Although he’s not likely to suit up for Wednesday’s game with Phoenix, newest Jazzman Jerel McNeal was all smiles following the team’s shootaround earlier today.
The Jazz inked McNeal, 25, to a 10-day contract.
The 6-foot-2, 200 pound guard from Marquette averaged 18.1 points and 5.5 assists in 44 games – 36 of them starts – with the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA Development League.
“For me it’s just really exciting, just humbling, to be able to be come from where I just came from and today be in an NBA locker room,” he said. “It means a lot to me.”
McNeal said he knows quite a bit about the Jazz because one of his college teammates, Wesley Matthews, is a former Jazzman.
Matthews and McNeal played together at Marquette. The two have remained close.
“I talked to him at least once or twice a week,” McNeal said.
“I got a chance to talk to him earlier this morning,” he added. “Right after I got done doing all the paperwork (on his contract with the Jazz). Just the type of guy he is, he seemed very excited for me and just happy for me that I was getting an opportunity to showcase my skills.”
McNeal is the second player the Jazz have signed to a 10-day contract this season. Earlier they signed Travis Leslie, whose contract was not picked up for a second stint.
The Jazz are using the last spot on their roster to evaluate players whom they feel might be worth signing next season or beyond. Essentially, players like McNeal and Leslie are getting a tryout and the team gets a chance to see how they conduct themselves on and off the court.
With seven free agents on the roster, Utah will have some spots available next season.
McNeal played four seasons at Marquette (2005-2009) and has been in training camp with Toronto (2012), Houston (2010) and the L.A. Clippers (2009).
He had a 10-day contract with the Hornets from March of 2011, but did not appear in game.
Look for McNeal to dress for tonight’s game if guard Randy Foye (gastric distress) or forward Marvin Williams (right heel bursitis) can’t go.