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Eaton knew of Utah’s interest in him, but when the Jazz used two third-round picks on Louisville’s Jerry Eaves and BYU’s Steve Trumbo, he was "pretty disappointed."
Because teams in Israel and Monte Carlo had also contacted him, Eaton suddenly wondered if basketball would take him overseas.
The best players who were drafted beyond the first round by the Utah Jazz. Note: The draft went from 10 rounds to seven in 1985, from seven rounds to three in 1988 and from three rounds to two in 1989:
1982 » Mark Eaton, fourth round (No. 72)
1983 » Bobby Hansen, third round (No. 54)
1985 » Delaney Rudd, fourth round (No. 83)
1991 » Ike Austin, second round (No. 48)
1993 » Bryon Russell, second round (No. 45)
1996 » Shandon Anderson, second round (No. 54)
2001 » Jarron Collins, second round (No. 53)
2003 » Mo Williams, second round (No. 47)
2005 » C.J. Miles, second round (No. 34)
2006 » Paul Millsap, second round (No. 47)
2010 » Jeremy Evans, second round (No. 55)
He got his answer about an hour later, however, when the Jazz drafted him in the fourth round.
"Frank sent me a telegram," Eaton said. "I still have it hanging on my wall."
The NBA did not have a rookie salary scale in place at the time, so Utah’s next order of business was signing Eaton.
A deal was struck poolside at the Marriott Hotel near Los Angeles International Airport.
Utah offered a five-year contract, with the first season’s salary of $45,000 guaranteed. The next two years were partially guaranteed. The contract was also loaded with production-based incentives.
"They knew it would take a little work to get me up to speed," Eaton said. "But they were willing to guarantee the first year, which meant I wouldn’t be looking for a job in December."
Said Layden: "I told Mark, ‘We’ll guarantee you some money if you come in, work hard and do what we ask.’ ... I liked him as a person, and I liked the fact he was hungry."
For the next decade, Eaton anchored the Jazz defense. He played in the 1989 All-Star Game with teammates John Stockton and Karl Malone and was the first player Utah picked beyond the first round to thrive in the NBA.
"I wasn’t looking to be a trend-setter," Eaton said. "I was just looking for a job."
Said assistant coach Scott Layden: "Our greatest success here — when our franchise began to get real credibility — was when Mark Eaton came on the scene.
"Everybody thinks of the Malone and Stockton years, but Mark Eaton made this a legitimate, respected franchise because of his defensive presence."
A year later, the Jazz struck again.
While watching tape of Purdue’s Joe Barry Carroll, who eventually became the No. 1 pick in 1983, Layden noticed Iowa shooting guard Bobby Hansen.
"He was supposed to have a bad foot; he was supposed to be this and that," Frank Layden said. "But I said, ‘Gee, this kid plays hard. He hustles. If he is still there in the later rounds, let’s take him.’ "
The Jazz took Hansen in the third round. He spent seven years in Utah, started 297 games and, after being traded, eventually won a championship with Chicago in 1992.
"You can always say we were lucky with those guys, and that’s partly true," Frank Layden said. "But it’s not all luck. It’s hard work and preparation, too."
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