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Jazz Man visits youth in Castle Dale and Green River

Jordan Baletka shoots his foul shot while Zayne Cologie and Morris Almond, Jazz man, watch.
Camrey Johnson takes on Morris Almond as she tries to get off a shot.

By PATSY STODDARD
Editor

Morris Almond, 23, was the man of the hour as he presented programs in both Castle Dale and Green River. He is a rookie for the Utah Jazz and wears number 22 which he chose because he was born on Feb. 2 and February is the second month so 22 seemed a good choice for the 6'6" player.

Nate Martinez accompanied Almond on his tour of southeastern Utah. Martinez said Almond was there to teach the players about basketball and also lessons basketball can teach about life. Almond said he was born in Atlanta, Ga. and attended schools there and went to college at Rice University in Texas. Almond said he has always watched the NBA draft and last year his name was called and he loaded up his things and came to Utah the next day. He was glad this year the Boston Celtics won the whole thing and eliminated Los Angeles. He expects Utah to be in the finals next year. "There are a lot of good guys that play for the Jazz. It's a good team and we all get along together. Some NBA teams are fighting all the time, and we just don't have that here. Coach Sloan is like our Daddy and we are all 14 brothers. We do what he says. We've got a good thing going here in Utah.

"I have always loved basketball. I played after school after doing my school work. Have fun playing and play hard," said Almond.

Almond talked to the players about sportsmanship. "Treat other players and treat the coach how you would want to be treated," said Almond. "Don't taunt, everyone has feelings and deserves respect," said Almond.

Almond instructed the players to relax at the free throw line. Always shoot the ball the same way and go through the same routine at the line. "If you miss it, just forget it, you'll get another shot," said Almond.

The players all lined up to take their foul shots and the Jazz man commented that the Emery County shooters were the best they'd seen so far.

Almond answered questions from the players. They wanted to know what he thinks about Utah. "When I was first drafted, I thought where is Utah? But, it's grown on me. It's really different having snow. We don't get snow in Atlanta. I'm OK as long as I have a jacket and long johns. I wanted to play for the team that wanted me. My favorite players over the years are Shaquille O'Neal and Michael Jordan. Coach Sloan is one of the smartest coaches. He's been coaching the Jazz almost as long as I've been alive. He's old school. He's fair. He works you hard. He's like your grandpa and he knows everything," said Almond.




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