featured-image

Five Things To Know About Utah's Newest Overseas Addition: Simone Fontecchio

Ryan Kostecka
Digital Content Writer

In a day and age where position-less basketball is becoming more and more of the norm, it appeared apparent that the Jazz wanted to shore up their wing depth. They also had a firm strategy of getting younger, longer, and more athletic regarding its overall roster, particularly on the wing.

Score another victory for new head coach Will Hardy and co.

Announced on July 27, Utah signed European forward Simone Fontecchio — a sharp-shooting athlete with great size who could make an immediate impact this upcoming season.

Here are five things to know about Utah’s latest addition:

1.) The Man Can Play Ball
It might seem obvious since Fontecchio has signed a contract to play in the NBA, but make no mistake, he can flat-out play basketball.

Through 70 games (53 starts) in the ACB and EuroLeague last season, he averaged 11.8 points, 4.40 rebounds, and 2.0 assists while shooting 41.2% from beyond the arc. He shows advanced skill with the ability to pass, dribble, and shoot at every level — proving why he’s been on NBA radars for the last few years.

At 6-foot-7 and a sturdy 200+ pounds, Fontecchio has the sort of size and skillset that’s highly coveted in today’s game. He’s also more athletic than often given credit for, allowing him to take advantage offensively while translating positively to the defensive side of the game.

MILAN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 10: Simone Fontecchio #20 of Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz in action during the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 26 match between AX Armani Exchange Milan and Bitci Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz at Mediolanum Forum on February 10, 2022 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Roberto Finizio/Getty Images)

2.) No Stranger To Big Stage
At 26, Fontecchio is a little older compared to players experiencing the NBA for the first time — but that doesn’t mean he’s a stranger to the big stage.

He has represented the Senior Italian National Team in multiple events, including the 2017 European World Cup Qualifiers, the 2020 EuroBasket Qualifiers, the 2021 Olympic Qualifiers, the 2021 Olympic Games, and the 2021 European World Cup Qualifiers.

It was during the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo that he really broke out for Italy. He averaged 19.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 1.5 assists in four games while shooting 45.5% from three-point territory. He showed improved skill play on offense and held his own defensively against some of the best players in the world.

SAITAMA, JAPAN - AUGUST 03: Simone Fontecchio #13 of Team Italy drives to the basket against Team France during the first half of a Men's Basketball Quarterfinal game on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Super Arena on August 03, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

3.) Decade Of Pro Ball
Although he’s just now making his way into the NBA, Fontecchio has played professional basketball since he was 16.

A native of Pescara, Italy, he began his professional career in 2012-13 with Virtus Bologna of the Lega A in Italy. He was with Virtus Bologna from 2012-17, going on to play with Milan of the Lega A from 2016-19, with stints with Vanoli Cremona in 2017-18, along with experience with Reggio Emilia in 2019-20 and ALBA Berlin of the German Bundesliga in 2020-21. He was named the Italian Lega A Best Under-22 Player following the 2014-15 season with Virtus Bologna.

Playing against grown men for the past decade has allowed Fontecchio to deal with the physicality he should expect in the NBA.

BELGRADE, SERBIA - JULY 03: Simone Fontecchio (C) of Italy in action against Adonys Henriquez (L) and Luis Santos (R) of Dominican Republic during the FIBA Basketball Olympic Qualifying Tournament semi final match between Italy and Dominican Republic at Aleksandar Nikolic Hall on July 03, 2021 in Belgrade, Serbia. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

4.) Idol Is A Jazz Legend
There haven’t been many success stories of an international player making his mark in the NBA at the age of 26 or older — but one name definitely comes to mind.

Joe Ingles started in the NBA at 27 and became a major success story for his offensive abilities. He was regaled in Utah for being able to shoot the three, run the offense, and talk trash with the best in the game.

Ingles’ success was not lost on Fontecchio, who at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo let it be known that he considered Ingles one of his basketball idols.

Following a game between Australia (Ingles) and Italy (Fontecchio), Ingles was told about Fontecchio’s admiration — and in the most Ingles of ways, had a phenomenal response.

“I’m who’s idol? He needs a better idol,” Ingles said with a smile. “I’d never seen him play before. Watching the scout for the last game and obviously playing against him tonight, we were just Googling where he played this year. … I’m surprised that he is not in one of the biggest teams in Europe.”

Instead of stopping there, Ingles kept going on about Fontecchio’s game.

“He’s a really good player — aggressive, especially on the offensive end. … Finding his shot and obviously shooting a high percentage as well.”

5.) Third Italian In The League
Currently, only one player of Italian descent is in the league — sharpshooting forward Danilo Gallinari, a new member of the Boston Celtics.

But that number is now expected to triple once the season starts.

Paolo Banchero, the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, will debut for the Orlando Magic. And now, Fontecchio will be suiting up for the Jazz.

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 25: Simone Fontecchio #13 and Danilo Gallinari #8 of the Italy Men's National Team shake hands during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on July 25, 2021 at Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)