Frazier impresses Sixers with poise, experience

Frazier impresses Sixers with poise, experience
July 10, 2014, 8:30 pm
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Tim Frazier will see his first taste of game action for the Sixers when the Las Vegas summer league begins Friday. (AP)

The past two years haven’t exactly been easy for Tim Frazier.

Following a 2011-12 season in which he became the sixth player in Penn State history to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors, the 6-foot-1 point guard saw his senior season put on hold when he tore his left Achilles' tendon four games into the 2012-13 campaign.

Granted a medical redshirt, Frazier returned this past season and displayed plenty of his prior skills -- he was named third-team All-Big 10 -- but his averages dropped from 18.8 points, 6.2 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 steals in 2011-12 to 14.9 points, 5.4 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 2013-14 as the Nittany Lions finished 16-18.

Now, after spending the week with the Sixers in preparation for the NBA summer league beginning Friday in Las Vegas, Frazier finally feels like his old self.

“When I was going through the workouts here with the team, I could feel the bounce and the speed coming back,” Frazier said after practice on Thursday. “After the injury, I was back playing and doing the things I can do, but now I have a clear mindset and I feel like I’m almost back to normal.”

Frazier knows that his journey to the NBA could have happened sooner and been much smoother if he had never gotten hurt, but he tries not to think about that too much. At this point, his focus is on making the most of his current situation.

Sitting out a season at Penn State created major drawbacks, but it also gave Frazier an extra year to work on his game. His counting stats were down last year, but he posted a career-high shooting percentage of 43 percent and decreased his turnover rate from 3.7 giveaways in 2011-12 to 2.7 last year.

“I knew every year I was getting closer [to being ready for the NBA], and before the injury I felt like I was right there,” Frazier said. “Obviously I would love to play in the NBA -- that was my dream growing up. But [in college] I was just trying to take everything in and enjoy my college experience.

“Every year I’ve been at Penn State, the coaches have improved me with my game, my outside shooting and my decision making. Those five years and those ups and downs helped make me the player I am today.”

After working out for the Sixers prior to the draft, Frazier thought there was a slim chance they might've taken him with one of their second-round picks. They didn't, but Brett Brown called him within an hour after the draft ended to ask him to join the summer league roster.

“When [the coaches] reached out to me and said they wanted me for the summer league, I was ready to go for it,” Frazier said. “I just want to go out, have fun, play my hardest and show Philly and other teams what they can get from me.”

The Sixers' staff has already noticed experience and maturity in the 23-year-old Frazier.

Even with players on the Vegas roster like Brandon Davies and Adonis Thomas, who have NBA experience, and former D-Leaguers Jamelle Hagins and Elijah Millsap, Frazier was praised for his leadership by assistant coach Chad Iske, who's running the team in Vegas.

“We love his poise,” Iske said. “He’s a seasoned college player, and we’re looking for point guards that can run a team and take charge of the group that’s out there and be a coach on the floor. He’s done a pretty good job of that, and we’ve seen progress in the right direction.”

Watching the Sixers' other summer league roster play in Orlando has gotten Frazier anxious to get out on the court himself. He doesn’t know how his experience in Las Vegas will play out or whether he'll ultimately have a future in the NBA, but he is determined to make it count while he can.

“I try not to think about [not making an NBA roster],” Frazier said. “I’m going to give it my all in Vegas, and wherever the ball rolls I’ll go from there.”

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