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For the past two seasons, Jakob Poeltl and Jordan Loveridge have been a terrific inside-outside duo for the Runnin' Utes. And as they prepare for the next phases of their careers, that's pretty much where the two Utah men sit relative to the NBA: Poeltl on the inside, widely expected to be drafted in the lottery, and Loveridge on the outside looking in.
But that hasn't dampened Loveridge's NBA dream.
"This is my ultimate goal," he said Wednesday, after working out for the Jazz. "This is my dream. [My plan is] definitely try do as much as I can to make it to the NBA."
The 22-year-old Loveridge averaged 12.2 points and 5.4 rebounds a game over four seasons at Utah, helping the Utes to their first Sweet 16 appearance in a decade. Along the way, he transformed himself from a power forward to one of the Pac-12's best outside shooters-a move he made with his future pro career in mind.
"I knew I couldn't play a power forward position," said the 6-foot-6 Loveridge, who dropped more than 20 pounds between his freshman and sophomore seasons to help with his transition. "It's not realistic to play it at this level."
Loveridge's move to the wing certainly helped the Utes. The forward shot better than 40 percent from 3-point territory in both his junior and senior seasons. Last year, he ranked second in the conference in 3-pointers made and third in 3-point percentage. Going forward, Loveridge believes that can be his greatest weapon at the next level.
"Every team needs guys to knock down open shots," he said, "and I think I can do that."
If Loveridge is ever going to do it in the NBA, however, he may have some work to do.
The Jazz have all perimeter players who come in for workouts shoot 100 3-pointers during one drill. At Wednesday's workout, Loveridge hit more than 50 percent of his shots. But scouts still left with the impression that the forward's technique needed to be tweaked.
"After looking at him early and watching him throughout the year I thought me might struggle a little bit more than he did," Walt Perrin, the Jazz's vice president of player personnel, said before adding his critique. "There's somewhat of a hesitation in his shot and it's a little flat, so it's either going in or it's not going in. He doesn't get many that bounce around the basket. If he raises his elevation in terms of his release point, maybe it becomes a little softer."
Perrin also said Loveridge needed to get in better shape.
Loveridge believes his four years playing under Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, a former NBA player, helped prepare him to make the leap to the pros. "He's been through this," he said. "He gives me a lot of advice." Loveridge also said he'd received advice from a former teammate, Delon Wright, who currently plays for the Toronto Raptors.
The forward, however, said he hasn't spoken much recently with Poeltl.
"He's kind of busy," Loveridge explained. "He's moving on to most likely be a lottery pick. He's got a lot going on."
The Jazz, who finished with the 12th-worst record in the league, will pick in the late lottery barring a trade or some great fortune. That positioning combined with the team's makeup makes Perrin doubtful he'll be able to even bring Poeltl in for a workout before the draft.
"I think it would be a struggle," Perrin said. "To be honest with you, I think it will be a struggle to get in some of the guys we want to get in who are going to be in our range … because of the nature of our team. So I will work on it. I will see if I can get him in, but I'm not overly optimistic."
Loveridge, meanwhile, was thrilled to get a chance to work out for his hometown team. The forward grew up in Utah and played at West Jordan High School, where was the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state in 2012.
"It's hard not to be a fan when you grow up and you see Karl Malone, John Stockton. So may great players have come through here," he told reporters. "It's just awesome to get a chance to play for this team."
Then he laughed and pulled at his jersey top.
"They said we've got to turn this in," he said, "but we get to keep the shorts."
Loveridge is unlikely to be drafted, but hopes he'll be able to play his way onto a NBA team's summer league squad before weighing his options, which may very well include playing overseas or in the D-League. The forward said he does not currently have workouts with any other teams lined up, but he hoped Wednesday's meeting with the Jazz would only be a first step.
"Right now, it's just a waiting game," he said.