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Utah Jazz: Collinsworth 'staying in the moment' as he seeks to impress NBA teams (+video and photos)

SALT LAKE CITY — Kyle Collinsworth most likely won't get picked in this year's NBA draft, but the former BYU basketball star isn't letting those so-called experts' discouraging projections deter him.

After all, Collinsworth has his sights set squarely on playing professionally, and the key to performing well in teams' pre-draft workouts, he says, is "staying in the moment."

"The first couple workouts, you get in there and I just think that you don't know what's gonna happen, so you kinda get a little anxious, you don't know what it's gonna be like," said Collinsworth, who worked out for the Utah Jazz at Zions Bank Basketball Center on Friday along with five other NBA hopefuls. "But after you get that first workout under your belt, and you just realize it's just going out there and playing and having fun.

"The biggest thing is just staying in the moment. You travel a lot, and I'm just trying to enjoy each city that I go to, just do fun things, just relax and stay in the moment and not get caught up thinking to the next workout and to the next day and all that stuff. Just try and stay in the moment. I'll only do this once, this process, so try and make the most of it."

Collinsworth, a 6-foot-6 guard, certainly has the collegiate credentials of a future pro prospect. He was the West Coast Conference Player of the Year in 2016, was selected to the All-WCC first team three times, was a two-time honorable mention All-American and is BYU's career leader in rebounds and assists.

He ranked fourth in the nation in total assists last season, when he averaged 7.4 per game along with 15.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per outing, and is the NCAA record-holder for triple-doubles in a career (12) and a single season (6).

And now the former Cougar star is hoping to fool those experts and find a place to play in the big boys' league. He's been enjoying the workout process thus far.

"I love it," Collinsworth said. "I've been training like a professional since after I tore my ACL. I made up my mind I was gonna play professional (basketball) and I've been training like one, eating like one, just approaching the game like a professional. So it's good to be done with school, graduate, and just do full-time basketball finally.

"I need to keep developing my shot. I didn't shoot a lot of 3s in college, and now it's a little deeper (3-point arc), but I've made improvements, and that's just the word — keep developing that and keep working."

Collinsworth admitted that his outside shooting ability might be the thing that holds him back from being selected in the NBA draft on June 23. So he's been trying to show his shooting range, as well as his ability to play defense — two qualities that could make him a hot commodity.

"In the NBA, you've got to be able knock down spot-up shots, especially in the corner," he said. "So shooting's a big thing I've got to try and show that I can do. I just didn't do it while I was in college. I was distributing, getting guys shots, getting to the rebound, pull-up jumpers and stuff. So I just think shooting and defense, just being able to stay in front of point guards, those are the two main things.

"The important part about this process is just staying in the moment. You don't know what's gonna happen, you don't know your future. But I just try to take care of business every day, get better, get better at the things I need to, just put it all out there, and it'll take care of itself."

Walt Perrin, the Jazz team's vice president of player personnel, said Collinsworth showed some good skills in Friday's workout.

"His size helps because he can look over smaller players. His ability to pass the ball helps," Perrin said. "He's not overly long but he's got size that would translate to the NBA.

"But again, you've got to be able to knock down open shots. His ability on our level to space the floor a lot better than the collegiate level will help him."

Collinsworth, who'll turn 25 years old in October, felt like he did pretty well in Friday's workout, partly because Utah's higher altitude didn't bother the Provo native at all. He said the Jazz were one of his favorite teams growing up.

"I liked the Jazz, I liked the Sonics, too, with Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp," Collinsworth said. "I grew up here, grew up watching the Jazz, went to Jazz games with my dad, so it's cool. It's cool to be able to work out for them now that I'm older and can participate in this."

Today he'll be watching his wife, BYU All-American track athlete Shea Martinez-Collinsworth, try to bring home an NCAA title in the 800-meter run at Eugene, Oregon.

"It is crazy," he said. "She's traveling all over for track. She's running for a national championship (Saturday), and I'm actually gonna fly out tonight and I'm gonna make it (up there) because I don't have my next workout until Tuesday. So I'll be able to see her race for a national championship.

"It's been good. We try to be supportive. We haven't seen each other for a while, but we try to stay in the moment. I support her, she supports me and we make the most of it."

MY HAPPY VALENTINE: Although Collinsworth was the most well-known local name in Friday's workouts — which also included former University of Utah player Dakarai Tucker and former SLCC star Gary Payton II — the guy who could very well be Utah's pick at No. 12 in the first round, former Michigan State star Denzel Valentine, was also on hand at Zions Bank Basketball Center for his first pre-draft workout.

The 6-5 combo guard said and did all the right things.

"This is a great organization," Valentine said. "I love the coach, love coach (Quin) Snyder, and it's a greatly run organization and I had a good workout.

"I know they have (Dante') Exum at the point, and me and him could take turns, or I could play the off guard. I'm just another guy to play in pick and roll, (I'd) be able to guard 1 through 3 as well and be able to make plays that way."

Speaking of his strengths, Valentine pointed to "my size and the way I can make plays, be able to shoot the ball and space the floor and being versatile. With the way the game's going right now, versatile guards that can space the floor and make plays in transition or in half-court are becoming very valuable, and also a guy that can guard a lot of positions, and I feel I fit that mold."

Valentine said the progress he made during his college career should show pro scouts how much potential he has for the future.

"I think what I did was I got better every year," said the former Spartans' star, who averaged 19.2 points, 7.8 assists and 7.5 rebounds as a senior, when he was named the Associated Press Player of the Year. "And I think if you see that on paper, see the stats, see my body and everything, I have been (improving each year).

"It's only gonna get better, I'm only gonna keep getting better every year, so I'm not gonna stop where I'm at. So if I can show improvement like I have in my four years of college, I plan on doing that at the next level, too."

The poker-faced Perrin seemed suitably impressed with Valentine's workout and said he could see the former MSU star fitting in very well with the current Jazz roster.

"I thought he shot it well, handled it pretty well," Perrin said. "I think he's got to tighten it up a little bit more, but he showed some ability to put it on the floor and create a shot for himself.

"He's a gym rat, so he'll get in the gym without the coaches and work on what he needs to work on — no qualms about his work ethic.

"I think he would fit with our team structure and how we play and how he plays," Perrin said. "I think he would help us a little bit in terms of he is a pretty good shooter and I think he's going to become better. He does pass the ball extremely well, which Quin likes, and I think he would fit into Salt Lake City."

EMAIL: rhollis@desnews.com