Rocky Top Round Ball Rockers
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – “Jazz DNA.” It’s something that’s brought up all the time in regards to certain players who are smart, work hard and seem to be upstanding characters in the community and solid players on the court.
If that truly is “Jazz DNA” then the Tennessee Volunteers have a couple of draftees that would be perfect players for Utah on draft night. But are Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield good enough to nab at No. 23?
Williams is an off the charts guy when it comes to character and hustle. He’s the two-time SEC Player of the Year, an All-American and averaged 18.8 points and 7.5 rebounds a game. Did we mention that he also plays several instruments? Talk about sweet Jazz music.
And though Williams doesn’t look like the most imposing player on the court, GoVols 247 senior writer West Rucker said he just seems to get the job done.
“He’s a better athlete than it looks like he is,” said Rucker on the most recent Jazz Notes podcast. “(Williams) knows how to use his body and he’s kind of a throw back player. He can play above the rim. He’s also got some of these old school YMCA moves. He knows how to spin, turn around and get to the perfect angle on his jump shot. He has perfect timing on defense. He knows how to play the game. And when you are a guy who is not always the best athlete out there, you need to know how to play the game.”
“Grant Williams has extended his range since college,” Jazz VP of player personnel Walt Perrin said when Williams worked out for the Jazz back in May. That would be key since he’s probably projected to be a “stretch-4” in the NBA. But Williams wasn’t ever really given the chance to show the stretch part for the Vols.
“I don’t know if he’s ever going to be one of the 40 percent 3-point guys. I think he could have shot a lot more of them at Tennessee, but because he could do so many other things…(Tennessee Head Coach) Rick Barnes didn’t want him shooting 3’s,” said Rucker.
Barnes wanted Williams focusing on other parts of his game so that Williams would not rely too much on the 3-point shot. Rucker doesn’t believe Williams will ever rely on when he plays in the NBA, but Williams will have to shoot it since he tops out at 6’7″.
Some mock drafts have the graduating junior going at the latter end of the first round or start of the second round, but Rucker believes he has first round talent.
“Not every team is going to love him, but it takes just one team. And I think one team in that group of 30 will say, ‘I want this guy.’ And I think if he thought he would be a second round pick he would have come back to school.”
Schofield is another guy who is mocked to go late in the first round or early in the second. But Rucker believes he has first round talent.
“You can entrench yourself and make a good living in the NBA being a 3-and-D guy, and Admiral Schofield has the ability to do both of those things when he is a willing defender. Offensively there is no question, he’s got game coming out of his ears.”
Schofield, who is 22-years old, averaged 16.5 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists in his senior season in Knoxville and also shot 41.7% from behind the 3-point arc. Rucker said Schofield improved every season, has a ripped physique, and lives in the gym. And he believed he could even play a little “stretch-4” in the NBA.
“He has played the 4 plenty and he is a tank…and when (Schofield) puts his mind to something he tends to find his way to do it because he is such an obsessive worker.”
That sure sounds like “Jazz DNA” and Schofield’s physique would remind plenty of fans of Karl Malone. Now whether Schofield or Williams skill set fit into Utah’s system and whether Utah would pick either guy at 23 are different matters altogether.