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Jazz predictably mum about draft strategy

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Scott Layden insists the four players the Utah Jazz brought into town for interviews and a light workout Tuesday at Westminster College aren't necessarily atop the team's wish list in tonight's NBA Draft (TNT, 5:30 p.m.).

With the 29th and final pick in the first round, the Jazz (who also own the 57th overall selection) are probably relegated to the ol' "best player available" theory anyway.Attempts to trade the pick, which carries a $1.5 million guaranteed contract over three years, were unsuccessful as of mid-morning Wednesday.

"It looks like we're going in," Layden said, "so we'll see what happens."

Layden declined to comment if Utah would consider pulling a move Chicago did two years ago. The Bulls selected former Alta High star Travis Knight of Connecticut with the 29th pick and shortly thereafter renounced their rights to him - thus avoiding any contractual obligation.

Speculation, it seems, is in no short supply.

Even so, the Jazz did learn a little more about Toledo center Casey Shaw (6-11, 260), beefy Georgetown forward Jalidi White (6-9, 293), as well as guards Felipe Lopez (6-6, 190) of St. John's and Miles Simon (6-5, 200) of Arizona. The foursome are among a pool of at least 25 potential draftees Utah has done extensive research on.

A year ago, the Jazz brought Tulsa's Shay Seals and Oklahoma's Nate Erdmann in for a final look the day before the draft. Erdmann wound up being taken by the Jazz in the second round.

This time around, mock media drafts have the Jazz eyeing a variety of players including UCLA guard Toby Bailey (6-5, 205), Duke forward Roshown McLeod (6-8, 220), Indiana forward Andrae Patterson (6-8, 240), Mississippi forward Ansu Sesay (6-9, 220) and forward Mirsad Turkcan (6-9, 230) of Turkey.

NO THANKS: Citing a sore Achilles' heel, Clemson guard Greg Buckner turned down an invitation to visit Utah. Ironically, his agent Steve Kaufmann is the man who represents famed Jazz trade-breaker Rony Seikaly.

PAST HISTORY: Players selected by Utah since the NBA Draft was reduced to two rounds in 1989. Overall pick in parentheses.

1997: 1. Jacque Vaughn, Kansas ; 2. Nate Erdmann, Oklahoma .

1996: 1. Martin Muursepp, Eastonia ; 2. Shandon Anderson, Georgia .

1995: 1. Greg Ostertag, Kansas ; 2. No selection.

1994: 1. No selection; 2. Jamie Watson, South Carolina .

1993: 1. Luther Wright, Seton Hall ; 2. Bryon Russell, Long Beach State .

1992: 1. No selection; 2. No selection.

1991: 1. Eric Murdock, Providence ; 2. Isaac Austin, Arizona State .

1990: 1. No selection; 2. Walter Palmer, Dartmouth .

1989: 1. Blue Edwards, East Carolina ; 2. Junie Lewis, South Alabama .