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Jazz choose swingman, 19

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A herd of reporters who cover the Jazz made their approach on Aleksandar Pavlovic, cameras and tape recorders in hand, many questions in mind.

They stepped forward, he stepped back. They stepped further forward, he stepped back again. Uncomfortable with his limited English language skills, the native of Serbia & Montenegro finally threw up his hands, simply too intimidated to talk.

That was the scene Tuesday when the 6-foot-7 swingman worked out privately in Utah.

Today, media members in Salt Lake get another crack at Pavlovic, whose last name is pronounced PAV-lov-vich and whose nickname is "Sasha."

The Jazz selected the 19-year-old at No. 19 overall in the first round of the NBA Draft Thursday night and plan to introduce their prize pick today at the Delta Center.

He arrives on a flight from New York, where the player dubbed by many to be the best shooter taken in the opening round watched the draft unfold first-hand from a seat in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

"How quickly can he contribute? We're not sure," said Kevin O'Connor, the Jazz's vice president of basketball operations. "How long (will he) contribute? We feel fairly sure that he's gonna be a good NBA player.

"I think the key thing," O'Connor added, "is that he shoots the ball very easily — and it's something we're gonna need."

The Jazz feel they filled a need at 19, selecting a swingman whom they project can play shooting guard, perhaps replacing veteran Calbert Cheaney, a free agent who started during his one year in Utah this past season, or fighting for playing time with fourth-year pro DeShawn Stevenson, the franchise's first-round pick in 2000.

"We portray him as being a big guard," O'Connor said. "And I think a key thing is he can really shoot the basketball — and that's something that seems to be a skill that's diminishing in the NBA."

The Jazz later used their second-round pick, No. 47 overall, on University Alabama point guard Mo Williams.

With 2001 and 2002 first-round picks Raul Lopez and Curtis Borchardt both looking to make their NBA debuts after battling back from injuries, O'Connor admitted Williams will face an uphill battle in trying to join those two and Pavlovic as the fourth rookie on the Jazz roster.

"We don't want to put Coach (Jerry Sloan) in a situation where he's got to carry diapers," O'Connor said.

While Williams will have to fight to earn a contract, Pavlovic seems virtually penciled in to join the Jazz for the 2003-2004 season.

"It's our understanding we're gonna bring him over here and play him, sign him," Sloan said with a nod of approval from O'Connor.

The Jazz do not anticipate Pavlovic will have any problem getting out of his contract with Buducnost of the Yugoslavian Basketball League, the club for which he debuted as a pro during the 2000-01 season.

That is one reason they were excited to land him, which they were able to do after Boston went with Boston College's Troy Bell (later traded) at 16, Phoenix took Serbia & Montenegro's Zarko Cabarkapa at 17 and New Orleans tapped Xavier's David West with the 18th selection.

"We got a little bit concerned when all of the point guards were going, and we didn't know where Boston was going with that pick," O'Connor said. "(But) when (the Celtics) took Troy Bell, we felt there was one of three guys there that we would have been very happy to get."

So first, the Jazz — who came close to making a deal last week, apparently discussing possibly acquiring Seattle's No. 14 pick — turned a few trade overtures proposing they move down in the draft.

Then, rather than go with either of a couple of other foreign shooting guards it also really liked — France's Boris Diaw and Argentina's Carlos Delfino both went a few picks later in the first round — Utah chose Pavlovic, who seemed all along to be the guy the Jazz coveted most.

The franchise has been scouting Pavlovic for a while, O'Connor flew overseas to see him play, and Pavlovic impressed many in the organization with his workout Tuesday.

"We feel like he's the kind of player that will work hard," Sloan said after watching Pavlovic gut his way through his 11th straight workout despite a sore thigh. "That gives him a chance to get better."

His English —- really not all that bad, and actually is said to be better than that of both Spain's Lopez and Russian small forward Andrei Kirilenko before they joined the Jazz — should have opportunity to improve, too.

Aleksandr Pavlovic

Position: Swingman

Height, Weight: 6-foot-7, 219 pounds

Age: 19 years old

Born: Nov. 15, 1983, in Bar, Serbia & Montenegro

Career: Averaged 10.1 points on 60.4 percent shooting in 20 YUBA League games and 9.6 points on 54 percent shooting in 13 Euroleague games this past season . . . Debuted in the professional YUBA League three seasons ago . . . Played for Serbia & Montenegro at the 2002 European Under-20 Championships.

Breakdown: According to the NBA's draft media guide, "a streak shooter who can get blazing hot and score in bunches." Good mid-range shooting ability, but not an established 3-point shooter. High-energy player.

Maurice "Mo" Williams

Position: Point guard

Height, weight: 6-foot-1, 185 pounds

Age: 20 years old

Born: Dec. 19, 1982, in Jackson, Miss.

Career: Earned third-team Associated Press All-SEC honors in both of two seasons at Alabama . . . Leaving Alabama after two seasons . . . Averaged 16.4 points in 29 games last season . . . Started all 64 games with the Crimson Tide.

Breakdown: Extremely quick but still needs to learn how to control an offense.

E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com