SALT LAKE CITY — Olivier Hanlan stood in the bowels of Energy Solutions Arena on Tuesday night, wiped some sweat from his brow, and smiled. The former Boston College star had just finished playing in his second summer league game with the Utah Jazz, and it had not taken him long to realize that this transition would not be easy.
In wins over the Celtics and the Spurs, the 6-foot-4-inch guard combined to score just 4 points on 1-for-7 shooting. During games, he tried to make quick adjustments to the pace of play, the athleticism of the opponents, and the fleeting nature of a 24-second shot clock. All while playing with teammates he has known for less than two weeks.
“In college, you have 35 seconds to shoot, so the ball could swing toward one end, swing back, swing back, and after that, you can make a play,” Hanlan said, using his hands to mimic the motions. “Here, you give it up, maybe two or three passes, and the ball is going up. So I have to be more decisive when I catch the ball. I need to shoot it, attack, or get in the key and find somebody.”
It has been a lot to digest, but it is also true that this is what summer leagues are for.
Hanlan declared for the NBA Draft after averaging 19.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game for the Eagles as a junior. And since he was projected to be selected anywhere between the late-first round and not at all, he could not afford to be picky during the pre-draft process.
In the end, he crisscrossed the country and worked out for 18 teams. He treated each visit as both a job interview and an opportunity to lay groundwork.
“Only one team is gonna pick you, but in the future you might play somewhere else,” he said. “So if a team had a good impression on you from the start, it’s always good.”
Hanlan said his workout with the Jazz went well, but it took place so late in the process that he did not have time to return to Utah for a second visit. The Lakers were the lone team that he met with twice.
He watched the draft with his parents at their Quebec home, and he was stunned by how long the night lingered. He had assumed picks would be made in rapid succession, not with five-minute gaps that felt like five hours.
But the wait ended when the Jazz selected him with the 42d overall pick. Hanlan knows second-round selections face plenty of uncertainty. He joins a young, talented roster that could be difficult to crack, and there is a good chance he could spend much of his rookie season in the D-League.
“This is a challenge,” Hanlan said. “But I love challenges. I’m just gonna attack it.”
Although his first two games here were quiet, he will have other opportunities soon. The Jazz close out this summer league against the 76ers on Thursday before continuing on to Las Vegas, where a 24-team league awaits.
If Hanlan makes the final roster, he would be just the third Boston College player currently in the NBA — joining Pistons guard Reggie Jackson and Wizards guard Jared Dudley. Hanlan said Jackson’s ascension gives him hope.
The 6-3 guard, who was drafted 24th overall by the Thunder in 2011, was used sparingly over his first two seasons. But in his third year his scoring average surged from 5.3 points per game to 13.1. He was traded to the Pistons in the middle of last season, and last week he agreed to a five-year, $80 million contract with Detroit.
“He came into the league and wasn’t getting a lot of minutes and kept grinding and grinding and eventually it paid off,” Hanlan said. “So that’s definitely a good example to go off of. I’m just trying to do something like that.”
After Utah’s arena emptied out Tuesday, Hanlan headed back to the team hotel, where he planned to spend what was left of the night watching film and trying to digest this new NBA world.
“You can’t get caught up in the moment too much, because it’s back to the grind the next day,” he said. “You’ve just got to keep going.”
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The Celtics play their final Utah Jazz Summer League game on Thursday against the Spurs. Boston is 0-2 in its first two games here. The team will depart for Las Vegas on Friday.