Utah Jazz's Alec Burks finds freedom at No. 12

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Newark, N.J. • Alec Burks sees his life as a journey.

Next stop: Salt Lake City.

Burks was selected by the Jazz with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft on Thursday at the Prudential Center.

The former Colorado guard grew up near Kansas City in Grandview, Mo. Tough town with tough kids, Burks said.

"There's a lot of things. But it made me a better person," Burks, 19, said.

After two years with the Buffaloes and a month of grueling pre-draft workouts, the 6-foot-6, 195-pound Burks has finally found freedom.

"It's been great but a grind at the same time," Burks said. "It's been a long month of June it seemed like. But I just worked hard. It's been a blessing. I'm just glad I finally know who I'm playing for."

The Jazz's belief in Burks solidified Monday after he ran through a strong workout against Washington State's Klay Thompson (No. 11, Golden State). Burks exited the session extremely confident, knowing that he had performed well enough to earn lottery consideration.

As Utah explored its options Thursday at No. 12, Burks' name continued to cut through the chatter. He's an athletic slashing guard who averaged 20.5 points and 6.5 rebounds last season for Colorado. And he gives the Jazz the big-small combo they aimed for after acquiring center Enes Kanter at No. 3. Burks knows that his outside shot must improve. And he must add muscle weight while competing against Utah veterans such as Raja Bell and C.J. Miles for playing time.

But all that belongs to the future. Thursday night and an NBA lottery pick belonged to Burks.

"I'm crazy hyped," Burks said. "I got so much excitement. I finally realized my dream, so it's a great thing."

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Alec Burks file

Pick • No. 12

Position • Guard

Vitals • 6-foot-6, 195 pounds

Age • 19

College • Colorado

2010-11 stats • 20.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 46.9 FG, 29.2 3-pt, 82.5 FT

Upside • Burks is the slashing guard the Jazz lacked last season. He can get to basket and finish, and his driving ability should help open the perimeter and take pressure off Utah's big men.

Downside • Shooting 29.2 percent behind a college 3-point line isn't encouraging. Burks' long-range shot is a work in progress, and he openly acknowledges it.