Having not hired an agent, Utah State's Jaycee Carroll may opt out of the draft
LOGAN - Seven weeks after declaring for the NBA draft, Jaycee Carroll can't help but feel like it's his senior year of high school all over again, when he was waiting and wondering if the letters and phone calls from college coaches ever would add up to a scholarship offer.
Back then, Carroll was small-town star from the basketball outpost of Evanston, Wyo., already ticketed for an LDS Church mission in Chile after graduation. It was only at Utah State that Carroll was able to find a program willing to take a chance on him.
Now Carroll can't help but find himself in a similar situation, trying to convince NBA teams to take a look at a 6-foot-2, 175-pound - and most significantly, 24-year-old - junior guard who led the WAC in scoring but is a forgone conclusion to return to school.
All along, Carroll is trying to remind himself of the same thing he did in high school. "I don't need to convince everyone in the NBA that I can play," Carroll said. "I just have to have one person think I can play and give me the opportunity."
By not signing with an agent, Carroll can withdraw from the draft by June 18 without compromising his final year of eligibility. He's had four teams express interest in bringing him in for a workout but has yet to receive a firm commitment on a date.
"From what it sounds like, they'll just kind of call and be like, 'Be here in two days,' and I'll just make arrangements and go," said Carroll, who averaged 21.3 points last season. "I hope that happens. I hope I get called tomorrow and I need to be on a plane the next day."
It's all about getting experience and exposure for Carroll. If he doesn't get the chance to work out for an NBA team, he said, "I won't be devastated. A little disappointed. But life will go on and I'll get ready for my basketball season here at Utah State."
A total of 58 underclassmen declared for the draft and at least 23 are in a similar position as Carroll in not having signed with an agent. Aggies coach Stew Morrill has handled the process of talking to teams on Carroll's behalf.
What Carroll's heard is Detroit, Golden State and Utah all want to bring him in for a workout, the Jazz possibly this week. Milwaukee is a fourth possibility. Just getting on the radar of one team heading back for his senior season could boost his future NBA prospects.
"I need to go and I need to have a good workout somewhere," said Carroll, who declared for the draft on April 23. "That'd make the whole thing worth it. If I can get one workout, it'd make it worth it."
In the meantime, Carroll has remained firmly in the Utah State universe. He finished summer school Friday, taking classes in mental aspects of sports and Latin American literature. His afternoons are spent on the court taking some 500 shots a day as part of his workouts.
Carroll also waited much of May for word if he would be invited to the NBA's predraft camp in Orlando, Fla., only to learn he wasn't selected. Now the biggest challenge for Carroll is simply the calendar.
In the past, NBA teams could bring in players for workouts throughout May. This year, the league moved the first day for workouts back to June 5. That forces teams to give top priority to players who aren't headed back to school.
In addition, Carroll would have to pay any costs associated with working out for teams. His father, Jerry Carroll, said the family got offers from locals in Evanston to help pay for plane tickets and hotels but had to politely decline because of NCAA rules.
"For us, it's a huge learning experience," said Jerry Carroll, who now has a fax number for NBA commissioner David Stern's office.
Because he still has eligibility remaining, NBA teams are prohibited from commenting on Carroll.
Carroll said from the beginning that he would return to Utah State unless he was going to be a first-round pick, which brings with it a guaranteed contract. In his case, declaring for the draft without signing with an agent was a no-lose situation.
"I think it provides opportunities for guys at smaller schools," Carroll said, "that had pretty good junior seasons but don't get quite the national exposure because they're not in the Big Ten or the Big 12. It helps them make a name for themself during the summer."
Morrill has been told that Carroll's name has appeared on draft boards across the league and his game has been dissected by several general managers. "All that stuff is good for his future that they're potentially more aware of him," Morrill said.
Even if the NBA doesn't come calling this summer, it could in the future. Carroll is as close to an automatic shooter as there is. He has made 45.2 percent of his career three-pointers at Utah State and has set a goal of shooting 52 percent from beyond the arc this season.
Carroll was the nation's 10th-leading scorer last season, scored 44 points in a February victory over New Mexico State and helped lead the Aggies to the WAC tournament title game.
"What I've always heard NBA guys say is it helps to do one thing well," Morrill said, "whether it's rebounding or defending or shooting. Jaycee Carroll can score. He can put the ball in the basket. That seems to be what's attracts most [teams] to him."
When he looks at himself, Carroll thinks he can develop into a player like Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich. Nobody questions his shooting, but Carroll would have to develop his ball-handling in order to play both guard spots (like Hinrich) at the NBA level.
"It would have to be something that someone thought they could teach me or they thought I could handle," Carroll said. "I think I could handle it but you have to convince the right people."
While shooting guards in the NBA can run 6-foot-6 and taller, Carroll believes he matches up better against bigger guards. The biggest question might come with Carroll already 24 years old, an age by which many NBA players already have established themselves.
"I'm still just 22 at heart," said Carroll, who barely picked up a basketball during his two-year mission.
What Carroll mostly wants to know is how far he is from being NBA-ready. He played against Brandon Roy, Salim Stoudamire and Paul Millsap during their college careers. Now that all three are in the NBA, Carroll can't help but wonder if there's a spot for him as well.
"We're getting down there to where it's: Are you going to achieve your goal or not?" Carroll said. "When I was little, I used to always say I wanted to play in the NBA. Here in the next few years it's going to be a big letdown or pretty exciting. One or the other."
On the court: Is nine points shy of becoming the 32nd player in school history to score 1,000 points. Ranks fifth all-time at Utah State in three-pointers made (172). Is USU's all-time leader in three-point shooting at 46.2 percent.
Personal: Served a two-year LDS Church mission in Chile.
June 18: NBA draft early entry entrant withdrawal deadline
June 28: NBA draft, New York
Year Player Pick From
2005 Andrew Bogut 1 Utah
2004 Rafael Araujo 8 BYU
2003 Travis Hansen 37 BYU
2000 Hanno Möttöl 40 Utah
1999 Andre Miller 8 Utah
1998 Michael Doleac 12 Utah
1997 Keith Van Horn 2 Utah
1993 Shawn Bradley 2 BYU
1993 Josh Grant 43 Utah
1993 Byron Wilson 54 Utah
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