Scoring 22 points against the Utah Jazz, delighting a partisan crowd and getting highlight-reel chest bumps from teammates aside, Jaycee Carroll knows he's a long shot when it comes to making an NBA roster.
But if there's one thing Utah State's all-time leader in scoring and 3-point shooting knows a little bit about, it's long shots.
Long as in getting discovered in Evanston, Wyo., by the Utah State coaching staff and earning a scholarship when few other schools bothered to pay him any attention.
Long as in earning a starting position with the Aggies shortly after returning from his LDS mission to Chile and never losing it.
Long as in the likelihood the New Jersey Nets which already have a league-max 15 players under contract now that they acquired veteran combo-guard Keyon Dooling will be able to make room for him on their roster.
"There's more to me as a basketball player than what I've been stereotyped as," Carroll said while at the Rocky Mountain Revue. "I can handle the ball. In college, I just wasn't asked to run the team. Now, that's what they want me to do and I understand why. I just have to show people I can do that."
Carroll said all he wants is a shot a long one is fine with him to prove he is more than capable of being an NBA point guard, even though he hasn't played the point much at all.
With the Nets, Carroll is hoping to join a backcourt loaded with Devin Harris and Dooling as the potential third point guard. Former first-round draft pick Marcus Williams was traded to Golden State the day after the Nets acquired Dooling, giving Carroll a slightly better chance of earning a roster spot.
"I think that is something that is going to be a continual adjustment for him," Nets assistant coach Brian Hill said after Tuesday's game against Utah. "That's one of the hardest things to do, is converting from being an off-guard to a point guard. He has done a good job offensively of running the team.
"Sometimes he still has that scorer-first mentality but he has done a good job of running the team ... and getting better with it and more comfortable with it in each game."
Still, finding a home in the NBA is something the former Aggie may not realize this season. He's prepared for something like that and has received advice from people who have been in his shoes.
"There's plenty of doubters," Spencer Nelson also a former USU great who has been invited to a few summer league teams and tried to make the adjustment from one position to another. "In everyone's mind there's a lot of reason he can't make it. He's too short, he's too old, he's too slow. Whatever. He can't change those things."
"What I've told him to focus on are the reasons he can make it," Nelson said. "He's a great shooter. He's unbelievably athletic. He's smart. He's a great teammate. And he's the hardest worker I've ever played with."
Nelson, who just signed a new contract with Greek team Aris Thessaloniki, thinks there is certainly a spot for his fellow Aggie in Europe somewhere.
"We'd have to look at the situation," Carroll, who also played for the Toronto Raptors' summer league squad in Las Vegas a week ago, said. "I know I can play somewhere. But right now, I don't have anything firm set up. That's what I'm trying to do: Get some exposure, get noticed and convince a team I'm ready to play for them."
The rugged schedule of practicing in New Jersey, playing summer league games in Orlando, then Las Vegas and now in Utah has kept Carroll constantly on the go much like he is when playing the game.
His wife, Baylee, is expecting the couple's first child. Upon entering the gym at Salt Lake Community College on Monday, it was her that his new teammates wanted to see most.
Brook Lopez, New Jersey's lottery-pick 7-footer, playfully teased Carroll about being back in Utah in front of friends and family and the free-agent promised his new friend he'd get a big hug.
"I really love playing with these guys," Carroll said. "I'm learning something every day with them and I think I'm getting better."
With training camp officially set to open in September, Carroll is hoping he'll have a contract preferably one of the guaranteed variety in place. Regardless, he's not lacking in confidence about his ability to provide a valuable resource for an NBA team.
He was named to the Orlando summer league second team after averaging more than 13 points per game and is getting his share of attention from Nets brass and media with his usually steady play.
"I think anyone that is willing to pull the trigger on me will get their money's worth," Carroll said. "I'll play hard every day. I'll practice hard every day. I'll do all the little things they want a guy to do."If someone takes a chance on me, they won't regret it."
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