A week ago, while his TV was tuned to the NBA draft, Sixers swingman Rodney Carney sent a text message to Thaddeus Young, a buddy of his from Memphis.
It was likely a "good luck" message. But Carney's text turned out to be prophetic.
Because less than two hours later, Carney's old pal heard from the Sixers again -- only this time it was to find out he was becoming a member of their team.
"During my junior year in college (at Memphis), he used to always come in the gym and we'd play together," Carney said of Young, who was a junior at Mitchell High School (Tenn.) at the time. "He'd always want to guard me, because he said I was the best player out there and he wanted to get better.
"Now it's like that here, too, but on a different level and we're competing for a spot."
So far, the competition has brought out the best in Carney. The 16th overall pick in the 2006 draft, Carney will likely vie for playing time this season in a crowded group of wing players that includes fellow second-year forward Bobby Jones, rookies Young and Derrick Byars, and veterans Andre Iguodala and Kyle Korver.
On Monday, the second day the Sixers held rookie camp in preparation for summer league play, head coach Maurice Cheeks commented on how Carney was playing at a high level. Two days later, after an Independence Day practice at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Cheeks stood by that observation.
"(He's been) equally just as good," Cheeks said following an intrasquad scrimmage. "He's been a pleasure. He's been very focused, getting up and down the floor. Defending, he's been very good in this camp."
In his rookie season, Carney played in 67 games and made 35 starts, averaging 6.6 points and 1.9 rebounds in 17.4 minutes. With more consistent playing time, he should flourish into an important piece in the Sixers' rebuilding process.
Carney could also turn into a 3-point threat for a team that ranked dead last in the NBA in field-goal attempts from beyond the arc. Carney, who shot 34.7 percent (25-of-72) on 3s last year, shot 36 percent as a senior at Memphis and finished as the school's all-time leader in 3-pointers (287).
In Wednesday's scrimmage, he knocked down a triple from the corner as he continued his strong summer showing.
"This is a big summer, a very big summer for me," Carney said. "As soon as the last game ended, I knew this summer was big for me, so that's why I've been working so hard."
Is he pleased with the results?
"I have to step it up, I have to show them what they drafted me for," Carney said. "The potential factor is out the window -- I have to show what I'm made of now.
"I've come in with an extra chip on my shoulder, trying to work harder, make extra shots (and) try to be the best player out here on the court. And it's paid off. Hopefully I can continue working hard and playing good."
Coming into camp, Carney said his No. 1 goal was to bring consistency to the court. But he's also been valuable in a new role as a mentor for new players like Young.
"Sometimes you see them struggling and you want to go over and give them a quick word, tell them to slow down, to relax," Carney said. "It's the same things the vets did for me, so I just want to return the favor."
"He's been making me really comfortable; the older guys have taken me under their wings," Young said.
After one final rookie camp practice here this morning, the Sixers will depart for Las Vegas. Carney is looking forward to developing chemistry with the draft picks -- but he's also focused on proving his own worth, too.
"I'm looking forward to the games, just to see how much I've progressed, just because I need to go out there and get that feel. Once I've got the feel, I know where I'll be at," Carney said. "If I'm not where I need to be, then you better believe the next time you see me that I will be there."
Tip-ins: Former Syracuse star guard Gerry McNamara, a free agent vying for a spot on the Sixers summer league squad, went down awkwardly at the tail end of Wednesday's scrimmage.
He was immediately taken off the court, where he was diagnosed with a right ankle sprain. He'll be re-evaluated today.
Byars, a second-round pick acquired by the Sixers in a draft day trade, was held out of the scrimmage and will likely be held out of practice again today. He's suffering with a left quad strain.
The Sixers summer league season will tip off in Las Vegas on Friday against San Antonio. Monday's game against Golden State will be televised on Comcast SportsNet at 8 p.m.