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Long-shot Hudson makes Jazz

At the conclusion of Tuesday morning's light practice at Westminster College, Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan walked over to speak to rookie guard Troy Hudson.

"Congratulations, Troy," said Sloan.Hudson nodded and said, "Thanks," while trying unsuccessfully to suppress a wide grin.

Hudson will open the regular season in a Jazz uniform Friday night. The 6-1 guard defied the odds by making the team when his last two challengers for the open roster spot - guard Nate Erdmann and center Greg Dreiling - were cut.

What were the chances? A million-to-one, maybe. Like a snowball's chance in you-know-where, perhaps?

Even Hudson, who tried to stay positive throughout training camp, had doubts.

"I knew it was a long shot for me to make this team," he said.

Hudson, you see, came to Jazz camp as the fourth point guard trying out for a team that usually only employs two. The other three point guards - John Stockton, Howard Eisley and Jacque Vaughn - all had guaranteed, multiyear contracts to go along with better resumes. Hudson was also attempting to learn a new position after playing exclusively shooting guard in college at Southern Illinois.

He was more than a long shot.

And even when it was announced that Stockton would be out two to three months recovering from knee surgery, things didn't look a whole lot better for Hudson. Eisley and Vaughn could certainly split the point guard duties with no problem. That would give Sloan the chance to keep an extra big man (Dreiling) or the team's second-round pick (Erdmann).

But Hudson's play and attitude made the coaches give him a serious look - and a job, for the time being."Hudson earned an opportunity to be here," said Sloan. "We liked the efforts of the other guys, but (Hudson) has unusual skills for this game."

Those "unusual skills" include quickness, a deft shooting touch and the ability to take direction.

"He is a very coachable young man," said Sloan. "He's made a lot of improvement during the time he's spent with us and has basically had to learn a new position."

Jazz fans saw Hudson display some of his skills Monday night in the Delta Center when he played most of the fourth quarter. He scored seven points and dished out two assists with one turnover.

"I worked hard, listened fairly well and did the things the coaches wanted me to do," said Hudson, explaining the secrets of his success.

Now, if Hudson is still with the team when Stockton comes off the injured list in January, it would be amazing.

Then again, he's faced long odds before.