Bryant shares court space with Jazz

By Chris Kamrani

It turns out, former Ute sharpshooter and team captain Johnnie Bryant has some basketball left to be played.

A week ago, the Runnin’ Utes’ second-leading scorer from last season participated in a pre-draft workout for the Utah Jazz. The Jazz own the No. 23 pick in this year’s draft, and the main attraction at the workout was Georgetown center and probable first-round pick Roy Hibbert. Hibbert, the starting 7-foot-2 center for the Hoyas averaged 13.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game last season.

The recent graduate Bryant finished the second of his two degrees from the U-one in human development and family studies and the other in sports management.

It seems the latter will factor into Bryant’s professional future.

“I want to be an agent,” Bryant said. “That is my ultimate goal when I am done playing basketball.”

“J.B.” was brought in as a point guard to help the Jazz run their archetypal UCLA offensive sets with Hibbert that features multiple pick-and-rolls among other things.

“We did a lot of pick-and-roll stuff, shooting off screens and stuff like that,” Bryant said.

Although Bryant was more of a traditional pure scoring guard during his career at the U, he was pretty excited to get to run drills with one of the nation’s premier big men.

“(Hibbert’s) great,” Bryant said. “He has great hands and picks things up really well. I think he will have a great future in the NBA.”

As for Bryant, the Oakland, Calif., native has always been seen as a leader when it comes to basketball. Before head coach Jim Boylen arrived last year, Bryant was the starting point guard under Ray Giacoletti. Once Boylen was able to scout his team, he realized that Bryant would best be utilized off the bench as a sixth man.

The move certainly paid off for the Utes.

On Jan. 28, Bryant broke the team record for 3-point shots made in a single game against the TCU Horned Frogs. Bryant sunk eight 3s in that game, and his 24 points all came off of treys.

After that game, Boylen complimented Bryant and cemented him with other top players in college basketball.

“That’s what we can do as well as anyone in the country,” Boylen said.

His leadership and class on and off the court were also shown when he worked out for the Jazz at their Zion’s Bank practice facility. He brushed off questions regarding his own possible future in professional basketball.

“I’m just here, ya know, to work out,” Bryant said. “When (the Jazz) need me, I’ll come in and workout and help push guys. I’ll just come out here and be of assistance to them.”

Although the Jazz are expected to draft a defensive-minded big-man to complement their offensive essentials in Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur, Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor has not ruled out drafting a guard or small forward.

“We are going to look at somebody that we think would be the best player for the Jazz,” O’Connor said. “If we feel like it is somebody that stands above everybody else at that pick, then we are going to take it.”

At least a few mock drafts have Hibbert going to the Jazz at the 23rd pick. ESPN NBA analyst Chad Ford has had Hibbert going to the Jazz in each of his first four separate mock drafts.

Ford’s blurb on the Jazz stated, “It didn’t come as a huge surprise when Hibbert was among the first players to work out in Utah. The Jazz need size, and Hibbert needs a team that excels in the half-court set. Hibbert would be a great fit in Utah.”

Although the Hoya big-man was the epicenter for the workout, Bryant relished the opportunity to get in some practice time with an NBA organization.

When asked if he would savor the opportunity to be invited to a summer league team, Bryant responded, “Yeah, that would be great, but we’ll see what happens.”

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Tyler Cobb

Utes point guard Johnnie Bryant and Georgetown center Roy Hibbert participated in a pre draft work out for the Utah Jazz last week.