Kyle Anderson highlighted this pre-draft workout; he is projected to be available in the range when the Jazz have their 23rd pick in the first round: "I think I can play a lot of different positions, which helps me. It's to my advantage," Anderson said.
Also working out that day were guards Melvin Johnson (Arkansas State) and Davon Usher (Delaware), in addition to forwards Jeronne Maymon (Tennessee), Devin Oliver (Dayton) and Tyler Stone (Southeast Missouri State).
Another potential top-five draft pick was on display when the Jazz brought in Indiana's Vonleh 10 days before the draft. The first edition of the Deseret News NBA mock draft had Vonleh heading to the Jazz with the fifth pick.
“Whoever takes me, I’ll be willing to go there and from Day One and work hard and better myself as a player and help my team get better," Vonleh told the Deseret News. "I’m only 18 years old — I’m going to get a lot stronger as the years go on.’’
Also at the workout were guards Bryon Allen (George Mason) and Markel Brown (Oklahoma State), forwards C.J. Fair (Syracuse) and David Wear (UCLA) and center John Bohannon (UTEP).
Utah State's Shaw and Marquette's Wilson also returned for a second workout.
Jus like the pre-draft workout two days before, the Jazz brought in a big man who could be available at the No. 5 pick in Kentucky power forward Julius Randle. He was a double-double threat his freshman year with the Wildcats, averaging 15 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.
“They have a great new coach and the Jazz organization is tremendous,’’ Randle said. “I think I fit in well. I’m a very versatile player so I can play many different ways and can adjust to many different situations. It would be a good fit here."
Also participating in the workout were guards Mike Burwell (Towson); Langston Hall (Mercer); Jordan McRae (Tennessee); Kendall Williams (New Mexico); guard-forward Casey Prather (Florida); and forwards DeAndre Daniels (Connecticut), and Tristan Spurlock (Central Florida).
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company