By Madison Guernsey
POCATELLO — On the basketball court, Jarrell Brantley doesn’t look like any ordinary citizen.
Especially when he’s hooping it up with a bunch of kids.
But really, Brantley says, he’s a lot like the rest of us. He plays video games, grew up idolizing the likes of Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, and lists his mother as his biggest supporter and mentor.
Brantley showed his human side Monday at a Junior Jazz basketball camp at Irving Middle School.
The Utah Jazz rookie spent an hour with around 70 young campers, ending his visit with a question-and-answer session followed by opportunities for photos and autographs.
“I get to show my personality,” Brantley said. “The fans don’t necessarily know who I am. They just know Jarrell Brantley. So I think this is important, and I get to have fun with the kids, which is fun. ... It’s been amazing.”
Brantley’s trip to Idaho was his first. The native of Columbia, South Carolina, who played college basketball at South Carolina’s College of Charleston, said he’s fitting in well with the Jazz and their rabid fan base.
Brantley was selected in the second round of this summer’s NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers and subsequently traded to Utah. The Jazz signed him to a two-way contract on July 16.
PHOTOS: Junior Jazz camp in Pocatello
“Salt Lake City is beautiful, way more beautiful than I thought it was,” Brantley said. “The environment out here is amazing, and the atmosphere with the fans and the people, genuine people, they love Salt Lake City and they love Jazz basketball.”
While Brantley mostly helped Monday’s campers with basic basketball skills and teamwork activities, he also showed off some of his NBA attributes. The end of the camp was highlighted by deep 3-pointers and dunks that left spectators in awe.
Earlier in the day, Brantley attended a skill-specific clinic at the Mountain View Event Center that served 120 more young basketball players.
He said one of his major goals at these camps is to show fans of all ages how “normal” he is. Getting recognized at the airport has been an admitted adjustment.
Sometimes proving his normalcy can be hard, given his 6-foot-7, 255-pound frame and aforementioned high-flying abilities. He hopes a few intimate hours with young basketball fans helps with that.
“I’m realizing now that people look at us a little different,” the 23-year-old said. “I know that I’m normal, so I think that’s the most important thing. It could be one of these kids who could be NBA players in 10 years. I think that’s the most important thing is just making sure that they understand who we are as people.”