Alex Barcello woke up at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday to have a conversation with his fiancé, Zoe Simpson. The two have done that often lately as the former BYU men’s basketball star has been making the rounds around the NBA and participating in pre-draft workouts with several teams.
“It definitely has taken an emotional toll on us,” Barcello said. “I’m so thankful for her and for people like that around me that can help just keep me motivated. That’s why I do this. That’s why I’m doing this. Hopefully I can make it to this league on one of these teams and just continue to grow from there.”
Barcello worked out for the Utah Jazz on Tuesday as one of six players the team hosted. Former Utah State and Weber State standout Koby McEwen also worked out with the Jazz.
The Jazz are the fifth NBA team for which Barcello has worked out. The others were the Sacramento Kings, Washington Wizards, Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs.
The Jazz don’t currently have a draft pick in this year’s draft. But for Barcello, he’s simply trying to work hard enough for any team to give him a chance. And he’s realistic about his current draft stock.
“Realistically, I’m probably not a lottery [pick],” Barcello said. “I’m going to have to work hard and earn everything that I get. I know that.
“I’ve never been handed anything my entire life, so I think I’m in the perfect spot to show what I got because I’ve always had to prove myself wherever I went and at whatever level that was that. So why not do it here at the highest level?”
Barcello said he has been trying to improve the pace at which he plays and controlling the tempo when he has the ball. Defensively, he’s trying to stay active in the passing lanes by deflecting passes, and working on how disruptive he can be as an on-ball defender.
While he is not a native of Utah, working out for the Jazz does hold some special significance to him.
“It means the world to me just because I have a lot of people here that I love in Utah,” Barcello said. “It feels good to be back here near the mountains.”
When asked what Barcello has learned about himself through the pre-draft process, his answer seemed to indicate that he’s developed a chip on his shoulder.
“I will never let anybody tell me that I can’t do something,” Barcello said. “I’m going to go prove it. ... I’m that guy that’s going to bring toughness every day. I’m going to bring energy, I’m going to bring a positive spirit and I’m going to work hard.”
Barcello transferred to BYU from Arizona after two seasons with the Wildcats. In his final year with the Cougars, he averaged 16.8 points and 3.3 assists while shooting 42.1% from the 3-point line.
Other players the Jazz worked out Tuesday were Noah Kirkwood off Harvard, Au’Diese Toney of Arkansas, Kofi Cockburn of Illinois and Amadou Sow of the University of California-Santa Barbara.
Cockburn, who spoke with local media, is 7-foot, 285 pounds and is a more traditional big man. In his final season with Illinois, he averaged 20.9 points and 10.6 rebounds and shot 59.3% from the field. He did not attempt a single 3-pointer.
Cockburn considers himself “a really great inside presence” and someone who can finish through contact and can be a threat in the pick-and-roll. He doesn’t think his lack of outside shooting will hinder him in the NBA.
“Obviously the stereotype is there about big guys not being able to play now unless they can shoot or whatever,” Cockburn said. “But I feel like every team has that one guy that brings that physical presence both on defense and offense.”