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Junior NBA Junior Jazz tournament encourages Utah’s youth to get on the court

Feb 19, 2023, 5:20 PM | Updated: 5:30 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The Junior NBA Junior Jazz tournament was a big success at the Salt Palace, so much so that getting kids up early on a weekend wasn’t hard.

“They were up. Usually, it’s hard getting them up, but this time, they’re waking us up,” said Julius Rowe with a laugh.

Rowe said his two boys couldn’t wait to compete. He also loves that the NBA made this event part of the All-Star weekend to keep kids in mind.

“On Saturday, they got to see Paul George, and today they’re doing a skills challenge, so it’s been exciting,” Julius said.

That skills challenge was a chance to show off what they can do in front of coaches and other basketball staff. Rowe’s son, Malik, hit his shot on his very first try.

Junior Jazz players on the court for Sunday's Junior NBA Junior Jazz tournament. (KSLTV/Mark Less) Junior Jazz players on the court for Sunday's Junior NBA Junior Jazz tournament. (KSLTV/Mark Less) Junior Jazz players on the court for Sunday's Junior NBA Junior Jazz tournament. (KSLTV/Mark Less) Junior Jazz players on the court for Sunday's Junior NBA Junior Jazz tournament. (KSLTV/Mark Less) Junior Jazz players on the court for Sunday's Junior NBA Junior Jazz tournament. (KSLTV/Mark Less) Junior Jazz players on the court for Sunday's Junior NBA Junior Jazz tournament. (KSLTV/Mark Less) Junior Jazz players on the court for Sunday's Junior NBA Junior Jazz tournament. (KSLTV/Mark Less) Jr. NBA logo on the court. (KSLTV/Mark Less)

“I love basketball. I’ve been playing it for a while now—five to six years. I’m 11 years old now,” Malik Rowe said.

Mailk, his little brother, and his friends dream of playing in the NBA one day. Events like this help fuel that dream.

“I think it’s really good for them that they get to learn how to have new skills,” Malik said. “Hopefully, they have fun, and they work hard.”

It is an example of the power of the NBA All-Star Game. With it happening right across the street from the Salt Palace, that dream doesn’t seem so far away.

“I’ve been kind of upset because it has been multiple cities since the last time it’s been to Utah,” Julius said. “So, I am excited that it’s here.”

He just hopes it won’t take another 30 years to get the All-Star Game back.

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Junior NBA Junior Jazz tournament encourages Utah’s youth to get on the court