Collegiate stars such as Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes, Terrence Jones and Perry Jones avoided the threat of an NBA lockout and chose to remain in school rather than keep their names in the 2011 draft. Their absence, combined with a weak class of remaining prospects, has the Jazz sifting through an abundance of possibilities as the clock ticks toward selection Thursday in Newark, N.J.
Nowhere is the uncertainty of this year's draft better seen than in Tennessee forward Tobias Harris, who worked out Sunday for the Jazz with five other athletes at the team practice facility.
The 6-foot-8, 223-pound Harris oozes potential. He averaged 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds last season as a freshman for the Volunteers, earning second team All-SEC honors. The 19-year-old Harris excelled as the year wound down, strengthening his game while Tennessee struggled under the weight of an NCAA investigation. His diverse game has drawn early comparisons to Memphis' Shane Battier, and Harris' ability to stretch the floor and create mismatches is a coach's dream.
"Young guy, huge body for his age," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "Really pretty smart player for his age. On the weak side he stepped in and did a good job of going after offensive rebounds. Ballhandling skills for a guy his size and as young as he is, I was impressed with that."
Harris' potential is shadowed by questions, though. During a strong draft, he would at best be a late first-round pick. This year, he is expected to be taken from 18-25, and his stock is rising as selection day approaches.
"[I bring] a winning attitude. Just a competitor. Somebody who's very versatile and can play a lot of positions. Somebody who gives their all each and every night on the floor," said Harris, who worked out with Marcus Morris (Kansas), Chris Singleton (Florida State), Jordan Hamilton (Texas), Tyler Honeycutt (UCLA) and Paul Carter (Illinois-Chicago).
None of the prospects should figure into the Jazz's No. 3 pick. But if Utah selects former Kentucky guard Brandon Knight with its first choice, Morris, Singleton and Hamilton could come into play at No. 12.
The trio also face uncertainty, though. The 6-foot-9, 230-pound Morris shot well Sunday, was pleased with his overall performance, and spent the post-workout media session sitting next to and chatting with Corbin. But ask Morris about his draft expectations, and he sees the same fluidity in the early first round that Jazz personnel are dealing with.
"Five to 12," Morris said.
And while some have pegged the defensive-minded Singleton as Utah's ideal No. 12 choice if the Jazz go with Knight at three, the ex-Seminoles forward is coming off a broken foot and acknowledges that shooting and creating off the dribble are not his strong points.
"It went all right," Singleton said. "It wasn't my best workout but ... it was only one day. Everybody has their off days."
The Jazz are expected to hold their final draft workout Monday. Alec Burks (Colorado), Klay Thompson (Washington State), Zach Graham (Mississippi), John Holland (Boston), Delvon Johnson (Arkansas) and Willie Reed (Saint Louis) are scheduled to attend. … Since the 2010-11 season ended, Utah's Al Jefferson, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Jeremy Evans have put in extra work at a high-performance training facility in Santa Barbara, Calif. Evans has added muscle weight and definition, while Jefferson and Favors drew extended praise from Corbin.
The Tribune's Steve Luhm contributed to this article.
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Alec Burks (Colorado), Klay Thompson (Washington State), Zach Graham (Mississippi), John Holland (Boston), Delvon Johnson (Arkansas) and Willie Reed (Saint Louis)
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