This year's edition of the annual Utah Jazz rookie/free agent camp offers the usual mixed bag of a few familiar names sprinkled among a lot of guys you've never heard of - and probably never will hear of again.
But the camp, which begins Thursday at Westminster College and ends Sunday, may also hold a few surprises: Last year, for instance, David Benoit and Corey Crowder were camp no-names who found a season-long home with the Jazz. Benoit even broke into the starting lineup during the playoffs.There are 21 invitees to this year's camp - three returnees from last season's Jazz squad, three other players with NBA experience, 12 rookie-free agents, and three others of assorted pedigree. The group includes five centers, five forwards, two swingmen and nine guards, and will be trimmed to 12 or 14 players for the start of the 10-team Rocky Mountain Revue summer league on Monday.
Jazz director of player personnel Scott Layden says a primary purpose for the camp is to develop last year's rookies - Benoit, Crowder and Isaac Austin. Benoit has a guaranteed contract, and the team has made qualifying offers to Crowder and Austin. For Austin, who missed last year's camp with an injury, this is an opportunity to show what he can do. As for the final roster spot, it's probably no conicidence that nine guards are in this group. With just three guards on guaranteed contract - John Stockton, Jeff Malone and the recently acquired Jay Humphries - the best chance to make this team is probably at guard.
Here's a look at this year's hopefuls:
David Benoit, 6-8, 225, F - Played in 77 regular-season games, averaging 5.6 ppg and 3.8 rebounds. Shot 46.7 percent from the field and set Jazz all-time rookie record with 81 percent free-throw shooting. Averaged 6.8 ppg in 13 playoff contests.
Isaac Austin, 6-10, 255, C - Shot 45.7 percent from the field, 63.3 from the line in 31 games. Second-round pick in 1991 out of Arizona State.
Corey Crowder, 6-5, 215, G/F - Saw action in 51 games and was most impressive from the three-point line, where he made 13 of 30 (43.3 percent).
Paul Afeaki, 6-10, 230, C - He was the University of Utah's leading scorer (12.3 ppg) and rebounder (6.1) last season, shooting 59.6 percent from the field. Career stats aren't that impressive, but he's a battler and, as a late-comer to basketball, he improved every season in college.
Mitch Smith, 6-8, 190, F - Another ex-Ute, he averaged 12.7 ppg in his four-year college career. A tough rebounder for his size, he made the All-WAC first team as a junior and senior.
Kendall Youngblood, 6-4, 205, G - Led Utah State in scoring (17.1) and rebounding (7.7) last season, earning All Big West first-team honors.
John Crotty, 6-1, 180, G - BYU fans may remember Crotty as the Virginia guard who helped Shawn Bradley set an NCAA Tournament record (since broken) for blocked shots last year. He started 104 games at point guard for the Cavaliers, finishing his career as the all-time assist leader and three-point shooter.
Tom Garrick, 6-2, 185, G - A four-year NBA veteran out of Rhode Island, he played with the Spurs and Timberwolves last season. A second-round pick of the Clippers in 1988, his best NBA season was 1989-90, when he averaged 7.0 ppg while shooting 49.4 percent from the field.
Donald Royal, 6-8, 210, F - A 1987 draft pick of the Cavaliers out of Notre Dame, he played 60 games for the Spurs last season, averaging 4.2 ppg. Two years before that, he averaged 5.9 ppg for the Timberwolves. He has also spent two seasons in the CBA.
Marques Bragg, 6-8, 230, F, Providence - Led the Friars in scoring (11.3) and steals his senior year, was second in rebounding (8.3), and was named the team's defensive player of the year. For his career, he made 56.5 percent of his shots.
Mike Coffin, 6-4, 185, G, Biola College - Was named All-NCCAA first team after averaging 7.1 ppg and shooting 53 percent from the field as a senior.
Derwin "Tank" Collins, 6-5, 217, G, New Orleans - Was the American South Conference Player of the Year in 1990-91. Last year he led the Privateers in scoring (17.3). SHot 56.3 percent from the field in two seasons at UNO. Began his college career at College of Southern Idaho.
Greg Dennis, 6-11, 206, C, East Tennessee State - Averaged 17.4 ppg on 50.2 percent from the field and 7 rebounds over his college career, making the Southern Conference all-tournament team four times.
Harold Ellis, 6-5, 190, G/F, Morehouse State - Two-time Division II All-America selection. Averaged 25.6 ppg on 56 percent from the field and 8.7 rebounds as a senior.
Jim Havrilla, 6-10, 264, C, Western Michigan - First-team All-Mid American Conference as a senior, averaging 13.8 ppg and 8.2 rebounds.
Steven Howard, 6-9, 225, F, DePaul - Named to the All-Great Midwest Conference first team as a senior after averaging 17.1 ppg and 8.7 rebounds. Finished career as Blue Demons' all-time leader in free throws made and games played and fifth in scoring and rebounding.
Kurk Lee, 6-3, 190, G, Towson State - Played 48 games for the New Jersey Nets in 1990-91. Played in the CBA last season for Oklahoma City and Sioux Falls, averaging 8.1 ppg and 3.8 rebounds.
Sherman Montgomery, 6-3, 185, G, Faulkner Univ. - The son of former Jazz player John Drew, he averaged 17.0 ppg, 6.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists for NAIA school Faulkner.
Sheldon Owens, 6-5, 230, G, Shaw University - Named Player of the Year in the CIAA, averaging 23.2 ppg as a senior while connecting on 48.6 percent of his shots.
Sean Schiano, 6-11, 245, C, Niagara - Averaged 6.1 ppg and 3.7 rebounds during four-year college career. Shot 54.4 percent from the field last season.
Lambert Shell, 6-4, 210, G, Bridgeport - Basketball Gazette named him its Div. II National Player of the Year last season. Led his team to four straight NCAA Div. II Tournaments, and three straight appearances in the final eight. Averaged 22.7 ppg in 132 career games, connecting on 54.7 percent from the field.