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Utah Jazz at 2014 NBA Draft: Longshots, second rounders here for pre-draft tests

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As the 2014 NBA Draft gets closer, so too do the numbers of players vying to be selected by the Utah Jazz at any one of three spots. The Jazz currently have the Nos. 5, 23, and 35 picks in the draft--and 12 players, including Weber State star Davion Berry and Stanford center Dwight Powell, are at the Zions Bank Basketball Center on Friday, June 6 to show off what they can do.

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For Berry, who broke out during the Portsmouth Tournament, he is still a long shot to be picked in the second round. That said, this may be his best chance to shine in front of Jazz brass that has seen him play before. Berry headlines a group that includes former Jim Boylen-era Utah Ute Shawn Glover, Thanasis Antetokounmpo (brother of last year’s Milwaukee Bucks lottery pick, Giannis), North Carolina forward James Michael McAdoo, Alabama guard Trevor Releford and Powell.

Powell is the other one to watch here, because he’s currently slated to go at No. 50 in Draft Xpress’ latest Mock Draft published on Thursday, June 5. The main reason that he could be taken by Utah is his size. He’s 6-feet-11-inches and 234 pounds, but unlike some big men he can play either power forward or center, a luxury in today‘s NBA. Another reason he may be Jazz material is his character, evidenced in this interview at the NBA Combine in Chicago recently.

Don’t count out Thanasis, either, because he’s rangy and versatile at 6-6. The knock on him is that despite his impressive physique, he has a long ways to go to gain a basketball IQ and he needs some work on his fundamentals. That he played 50 games in the D-League last season is a plus--so someone may be willing to gamble on him in the second round, which is where Draft Xpress and other mocks have him going.

The other group of six players will also have someone that locals recognize: Utah State center Jarred Shaw. He had an underwhelming year at USU after running afoul of the law and is a long shot to be drafted. Glover also will be in this group, along with draft long shots like Northwestern guard Jerry Crawford, Nevada guard Jerry Evans Jr, Pittsburgh forward Talib Zanna and Michigan State guard Keith Appling.

The one to watch in Shaw’s group will be Arizona State guard Jahii Carson, a 5-foot-11-inch keg of dynamite who can do so many things. He is fast, versatile (he averaged four rebounds and five assists to go with 19 points per game as a senior) and he is unpredictable. If there is anyone to compare him to, you could go with Isaiah Thomas or Nate Robinson. If not for his lack of height he could be a lottery pick.

So it appears that the Jazz are still looking at players they can take with that No. 35 pick in the draft. But you get the sense that they may try to collect more second round picks as the draft with the most promise in decades draws ever so closer.

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