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Jazz hopeful Bost looks to avoid return to Boise

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Florida's Scottie Wilbekin (5) puts the pressure on Mississippi State's Dee Bost (3) with Mississippi State's coach Rick Stamsbury, right, watching from the sidelines during the first second of an NCAA college basketball game in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012. Florida took the win from Mississippi State with a score of 69-57. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

By Aaron Falk

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Aug 23 2014 10:44AM
Updated Aug 23, 2014 11:04PM

There is a steep road near Dee Bost’s home in North Carolina, where he has spent his summer working out at his old high school, and he runs up it every day.

"It goes straight up," says Bost, the 24-year-old point guard. "It’s tough. I’m just trying to get my mind and body ready for Utah."

Here, he knows, another uphill battle awaits.

With a month still to go before training camp begins, the Jazz have already started filling their fall roster, inking Bost and former Notre Dame standout Jack Cooley to deals last week. With 13 guaranteed contracts already in place, finding a spot on the crowded roster won’t be an easy task.

But all Bost wants is a chance — and Jazz officials say he’ll get it.

"The last roster spot will more than likely, unless something unusual comes up, we’ll keep that open for competition. And maybe the 14th spot," said Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey. "We’ll create an atmosphere of competition. We think that’s a good thing."

Bost knows the odds are stacked against him, especially with Trey Burke and Dante Exum, two young and talented point guards, already atop the depth chart.

"But I feel I do have a chance to make the team, no matter who they bring in," he said.

The alternative is a return to Boise, where he spent last year with the Idaho Stampede.

The Jazz’s new hybrid affiliation with the team should keep an open pipeline between the big leagues and the D-League, where Bost and others would develop in a simulated Jazz system.

"Obviously coach [Quin] Snyder was very clear that I would be an extension of his staff. We would play the same style, use the same language. There are always some adjustments because the skills of the players are different, or the skill sets themselves are different," new Stampede coach Dean Cooper said "A big part of what I need to do, especially when we get assigned a player from Utah, is work on whatever part of their game they need to work on and get them ready to go back to Salt Lake and contribute to the Jazz."

The new arrangement intrigued Bost "a little bit."

"At the same time, my goal is to be on an NBA roster without having to spend the whole year in the D-league," he said.

After falling to make the Trail Blazer’s 15-man roster last fall, Bost landed in Idaho and quickly turned into one of the D-League’s best players, averaging better than 15 points, eight rebounds, six assists en route to a D-League All-Star selection.

Bost must get his turnovers in check (he averaged 3.2 per game for the Stampede last season) and improve his jump shooting (36 percent from the field). But his transition to becoming a "pass-first point guard" especially caught the attention of Jazz officials, Lindsey said.

For Bost, it was something of a new role.

"Last year was probably the first year I became a true point guard," he said. "I was looking to set guys up. In college, I spent a lot of time scoring and shooting.

"I felt like last year was the first year going down and running the team."

Bost was one of about 20 free agents who were invited to a Jazz mini-camp in June, Bost’s second workout for the Jazz. The point guard said he felt good about his performance in front of Utah officials.

"I think that was probably one of the best camps I had this summer," he said. "I was coming in being vocal and being a leader on the floor. There were a bunch of guys in there, a lot of random guys, and I felt like a leader."

The performance helped earn him a three-year deal with the Jazz.

For former Stampede coach Mike Peck, the deal is the shot at the NBA he was surprised Bost didn’t receive during last season.

"Especially early on, I kind of thought after getting off to the good start we had and the way he was playing coming out of camp with Portland, I honestly though he did as much as he could do to at least earn a 10-day with somebody, somewhere," Peck said. "But I’m not in the front office of those NBA teams."

Still, only a small part of Bost’s deal is guaranteed, sources said the guard faces unfavorable odds and a return to Idaho could be in his future.

Should Bost find himself back in Boise, Peck’s advice to his former player would be the same thing he told him last year.

"I think in today’s game and society everything is so now. I want it now. If I don’t get it now I’m moving on," Peck said. "My whole message to our guys is just stay the course. Have that stick-to-itiveness where you hunker down. It may not happen today, tomorrow, in a month. It may not happen this season. That’s OK. It takes time. It will happen.

"His production and performance clearly shows he belongs. To get a shot and an opportunity is obviously the goal for anybody. Dee is clearly on that path."

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