By DOUG ALDEN AP Sports Writer
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- It's hard to believe Kosta Koufos was once a point guard.
Somewhere around his early teens, Koufos outgrew the position and kept going from there. Now 7 feet tall, Koufos is officially an NBA prospect after going to the Utah Jazz with the No. 23 pick in the NBA draft. The Jazz will make room in the lineup if Koufos shows he's really ready for the NBA at the age of 19, or the team can give the young center time to develop.
"You know what? This is a great situation for me," Koufos said Friday at a news conference to introduce Utah's first-round pick.
Barely a year ago, Koufos was runner-up in The Associated Press Ohio Mr. Basketball voting for 2007. Now he's about to try to make an impression with Utah coach Jerry Sloan, whose tenure with the Jazz began before Koufos was born.
Koufos was making his first visit to Utah, quite a different place from his hometown of Canton in northeastern Ohio and not a destination where he expected to land. But he smiled throughout his introduction at the Jazz practice facility, knowing he had successfully made the leap from one season of college basketball to the NBA.
Koufos said he is the only member of his immediate family taller than 6 feet.
"This is my lottery," Koufos said with a grin. Koufos averaged 14.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and nearly two blocks per game last season at Ohio State, where he made the league's all-freshman team.
He also has a good shot, especially for someone who is 7 feet tall. Koufos made 22 of 63 3-pointers for the Buckeyes and said his range extends to the longer NBA shot, too. He said his shooting ability comes from his days as a guard, which ended somewhere around eighth grade when he was around 6-foot-7.
"I wasn't expecting to be this tall. I could always shoot the ball," he said. "I just went wild with my height."
Koufos' family is Greek, but he was born in the U.S. and has dual citizenship. He played for the Greek national 18-and-under team last summer and is an icon in his family's homeland, but said his goal has always been to play in the NBA, not overseas.
Koufos will play in the Rocky Mountain Revue, the summer league hosted by the Jazz, then have the rest of the summer to continue working out and get in shape for his first training camp under Sloan.
"He told me he's going to be hard on me -- which I love," Koufos said.
Whether he stays in Salt Lake City or spends more time in Orem, home of the Development League's Utah Flash, will depend on Koufos, said Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor.
The Jazz have been to the playoffs two straight seasons and have more depth than they did as a lottery team three years ago, when Utah took point guard Deron Williams with the No. 3 pick. The Jazz needed Williams right away and knew they were going to have to push the rookie through his first season.
"It's a little bit more of an unknown," O'Connor said.
O'Connor said Koufos, like most young centers, probably rarely had to go against players who were as big as he was growing up. He would face at least one every game in the NBA.
"It's really a change," O'Connor said.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-06-27-08 1826MDT