Re: The sure to be epic 2013 Jazz off-season!
In the build-up to draft day, Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum has frequently drawn comparisons to Rookie of the Year and former Weber State star Damian Lillard. On Wednesday, the Utah Jazz enlisted the help of someone who should know.
"They have similar games," said Lillardís former teammate Scott Bamforth. "I think Dame handles the ball a little bit more, but I think they have similar games."
The Jazz worked out both McCollum, a projected lottery pick, and Bamforth, a fringe NBA prospect, but the focus was squarely on the heralded guard out of the Patriot League. The Jazz have no point guards under contract and with the Nos. 14 and 21 picks in the first round are heavily expected to emerge from draft day with at least one point guard.
McCollum, a combo guard who played in only 11 games last year at Lehigh, did his part to assuage any concerns over whether he could play point guard in the NBA.
"Absolutely," he said. "I feel like Iím going to."
The 21-year-old said he saw the Jazz as a good fit and called the culture "perfect for me."
"I feel like Iíd thrive in an environment like this," he said. "Just because itís more laid-back, kind of like Lehigh, where itís not too much to do but at the same time itís a very good community and itís the only show in town."
Most mock drafts project McCollum to go several picks higher than the Jazzís first selection, which could mean that the Jazz would need to trade up if he was their target.
McCollum has also worked out for Orlando, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Sacramento and Portland, where he said he thought he would be able to complement Lillardís game. On Wednesday, he said he liked the comparison to the Rookie of the Year who, like McCollum, burst onto the scene after playing four years at a small school.
"I see a lot of different similarities," McCollum said. "Weíre both very poised, we both have an ability to knock down a lot of shots in a hurry."
In four years at Lehigh, McCollum averaged 21.7 points and 6.1 rebounds but just 2.7 assists per game. As for whether the Jazz see McCollum as a point guard, their most pressing position, remains to be seen.
"Itís kind of tough to see that in a one-on-one type workout," said Walt Perrin, the Jazzís vice president of player personnel. "Itís something that weíll work out in terms of watching more tapes, talking with him and trying to make that determination."
McCollum said he struggled with the altitude, which Perrin said is to be expected.
"He struggled, but he fought," Perrin said. "He started shooting it a little better later in the workout, and thatís what we like to see."