If they’d made different choices, John Lucas III and Gordon Hayward might be focusing on a different kind of baseline attack.
Both Jazz players were high school tennis stars, Hayward in Indiana, and Lucas in Texas, where he made his way to nationals as an 18-year-old.
“Right out of high school, I was really thinking of not going to college and just going straight on the circuit,” the point guard Lucas said.
On Tuesday, both players had a chance to pick up their rackets and play with some of their childhood heroes. The PowerShares Series Tennis Champions Challenge brought Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Jim Courier and James Blake to EnergySolutions Arena. Lucas was able to hit with McEnroe before the event and both players took the court at one point and returned Courier serves, trying to hit targets.
“I hit one of the targets,” Hayward said. “That’s all I was hoping for.”
The evening sparked a little talk of competition between teammates, too.
“We definitely need to play,” Hayward said. “And for the record, [Lucas] didn’t hit any of the targets.”
Lucas, however, remains confident enough to wager on himself.
“He hit a target,” Lucas said. “I have placement in where I put the ball. I would have Gordon on the run. He’d be out of shape. … I’ll put my money up.”
Guard Alec Burks’ scoring burst of late had point guard Trey Burke nearly forgetting Burks was coming off the bench. The backup guard was averaging better than 20 points per game over his last six coming into Wednesday’s matchup with the Suns.
“He gives us that spark we need,” Burke said.
The Jazz begin their longest road trip of the year on Friday. The six-game tour will take them to Cleveland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Washington D.C., New York and Philadelphia.