Utah Jazz’s latest predraft workouts highlighted by crazy energy from Georgia Tech’s Jordan Usher

The team brings in 12 more prospects over two sessions on Thursday. Loyola-Chicago’s Lucas Williamson and Texas Tech’s Adonis Arms also share their thoughts on what they can offer.

Georgia Tech guard/forward Jordan Usher, right, drives to the basket over Syracuse forward Jimmy Boeheim during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Syracuse, N.Y., Monday, Feb. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Thursday saw the Utah Jazz double their previous number of predraft workouts and prospects visiting Salt Lake City, as the team hosted two sessions featuring 12 total players.

In the morning session, the Jazz worked out Texas Tech guard Adonis Arms, St. John’s wing Julian Champagnie, Kentucky guard Kellan Grady, Mississippi State guard Iverson Molinar, Arkansas wing Stanley Umude, and Loyola-Chicago guard Lucas Williamson.

The afternoon workout featured Michigan guard Eli Brooks, Illinois guard Austin Hutcherson, Miami (Fla.) guards Kameron McGusty and Charlie Moore, Bowling Green State wing Daeqwon Plowden, and Georgia Tech wing Jordan Usher.

The team previously had draft workouts on Thursday, May 26 and on Sunday, May 29, which featured six players apiece.

After the workouts, Arms, Williamson, and Usher addressed Salt Lake City-based media in Zoom interviews.

Usher is a 6-foot-7, 213-pound Swiss Army knife of a player who played his first two collegiate seasons at USC before finishing at Georgia Tech. With the Yellow Jackets, he became renowned for his ability to switch 1 through 5, defending opposing point guards and centers equally well.

As a senior, he averaged 14.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He’s also made substantial progress in his shooting, going from 20.5% on 3s as a redshirt sophomore to 34.2% as a senior.

He also brought some off-the-charts energy to his media session.

Asked if he felt like he was being overlooked in the draft process, he replied: “I mean, yeah. I’m from Atlanta, I’m from the South — I got a chip on my shoulder all the time! I’ve always been underestimated. I wasn’t the highest-touted kid coming out of middle school, high school, college, whatever, but I stayed down for a long time to come up in a great way. God’s gonna shine his light on me on the right time!”

When a question came about how he would sell himself to NBA front offices to get them to take a chance on him, he rattled off in rapid-fire fashion: “I’m a tanker. I’m blue-collar. I’m from the country. I’ll put it down in a genuine way. I give energy. I’m a good, high-character young man. I’m a winner. You take a chance on Usher, I’m not going to fail you, I promise you that.”

Defensively, he described himself as “a good soldier” who follows the game plan and who likes taking on the burden of trying to stop opposing scorers: “I want to be able to guard the best player, be able to guard the biggest player, the fastest player. That’s something I take pride in.”

He attributed his improved shooting numbers to developing confidence in his shot, and cutting way down on too-quick off-the-bounce 3s, while now waiting patiently to get swing-swing open looks.

His closing thoughts on being competitive and how he views himself as an athlete stood out as well. At the end of their workouts, the Jazz test players’ conditioning in a drill in which they have to run the length of the court six times, with a layup at the end of each trip; guards get 32 seconds to do it, bigs get 34.

“They tried to put 34 seconds on me ’cause they had me down as a big man. I told them to put it back down to 32 with the rest of the guards, ’cause I’m not a ‘big man’ — I do everything,” Usher said. “I don’t need the extra two seconds. I appreciate the courtesy, though.”

Williamson is a 6-4, 205-pounder known for being a defensive pest. The 23-year-old spent five years in the Ramblers program, averaging 13.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.3 steals as a senior, while shooting 39.0% on 5.7 tries beyond the arc per game. His individual defensive rating was never higher than the 96.2 he posted as a true freshman.

He said that players he models his game after include Marcus Smart, Alex Caruso, and Jrue Holiday.

“I’ve been a defensive-minded guy my whole career, so it’s just translating that to the pro level,” Williamson said. “And then offensively, a lot of teams have talked about me being more of a point guard — a transition that I’m willing to make. Trying to become a two-way player, somebody that can guard on defense and then make plays offensively.”

Off the court, he’s spending his free time watching season 4 of “Stranger Things” and the new Disney+ series “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” noting, ”I’m a big ‘Star Wars’ guy.”

Williamson also co-wrote and narrated a movie called “The Loyola Project” about the Loyola-Chicago team that won the NCAA basketball championship in 1963, and which was the first program to ignore an unofficial rule about not playing more than two Black players at a time.

Arms, meanwhile, is a 6-6, 205-pound combo guard who had a well-traveled collegiate career (Mesa Community College, Division II Northwest Nazarene, Winthrop, Texas Tech), and somewhat ironically listed the highlight of his predraft process thus far as “traveling from city to city, being on airplanes and stuff.”

He averaged 8.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game last year for the Red Raiders, citing “feel for the game” as his strength, while acknowledging that the 32.6% he shot from 3-point range needs work.

“Shooting is really going to be the hardest thing to get the most progress in,” Arms said. “But I think Steph Curry said it, ‘Shooting’s boring,’ but he’s the greatest shooter of all time, so I got to keep shooting, got to keep working. And that’s just who I’ve been my whole life.”