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Above Jakob Poeltl's right eye is a new scar.
He got it while playing for Austria against Germany in the first game of the Trentino Cup, a "friendly" tournament in Europe. With one elbow, Poeltl's brow opened up the 19-year-old's introduction to senior men's international basketball.
But of all the souvenirs Poeltl brings back with him to Utah this fall, the scar is perhaps the least meaningful. It pales compared to the on-court lessons Utah's 7-foot center learned in a busy summer.
From taking reps against DeMarcus Cousins in California, to playing for his country in Italy and Lithuania, to hitting the weights wherever he was, Poeltl took his work seriously as he prepares for a highly anticipated sophomore year.
"I learned what I needed to work on," he said. "A lot of people kind of told me what I'll need to do to have a good season at Utah next year, and hopefully survive in the NBA."
That summary doesn't quite do the experience justice.
Poeltl was one of 27 college players who played at Nike Basketball Academy in June, taking instruction from current NBAers Cousins, DeAndre Jordan and Anthony Davis. They did video review with the big men attendees, and did on-court drills with them as well. Poeltl enjoyed asking them about their careers before they went pro the situation he finds himself in now, even though the others all went to the NBA after a year of college.
But as fun as it was to try to score on NBA forwards and centers, Poeltl's defining memory was meeting "NBA legends" and other coaches who watched from the background for most of camp. At the end, they dished out one-on-one mentoring advice.
"My favorite was probably meeting Scottie Pippen," he said. "He's a really, really big NBA legend. He had some nice words for me after camp."
What those words were? That's for the six-time NBA champ and Poeltl to keep to themselves.
The Austrian center also joined his countrymen on the senior national team in Europe in July and August. Early on, it was a bit of an adjustment: He had to revert back to the international style of play, and he was playing more power forward than center.
But the opportunity gave Poeltl a chance to work on his range, which wasn't showcased much at Utah last season. He improved his shooting, worked on putting the ball on the floor, and dealt with playing against more physically mature if not taller opponents.
Something went right: By his last game, a loss to Lithuania, Poeltl scored 27 points on 12-of-17 shooting (including a 3-pointer) with 5 rebounds, two blocks and a steal.
"I'm kind of proud of the way we played and the way we represented Austria," he said. "The longer the national team went on, the more I got comfortable with a little bit different style out there and I got comfortable with my teammates. It was much easier."
The game is also easier when you can see the court clearly.
Poeltl got his eyes examined during the Nike camp, where he learned his left eye was weaker than his right. He used to wear contacts several years back, and decided to get them again this summer.
The difference is nearly imperceptible to him day-to-day. But he believes it's helped his depth perception. The basket seems easier to gauge, and his shots seem to be going in more.
Maybe there's a little more hope at the free-throw line for the guy who hit 44 percent of his foul shots last year.
"It's tough for me to tell you it's actually better, because I don't always notice it," he said. "But I think it's better."
As for Poeltl's overall game, fans will have to wait until the fall to see for sure. He's feeling pretty good about it.
How I spent my summer
P Some of the things Jakob Poeltl did this summer:
• Attended Nike Basketball Academy in June, taking lessons from NBA stars DeMarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan and Anthony Davis.
• Played for the Austrian senior men's national team, going 1-2 in the Trentino Cup, and scoring 27 points against Lithuania.
• Increased his weight and improved his overall strength, while working on his midrange offense and off-ball game.