Wyatt earns shot to live out dream with Sixers
In five summer-league games with the Sixers, Khalif Wyatt averaged 13.8 points per game and 3.2 assists in 19.2 minutes. (AP)
Former Temple standout Khalif Wyatt will make his first trip out of the country when the Sixers travel to Spain and England for two preseason games.
He intends to take a lot in, both on and off the court.
“I have never been out of the country, so that will be a good experience,” Wyatt said after Sixers training camp ended on Wednesday. “Then I hope I go out there and get me some minutes and play and show that I belong. You are never done proving yourself, so this will be another opportunity to show people what you can do.”
Wyatt went undrafted in June. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound guard then joined the Sixers’ summer league team before being given a contract last month.
Head coach Brett Brown sees potential in Wyatt, but warns that he, like a lot of players on the current roster, has a long way to go in the development process.
“We keep talking about him getting as fit as he can be because he gets quicker and faster,” Brown explained. “I think he is starting to get a little bit of a swagger and toughness, and those are the areas that I will always challenge Khalif.
“He has a long way to go like everybody else, but at times you see things that make him unique.”
Wyatt is 15 pounds lighter than he was when the Owls were ousted from the NCAA Tournament back in March in his final collegiate game. He knows fitness will be a major point of emphasis playing under Brown.
“He harps on fitness and conditioning and your body fat and your weight,” Wyatt said. “He looks into it a lot. He wants to make sure I am in the best shape possible and he is definitely pushing me.”
Wyatt considers himself a combo guard and saw time at both backcourt positions throughout camp. If Wyatt can indeed play both ends of the floor and at both positions, his chances of having a lengthy NBA career increase dramatically.
“That helps me out more. If the point guard gets tired, I can play point,” Wyatt said. “If they need a scorer, I can do that. It helps me out that I am not limited to one position.”
The greatest concern for Wyatt at the NBA level is his defense. Will he be able to keep up players on the court who are far more athletic than he is?
“Coach Brown wants to see me defend,” Wyatt admitted. “He knows I can shoot and score a little bit, but he wants to see if I can defend. I think I competed at the defensive end all week. I got better. I watched film with coaches just of myself on defense. I am just trying to get footwork down and give him my maximum effort on defense every time down.
“The one or the two is going to be hard to guard. There are great ones and twos in this league, and it is going to be tough,, but you have to get better and keep pushing and compete. As long as you compete and have confidence in yourself, that is the main thing.”
The Owls posted a 24-10 record last year in Wyatt’s senior season. It is quite possible that the Sixers could be hovering around the same win total this season.
Wyatt isn’t discouraged by the prospect of mounting losses, so long as the team shows growth.
“As long as a team we keep getting better and individually keep getting better, the wins and losses will come,” he said. “We have to buy into the stuff that Coach Brown has to teach. We are trying to lay a stepping stone for the next couple of years.”