If you’ve seen any Utah Jazz summer league action, you know forward Jarrell Brantley has a rare mix of strength and athleticism, and a motor that doesn’t seem to quit. But in the lobby of a Las Vegas hotel, he needed to be a little faster.
“Too slow!” Justin Wright-Foreman said as Brantley tried to swipe the hat off of the head of his teammate’s Utah Jazz draft pick.
Then Wright-Foreman took an upward swipe of his own and the two bantered.
“You gonna get my bags?” Brantley said with a smirk.
“I gotta get away from him,” Wright-Foreman said.
The two youngsters, along with fellow second-round draft pick Miye Oni, have quickly become teammates, friends and each other’s biggest supporters since being drafted by the Jazz last month.
“We’re rooting for each other,” Brantley said. “We’re all mid-major guys. Now we get a chance to sit back and root for each other and play with each other.”
Lookin’ Live: @SLCSummerLeague
“We’re just going to try to go in with that same chip on our shoulder that we did in college and try to prove people wrong.” pic.twitter.com/9G7XwCrLwM
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) July 5, 2019
There have been highs and lows for the trio as they’ve navigated their first NBA summer league action. But they have been there for each other, each step of the way.
“They all seem to have a really good relationship with each other,” said Lamar Skeeter, who coached the Jazz during the Salt Lake Summer League. “Rookies that come in at the same time kind of form this bond a lot of times. They all get along. They all like each other. They’re all competitive. It helps each one of them. They feed off each other on offense, on defense, in practice. And it’s contagious. You see it with all of our guys.”
Jazz assistant coach Vince Legarza agreed.
“Our group has been really connected,” he said. “We preach for them to be unselfish and play hard and have fun. It’s fun to see those guys having jelling and celebrating one another’s successes.”
Brantley averaged 13.5 points and 5 rebounds in two Salt Lake City Summer League appearances before being slowed by hamstring tightness in Las Vegas. Wright-Foreman has averaged 11.7 points and 3.5 assists in four summer league games, while trying to navigate playing a new position against pro talent.
“It’s a learning process,” Wright-Foreman said. “I’m just trying to learn from the guys here. … It’s been going great. My teammates have really been helping me.”
Brantley and Wright-Foreman forged a friendship earlier this year, when they teamed up to win 3x3U National Championship–and a $100,000 prize.
But the two quickly embraced Oni and have been some of his biggest fans along the way, watching the Yale wing break out offensively in Salt Lake City and, later, coming up with a game-saving block against Portland’s Anfernee Simons this week in Vegas.
“Those are my guys,” Oni said. “It’s good to see each of us kind of breaking out of shells a little bit. … We just all keep feeding off each other’s energy.”
“It’s a great story,” added Brantley. “I’m sure good things will happen for all three of us.”