SALT LAKE CITY — Dennis Schroeder, a 19-year-old point guard who worked out Friday for the Utah Jazz, was trying to tell the assembled media the proper way to pronounce his last name.
You see, where Schroeder comes from — Germany — the name is not pronounced the same way most folks would probably say it in this country. It’s not “SHROH-der” or “SHROW-der,” and no, it’s not “SHRAY-der,” either.
But if Jazz fans take any stock in various NBA mock drafts, they had better learn how to say it — whether it’s “SHREW-duh” or “SHROY-duh” — because his name is one that could very well be called when Utah makes the 14th (or 21st) selection in the annual NBA draft June 27.
The slender point guard — listed at 6 foot 1 and just 156 pounds — played last season with the New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig of the German Basketball League, where he averaged 11.9 points, 3.3 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game while shooting 43.6 percent from the field, including 40.2 percent from 3-point range, and 83.8 percent from the foul line.
Since the Jazz don’t currently have any point guards under contract, it’s a pretty good bet that they’ll be using at least one of their first-round picks to grab a point guard later this month. At least, many of the mock drafts certainly think so, and Schroeder’s name is mentioned first and foremost by most of them — even if most of us can’t pronounce it the right way.
“I never heard a guy from America who pronounce it very well,” he said with a smile. “It’s very difficult for you.”
As for the possibility of coming to Utah to play, he seemed excited by the prospect.
“It’s a great situation for point guards,” Schroeder said following Friday’s workout at the Zions Bank Basketball Center, where he was joined by fellow draft prospects Peyton Siva, a playmaking point guard from NCAA champion Louisville; 7-foot center Steven Adams of Pittsburgh, and forwards Jack Cooley of Notre Dame, Richard Howell of North Carolina State and Kenny Kadji of Miami. “So when they draft me, it’s a very good situation and I can play right away, I think.
“My family told me,” he said of those mock draft predictions which have him listed as Utah’s top pick. “My big brother, he watch that sometimes, but I don’t watch that really.”
Schroeder, who won’t turn 20 years old until mid-September, is known for his tremendous quickness and said he has tried to model his game after Boston Celtics star Rajon Rondo.
Walt Perrin, the Jazz vice president of player personnel and head scout, said making comparisons between Schroeder and Rondo is unfair and inaccurate.
“I think the only comparison with Rondo is body build — long arms, big hands,” Perrin said. “Rondo was not an offensive player except for getting to the basket; he couldn’t shoot the ball (when he came into the league). I think Dennis is a better shooter at the same stage, and there’s no comparison in terms of defense because Rondo is so much better defensively than Dennis.”
OK, so Schroeder may not be the second coming of Rondo after all, but he feels like his game is very well-suited for the NBA.
“In Europe, you play like set plays all the time,” Schroeder said, “and in the NBA, you play transition. But I think the NBA fit me better than in Europe.
“Hoop Summit helped me very well,” he said of the annual all-star game that brings together the USA Men’s Junior Select Team against a similar World Junior Select Team. “My agent told me it was a very important week, so I go there and try to work very hard.”
Schroeder, who has now attended six NBA teams’ workouts, will return to his native Germany Saturday. He knows he’s young and still learning the game, and that making the jump to the NBA won’t be an easy one.
“I think I have to improve on the finishes for sure,” he said, “because like 7-foot guys over there like (Oklahoma City’s Serge) Ibaka, they blocking shots, so I have to go into contact and try to finish it off.”
Perrin said Schroeder struggled through the early part of Friday’s workout session, but came on after that to finish strong.
“He’s been on quite a few workouts and he’s been away from home for a while, so I’m sure he’s getting a little bit homesick and probably a little bit tired,” Perrin said. “But I thought he fought through some things and had a pretty good workout.”
Perrin and the Jazz brain trust certainly saw some things from Schroeder that impressed them — as well as some things that the young man needs to improve upon.
“He’s got the ability to get to the deep paint, as we call it, get to the basket,” Perrin said. “He’s got good explosiveness off the dribble coming around the wing. He’s able to get into the paint and he’s able to pass to open guys if somebody’s stopping him.
“He’s got a lot of things he’s got to learn and pick up and get better at, but he’s got athletic skills that a lot of guys we don’t see over here (have).
“There’s a lot of things I think he needs to work on,” Perrin said. “I think that (finishing at the rim) is one of them and that comes from getting a little bit stronger, understanding probably better angles on how to finish, especially against the big guys over here. I think he’s got to get a little bit more discipline and a lot of focus defensively, continue to work on his shots and ball handling.”
Schroeder’s smallish size could definitely work against him on draft day. All in all, though, he’s a guy who could wind up being in a Jazz uniform next season.
“With his quickness and with his speed, which you can’t teach, yeah, he has some upside,” Perrin said. “The good thing about Dennis is he has played against men in the German pro league. It’s not like some of the college guys we have coming out into the draft who haven’t played against men. He has played against men.
"So it’s a little tougher in terms of who he’s playing against and how he’s playing over in Germany than the guys coming out collegiately this year.”
But hey, it’s probably no tougher than most Americans trying to properly pronounce his last name.