When one looks at Jaycee Carroll, it becomes easy to tell why he's not considered the ideal professional prospect. He's listed at 6-2, which is generous at best. He's been a shooting guard for most of his life, which makes him quite undersized. He's got a baby face that makes him look like a teenager and belies his highly competitive nature.
But it's the competitor in him that's made the former Utah State star such a great player over the years. You want to tell him he's strictly a shooter? He'll prove to you that he can go by you off the dribble and score in the lane. You doubt that he can play the point? He'll set his teammates up with the best of them.
Those are some of the things that Carroll's done in his first two summer leagues, professional auditions that
will ultimately define his worth as a pro.
This afternoon, playing for the New Jersey Nets, Carroll will experience a homecoming of sorts, making his debut at the Rocky Mountain Revue when the Nets face off against the Golden State Warriors at 2:15 p.m.
"I definitely thought I could be effective as a pro," Carroll said. "So far, I've shown in Orlando that I can get by people and make them foul me. I did the same thing in Vegas. This is something that I've done all my life, at every level. It's just another group of people that I have to prove myself to."
His play in Orlando earned him a second team all-tournament selection. For the week, he averaged 13.6 points per game, third on the team behind Chris Douglas-Roberts and Brook Lopez. He also averaged 3.2 assists and 2.1 steals per game.
The week showed a diversity to Carroll's game that few thought he had, which is a primary reason that he went unselected in last month's NBA Draft.
But as time went on, the Nets started to see that Carroll's the definition of a sleeper. He was a great player at USU, but he never got the exposure that other players around the country received.
He was invited to Portsmouth, which has become a second tier pre-draft camp, but didn't get an invite to the Orlando camp, which is heavily attended by NBA scouts.
Eleven teams, including the Nets, worked him out, but even the Nets didn't know what they really had until he stepped onto the court.
"He played very well in Orlando," said Rod Thorn, the Nets' president and general manager. "He got into the lane off the dribble, which was impressive. He got his shots off quickly, and he plays hard all the time. He makes these runners in the lane that remind you of Steve Nash. We played him a lot at point guard because we wanted to see what he could do running a club. There aren't a whole bunch of 6-2 shooting guards in the league, so Jaycee has to become a combo type of guard in order to enhance his career."
When asked if there was a chance for Carroll to be invited to fall training camp, Thorn said that the possibility was strong.
When asked about what surprised Thorn the most, he responded by saying that Carroll's game was more rounded than the team thought.
"We always knew that he could shoot," Thorn said. "He did very well when we worked him out. But he's more than just a shooter."
Of course, his jump shot, ultimately, is Carroll's money-maker. He's got an NBA-level shot and the ability to get it off. That's why the Web site nbadraft.net compared Carroll to Craig Hodges, the former Chicago Bull who served as a three-point specialist for so many years.
"It's definitely taken some work," Carroll said of his transition to point guard. "I've worked on it a lot since the [college] season ended. I wanted to have a point guard mind-set. It's a good thing that the teams that have shown interest don't want just a straight point guard. They want someone that's going to make shots, and that's been a nice mix."
* NOON: Dallas vs. San Antonio
* 2:15 P.M.: New Jersey vs. Golden State
* 4:30 P.M.: D-League Ambassadors vs. Atlanta
* 7 P.M.: Iranian national team
* Second team all-tournament at the Orlando Pro Summer League
* 13.6 points per game
* 47.9 percent from the field
* 80 percent from the foul line
* Started two of the five games
* Shot 50 percent from the three-point line
* Averaged 3.2 assists per game