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Aaron Falk, Tony Jones and Steve Luhm cover the Utah Jazz and the NBA for The Salt Lake Tribune. The Tribune on Twitter - Aaron Falk: @tribjazz, Steve Luhm: @sluhm, Tony Jones: @Tjonessltrib

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Iowa State's Melvin Ejim hopes 'the people of Utah' have forgiven him for giving BYU fans the middle finger

With Iowa State up late in the second half at BYU last November, Iowa State's Mevlin Ejim headed to the bench with five fouls. The Cyclones' forward then stood up and gave the Cougar student section the bird.

Ejim hopes his middle finger isn't his lasting impression in the Beehive State.

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"I didn't want to say anything, but I hope the people of Utah have forgiven me," Ejim said on Tuesday, after working out for the Utah Jazz. "That's in the past. It was something that happened. I apologize for it and moved on. Even after that situation, a lot of BYU fans forgave me and were great about it. I've put that in the past."

Jazz Vice President of Player Personnel Walt Perrin says the franchise won't hold that against the 6-foot-6 Ejim.

But the forward still has a ways to go to prove he belongs in the NBA.

"One of the knocks on me is that I can't shoot that well," Ejim said. "I'm just going out there to shoot the best I can, show that I can shoot the NBA 3 consistently and I can be a knock-down shooter as well."

Ejim, the 2014 Big 12 Player of the Year, averaged 17.8 points and 8.4 rebounds a game last year for Iowa State, where he said coach Fred Hoiberg helped prepare him to jump to the pro level.

"He really urges spacing," Ejim said. "A lot of the concepts that they use here defensively or offensively, it's stuff we used throughout the year. He definitely prepares guys."

But could Hoiberg, whose name is often associated with NBA coaching vacancies, soon make the leap to the pro level himself?

"I don't know," Ejim said. "It's tough. I think he has a great thing going at Iowa State and it's only going to get better. But I think he has some great opportunities in the NBA. That's a decision for him and his family to make. I would love to see him as an NBA coach. But I love seeing him as a college coach. It's his decision. Either way, he's going to have success."

— Aaron Falk

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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