Who are Jack Cooley and Bryce Cotton?

February 24th, 2015 | by David J Smith
Jack Cooley looks to be the latest Utah Jazz addition (Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports)

Jack Cooley looks to be the latest Utah Jazz addition (Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports)

Last week’s big trade that sent center Enes Kanter and sharpshooter Steve Novak to the Oklahoma City Thunder not only altered the Utah Jazz’s rotation. It also provided some roster flexibility with a few vacancies1.

One thing is for sure: if Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey has the opportunity, he will use the roster space to get extended looks at guys he likes. Moreover, he has the Miller family’s support and resources to do so.

In case you are keeping score, here are the players who the Jazz have had a look at:

  • Training camp guys: Utah were able to take looks at guards Kevin Murphy, Dee Bost and Dahntay Jones and big men Brock Motum and Jack Cooley. 
  • Carrick Felix: he was brought over in a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers that sent John Lucas III, Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy to the Cavs. Felix made it through training camp and preseason, only to be waived prior to the regular season – despite having guaranteed money.
  • Joe Ingles: The reason Felix was let go was the fact that a few players Utah really liked became available as final NBA rosters were pared. Ingles was cut by the Los Angeles Clippers and after being claimed, he immediately became part of the Jazz’s rotation and eventually the starting line-up. A classic glue guy, he is certainly someone Utah will look to lock up this offseason. His passing, gritty defense and improved outside shooting have been very important to Snyder and the Jazz.
  • Jordan Hamilton: Hamilton was picked up the same day as Ingles, but never played an official minute for the Jazz. It was a bit surprising, as he has some solid NBA experience, showing some ability to score at this level.
  • Toure’ Murry: Murry had his moments during his rookie season with the New York Knicks, enough for several teams to inquire about his services. Utah won, but he never got any traction with the Jazz. Despite some back court injuries and gaudy D-League stat lines, he only played in one game for Utah. He was cut the next day, before his 2014-2015 pact became fully guaranteed.
  • Patrick Christopher: He was brought up from the D-League as a potential “3 and D” guy. He played admirably in his stint with Utah, even starting a game. Unfortunately, he was derailed by a knee injury and was cut2.
  • Elijah Millsap: another fun success story. Brought up to replace Christopher, Millsap has proven he is more than just Paul’s younger brother. The aggressive swingman’s stats do not jump out, but he fights hard on defense, crashes the boards, can pass and hits the 3-pointer. He was understandably inked for the rest of the season.
  • Elliot Williams: A former first-round pick, Williams played well in his sparse minutes, but was not kept. He has since been signed and waived by the Charlotte Hornets, ironically when Charlotte acquired another former Jazz guard named Williams – Mo.
  • Chris Johnson: The young NBA veteran had a pair of nice games, but had some awkward timing on his 10-day deal due to the extended All-Star break. Sometimes the timing is everything.

Let me give you a moment to catch your breath in this remarkable game of musical chairs. The hope is that the Jazz find the diamonds in the rough–think Danny Green of the San Antonio Spurs– and so far, in Ingles and Millsap, have done pretty well here.

Now, we are hearing the following:

And this:

All in a day’s work for Dennis Lindsey and company. The two moves have not been made official, but Stein and Wojnarowski have a good track record with the Jazz of late. There is a lot of talk about Utah bringing over the newly acquired 7’2″ center Tibor Pleiss, but apparently that transaction has hit a snag.

So, who are the newest, potential Jazzmen?

Bryce Cotton, 22, is a 6’1″ point guard who was a four-year player for Providence University. After not being recruited much out of high school, the Friars took a flyer on him and were better as a result. Cotton showed great improvement from season to season. A rotational player as a freshman, he started his final three seasons. He showed the ability to facilitate, play defense, hit 3-pointers in volume and get to the free throw line frequently. Cotton’s senior season was impressive: 21.8 PPG (37 percent on 6.0 3-point attempts/game and 85 percent free throws (7.6 attempts/game)), 5.9 APG and 3.5 RPG3. An All-Big East selection, Cotton propelled his team to the conference championship, earning a trip to the NCAA tournament. The Friars pushed the North Carolina Tar Heels, losing 79-77. Cotton had 36 points and eight assists in the losing effort.

Despite his heroics, he went undrafted. Cotton seems used to that. The San Antonio Spurs picked him up. He played summer league for them4 and was in training camp before being cut. They liked him enough to snag him for their affiliate team, the Austin Spurs.  He has been very good for Austin, averaging 22.4 PPG, 4.7 APG, 4.7 RPG and 1.3 APG. Cotton has shot a very good 47 percent from the floor, including 45 percent from downtown (six attempts per outing). 90 percent from the free throw is also a plus. He played in the recent D-League All-Star game. The fact that the Spurs like him should be a good sign for the Jazz.

He recently posted 40-points at the D-League Showcase:

Next, Jack Cooley. The 23-year old forward has definite NBA size at 6’9″, 246 lbs. Another four-year collegiate player, Cooley excelled for Notre Dame. His first two seasons were modest, but he turned things on his junior and senior years for the Irish. He averaged a double-double–13.1 PPG and 10.1 RPG–his final season, along with 1.2 BPG. While his play secured him a number of NBA workouts in 2013, Cooley went undrafted.

After playing summer league that year for both the Houston Rockets and the Memphis Grizzlies, he took his talents to Turkey. There were reports circulating then that several NBA teams had offer him partially guaranteed deals, but he opted to go overseas. The Jazz have longed been linked with him. He worked out for them at draft time, participated in free agent mini camps for Utah and, of course, was a late training camp cut. Cooley has been playing for the Idaho Stampede, bringing his double-double action there. The big man is averaging 15.5 PPG (55 percent shooting from the floor), 10.6 RPG and 1.4 BPG. He turned a lot of heads with a recent 25-point, 20-rebound performance. Cooley’s familiarity with the Jazz system, thanks to both training camp and his time in Boise, will be a plus in his favor.

Here are some highlights from one of his recent games:

This Twitter exchange is added reason to cheer on Cooley in Utah:

If both signings occur, the Jazz would have seven rookies on the roster–Dante Exum, Rodney Hood, Ingles, Millsap, Grant Jerrett, Cotton and Cooley. That is remarkable, even for a team that is quite young.

Between the two, Utah is hoping to shore up their bench shooting and rebounding. Cotton and Cooley will both been given the chances to stick, with two months left in the season.

David J Smith

David J Smith

Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News and has written for the Utah Jazz website and Hoopsworld.com (now Basketball Insiders). He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. He and his incredibly patient wife, Elizabeth, have some amazing children--four girls and two boys. Voted "Most Likely to Replace Jerry Sloan" in high school.
David J Smith


  1. Berdj Joseph Rassam says:

    I don’t know – I liked Kanter, and obviously so does OKC. Don’t know that it was the best deal available for the Jazz to make. I guess time will tell.

    • JockStrap says:

      I liked Kanter also, but Gobert is a better all-around player and much more dominant defensively. Gobert deserves more minutes. It was a good trade for both Teams.

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