Quin Snyder: ‘Exum Is Very Good And A Special Kid’

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Quin Snyder and Dante Exum (Credit: Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

Quin Snyder and Dante Exum (Credit: Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

You might remember Quin Snyder from his days at Missouri, where he coached from 1999-2006. Well, he’s been pretty busy ever since.

Snyder has coached in the D-League, the NBA, Russia and once more in the NBA. He spent last season as an assistant with Atlanta, but now, at 47, he’s the head coach of the Utah Jazz.

That’s right. Head coach of the Utah Jazz.

You’ll have to forgive Snyder if he’s still pinching himself.

“I don’t know if you ever get used to something like that,” he said on The John Feinstein Show. “There’s only 30 (NBA head-coaching jobs) in the world, so if you get a chance (at one), hopefully you do a good job and leave it in a better place than when you took it.”

Snyder made a massive commitment to the Jazz by buying a home in Utah – despite the fact that this is his fifth team in five years.

“I kind of promised myself silently that I wouldn’t buy a home again,” Snyder said. “(In) this profession, you’re transient. If you think about having a place, it’s more of a summer residence. It’s really a place you can go if you don’t have anywhere to go because that can be the case. That’s the reality. These aren’t long, long-term jobs. You hope they are, but they don’t seem to be that way. I’ve been a little transient, but its good to have some roots, and hopefully they grow deeper and deeper in Salt Lake.”

Snyder prefers certain aspects of NBA coaching, and he prefers certain aspects of coaching college, where the stakes are a little lower and there’s more mentoring involved.

“To be honest, I think that’s becoming less impactful as kids are even more focused on the basketball side,” Snyder said of college mentoring. “I don’t know that kids are going to school right now saying, ‘Gosh, I’m going to go get a great education.’ I think people are really focused on the NBA. So when you’re in the NBA, you get players that really really want to be there. And the players are so good, it’s crazy. These guys are the elite of the elite. And if you can do something as a coach to help them, you really can see the impact of what you work on in your profession.”

It’s also nice having your best player for more than one year, which isn’t always the case in college.

“From a coaching standpoint, you have an opportunity,” Snyder said, “because development is so, so important.”

Snyder will have to do plenty of that in Utah. He inherits a Jazz team that went 25-57 last year – worst in the Western Conference. Utah went 16-25 at home and a dismal 9-32 on the road, but it did retain Gordon Hayward, who averaged 16.2 points, 5.2 assists and 5.1 rebounds last season. Hayward, 24, signed a four-year, $63-million contract extension this summer.

“I think it was a no-brainer for a lot of reasons,” Snyder said of the extension. “I had just arrived here in Utah. Like any business, there’s economics that come into play. Gordon is obviously a guy that a lot of people valued – and the market reflected that – and we’re fortunate (to have him back). I think he’s excited to be back here, too. He’s a guy that I’m excited about coaching.”

But not the only one. With Trey Burke, 21, Dante Exum, 19, and Derrick Favors, 23, the Jazz have one of the more intriguing young rosters in the NBA.

Especially Exum, the baby-faced shooter from Down Under.

“He’s very, very good,” Snyder said of the Melbourne native. “The first time I saw Dante Exum play, I was in the airport waiting for a flight, and I looked up and Serbia was playing Australia at the U-19s, and I was like, ‘Okay, this guy’s fast.’ And then the next time I saw him was on tape and he was still fast. That speed, that gear and kind of the ease with which he accelerates and plays the game is really unique. And then you meet him and he’s just a quality young man. The accent kind of adds a little mystique to his persona. I think he’s a special kid.”

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