His introduction to America came at a much-younger age than that of his much-more famous countryman, Jazz starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko.
Sasha Kaun, in fact, was a mere high school sophomore when he first came to the United States from Russia.
It was a tough transition, as he needed three months to learn fundamentals of the English language.
"But after that, I kind of started picking up a little bit more," said Kaun, who attended Florida Air Academy high school in Melbourne, Fla. "I'm still learning ... and it's been seven years."
And now, having finished his senior season at the University of Kansas, Kaun is ready to follow in the footsteps of Kirilenko, who just completed his seventh NBA season.
The 6-foot-11 (6-9 without shoes), 247-pounder worked out Wednesday for the Jazz in advance of the June 26 NBA Draft, along with fellow bigs DeVon Hardin of Cal, Aussie Nathan Jawai and Brian Butch of Wisconsin, and point guards Tyrone Brazelton of Western Kentucky and Mike Green of Butler.
What helps to separate him, Kaun hopes, will be winning ways honed with the 2008 NCAA-champion Jayhawks.
"Winning a national championship is a big thing," said Kaun, who averaged 7.1 points and 3.9 rebounds as a senior. "(Pro) teams like that ... the attitude, and that you've been in a positive, winning program."
The 23-year-old Kaun has never met Kirilenko but hopes to do so while trying out later this summer for Russia's Olympic Games-bound national club.
He has a shot at making the team, and if he does it could boost his chances of playing in the NBA.
Kaun regarded by many as a possible second-round draft selection has admitted limitations and hopes to find a fit that will help him stick.
He started 57-of-68 games during his sophomore and junior seasons, but only 6-of-40 as a senior at Kansas.
"I'm not the most-skilled guy," Kaun said, "but I feed off hustle plays, rebounds, just running stuff and playing hard."Right now," he added, "my offense needs a lot of improvement, and that's something I'm definitely looking forward to working on when I get to the pro level."
HIGH ALTITUDE: A potential late first-round pick, Hardin huffed and puffed a bit following the workout as many who come to Utah do.Asked what he knows about the Jazz organization, Hardin said jokingly, "I know it's 4,500 feet above sea level."
CORBIN WORKS: Jazz assistant coach Tyrone Corbin worked Wednesday's draft session, but Jazz general manager O'Connor suggested it remains uncertain if Corbin who is under contract with the franchise for next season indeed will return.
"People like what he does," O'Connor said.
Corbin interviewed recently (with permission from the Jazz) for head coaching vacancies in Phoenix and Chicago but did not land either job.
O'Connor had no comment when asked if Corbin remains a candidate for a job, or jobs, elsewhere.
There currently are no NBA head coaching vacancies, but more than one team still needs to hire a lead assistant."I don't know exactly where things are today," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said Wednesday. "We just hope he stays with us, but we want him to do what's best for Ty Corbin."
OKUR OUT: Jazz starting center Mehmet Okur won't play for his native Turkey when its national team plays France, Belgium and Ukraine in September qualifying games for the 2009 FIBA European championships.
According to a Web report from the English-language Today's Zaman Turkish newspaper, Okur was dropped from the team's provisional roster due to injury.
Okur played with an Achilles tendon injury late in the Jazz's 2008 playoff run, and O'Connor on Wednesday suggested the 2007 NBA All-Star was more injured late in Utah's second-round series with the Los Angeles Lakers than many people realize.But the decision on whether to play internationally this offseason, the Jazz GM said, was left to Okur.
MISC.: The NBA on Wednesday announced that the Jazz will share their NBA Development League-affiliate Utah Flash with the Boston Celtics for a second straight season and that the D-League will play next season with 16 teams, including expansion entries in Erie, Penn., and Reno. ... The Boston Globe reported that Utah State guard Jaycee Carroll was scheduled to workout for the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, and the Sacramento Bee reported that BYU guard Lee Cummard worked out for the Kings on Tuesday. Carroll auditioned for the Jazz last offseason, before returning to Utah State. He also worked out last week in Chicago and had at least three other stops scheduled. ... According to the Akron Beacon Journal, ex-Jazz shooting guard Sasha Pavlovic of the Cleveland Cavaliers, "who suffered severe foot and ankle sprains during the season, will not play for the Serbian national team this summer."
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