SALT LAKE CITY — For Weber State University basketball star Joel Bolomboy, his NBA dream is on the verge of becoming a reality.
And the 6-foot-9, 235-pound power forward certainly won't have to travel very far from the WSU campus to begin his professional basketball career.
Bolomboy, the 2016 Big Sky Conference Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year — the first player in league history to receive both awards in the same season — was selected by the Utah Jazz with the 52nd overall pick in Thursday's annual NBA draft.
The 22-year-old Bolomboy, who played four seasons at Weber State and became the all-time leading rebounder in Big Sky history (1,312) earlier this year, chose not to work out for the Jazz during this year's pre-draft workouts because it appeared he'd be selected before Utah's early or late second-round picks came up.
But when he was still on the board with the 22nd pick of the second round, the Jazz gladly grabbed him.
"We're very excited about Joel for a number of reasons," Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey said. "Character, how great of a job Weber State does really in developing all of their guys, but Joel in particular in this case. We have great respect for their program."
Bolomboy turned in a series of impressive workouts for NBA scouts in Chicago earlier this summer.
"To be able to move laterally, run, jump, he's got some tools to work with," Lindsey said. "So we really look forward to bringing him in, like we do with all of our young guys, and let Quin (Snyder) and the coaches get to work."
Bolomboy's skill set could very well put him line to possibly replace Jazz power forward Trevor Booker, who spent the last two seasons in Utah but is currently a free agent, on the Jazz roster.
ESPN draft analyst Jay Bilas liked the Jazz selection of Bolomboy, who Bilas considers "one of the two or three best rebounders in the country."
"You don't often see a guy with that size that's that agile," Bilas said Thursday night. "He has a 40-inch vertical leap, he can make a faceup shot, and the thing scouts really like about him is he can rebound — he can get you extra possessions."
Indeed, Bolomboy was the third-leading rebounder in the nation last season, averaging 12.6 boards per game — grabbing a single-season, school-record total of 415. He also averaged 17.1 points per game, which ranked eighth-best in the Big Sky, and piled up a school-record 26 double-doubles during the 2015-16 season, third most in the country.
He is also the Wildcats' career leader in blocked shots and wound up his collegiate career ranked seventh on WSU's all-time scoring list. He also finished fourth in the conference in blocks and fifth in field goal percentage during 2015-16.
He earned honorable mention All-American honors while leading the Wildcats to a 26-9 overall record as a senior last season, when Weber State won the Big Sky regular-season and postseason tournament titles and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, where the 'Cats lost to Xavier in the opening round.
Bolomboy was a finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award and also earned First Team All-District honors from the NABC.
Bolomboy becomes the 16th player in Weber State history to be selected in the NBA draft and the first since Damian Lillard was taken with the sixth pick by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2012.
He's also just the fifth former Weber State star to be chosen in the first or second rounds. Born in Russia, Bolomboy grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, and came to Weber State in 2012 as a raw but promising player who, through hard work and solid coaching, steadily blossomed into a strong collegiate player on both ends of the court.
He was named the MVP of Reese’s College All-Star Game after posting a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds to help lead the West All-Stars team to an 89-85 win over the East All-Stars at the game played at NRG Stadium in Houston, site of this year’s Final Four. The game featured 20 of the top seniors from across the country.