This was Saturday, and Texas A & M's DeAndre Jordan was scheduled for a formal predraft interview with the 76ers. The Sixers have indicated that they are leaning toward going for size in Thursday night's NBA draft, in which they hold the No. 16 pick. Jordan is big. And raw. He's on the list.
Jordan, with one season of college experience, has been in Philadelphia for nearly 2 months, initially training with longtime league scout Steve Rosenberry, who has since signed a contract with the Atlanta Hawks.
He averaged just 7.9 points and six rebounds, showing intermittent life in 35 college games and more than frequently drawing the ire of coach Mark Turgeon, briefly a Sixers assistant during the Larry Brown era. But pro scouts and personnel specialists are forever searching for kids with "upside," and there appear to be many who believe Jordan has that. He also wears size 18 shoes, has very large hands and is still growing into his body.
"He has a long wingspan, is extremely athletic, a good rebounder," said Sixers president/general manager Eddie Stefanski. "He has to work on his offensive skills. He's what you would call a project, but a project with a lot of upside."
The Sixers have seen Jordan in a formal workout privately arranged by Jordan's representatives at PCOM attended by several teams. They watched 7-foot Ohio State center Kosta Koufos in a session directed by the New Jersey Nets. They have brought in Marresse Speights of Florida, JaVale McGee of Colorado, J.J. Hickson of North Carolina, Callistus Eziukwu of Grand Valley State (twice) and others. They intend to view Darrell Arthur of Kansas, probably Jason Thompson of Rider, and others. Any thought of checking out Stanford's Robin Lopez was placed on hold when Lopez suffered an ankle injury.
A voice in the league familiar with predraft machinations suggests the Sixers might be giving serious consideration to Alexis Ajinca, a 20-year-old 7-footer who averaged a modest five points with Hyeres-Toulon in France. Bouna Ndiaye, Ajinca's agent, said his client was expected to be en route to Philadelphia sometime today; he is scheduled to work out tomorrow.
Ajinca, who supposedly has gained 20 pounds from the 220 listed in the official media draft guide, has worked out for a dozen teams and was viewed in a multi-team session at Golden State.
Of the offensive big men who could be available at No. 16, Koufos is probably at the top of the list, ahead of Hickson, Speights and Syracuse's Donte Greene, although Greene seems to have a small forward mentality. Sports Illustrated, via www.si.com, has speculated the 6-11 Thompson - from Lenape (N.J.) High and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Player of the Year - going to Golden State for a second workout and being considered for the Warriors' pick at No. 14. There also seem to be defensive questions with Speights and Greene, while McGee could be in the project category.
"Koufos is a legit 7-footer, mobile and can really shoot," Stefanski said. "Even though he was born and raised in America, he reminds me of a European player because he can face the basket and shoot. [Watching him in New Jersey], he was an intriguing kid."
The Sixers want someone who can, either now or later, play in the post. If they can't get a preferred power forward/center, they'll take the remaining player they have ranked highest on their charts and resolve the other issues in free agency and the trade market.
But in the draft world, it's still early. Stefanski said there are "probably eight names on the board" the Sixers' staff discusses on a daily basis. It's entirely possible that two or three of those will be there at No. 16. There also has been the inevitable researching of moving up or down in the first round.
"We've explored both," Stefanski said. "The moving up cost is prohibitive right now."
The Sixers' Saturday workout session, mostly a tip of the cap to players with local ties, included Niagara's Charron Fisher, the NCAA's No. 2 scorer from Roman Catholic and Pennsauken, N.J.; Roy Bright, Delaware State; John Griffin, Bucknell, via Saint Joseph's Prep; and Arkansas guard Gary Ervin. Fisher rebuilt his career after undergoing surgery on both knees, while Griffin is the son of former Saint Joseph's U. and Siena coach John Griffin. "I'm going to shoot for the stars," the younger Griffin said. "My goal is to go somewhere in Europe right now, just continuing to play, working on my game, see where it takes me. Hopefully, one day I can be that success story, like Chris Coste" . . . Former Saint Joseph's shooter Pat Carroll was in the gym, ostensibly working out on his own, knocking down shot after shot. *
The Sixers' Saturday workout session, mostly a tip of the cap to players with local ties, included Niagara's , the NCAA's No. 2 scorer from Roman Catholic and Pennsauken, N.J.; , Delaware State; , Bucknell, via Saint Joseph's Prep; and Arkansas guard . Fisher rebuilt his career after undergoing surgery on both knees, while Griffin is the son of former Saint Joseph's U. and Siena coach . "I'm going to shoot for the stars," the younger Griffin said. "My goal is to go somewhere in Europe right now, just continuing to play, working on my game, see where it takes me. Hopefully, one day I can be that success story, like " . . . Former Saint Joseph's shooter was in the gym, ostensibly working out on his own, knocking down shot after shot. *