The 76ers had two big men participate in their Monday morning predraft workout; Naz Reid, a New Jersey native who showed a versatile skill package in his lone year at LSU, and Zach Hankins, a less-known player out of Xavier who could be a good under-the-radar pick for the Sixers.
There are many reasons why you probably don’t know who Hankins is. He didn’t have any Division I offers coming out of high school and barely caught the eye of Division II programs, taking the only scholarship offered to him from Ferris State in Big Rapids, Mich.
Hankins spent four seasons at Ferris State (redshirting his first year), worked out with the Milwaukee Bucks during predraft workouts last year, then left for Xavier as a graduate transfer for his final collegiate season. The Musketeers lost in the second round of the NIT.
On the other side of the story, there are many reasons why a team like the Sixers could be interested in the 6-foot-11 Hankins. Though he wasn’t a highly touted recruit, Hankins continued to make large leaps in growth during his time at Ferris State, leading the team to a NCAA Division II national title in 2018. He was named the tournament MVP as well as the Division II player of the year.
With an opportunity to play for Division I Xavier, Hankins feels he’s now ready to contribute to an NBA team.
“There’s great basketball in D-2 and I did really well there, but you need to get the exposure,” Hankins said Monday after his workout at the Sixers’ practice facility. “You need to play in front of 10,000 fans, get in the Big East Tournament, play in Madison Square Garden, show your game to people.”
It was exactly those higher-profile opportunities that have more NBA teams calling this time around. He’s already worked out with the Warriors, Raptors, and Sixers, and is scheduled to be with the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.
While a player like Reid is seen as a versatile forward/center who can stretch the floor, there are concerns about his conditioning and his decision-making, which could largely be a product of being just 19 years old.
Hankins, who turns 23 in July, is still trying to develop his outside game, but he is an impressive rim runner whose calling card is defense. He finished his final season at Ferris State averaging 15.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks per game. At Xavier, Hankins averaged 10.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game.
Though the Sixers have been vague with their draft plans and haven’t said which position they will be targeting, there is one thing that they have made clear: Rather than a young project, they want a player who can come in and fill a need right now. That can mean an older player who is developed, or a player whose game is more mature and advanced. If that’s the case, Hankins might be a safe bet on both fronts.
“I’m shooting better and better every day,” Hankins said. “But you’ve got to know where your bread is buttered, and mine is in running the floor, defense, getting blocks, getting rebounds, and finishing around the rim and in the pick-and-roll."