Melissa Majchrzak

Mitchell makes cameo at 3-on-3 tournament ahead of Utah Jazz Summer League

by Aaron Falk

You have to listen to the ref, even in the offseason. And as Donovan Mitchell stood near the sideline of the court on Monday afternoon, the man in the striped shirt saw something he didn’t like.

“Donovan! Donovan!” he yelled. “Move back, like, five feet!”

The Utah Jazz 3-on-3 Tournament was in full swing across the street from Vivint Smart Home Arena when a trio of Utah Jazz players—Mitchell, Royce O’Neale and Ekpe Udoh—made an impromptu appearance. It didn’t take fans long to notice, turning the hundreds of tournament competitors back into spectators and bringing many of the games to a sudden halt.

Not that anyone besides the referees seemed to mind.

“It was amazing,” said Ashton Scott, a 14-year-old from Riverton who managed to get a photograph with Mitchell, his favorite player.

That reaction is exactly why Mitchell dropped by the tournament.

“I just wanted to come by,” he said. “I saw that it was here and I thought it was pretty cool. If I was a kid, I would die if my hero came to this. I kind of wanted to be able to do that. This [tournament] is dope. I hope we continue to do this.”

Mitchell made his way from court to court, meeting dozens of fans clamoring for selfies and autographs with him at each stop. O’Neale and Udoh took plenty of pictures too as the roamed across the asphalt.

“Just an opportunity to show our support,” O’Neale said.

“It’s a great experience,” Udoh added. “You get outside, get some rays, get a chance for these kids to compete against players from all over the city.”

Udoh chuckled as he raised his long arms skyward, challenging children to jump high enough to give him a high-five.

“Our team could use your height,” one player said.

“What time is the game?” the center replied.

Mitchell, meanwhile, was happy being a spectator.

“Can I sit and watch?” the Jazz star asked one young player before taking a seat next to him on the bench.

The Hornets, a team of 11-year-olds from Delta, had been playing up an age group and struggling on the court. But a chance to visit with the Rookie of the Year runner-up was more than enough of a consolation prize for them.

“They’ve had a ball,” their coach, Howard Quackenbush, said afterward.