Nick Bolerjack

A $100K 3-on-3 tournament win helped form a special bond for Utah Jazz draft picks Justin Wright-Foreman and Jarrell Brantley

by Aaron Falk

With his friends and family celebrating all around him, Jarrell Brantley couldn’t answer the phone when his friend called to congratulate him. So Justin Wright-Foreman hung up and turned his attention back to NBA Draft coverage on the television. A short while later, it was Wright-Foreman who missed a congratulatory call from Brantley.

But Brantley and Wright-Foreman—the 50th and 53rd picks in last week’s draft respectively — will have plenty of time to catch up this summer as Utah Jazz teammates.

“We’re excited just because of the chemistry we’ve built over the past months,” Brantley said.

For four years, Brantley and Wright-Foreman saw each other as enemies. Brantley, a forward at the College of Charleston, and Wright-Foreman, a guard at Hofstra, battled each season in the Colonial Athletic Association. Then a post-season 3-on-3 basketball tournament — and a $100,000 prize — forged a bond between the rivals.

The CAA picked four players to represent the league in a 3-on-3 tournament. Conference officials selected Northeastern guard Vasa Pusica and UNC-Wilmington forward Devontae Cacok.

Hofstra’s Wright-Foreman, the league’s leading scorer, was a natural choice.

“I was like, hold on, hold on. Y’all not about to have fun without me,” he said.

“Then you add a dominant player like me,” Brantley added with a smile.

Right away, the group developed chemistry and comradery, on and off the court.

“Just being around Jarrell, every day is a different moment,” Wright-Foreman said. “You don’t know what you’re going to get out of him.”

“It was fun getting to know Justin and those guys,” Brantley added. “Because before that, we were just battling and we didn’t really like each other. We met each other and immediately it changed. Now that’s my brother."

The CAA team won the tournament, beating the squad from the West Coast Conference.

Wright-Foreman was named the tournament’s MVP. He and Brantley celebrated on the court with gold chains, gold sunglasses, and a stack of green bills. 

Their friendship continued in the months leading up to the NBA Draft.

“We checked on each other after every workout we’ve had,” Brantley said. “We’ve been keeping up with each other throughout the process.”

The rivals-turned-teammates would have been thrilled just to realize their childhood dreams of being drafted. For them both to get a chance to earn their next paychecks with the Utah Jazz, though, was special.

“To be here with somebody you can call your friend, a best friend,” Wright-Foreman said, “that’s amazing.” 

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