Bill Oram of the Salt Lake Tribune writes, in advance of Thursday's preseason game between the Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz, that Blazers rookie guard Damian Lillard was mentored by Jazz player development assistant Johnnie Bryant during his time at Weber State University. Bryant, like Lillard, is from Oakland, California.
"I think Johnnie was a little bit of an older brother in some ways," said Randy Rahe, Lillard's coach at Weber State and an assistant at Utah when Bryant played for the Utes.
After he was hired, Bryant, 27, sent Lillard a text message that said, "We're in the league at the same time."
"It's real competitive out there [in Oakland]," Bryant said. "There's players everywhere. That's one of those things: To get your respect, you have to work. You have to grind it out."
"I took a lot from how hard he worked," Lillard said. "He helped me really make that adjustment from high school to college. ... Somebody else that's a starting point guard at a Division I school will help me make the adjustment."
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter