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SALT LAKE CITY — Bryce Cotton was a major part of the Jazz's end of the season, averaging 15.3 points and 3.3 assists per game in over 25 minutes of play to anchor the Jazz's point guard position over the final three games. At the Jazz's locker room clean-out, general manager Dennis Lindsey and head coach Quin Snyder included Cotton alongside Dante Exum and Trey Burke in the Jazz's point guard rotation moving forward.
While Cotton was signed on Feb. 24, his relationship with the Jazz started 364 days ago on May 7th, 2014. That was the date of the Jazz's first pre-draft workout last season, and Cotton's first opportunity to shine in front of Jazz's executives, even before they had a coaching staff.
As Jazz Vice President of Basketball Operations Walt Perrin explained, “Dennis [Lindsey] has always said: 'No matter how many of these workouts we do, and we try to do a lot of them, if you get one guy, it’s been successful.' All of the workouts we did last season were successful because we got Bryce Cotton out of it.”
One key to the Jazz's success in finding players like Cotton has been doing more workouts featuring more players than nearly any other team in the NBA. While this means workouts like Wednesday's, in which none of the six players involved are currently slated to be drafted in DraftExpress' 2015 mock draft, the information gathered will fill in the blanks later, when the Jazz call on undrafted players to fill out roster spots in summer league, training camp and D-League.
Wednesday's 6 participants:
D.J. Newbill, the senior guard from Penn State, broke down the workout step-by-step: "First, we started out with measurements: height, weight, body fat, wingspan, things like that. We did some vertical testing, lane agility, 3-4 sprint, we did bench press, 185 pounds. Then we went out here on the court and did some shooting drills to get you warmed up. Then we played a little one-on-one from the help side, played 3-on-3 full court, and then got some shots up and did a little conditioning." It's clear that the Jazz are trying to fill out their database with as much information as possible for as many players as possible.
Perrin listed some of the reasons that the Jazz start doing workouts before any other team: "I think the benefit is that we can spread it out and have the number of workouts we have. It allows the players to understand what a workout is before Chicago, before the combine. … It helps us get a 'dry run' and get prepared for bigger and longer workouts."
While there are good reasons for the early start, Wednesday's participants were surprised to begin so soon. Newbill said that he didn't expect to get a call this early in the process, still 50 days away from the NBA draft. "Early on my agent told me that we wouldn’t start working out until June.”
But despite the surprise, all players involved were happy to be in Utah Wednesday. Rayvonte Rice, from the University of Illinois, said, "It’s just great, trying to make my dream come true. Working out in front of these guys, trying to impress these guys, can’t ask for nothing better.”
Russell Byrd echoed the sentiment:
First official pre draft workout for me tomorrow in Utah for the Jazz. Been dreaming about tomorrow since I was 8. Can't wait. — Russell Tyler Byrd (@0_BYRD_32) May 5, 2015
Maybe, like Cotton, they'll have their dreams come true this upcoming season. !(http://beacon.deseretconnect.com/beacon.gif?cid=279673&pid=4)