JaVale McGee remembers that his mom "was always in the gym," so it was perfectly natural for him to be there, too. Mom transformed being in the gym into a career, so why not the son?
Mom, in this case, is Pam McGee, who won two NCAA championships at Southern California, helped the U.S. win a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics, and played and coached in the WNBA.
JaVale, 20, has risen to 7-foot and nearly 240 pounds, spent two seasons at the University of Nevada and has declared himself as an early entry candidate in the NBA draft. He went through a rigorous predraft workout yesterday at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, joining 6-10 C.J. Giles, who attended Kansas and Oregon State and was dismissed from both teams, and 6-10 Callistus Eziukwu, the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference player of the year at Division II Grand Valley State.
This was the Sixers' first in a long series of workout sessions leading up to the June 26 draft, in which they hold the No. 16 pick. They do not have a second-round pick, and the additional first-rounder acquired from the Utah Jazz (with a 7-year shelf life and various protections) in the trade for Kyle Korver does not begin to kick in until next year.
Of yesterday's prospects, McGee had the highest profile, the only one to have his biographical and statistical information included in the league's media draft guide.
"People have been telling me I'm ready, so I figured I'd take a chance," said McGee, who averaged 14.1 points and 7.3 rebounds as a sophomore after averaging a modest 10 minutes a game as a freshman. He led the Western Athletic Conference this season with 2.8 blocks per game, ranking No. 14 nationally.
JaVale said his mom now works for an outreach program in Michigan. In March, she was quoted by the Associated Press in Reno, Nev., nicknaming her son "The Big Secret."
"We are at the point now to ask not is he a pro, but what kind of pro, what type of pro will he become?" Pam McGee said at the time.
Said JaVale: "A lot of people don't know what I can do, because I came out of nowhere."
Giles missed the first seven games at Oregon State last season after transferring from Kansas, where, according to the Seattle Times, he was cited for misdemeanor assault. He played in a total of 54 games for the Jayhawks in two seasons, averaging 6.2 points and 4.8 rebounds as a sophomore in 2005-06.
He appeared in 10 games for Oregon State (6.3 points, 5.6 rebounds) before being dismissed by interim coach Kevin Mouton for missing practices, meetings and weight-training sessions, but Mouton also described him in the Seattle Times as "the most talented, athletic player I've ever coached."
Giles described his problems as a case of "me being young, making poor decisions. Ultimately, I learned from that." He said he wanted "to show people who I am, not what people think I am."
was one of the instructors during yesterday's session, and could be rejoining the staff in some capacity. McKie was serving as an unofficial player-development assistant last season when - because the Los Angeles Lakers still held his playing rights - he was signed by them and included in the trade for
from the Memphis Grizzlies . . . Agent
confirmed that backup center
has invoked his player option for a little more than $1.1 million for next season. Booth had to make a decision by June 21. *