GRANTSVILLE — Royce O’Neale likes to arrive at the Zions Bank Basketball Campus around 9 a.m. for breakfast.
After breakfast there’s table work, followed by weight training and basketball drills around 10 a.m.
He usually wraps up around noon, goes home for rest and periodically mixes in yoga on some mornings and afternoons.
This has been the offseason routine for the Utah Jazz wing since the season ended after a Western Conference semifinals appearance against the Houston Rockets in May. He typically gets in work at least four to five days throughout the week.
“I took like a couple weeks off after the season to take a break and let my body rest,” O’Neale said. “Went on a couple vacations then eased back into it with a little bit of working out. Basically cardio and then easing into basketball.”
Jazz assistant coach Lamar Skeeter plus strength and conditioning coaches Isaiah Wright and Jasper Bibbs have become some of his go-to guys around the practice facility as he looks to follow up on a solid rookie campaign.
Having that first year under his belt, where he went from being the last player to make the roster to averaging 10.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in a five-game series against the Rockets, has certainly boosted his confidence moving forward. He knows he has work to do, though.
“A little more of a better ball-handler, reading the pick-and-rolls, running more of those and just being balanced and making my shot more consistent at a higher level,” O’Neale listed as his areas of improvement. “Basically, just getting those repetitions up.”
He also recently celebrated his 25th birthday by vacationing in Miami with a group of close friends on June 5. On Monday, the Baylor product took some time away from training for a good cause.
O’Neale kicked off the 34th annual Junior Jazz summer road trip at Grantsville Junior High with roughly 200 or so participants. At the same site last summer, fewer than 40 kids showed up for the same event, so O’Neale's presence was certainly impactful as he led a clinic, signed autographs and took photos with the kids for free.
He will be hosting the tour’s first week, traveling more than 1,000 miles to 13 cities in two states to reach more than 1,000 boys and girls.
Grantsville students Logan Madsen, 14, and Linden, 12, were certainly gracious of the experience. They attended the clinic with their dad, Mark.
“This is pretty cool,” Logan said.
“I watched him in some Jazz games,” Linden added.
Grantsville Junior High principal Charles Mohler thought it was awesome for kids to see O’Neale as a human being and not just in a No. 23 Jazz uniform on television. His appearance inspired some of them to someday reach the NBA, but Mohler loved his off-court demeanor even more.
“He has character,” Mohler said after receiving an autographed photo from O’Neale. “Sometimes you worry about the character of our youth and he has great character. Even out here, you watch as he hustles on one side of the court to the next for these little kids and that shows what kind of a person he is.”
While O’Neale will be busy on the Junior Jazz road trip this week, he knows the team has a big decision to make in Thursday’s NBA draft with the No. 21 and No. 52 picks.
O’Neale, however, is leaving that job to the professionals. He’s strictly focused on the things he can control and that’s getting better individually.Comment on this story
“I think just a player that can play multiple positions that fits in well with the way we play, the way our guys are, and how we get along,” O’Neale said in sharing his thoughts on a potential draft pick. “You never know what’s going to happen, but whoever we get I think will be a good piece for us to build on to what we already have.
“I don’t really know who is in the draft, really,” he continued, laughing. “I haven’t been paying attention like that. I’ve been out of college for a couple years but it’s a lot of good players in the draft so it’ll be interesting to see.”