Iowa State's Naz Long makes himself heard at Sixers' morning workout

Iowa State's Naz Long makes himself heard at Sixers' morning workout

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Anybody in the Sixers’ facility during Saturday morning’s early session could hear Naz Long. It was just three-on-three in a pre-draft workout, but Long was in command — not necessarily with his play, but with his voice.

“I’m a leader on and off the court,” Long said.

Apparently so. Paired with Vanderbilt center Luke Kornet and a Sixers assistant after two prospects went out with injuries, Long was vocal on the court. “Good shot big fella,” he shouted in encouragement when Kornet drained a three from the top of the key and then faked a defender into a fly-by for an easy layup the next possession. 

Long’s trip to Camden was his 11th such pre-draft workout with an NBA team. He hopes to have 14 in total before next Thursday’s fateful day. Still, the fifth-year senior out of Iowa State took time last week — when he’s trying to make his case to find a home in the world’s best basketball league — to host a youth camp in Ames. That’s just the leader he is.

The competitive spirit is a plus, but it’ll take more than that for Long to get drafted. He’s not on DraftExpress’ list of the top 100 prospects. He’ll be 24 in August and missed the 2015-2016 season with a hip injury. Long, who during his time at Iowa State went by Naz Mitrou-Long, the last names of each of his parents, hasn’t been a star. The Cyclones had other guys to fill that role. This year, it was Monte Morris. Georges Niang carried the load before him. But Long can shoot it. He’s been a vital three-and-D guy, with a lot of emphasis on the three. 

“I’m not overly athletic or freakishly long or anything like that," Long, listed at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, said, "so I have to do the little things.”

With someone like Ben Simmons (or Markelle Fultz) running the one, Long said he could see himself playing a role similar to that of Patrick Beverley on the Rockets. Beverley, also undersized, moves to the two when James Harden operates at the point.

Long hit 98 threes on 38.4 percent shooting from deep as a senior. Six of them came in a massive win at Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse, snapping a 51-game home win streak for the Jayhawks. But perhaps this fun fact stands out: Long’s career high came against Drake with 37 points and eight threes at Wells Fargo Arena. If he can shoot like that in venues named for Wells Fargo, he’s surely welcome in Philadelphia any time. 

All jokes aside, he stroked his jumper nicely during shooting drills Friday. He alternated with SMU’s Sterling Brown and fared better than his fellow two-guard. Long got the sense that he could do the same should he get a shot with the team this summer. 

“We just got done talking to coach, and (I would) just reiterate his principles — defense, space and pace,” Long said. “I think I’m the perfect player for that. I play defense. I knock down threes and I can space the floor when needed or I can create for others. 

“I’m a tough-nosed guard.”

Josh Hart drafted in 1st round, goes to Lakers; undrafted Kris Jenkins reportedly joins Wizards

Josh Hart drafted in 1st round, goes to Lakers; undrafted Kris Jenkins reportedly joins Wizards

Josh Hart heard his name called, while Villanova teammate Kris Jenkins did not.

Hart snuck into the first round of Thursday night's NBA draft, going 30th overall to the Utah Jazz. However, the Wildcat is headed to the Los Angeles Lakers, via a trade.

While Jenkins went undrafted, it looks like he'll have a shot with an NBA team. Jenkins will join the Washington Wizards this offseason to compete for a roster spot, according to a report by's David Aldridge.

After winning the national title as a junior with Villanova, Hart collected plenty of accolades in a standout senior season. The 6-foot-5 wing was named a consensus first-team All-American, Big East Player of the Year and took home the Julius Erving award as the top small forward in the country.

For the 32-4 Wildcats, Hart, a Silver Spring, Maryland native, averaged 18.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game, while shooting 40.4 percent from three-point range.

"I'm my biggest critic," he said last week after a pre-draft workout for the Sixers. "I drive myself as much as I can. I demand perfection from myself."

As Hart travels west, Jenkins, on the other hand, will head home for his NBA opportunity. The 6-foot-6 forward, beloved for his buzzer-beating three-pointer to win Villanova its 2016 national championship, is from Upper Marlboro, Maryland. He worked out for the Wizards in early June. He also worked out for the Sixers on Tuesday.

"It's a blessing," he said after his session with the Wizards, via the Washington Post. "You always root for the hometown team, you always want them to do well. Honestly it's humbling to be in this position, to grow up in this area, to have some games here and play college ball here and then come back and work out for the Wizards."

After flirting with the NBA draft process following their title-winning season, both Hart and Jenkins decided to return to school for their senior campaigns.

They both took to Twitter on Thursday night following the draft — Hart in excitement, Jenkins more in a humorous manner.

Sixers 'dug very deep' into Markelle Fultz's perceived weaknesses

Sixers 'dug very deep' into Markelle Fultz's perceived weaknesses

CAMDEN, N.J. — You don't have to do much research on Markelle Fultz to find his perceived shortcomings.

Washington finished 9-22 his only season there. Draft experts also questioned his effort, especially on the defensive end of the floor.

None of that concerned the Sixers when they made him the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft Thursday night (see story).

"One of the weaknesses was, 'Does he bring it every night defensively? Did he have that killer instinct?'" Sixers head coach Brett Brown said following the pick. "I think if you take a high character person and you take an athlete, you have the foundation to coach him to be an elite defender."

There isn't much question about Fultz's offensive game. The 19-year-old guard averaged 23.2 points, 5.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game in his only season with the Huskies. He also shot an impressive 41.3 percent from three-point range.

His skill set as a shooter and scorer seems to complement the skills of franchise centerpieces Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. With his selection, president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo is hoping the Sixers can start to build a winning culture.

But does Fultz's nine-win season at Washington concern him at all?

"You look at every aspect of evaluating a prospect," Colangelo said. "We've dug very deep on this and we feel that regardless of whatever the performance of the University of Washington Huskies was last year, it's not relevant to who Markelle represents, what he represents as a player, and how he is going to fit in and help us turn this program around."

Fultz took an interesting path to being the No. 1 pick. He didn't make the varsity team at famed DeMatha High School in Maryland as a sophomore (see story). A growth spurt helped bring more attention to his game.

He chose Washington because of the relationship he had developed with its coaching staff. He also thought he'd have the opportunity to play with sophomores Marquese Chriss and Dejounte Murray. Instead, both players were surprise one-and-dones and Fultz was forced to carry the team on his shoulders.

"He wasn't always considered the best prospect, but he emerged and earned the right to be the best prospect," Colangelo said. "You're talking about a young man who goes to the University of Washington, didn't have great team success. Unfortunately, part of that may be personnel driven, part of that may be circumstantial.

"To do what he did at the level of the Pac-12 and to be able to average 23 points a game, six rebounds and six assists. You're talking, again, about great performance on the floor, a player that does so many different things and we believe someone that's going to help make his teammates better. "

Colangelo mentioned that Fultz "has the tools" to become an excellent defender. Fultz stands at 6-foot-4 with an impressive 6-foot-10 span. He also has plenty of athleticism and strength to compete defensively against NBA ones and twos.

Brown acknowledged that defense could be the biggest hole in Fultz's game, but feels like he could get the most out of Fultz on the defensive end.

"I think that down deep he understands the knock against him and I believe that when we get him with our program, he understands how we see the world here," Brown said. "It's gonna be an evolution, no doubt. But it's a willing defensive player and it's a willing athlete, a gifted athlete under a roof of a quality person. I think having those types of qualities lets you have a far better chance to mold him into the type of defensive player we need here."