Back to work.
Coach Doug Collins left his Arizona home in the middle of last week and returned to Philadelphia. He gathered with his coaches for a dinner and on Saturday started looking at potential players the 76ers might be interested in come June 23, when the team will have the 16th and 50th picks in the NBA draft.
Should things remain status quo until draft day, the Sixers likely will look to grab a big man with the first pick, someone who can gobble up some rebounds, perhaps block some shots, and maybe even add a little offensive punch.
Six players, including locals Lavoy Allen (Temple) and Rick Jackson (Neumann-Goretti, Syracuse), worked out for Collins and his coaching staff, president Rod Thorn, general manager Ed Stefanski, assistant GM Tony DiLeo and director of player personnel Courtney Witte at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. The other players in for drills were Delvon Johnson, a 6-9 forward from Arkansas; Vernon Macklin, a 6-10 forward from Florida; 6-10 center Greg Smith from Fresno State; and Tomislav Zubcic, a 6-11 forward from Croatia.
"I think it all went pretty well," said Allen, who finished as Temple's all-time leading rebounder. "It was all big men so it was a lot of post work, a lot of screening and rolling and popping for jump shots."
Pro competition is not something new to Allen, who was part of a group of college players who helped Team USA, which included the Sixers' Andre Iguodala, prepare for the World Championships last summer.
"Just seeing what type of shape those guys were in, just seeing how hard they work, the extra workouts they got after we were done practicing [was beneficial]," Allen said.
Allen, who has worked out for Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Boston and is scheduled to meet with New York, New Jersey, Atlanta and the Lakers, raised some eyebrows by deciding not to play at the Portsmouth Invitational in early April due to "personal reasons." He reiterated Saturday that he doesn't regret the decision, noting that he needed to finish up his school work and deal with some family issues.
Jackson, the Big East defensive player of the year, was happy to "spend a couple of days with family and friends" before visiting other teams for more workouts.
"This was a good workout because it was the first time I've had a workout with all guys who play the same position," Jackson said. "Usually when you work out with a team there is usually only one other guy at your same position, so this was good."
Five more players will work out today, with another group scheduled to come in Wednesday. Players scheduled for today are Joffrey Lauvergne from France; Antonio Pena (Villanova); Lester Prosper (SUNY-Old Westbury); Willie Reed (Saint Louis); and Trey Thompkins (Georgia). This group seems to include only potential second-round picks, or players on the fringe of being selected, and again largely features power forwards. Lauvergne, Prosper and Tompkins are 6-10, Reed is 6-9.
Witte said Saturday that many players the Sixers had asked to come in for workouts declined, believing that they would be taken before the Sixers choose at No. 16.
"Right now there are about 20-plus people thinking they are going in the top 15," said Witte.
Though nothing but compliments was paid to the six who worked out on Saturday, it didn't appear as if any of them really impressed.
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