Alongside familiar faces of the Jazz's veteran players, seven newcomers will be on the court when the team's fall camp convenes Oct. 5.
Heading the newcomers list is 7-foot-1 center Walter Palmer, the Jazz's top draft pick who was the 33rd player selected in the summer NBA Draft.Here's an alphabetical look at the hopefuls:
- Alan Bannister, 7-foot-5, 300-pounds, from Arkansas State.
Bannister was invited as a free agent after an undistinguished two-year college career at Arkansas State (1.9 points-per-game career scoring average, eight minutes a game). A native of England, Bannister has an obvious asset (his height) that could be turned into an NBA-plus for the Jazz, a la Mark Eaton (who mainly sat the bench in college at UCLA). Bannister fared better in college at Oklahoma State, where he averaged 7.6 points a game as a sophomore in 1985-86 while starting 19 games. Tendinitis in his knees and an injury to his left foot prompted his transfer to Arkansas State, where he sat out a year before playing the last two seasons.
- Nate Johnson, 6-foot-8, 210 pounds.
Another player with the advantage of major league experience. Last year he played seven games with Portland, then was released and picked up by the Jazz for six games. After going to the CBA for 10 games, Portland signed him to two 10-day contracts. Johnston is among the best athletes present; also a good shooter.
- Chris Munk, 6-foot-9, 225 pounds, from USC.
Munk led the Trojans in both rebounding (8.2) and blocked shots and averaged 8.4 points per game last season. "Munk has a big body, sets screens well and he's got some skills," said Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan at the conclusion of Rookie Camp in July. Munk was also impressive at USC as a free throw shooter. He shot at a 81.7 percent clip from the line as a senior and once made 31 free throws in a row.
- Melvin Newbern, 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, from the University of Minnesota.
Newbern wasn't able to complete Rookie Camp because of medical reasons, but was invited to veterans camp because he showed promise as a backup guard. At Minnesota, he averaged 14.8 points and 5.2 assists last season as the Gophers made it to the final eight of the NCAA championships.
- Walter Palmer, 7-foot-1, 215-pounds, from Dartmouth.
Palmer signed a two-year contract with the Jazz in late August, worth a reported $500,000 a year - an indication that the Jazz are willing to invest at least two years in the unsung product of the Ivy League. Palmer averaged 16 points and 6.4 rebounds for Dartmoth last season and blocked 85 shots. He was named first-team All-Ivy and went on to make a strong impression at postseason draft camps. He has a reputation as a good shooter from all ranges.
- Mark Tillmon, 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, from Georgetown.
Tillmon made a strong impression at Rookie Camp, particularly defensively. He scored at a 19.8 points-per-game clip for Georgetown last season and had 54 steals in 31 games. He only had 44 assists for the season and does not have a point-guard background although that's where the Jazz mostly played him in the summer camp.
- Andy Toolson, 6-foot-6, 210 pounds, from Brigham Young.
Toolson made a name at BYU as a prolific outside shooter, averaging 51.0 percent from the field for his career and 49.0 percent from the collegiate three-point line. At Rookie Camp he made just 12 of 40 field goal attempts in the summer league games, but the coaches chalked that up to jitters and invited him to veterans camp anyway. Jazz coach Jerry Sloan was impressed with Toolson's toughness.
- Brett Vroman, 7-feet, 248 pounds, from UNLV.
Vroman will be 36 years old on Christmas Day. A former high school All-American at Provo High School, where he guided the Bulldogs to the state championship, Vroman played 11 games for the Jazz a decade ago, to start the 1980-81 season. He then left for the CBA and, after that, Europe, where he averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds while playing with teams in Italy, Spain, Greece and Finland. If nothing else, he'll provide practice toughness for the new big men (Palmer and Bannister, particularly).