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The story behind what led to Jazz drafting Grayson Allen

Grayson Allen, from Duke, participates in the NBA draft basketball combine Thursday, May 17, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Grayson Allen, from Duke, participates in the NBA draft basketball combine Thursday, May 17, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Charles Rex Arbogast

SALT LAKE CITY — The date was May 29, 2018.

Among the 140 NBA representatives in attendance for the Creative Arts Agency (CAA) Pro Day, Utah Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey and his assistant David Morway watched Duke prospect Grayson Allen put on a show.

He got off to a fast start in Thousand Oaks, California, draining a dozen straight treys in his around-the-arc drill. Out of 25 3-pointers, he missed only five.

Jazz star Donovan Mitchell also witnessed the display firsthand, which prompted him to text Morway immediately with “Grayson at 21?”

Mitchell spotted the Jazz brass sitting next to each other and made his way to their area, where Lindsey asked him his opinion about his former college foe.

“Look, he was tough to compete against but I’d like to compete with him,” Mitchell told Lindsey.

Not that Mitchell’s opinion was the determining factor, but his approval certainly helped as the Jazz picked Allen at No. 21in Thursday’s NBA draft. So did the fact that defensive catalyst Rudy Gobert was on board and so was Jazz coach Quin Snyder, a fellow Duke alumnus.

“Quin and Donovan had been communicating in between Donovan’s media tour, and you guys can quote me on that, and so Donovan mentioned (Grayson) and one other player that he really respected, and the players always know,” Lindsey said after the draft. “Rudy was happy with Coach as well in the decision that we made.”

In addition to his CAA Pro Day performance, Allen also wowed the Jazz staff during the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago on May 17 with his 40.5 max vertical leap and his top-lane agility time at 10.31 seconds.

He was then invited to Salt Lake City for an official pre-draft workout on June 4with Villanova’s Jalen Brunson, UCLA’s Aaron Holiday, San Diego State’s Malik Pope, Louisville’s Ray Spalding and Creighton’s Khyri Thomas, but still managed to steal the show with his physicality and skill both on display.

“It was very competitive and we had a really good group with Brunson, Holiday and Khyri, too, and we went at each other,” Allen recalled. “It was a lot of fun, but I felt like I played well, I had great feedback from the workout after from my agent and from (Duke) Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski), from him talking to the team and I felt great. I felt really confident about what I’d gone to Salt Lake City and done.”

During the infamous Jazz 100 drill, where draft hopefuls shoot the ball 100 times in a row from various spots around the 3-point line, Allen went 66-for-100 in the altitude. Despite his reputation for dirty play in college from tripping incidents, the Jazz had scouted him enough to pull the trigger and take him.

Allen averaged 15.5 points, 4.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds as a senior this past season and is expected to play both guard positions in some capacity.

“We’re very, very confident in who he is,” Lindsey said of Allen. “We’re confident in his intelligence, we’re confident that he was contrite with the mistakes that he’s made in the past.

“Look, if he makes mistakes like that going forward you guys need to hold him accountable,” he continued. “There’s nothing more powerful than the electronic herd, but with that said, he and I were totally on the same page. We don’t want that fire that’s burning, the competitiveness to go anywhere. Hopefully he won’t cross the line, but if he does he’ll be held accountable but we’re very confident on who he is.”

Allen, 22, is expected to greet the local media during an introductory press conference next week, but the Jacksonville, Florida, native was blown away by Salt Lake City in the pre-draft process.

He found the mountains and scenery breathtaking and can’t wait to get his NBA career going, starting with the Utah Jazz Summer League at Vivint Arena from July 2-5.

“I’m from Florida, I don’t see any change of elevation at all and for me as someone who loves outdoors and loves nature, Salt Lake City was beautiful those two days I was there,” Allen said. “So, I’m excited to get to see the city, get to see some of the great views that it has and getting accustomed to Utah, being across the country.”

Even with a couple teams pitching offers to snag Allen from the Jazz, Lindsey & Co. stayed firm on the pick.