Jazz work out a unique group in first session since draft withdrawal deadline

Tennessee's Admiral Schofield (5) drives past Colgate's Will Rayman (10) in the first half of a first-round game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament in Columbus, Ohio, Friday, March 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

Friday morning marked the Jazz’s first prospects workout since the passing of the deadline to withdraw from the NBA Draft, and the group they brought in proved a talented if eclectic bunch, highlighted by Virginia guard Ty Jerome, Tennessee’s Admiral Schofield and former prep/AAU standout-turned-Sydney Kings signee Brian Bowen II.

Jerome, a 6-foot-5, 195-pound point guard, helped lead the Cavaliers to the national championship as a junior, averaging 13.6 points, 5.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds on the season, numbers that improved to 20.3 points, 7.0 assists and 6.7 rebounds over Virginia’s last three NCAA Tournament games.

A New York City native, he pointed out that he grew up playing on the same AAU team as Jazz star Donovan Mitchell from the ages of about 7 to 12, and that they competed against each other in ACC competition when he was a freshman and Mitchell was a sophomore at Louisville.

“Even when we were 8, 9 years old, he was always a freak athlete — get up the court in like four dribbles at 8 years old,” Jerome said. “… I remember, we were like 10, he had, like, a size-13 shoe. He was always different athletically.”

Jerome doesn’t have that same ability, but he does have a sweet shooting stroke (he hit just under 40% from deep in each of his collegiate seasons), which Walt Perrin, the Jazz’s Vice President of Player Personnel, praised him for. Perrin also mentioned his court smarts, noting, “his basketball IQ is really high, passing ability’s extremely high, also.”

Schofield, meanwhile, is a physical specimen on the perimeter, at 6-6 and 241, and Perrin pointed out that “his body will translate to the NBA, his strength.” In four years with the Volunteers, he boosted his 3-point shooting from a pedestrian 30.1% to an outstanding 41.8%.

And while he didn’t shoot it as well as he would have liked Friday — “The elevation is serious!” he said with a smile — he’s confident Utah’s brass know he’s capable there, and was more interested in proving he’s not a defensive liability on the perimeter, anyway.

Though Perrin shrugged off a comparison to the Jazz’s Jae Crowder, Schofield lit up at the suggestion.

“I want to be a junkyard dog, be able to guard multiple positions and knock down open shots,” he said. “… It’s not about positions, it’s not about playing time, it’s just about coming in and affecting winning, and however I can do that.”

As for Bowen, he is perhaps best known right now for his role in an NCAA recruiting scandal, for being ineligible to play at Louisville following allegations that the program paid his family in exchange for his commitment.

The former Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year worked out for the Jazz a year ago before ultimately heading to Australia’s NBL and learning the pro game with the Sydney Kings. Asked if it hurt to see many of his high school contemporaries now considered surefire first-round picks while he labors to rebuild his reputation and his stock, he said he wasn’t going to complain.

“I had to come to the mindset that everybody has a different journey, and I had to learn that the fast way and the hard way,” said Bowen (6-7, 190). “Not really looking at that — looking towards my future instead of the past, really, is my biggest thing, and trying to control my own destiny.”

He said that since visiting Utah a year ago, he’s improved his body, his shooting form and his confidence. Perrin said there was also a jump in his maturity and skill level.

“Being in Australia, they did not expect him to do hardly anything his first year down there, but he showed he had some ability, he played hard, he listened to the coaches, he did what they wanted, he competed — defensively and offensively, he was a very good rebounder down there,” Perrin said. “He played himself into getting more minutes down in Australia. We saw some things that we like about him.”

Friday’s workout also included Michigan guard Jordan Poole, Mississippi State’s Quinndary Weatherspoon and Houston’s Armoni Brooks.