Jazz draft picks Brantley, Wright-Foreman and Oni arrive in Utah with something to prove in Summer League
On draft night, Justin Wright-Foreman paced and fidgeted, growing more and more nervous with each pick that went off the board in the second round. One week later, the only fidgeting the electric scorer out of Hofstra did was with his new Utah Jazz draft hat.
“This past week has felt like a dream,” he said. “It’s very surreal.”
It has been a wild week indeed for Wright-Foreman, College of Charleston forward Jarrell Brantley, and Yale wing Miye Oni. But as they were introduced at a press conference Thursday afternoon at the Zions Bank Basketball Campus, the three newest Jazzmen made it clear that their NBA dreams — and the work it will take to achieve them — were just beginning.
WHAT HAS THE LAST WEEK BEEN LIKE FOR YOU?
JUSTIN WRIGHT-FOREMAN: “I feel like I was just a freshman. For all of this to be going on right now, I’m just feeling extremely blessed and honored to be here.”
MIYE ONI: “This last week has been one of the best of my life. It’s been a life-changing experience for sure.”
JARRELL BRANTLEY: “This last week has been amazing. I got blessed to be around some good guys. It’s amazing to be around this organization and to grow.”
COMING FROM SMALLER PROGRAMS, IS THAT EXTRA MOTIVATION?
WRIGHT-FOREMAN: “Extra motivation is an understatement. I can speak for all of us here: We just have a chip on our shoulders and we work like it every day. Every day is different, but we attack every day like it’s game day.”
ONI: “We definitely have a chip on our shoulder. A lot of us were under-recruited, maybe overlooked. So we just try to put the most we can into every day. We take it day by day and we know we need to get better. It’s not going to be a sprint. It’s a marathon. Try to get better day by day and hopefully pass up a lot of the people that were ranked ahead of us.”
YOU WERE DRAFTED IN THE 50s. HOW WILL YOU APPROACH TRYING TO MAKE THE ROSTER
BRANTLEY: “I think it’s truly a blessing. No. 1, this organization, you can tell they do a really good job of focusing on each player’s development. You can tell they hand-picked each one of us because of the growth in our college careers. So that’s special. … Getting to know these guys … we really love to work. IT’s special that the organization picked us out and gave us an opportunity. We’ll continue to grind on this journey and hopefully all three of us can crack that roster and get some valuable minutes. But we don’t know what will happen and we’ll continue to trust the process.
WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF SALT LAKE CITY?
WRIGHT-FOREMAN: “The mountains are beautiful!"
ONI: “I got here Sunday or Monday. I didn’t actually come in for a workout. This was my first time in Salt Lake City. It’s a beautiful place for sure. It’s very pristine. It’s very nice. The people have been really kind to us.
BRANTLEY: “The fans are amazing.”
WRIGHT-FOREMAN: “The mountains are beautiful! This is my second time out here. The first time, I took a picture when I was on the plane. I couldn’t believe how nice they were.”
DID YOU HAVE ANY INDICATION BEFORE THE DRAFT THAT THE JAZZ WERE INTERESTED IN YOU?
BRANTLEY: “The feedback I got from them and my agent was they were intrigued with my versatility and body size. I knew I had an opportunity. I came into the workout and I did pretty well. But I’m a mid-major guy. You don’t really know what to expect.”
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR GAME?
WRIGHT-FOREMAN: “I see myself as an electric scorer who can also make plays for myself and others. I bring energy to the court. I’m very talkative, very vocal. Don’t be surprised if you hear my voice a lot.”
ONI: “I’m a pretty solid all-around player. A solid athlete. I like to defend. Make open shots. Do the little things a lot of people don’t like to do.”
BRANTLEY: “A versatile four. Like to make plays when the opportunity comes. Hopefully I can make the open shots when the time comes. I bring a lot of energy. I’m like Justin. I won’t shut up. I like to talk a lot. I’m just going to enjoy every day. When I’m out here, I really love what I do.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY MEMORIES OF WATCHING THE JAZZ GROWING UP?
WRIGHT-FOREMAN: “Maybe I’m too young for this, but the battles between the Jazz and the Bulls. Back when Karl Malone and John Stockton and Michael Jordan played. I was a big Michael Jordan fan growing up. To see how competitive it was and how dedicated those guys were to playing the game is just amazing. I hope we can bring a lot of that to Utah. “
ONI: “It’s been cool to see the team keep similar identities that they’ve had for years. Growing up, I’ve bene watching basketball heavily since about ’01. Grew up in L.A. Watched the Lakers a lot. I remember the Jazz having guys like Mehmet Okur and Kirilenko and all those guys. I think Kirilenko is a versatile forward and a good person to fit the identity of the team at that time. Deron Williams and Jerry Sloan days, it was a hard-nosed team system. They were always competitive. I remember the year they made the Conference Finals. It’s been a team and organization I’ve always respected for doing things the right way and being competitive.”
ARE YOU PLANNING TO PLAY SUMMER LEAGUE AND WHAT ARE YOU HOPING TO SHOWCASE?
WRIGHT-FOREMAN: Just looking to compete every day. That’s what we do. We’re competitors. We want to win at all costs. Whatever it takes. Whatever coaches need us to do, whether it’s diving for loose balls, go get an offensive rebound, go take a charge, we gonna do it.”
ONI: Defintely looking to play and show how well we can play. And just looking to put on for the city, and be good role models and good players at the same time. We were all picked in the 50s, and we were blessed to be picked, but at the same time we all feel like we can play with the guys that were picked in the first round. We’re going to go in with the same chip on our shoulder we had in college and try to prove people wrong.”
BRANTLEY: “We’re all looking forward to being able to play in summer league. I just want to learn. I want to go out there and have fun. I don’t know what my stat line is going to be or anything like that, but I know if I go out and enjoy the game and enjoy my teammates and the environment, I know good things will happen.”