The Utah Jazz just announced that they will be working out six more players tomorrow. The headliners will be guard Demetrius Jackson (of Notre Dame) and bigman phenom Thon Maker (of parts unknown) (well, more specifically -- he was born in a part of Sudan that is now the new nation state of South Sudan, but before that happened as a little child he had to flee to Uganda, where then he was later on accepted as a refugee to Australia . . . and then did parts of his high school in the United States and finished in Canada).
Demetrius is highly regarded. Coming out of high school he was regarded as a four-star prospect by Scout, Rivals, 247Sports, and ESPN. The Indiana native went to Notre Dame (he was actually born in South Bend) and played there for three seasons. He went from 6.0 ppg as a freshman to 12.4 and then last season finished with 15.8 ppg.
We don't always want to judge guys on their scoring ability, but you need to at least be decent if you are going to make it in the NBA. He was, but seemed to put his head down and drove more as a Junior. He got to the line 4.0 times a game and shot 81.3 FT%. That's good. It's not great. But on this team, it would be an improvement. One troubling thing is that his three point shot went away with more attempts. He was 41.7% as a freshman, 42.9% as a sophomore, but dropped to 33.1% as a junior. It's natural to shoot worse with more attempts -- especially if the defense keys in on you. And they did. But I'm looking for a possibly "better than natural" shooter from Jackson. His 4.7 apg mark, and 25.1 AST% don't wow me for a guy who was playing 35.9 mpg and had the ball in his hands all game long.
He is a pick and roll player, as was, but I don't want to jinx this guy at all. He's not Trey Burke, he appears to be a little more dynamic with the ball. But then again, so did NCAA Trey Burke. Anyway, Jackson projects to be a 1st rounder, and possibly a lottery pick. He is the highest ranked player on my big board that the Jazz are working out.
In order to evaluate him, they are throwing three other point guards in his direction -- North Carolina's Marcus Paige, who is a bubble 2nd rounder appears to be the largest competition. Behind him will be Eric McClellan of Gonzaga and Marcus Georges-Hunt of Georgia Tech. Four point guards . . . . and Thon Maker.
Maker is what dreams are made of, he's 6'11.75" tall in socks and has a no-step vertical jump of a massive 32". If you like athletes you're liking Maker. He's from the same tribe, the Dinka, as people like Manute Bol, , , and other basketball players. No, not at all related to Gorgui Dieng's people at all thought, he's from the Wolof tribe from a different part of Africa. Sorry, I get regularly grilled on African topics in my personal life. My dad has a lot of free time on his hands, and he recently discovered the Google search engine.
There is a boxing term I am forgetting right now, it's a guy who is set up to fight a heavy weight dude, but isn't supposed to be good, or ever have a shot at winning. This was kind of the set up to Rocky I, as they bring in some unknown guy to at least make it look like it's a real fight. The Jazz are bringing in Mike Tobey, a 6'11 center from Virginia to go up against Maker. Mike is a 7' footer in shoes and weighs over 250 pounds. He showed well in the Portsmouth invitational, and he's someone who *can* step out a bit in a pick and pop way.
This is the challenge for Maker. Against four point guards and this face up big it's going to be about how well can he defend the pick and roll / pick and pop against driving guards, pull up off the dribble guards, and face up bigs.
Jackson is supposed to own his competition here. Maker is still really an unknown. And when you have an unknown the scientific method tells us that you test it against knowns to figure it out. And that's what is going to happen tomorrow.