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Trent Forrest, Udoka Azubuike stand out for Jazz as Salt Lake City Summer League ends

Utah Jazz center Udoka Azubuike sets a pick so guard Trent Forrest can get past San Antonio Spurs guard Justin Turner
Utah Jazz center Udoka Azubuike sets a pick so guard Trent Forrest can get past San Antonio Spurs guard Justin Turner during an NBA Summer League game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

The sixth year of the Salt Lake City Summer League wrapped up Friday night.

An 83-65 Utah Jazz White victory over their counterpart Utah Jazz Blue concluded the three-day event as some of the organization’s young, prospective talent were able to showcase their abilities in front of fans and front office personnel at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Utah White — the more polished of the two Jazz squads in terms of official NBA roster experience — finished the event with a perfect 3-0 record, while Utah Blue finished 1-2 with a lone win over the Spurs Wednesday night.

Much of the success for Utah White can be attributed to the standout play of second year pro Trent Forrest, who finished Friday night’s game with 14 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds, bringing his three game averages to 14.3 points, 9 assists and 4.3 rebounds.

Forrest, who’s searching for a fully guaranteed NBA contract, wanted to showcase his improvements as a shooter and his ability to act as a floor general for a team.

“I feel like a big part of it was showing that I’ve been working on my shooting,” Forrest said after the game when asked what he took away from the event. “I feel like I did that and still could’ve done better at that, but also just being able to run a team. With these guys I’ve been kind of the main guy, and I feel like that was something different for me that I haven’t been used to since college.”

As an undrafted rookie out of Florida State last year, Forrest was able to log meaningful minutes for the Jazz during the regular season when injuries pushed others out of the rotation. Though his strong summer league performances may force the hand of the Jazz when it comes to receiving a fully guaranteed deal, Forrest said that getting the contract isn’t something he really dwells upon.

“I don’t really think about it,” he said. “I’ve had friends back home ask me if I’m worried about it. I just go out and do what I’m supposed to do and live with the results and, for me, that’s how it’s always been.”

Forrest went on to say that he’d love to be back in Utah next year and beyond, citing the players and culture as reasons for wanting to return.

Forrest displayed an excellent rapport with fellow second-year pro Udoka Azubuike, who stood out in his own right throughout his three games at Vivint Arena.

Azubuike averaged 13.6 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks over the course of the event, all while shooting nearly 87% from the field. The performances gave Jazz fans their first real glimpse of why the front office invested a first-round pick in the big-bodied center last season.

Azubuike said after Utah White’s first game against the Spurs that it felt great being out on the floor and experiencing the flow of real games. He felt he played well, but still has a lot to improve on.

“For the most part I think I did (show what I can do),” Azubuike said. “Run the floor, set screens, rebound the ball, block shots, stuff that’s going to translate into a real game when the regular season starts. I feel like I’ve still got a long way to go. I need to do a better job, but for the most part I think I did (well).”

Jarrell Brantley also showed flashes at times for the Utah White team. Brantley’s best showing in the event came in a 19-point outing against the Spurs.

The Jazz will now have to evaluate and consolidate the two teams into one as they travel to Nevada for the Las Vegas Summer League. The Jazz’s first game will be played on Monday against the Phoenix Suns at 8 p.m.