NEW YORK — One could argue that Jaden Springer was destined to play for the 76ers.
The Sixers’ 28th overall pick in Thursday’s NBA draft has ties to the organization and to the city of Philadelphia.
His father, Gary, was selected by the Sixers in the sixth round of the 1984 draft. His cousin, DeAndre’ Bembry, was a standout at St. Joseph’s before embarking on an NBA career. Bembry played this past season for the Toronto Raptors.
Springer’s ties to Philly goes beyond family.
At IMG Academy, he was a teammate of former Villanova standout Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, a second-round pick who was acquired by the Oklahoma City Thunder during Thursday’s draft.
Gary Springer never played for the Sixers because of injuries. However, his son can get a sense of what it’s like to play in Philly from Bembry and Robinson-Earl.
The one thing that became obvious during Daryl Morey’s 1:30 a.m. Friday press conference is that the Sixers are pleased to have him in the area.
“We’re really excited about Jaden,” said Morey, the Sixers’ president of basketball operations. “You know a position where you can see a path to him potentially getting on the floor. Usually, it takes a rookie more than a year, but you never know.”
The Charlotte, N.C. native led Tennessee in scoring with 12.5 points per game to go with 3.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.2 steals this past season as a freshman. The 6-foot-4, 204-pounder shot 43.5% from beyond the college three-point line while earning Southeastern Conference All-Freshman honors. But Springer is more of a mid-range shooter, as he only attempted 1.8 three-pointers a game in college.
“He made a very high percentage of his three-pointers in college,” Morey said, “but often the volume will tell you a little bit more.
“We think his shooting will be something that probably right out of the gate we wouldn’t expect him to bang 40% of NBA threes. But we know he’s a worker. He knows he has the ability.”
Springer has a solid touch around the rim and is a good free-throw shooter. Morey said those things often indicate a player becoming a solid shooter. The Sixers will have a plan for Springer, who doesn’t turn 19 until Sept. 25.
“So the sky is the limit with Jaden,” Morey said.
In other news, former Michigan State star Aaron Henry has agreed to a two-way deal with the Sixers. The 6-6 small forward averaged 15.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 3.6 assists this past season as a junior.