The Mountain West Conference’s top defender as a senior, and a four-year fixture at that end of the floor for BYU’s basketball team, suddenly had to change his mindset and his footwork.
BYU’s philosophy is built by head coach Dave Rose on forcing opponents to dribble the longest route, toward the baseline the majority of the time. Emery was first-rate at funneling opponents that way. But the Utah Jazz happen to want to draw the basketball to the middle of the floor, which would get a wag of the finger most of the time for the Cougars.
The suddenly engaged belief system for Emery was all part of trying to impress someone that will give him a shot to play professionally. The former Cougar received a chance to work out for the local NBA outfit on Tuesday at the team’s practice facility several blocks south of EnergySolutions Arena. Emery likely will not get drafted (there are 60 selections June 23), but he would love to get more workouts like this one.
“(The NBA) is kind of a long shot right now,” Emery said after a session that lasted about 45 minutes, which left him and his three compatriots with gray Jazz T-shirts soaked in sweat. “The biggest reason is there is no summer league. For guys like me, I kind of need a summer league to show what I am capable of doing. A lot of these workouts are based on draft picks, so I’m fortunate to get this one and maybe a couple others. But for right now, I’m kind of just doing this to build my basketball resume, and hopefully just get out in the open so guys get familiar with me.”
The NBA canceled the annual summer circuit on account of the likely work stoppage that some experts believe will threaten some of not all of the 2011-12 season. If Emery impressed the Jazz enough, perhaps he’s put on Utah’s summer roster and then he gets to impress all of the NBA personnel. Tough timing that it’s not an option this year.
While Emery’s former teammate, Jimmer Fredette, also faces uncertainty — not only where he’ll get drafted June 23, but what happens after that if there is indeed a lockout — it’s nothing like Emery.
He has to decide if he wants to try out the D-League, if given a roster chance to play with a team like the Utah Flash, or try his fortunes in Europe or elsewhere. The life over there can be wonderful and pretty lucrative, but there are also a horde of stories of players who had rough experiences where the checks bounced more than the basketballs.
Emery, talking to a variety of former teammates and other hoopsters he knows from BYU and elsewhere — like former Utah State scoring star Jaycee Carroll, who’s now thriving in Europe — to get ideas of where to go next. He hasn’t totally ruled out giving up ball, as his wife is about to deliver their first child due in September.
Emery would like to negotiate returning home then, shortly after a season starts, though his family likely wouldn’t join him until the winter.
In essence, Emery’s timing his hit and miss. His name is out there, having been a highly regarded player alongside the star Fredette in a 32-5 season that was BYU’s greatest season of the past 30.
But the timing of not being able to get on a summer league team, then showcase himself to the rest of the NBA, is a heart-wrencher at this point. Emery, however, doesn’t sound like he’s ready to give up the game.
He was grateful for the chance to showcase himself with the Jazz in the morning followed by afternoon interviews.
“I just wanted to make sure I didn’t get stuck in traffic,” Emery quipped of the drive from northern Utah County to the Zions Bank Basketball Center at 1300 South in Salt Lake City.
He was placed with Michael Stockton (Westminster College in Salt Lake City), the son of a certain Jazz legend. Mustapha Farrakhan (Virginia) and Brady Morningstar (Kansas) were also there. Utah coach Ty Corbin praised the competitiveness of the group, and Emery’s conditioning and accurate outside shot.
“It was good; I mean that’s tough. It was a hard 40, 45 minutes right there. You’re going up and down the floor, you’re trying to show them what you can do when you’re tired, they push you,” Emery said before making the media laugh with his comfort zone of how he’ll be remembered at BYU.
“The three-point line is a little farther back, I guess it’s ‘Jimmer Range,’ right?”
∫Speaking of Jimmer: Fredette was working out at Indiana on Tuesday.
The other players working out Tuesday were Tennessee’s Tobias Harris, Florida’s Vernon Macklin, Kansas’ Marcus Morris, Duke’s Nolan Smith and former high school prodigy Jeremy Tyler, recently playing professionally in Tokyo.