He has the skill set to where he could be there in time, but it’s going to take time offensively, take some time, body-wise and strength-wise. But he’s got an opportunity down the road to do that. —Jazz vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin, on USC's Chimezie Metu
SALT LAKE CITY — USC big man Chimezie Metu is familiar with Utah, having played here a couple of times while playing for the Trojans.
He was back in town Wednesday morning as one of six players in for a workout with the Utah Jazz, who could select him with one of their two picks in the upcoming NBA draft.
Metu is a 6-11, 225-pounder, who led the Trojans in scoring last year at 15.7 ppg and led the team in rebounding for two straight years, 7.8 rpg and 7.4 rpg, respectively. He's an athletic combo big man, who is known for his defense but is adding an outside shot to his game.
One player Metu is being compared to is Houston’s Clint Capela, an athletic big man, who was a similar size when he was drafted in 2014 out of Switzerland. Although he was picked in the first round, at No. 25, it took Capela awhile to work his way into the lineup as he played in the D-League for most of his first season and became a full-time starter in his third season.
Like Capela, Metu is expected to go late in the first round or early second round and he could be the type of player that may not play significant minutes in the NBA right away.
Jazz vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin compared Metu favorably with Capela.
“Clint is such a great athlete for his size and Chimezie is not a bad athlete for his size,” Perrin said. “Clint is a better athlete, but Chimezie has a better shot and stepping out and doing stuff on the court, more so than Clint.”
Perrin also said Metu isn’t ready to play in the NBA right away.
“He has the skill set to where he could be there in time, but it’s going to take time offensively, take some time, body-wise and strength-wise. But he’s got an opportunity down the road to do that.”
The Nigerian-born Metu likes the comparison to Capela, but also mentioned some other NBA players he patterns his game after.
“I worked out with guys I can envision myself playing like in the NBA,” he said. “I like watching skilled bigs like (Joel) Embiid, KAT (Karl-Anthony Towns) and Anthony Davis. They do more than one thing and I see myself doing that once I get in the league.”
Metu is known as a shot-blocker and good defender and he started to develop a 3-point shot in his junior year at USC when he sank 12 of 40 (30 percent). He said could see himself playing for the Jazz, but also knows they have a lot of players coming back.
“I want to go someplace I can play right away and make an impact,” he said. “But whatever happens. I’m going to be ready whenever my numbers called and do what I can to help the team.”
Other players who worked out Wednesday were Ohio State wing Keita Bates-Diop, St. Bonaventure guard Matt Mobley, Auburn wing Mustapha Heron, Kentucky forward PJ Washington and St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds.
Bates-Diop, who is a possible late-first rounder, had some trouble with muscle cramps during his workout and afterward as he abruptly cut short a media interview and lay on the floor with apparent back spasms before getting some assistance from the Jazz medical staff.
The 6-foot-8, 223-pound Washington started 30 of Kentucky’s 37 games last season and averaged 10.8 points and 5.7 rebounds on 51.7 percent shooting. He has been projected as a second-round pick but improved his draft stock at the recent Chicago NBA Draft Combine. He wasn’t made available for interviews Wednesday.
In all, Perrin called it “a very good workout today.” He said the Jazz have several workouts to go over the next few weeks and that the numbers should be similar to last year when 76 players worked out for the Jazz.