SALT LAKE CITY — Nigel Williams-Goss, the Jazz's second-round draft choice who came to town Wednesday to be introduced to the local media, is quite familiar with Utah, having played several games in the state as a collegian, both for the University of Washington and Gonzaga.
Turns out he has a BYU connection as well.
His best friend growing up in Happy Valley, Oregon, was Alex Humble, a current BYU student, who recently returned from an LDS Church mission and accompanied Williams-Goss to the Final Four in Phoenix.
“We’ve been best friends since fourth grade and he just got back from his mission,” said Williams-Goss. “He was really excited when I got drafted by the Jazz.”
Williams-Goss is also well-acquainted with Jazz legend John Stockton, a former Gonzaga guard, who stays close to the program and gave the Jazz a top recommendation. Williams-Goss said he worked out with Stockton at least once a week leading up to last season and Stockton was “very supportive” of him and the rest of the Gonzaga team throughout the season.
“There’s not anything better than a compliment or an endorsement from a guy like John Stockton, a Hall of Fame player, one of the best point guards to ever play the game,” Williams-Goss said. “To have a guy like that support me is just unbelievable. I don’t think it can get any better than having a guy like John Stockton in your corner and I’m very fortunate.”
FORGETTING BYU LOSS: So what happened on that late-February night when Gonzaga's undefeated season come to a screeching halt with a shocking 79-71 loss to BYU on Senior Night in Spokane?
“They got us, got hot at the right time," Williams-Goss said, not wishing to dwell on the loss. "We didn’t bring our A-game and they got one on the road.”
HAPPY TO BE HERE: All three Jazz draftees were very complimentary of Utah and the Jazz and said they were excited to be here.
“I love it, it’s amazing,” said Donovan Mitchell, the No. 13 overall pick, who was impressed when he came for a workout last month. “I’ve never seen anything like Utah as far as the scenery goes. And the people are really nice. I got here for my first workout and came in and everybody was happy. Smiles and hellos go a long way. I have a few friends out here and am definitely going to be with them for a little while. It’s awesome, I love Salt Lake, just Utah in general."
The Jazz's No. 28 pick, center Tony Bradley of North Carolina, said Utah reminds him of his home in Bartow, Florida, near Tampa.
“It feels great to be here in Utah,” said Bradley. “I‘m ready to get started and get ready for summer league. It reminds me of home, honestly. It’s not like New York or Brooklyn. I like cities like this. It definitely reminds me of home.”
Williams-Goss was happy to be drafted by the Jazz, which he says was his No. 1 choice.
“I’m very excited to be here and ready to get going,” said Williams-Goss. “I love the city and I have a lot of family here — my uncle is the head wrestling coach at UVU — so I have a lot of family ties to the city and I’ve always enjoyed coming out here for family vacations.”
NEW SHIRTS: Mitchell shot up the draft charts after his combine performance and measurements. Though 6 foot 3, he has a 6-foot-10 wingspan.
“I didn’t think about it,” he said. “Then everybody at the combine started going crazy over it.”
Mitchell also has broad shoulders, meaning he’s had a problem finding proper fitting shirts over the years.
“I can definitely see why it was a problem finding shirts in certain stores,” he said.
However, now that he has a guaranteed multi-million-dollar contract, affording properly-fitting shirts shouldn't be a big deal.
“I don’t think it will be that much of a problem as it was when I was younger,” he said.