The Utah Jazz's newest altar boy/basketball player made an appearance in Salt Lake, Friday. Walter Palmer, a 7-foot-1 inch center from Dartmouth, arrived for his first professional day on the job, displaying his talents before the coaching staff in a 45-minute workout at Westminster College.
Palmer was drafted by the Jazz last Wednesday, a No. 33 selection overall. After stepping off a morning flight in Salt Lake, he was hustled to Westminster for the short practice session. He went through a series of drills, including dribbling with both hands simultaneously (decent for a big man), dunking (what you would expect from a big man) and 15-foot jumpers (excellent for a big man). "This altitude is kinda tough," said Palmer, "but it's what I expected."He said in the short ride from the airport to Westminster he was impressed by the mountains. "That's a big wake up," he said. "Hanover (N.H.) doesn't have mountains like this."
In drafting Palmer, Jazz coaches say they got a player with good skills, work habits and potential. They also appeared to get an exceptional person - one who carried a 2.92 GPA at Dartmouth and helped guide two younger brothers. One brother is 6-7 and only 15 years old; the other is a student at Duke. Palmer's father is a Boston University professor whose wife died in 1985.
"You become pretty mature when things like that happen," said Jazz Director of Player Personnel, Scott Layden. "You tend to grow up quickly. You don't have to talk long with Walter to find he has his act together and that he's a fine young man."
Palmer, suffered a knee injury during the 1986-87 season and played just 10 games. In January, 1988, he registered an Ivy League record 12 blocks in one game. Last year he averaged 16.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.4 blocks a game.
However, Palmer got little notoriety. Playing in Hanover, N.H., for an Ivy League school (they don't allow athletic scholarships), he worked on his game in relative obscurity. The gymnasium was usually full for games, but it seats only about 2,100.
In Friday's workout he showed he is agile, a good shooter and, well, angel-faced.
Said Layden, "It's nice there's another guy on the team that looks like Stockton. I thinks John felt uncomfortable being the only altar boy."
Coaches will work with Palmer until he returns to his home in Boston on Sunday. He will be back in Salt Lake for the rookie-free agent camp, beginning July 16. He is expected to sign a contract before the camp starts.