SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – All season, the Utah Jazz have been playing for something more than just progress towards their standing as the top team in the NBA; they’ve also been playing to help send underrepresented kids to college.
For the first time, the players got to see the fruits of their labor when they video-called winners of the team’s scholarship program in a video that was posted on the Jazz’s social media on Wednesday afternoon.
“I had to call you let you know, man, that you got the scholarship. You got the Utah Jazz scholarship,” All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell told an excited and shocked recipient over the phone.
Other Jazz players, such as Jordan Clarkson, Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale, Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, and Mike Conley also made calls to the recipients.
Smiles and laughter filled the screens as the scholarship winners received life-changing news from stars of the hometown team.
“You’re joking,” said one scholarship winner, with hands over his mouth after getting the news from Conley.
“Not at all, man,” replied Conley with a gigantic smile on his face.
The high schooler on the other end of the call with O’Neale immediately burst into tears after the forward gave her the congratulations.
So far this year, the Jazz have racked up an NBA-best 52 wins combined with three victories from the preseason. The team has prepared to give out 55 scholarships to a Utah high schooler from an underrepresented group.
The scholarships will be accepted by the school of the winners’ choosing at Brigham Young University, Southern Utah University, the University of Utah, Utah State, UVU, and Weber State. The award is a full-ride and will cover books, fees, and housing, in addition to tuition.
According to the team, hundreds of applications were received and winners were chosen by 10,000 Degrees, a nonprofit group based in San Rafael, Calif.
So far, the Jazz have given out 30 available scholarships for this upcoming school year. The remaining scholarships will be applied to the next school year.
As the top seed in the upcoming NBA Playoffs, the Jazz are waiting on the results of the Play-In Tournament to find out who their opening series opponent will be. Utah is expected to play its first home playoff game of 2021 this weekend, likely on Sunday, according to a few reports.