Lighter, fitter Khalif Wyatt out to make an impression

Lighter, fitter Khalif Wyatt out to make an impression

July 8, 2013, 9:00 am
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Khalif Wyatt scored nine points on 4-for-15 shooting on Sunday. (CSNPhilly.com)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Khalif Wyatt’s senior year at Temple saw him average 20.5 points, 12th highest in the NCAA, but Wyatt shot just .316 from behind the arc.

Playing in the Sixers' first Orlando Summer League game on Sunday, making shots was again a struggle for Wyatt. He connected on just one of his first 11 attempts before finishing 4 for 15 for the day.

He came off the bench to score nine points, playing 26 minutes.

Wyatt is an undrafted rookie looking to open eyes this week, not only within the Sixers' organization but also around the NBA.

“Not hearing my name was a little bit of a disappointment,” Wyatt said of draft night. “It is just about getting over that hurdle and coming out here with a chip on your shoulder, or a bigger chip than I already had. I am just trying to get better every day. It is a new system, a new coach and new teammates, so you just go out there and get better every day.”

“The fact that the Sixers called me was an honor," he continued. "Just being a Philly kid and from the area, it’s an honor just to get this chance, but now I want to show not just the Sixers, but all 29 teams, what I can do.”

The Sixers' roster is made up of mostly rookies, so everyone is making some kind of adjustment no matter how well their college career played out.

Wyatt isn't resting on his laurels.

“I changed my eating habits,” said Wyatt, who's lost 15 pounds since March. “I needed a whole lifestyle change. I am trying to work hard and trying to get a spot in this league and show people I am serious about being a basketball player.”

And playing alongside Michael Carter-Williams, Wyatt believes, will help showcase those talents.

“Michael is going to be real good,” Wyatt said. “It was different because in college I had the ball in my hands a lot. Now guys like Mike make plays for me, so it is a little easier and takes a little pressure off you.”

Wyatt to remain with Sixers, for now
Wyatt will be playing alongside Carter-Williams and the rest of the Sixers at least for a while longer. According to a source, Wyatt will remain with the Sixers through the rest of the Orlando Summer League, which ends Friday. Wyatt was originally scheduled to travel to the Las Vegas Summer League later this week to play with the Dallas Mavericks, but has nixed those plans.

Curry, McKie, Capel coaching Sixers
The guys on the court aren't the only one’s looking to impress. The games are officiated by NBDL referees who are hoping to get called up. Assistant coaches become head coaches for a week, and in the case of Michael Curry, his work this week could lead to him being named Doug Collins' successor.

There were 13 head coaching vacancies in the league this summer; 12 of them have been filled. The Sixers are the lone team still in limbo, but Curry, along with Aaron McKie and Jeff Capel, has assumed the coaching responsibilities since Sam Hinkie took over as general manager.

“It’s been great,” Curry said of his last couple months on the job. “We had great workouts. I think we brought in 66 guys. We had one or two workouts each day. We took the workouts as a chance to improve as coaches and to teach.

“Our workouts weren’t just drills for guys and then watch them play three on three. We actually tried to teach the guys. That was good, because a lot of the guys that came here with us worked out for us. And a lot of them are young. We probably have the most rookies here. It’s good because it gives them a chance to cut their teeth in this league. We told them this is a 10-day odyssey, and the most important thing is we want to teach them about being a pro.”