Kenneth Ogbe thought he was literally dreaming.
The 6-foot-7 guard has never experienced someone knocking on his window in the wee hours of the morning. But, his best friend Austin Eastman had no choice. Phone calls went unanswered. Text messages were delivered and not returned. Eastman, a former University of Utah walk-on who is a rising NBA player agent, tried everything but morse code.
He was getting desperate.
“I know how bad Kenneth is with his phone, so after a couple of calls, I figured I had to take it into my own hands and go bang on his window until he woke up,” Eastman told The Salt Lake Tribune via text message on Tuesday afternoon.
The Jazz, with Colorado scoring guard George King having travel issues, needed a replacement for Tuesday’s workout. Ogbe was the man tabbed to participate. And, for the former Ute, who finished his career this past winter at Utah Valley, the Jazz would be his first NBA workout.
“When I found out they needed another guy for the workout, we all knew Kenneth deserved to be there,” Eastman said.
Ogbe finally awakened. He took the quickest shower in history, threw some clothes on and headed to Utah’s Zions Bank practice facility. The entire sequence took about 35 minutes.
Once he was there, Ogbe was given Jazz gear. He got a good stretch in and went through an intense workout with five other hopefuls.
“It was good and competitive,” Ogbe said. “There were a lot of good guys that were there helping me out. So, it was definitely good.”
The best thing for Ogbe? He surprised the Jazz in a good way. Ogbe came to Utah from Germany five years ago as a skinny kid who clearly needed time in the weight room. On Tuesday afternoon, he looked chiseled and ready for a potential pro career.
He shot the ball very well, according to Utah’s VP of Player Personnel Walt Perrin. He arrived in playing shape, which endeared him to the Jazz front office because it showed he was ready to play on short notice. He displayed the athleticism that made him a prized recruit for Utah. He appears to have conquered the health issues that plagued him as a Ute. He acclimated well to the physicality of the workout, multiple blood spots adorning his jersey following the workout.
“Kenneth is intriguing,” Perrin said. “He has a lively body. He played extremely hard, and he shot the ball really well. I went to watch him play during the season and he was hurt, so today was the first time I watched him live. He was a guy that surprised me.”
• Started his career at Utah, where he played for three seasons. Played two seasons at Utah Valley.
• Is a native of Germany, and grew up a fan of Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio.
• He is a 6-foot-7 guard, who is capable of playing both wing positions.
Was Tuesday’s showing enough to put Ogbe on Utah’s radar for draft night? Probably not. But, it may have been enough to get him a look at a spot on the Jazz summer league roster.
And, for Ogbe, all he wants is an opportunity.
His time at Utah was uneven, as he was plagued by health issues and inconsistent play, despite his massive potential. Some of that, Ogbe put on himself. He said he didn’t take care of his body the way he needed to as a Ute. And some of that inattention contributed to his myriad of injuries.
But, Ogbe had a good two years at Utah Valley. He averaged 13.7 points as a senior, while turning himself into a 42 percent 3-point shooter. He’s a versatile guard, capable of playing multiple positions. He’s always been a good defender with his length and athleticism. And now that he’s physically stronger, he feels like he’s ready for the pro game.
“It’s a huge opportunity,” Ogbe said. “I’m a huge Jazz fan, so it’s an honor to be here and work out with the guys. I learned a lot from the guys and learned a lot from the coaches, so I’m really happy.”
JAZZ WORKOUT PARTICIPANTS
Kenneth Ogbe, 6-7 guard, Utah Valley.
Jock Landale, 6-11 center, Saint Mary’s.
Caleb Martin, 6-7 guard, Nevada.
Trevon Bluiett, 6-6 guard, Xavier.
Dwight Coleby, 6-9 power forward, Western Kentucky.
Jaylen Barford, 6-2 guard, Arkansas.