Before working out for the Utah Jazz on Thursday morning at the Zions Bank Basketball Campus, Marial Shayok had a little bit of insider intel.
After transferring from Virginia and sitting out a year, he spent his senior year playing for Iowa State, so he knows Georges Niang and Naz Mitrou-Long a little bit.
“I spoke to Georges a few days ago — he wished me well, said he was proud of me and to keep going, keep working hard. It was good to hear from him. It’s always love,” Shack said after completing his workout. “… Obviously Naz, being from Canada, we have a connection, so we’re pretty close. It’s good to see those guys doing well.”
The Ottawa-born Shayok is now trying to follow his fellow ex-Cyclones to the NBA.
After leaving the Cavaliers, he got more of a chance to show what he’s capable of. As a senior with Iowa State, the 6-foot-6, 198-pounder boosted his scoring by nearly 10 points per game to 18.7, while also contributing 4.9 rebounds per game. He shot 49.6% from the field, and connected on 38.6% of his 5.4 deep attempts per game.
Those efforts led to him being named to a 2019 AP All-American Honorable Mention, and to the All-Big 12 First Team. He was also the Big 12 Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Asked if there was a particular shared trait he liked from Iowa State players, Jazz VP of Player Personnel Walt Perrin initially laughed before giving a serious response.
“I think that they’re pretty well-coached — that coach is on ’em hard. I know they’re gonna play hard,” Perrin said. “And most of ’em have a chip on their shoulder — that’s something we like.”
Shayok was part of the fourth group of players to work out for the Jazz, a collection that this time included Boston College guard Ky Bowman, South Dakota State wing Skyler Flatten, Kansas guard Quentin Grimes, Indiana big Juwan Morgan, and Dayton big Obi Toppin.
Perrin praised Shayok for being the only one among them to shoot the ball well, and said it was good to see him operate off the dribble as well.
“He played hard, he competed. Looks like he’s in pretty good shape, too, ’cause he finished strong,” Perrin added.
For his part, Shayok said he was looking to show off his shooting stroke, and to demonstrate that he knows how to use his body to defend — something he correctly figured the “blue-collar organization” would value.
And while he’s not a candidate to be selected with the team’s 23rd overall selection (Perrin said the workout players to this point largely have been second-round, Summer League, or G League prospects), Shayok said seeing what other recent Iowa State products such as Niang, Mitrou-Long, and Nuggets reserve point guard Monte Morris have done has given him confidence that the league might be in his future, no matter what path it takes to get there.
“It’s huge, because I see them come back, I see the work they put in, and that’s the exact formula I’m trying to follow,” he said. “Follow in their footsteps so I can be at the same level they’re at.”