Terance Mann will enter the NBA draft looking to make an impression on defense. Might his skills interest the 76ers?
A senior guard this past season at Florida State, Mann was among six players who participated Monday at a predraft workout at the Sixers’ practice facility in Camden. Listed at 6-foot-6 ½ in shoes at the NBA combine, Mann was a defensive terror at Florida State, which earned a Sweet 16 berth this past season and was in the Elite Eight his junior year.
“I would say everybody at Florida State is kind of known for their defense, and it is why we are drawn to that program a little bit,” Vince Rozman, the Sixers’ senior director of scouting, said after the workout. “With Terance, he is unique, for his size and position; he is a very good passer, a very good ballhandler, I think he moves well off the ball. He is just a player, a good player.”
In a league that is always looking for defensive stoppers, Mann could certainly be a fit for the Sixers, who will pick 24th in the first round and four times in the second round (Nos. 33, 34, 42 and 54) on June 20.
In a mock draft by draftsite.com, Mann was projected to be the 44th overall selection.
Mann thinks defense will be his calling card.
“Just my energy on the defensive end, I think that will get me in,” Mann said.
Mann understands that there are questions about his game on the other end of the court.
“A lot of people think my jump shot is off,” he said. “I think I will do a great job of showing people I have the ability to shoot, also.”
This past season, Mann was Florida State’s second-leading scorer, averaging 11.4 points. He shot 30-for-77 (.390) from three-point range for the 29-8 Seminoles, whose season ended with a 72-58 loss to Gonzaga in the Sweet 16.
The game before, FSU beat Murray State, 90-62. Murray State was led by Ja Morant, the sophomore point guard who could be the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft. Morant finished with 28 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Mann spent time guarding him.
“He has the ability to find anyone, anywhere, and you have to be on your toes when you guard him,” said Mann, who finished with 1,322 career points.
That Mann was able to guard such an explosive point guard shows his defensive versatility.
“Whatever a team needs on defense, a person who can guard one through four, I will do that, no questions asked,” Mann said.
Mann is known for his basketball acumen, something he attributes to his mother, Daynia La-Force, a former player at Georgetown and the former women’s head coach at New Haven, Northeastern, and Rhode Island, who has aspirations of coaching in the WNBA.
Asked how much he has learned from his mother, Mann replied: “A lot. She taught me how to respect coaching, how to respect the game. Just learning from her helped me kind of get to where I am now.”
Contacted by phone, his mother said that her son has always been a gym rat.
“He was pretty much born and raised in the gym and traveled with us and loved watching every minute of my basketball games," La-Force said.
She recalled beating him in one-on-one when he was 9 and then retiring, knowing she couldn’t continue her dominance for much longer.
Mann plays like a coach’s son, according to his mom.
“He knows defense wins games, and he plays the game with a high level of appreciation for that end of the floor," she said. “As a coach, it is amazing to watch a player appreciate that.”
Especially when it is her son.