After graduating from St. Joe's, NBA draft prospect Isaiah Miles feels he could help Sixers

After graduating from St. Joe's, NBA draft prospect Isaiah Miles feels he could help Sixers

Isaiah Miles graduated from Saint Joseph’s last week … and went right to work trying to achieve his NBA dreams.

Miles came back to Philadelphia on Friday as part of the Sixers' pre-draft workouts at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (see notebook). He was less than a week removed from sandwiching his commencement in between time at the NBA Draft Combine.

"It feels great," Miles said of graduating. "Getting a degree, at the end of the day, is the most important thing. … I just wanted to do it for my mom. Walking across the stage and seeing the smile on her face was huge.

"I left the combine early to go to graduation. I came back to the combine right after graduation, so I think it will show teams my loyalty and my demeanor when it comes to school."

The Sixers are the third team the Baltimore native has worked out with, joining the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets. Miles has at least six more lined up with trips to Houston, Dallas, Utah, San Antonio, Milwaukee and New York in his future. 

On Friday, Miles was teamed for three-on-three work with Columbia's Maodo Lo and Baylor's Taurean Prince, while mostly competing at forward against San Diego State's Winston Shepard. After the scrimmaging, Miles and the other attendees worked on shooting drills, catching and shooting off improvised screens. Miles, for one, thought he shot the ball well at the workout while stretching the floor. 

It is that shooting ability that gives Miles a chance to make an NBA roster this summer. He struggled to find minutes in his first two seasons with the Hawks before taking off, turning into a well-rounded forward averaging 18.1 points and 8.1 rebounds by his senior season. 

His prowess from deep forced mismatches for opposing defenses, but he also began to make himself a presence in the paint as well. His senior year culminated in a game-winning three in the NCAA Tournament to beat Cincinnati and get St. Joe's out of the first round for the first time in 12 years. 

So it has been quite the whirlwind for the 21-year-old. Just ask him if he thought he'd get to this moment on the cusp of becoming a professional basketball player.

"Two years ago, my sophomore year, no, I didn't think I would be here," Miles said. "But to the glory of God and his blessing, he blessed me to give me this opportunity to have an outstanding senior year and be able to try out for these NBA teams. I'm definitely happy to be here to play with the 76ers. 

"I've been here four years and I see Philly as my new home besides Balitmore, so it'd be great to play here. I gave so much time and so many years to Philadelphia. I love it here."

As for his fit in Philadelphia, the 6-foot-8 forward says he could contribute to a team with plenty of bigs already. Once again, it is his shooting that sets him apart.

"I feel like they could use an extra shooter," Miles said, "especially a big shooter that can stretch the floor and could be a mismatch problem for a lot of fours and fives."

Vince Rozman, the Sixers' director of basketball operations/scouting innovation, highlighted that Miles improved as he went through college. Coach Brett Brown mentioned Miles as a "good worker." The big man will need to continue to improve if he wants to make an NBA roster, although Brown talked through some of the alternative paths a prospect like Miles can take to the pros.

"Because we have D-League affiliates with the Sevens right down the road, our scope on how we judge people is very expansive," Brown said. "It's not in a vacuum in the NBA, so as we're making assessments, we also feel that maybe they can come up, as I said before, in a different path to ultimately being on the roster, so we're lucky in having that affiliation down the road."

One thing helping Miles along the NBA draft circuit is the presence of his St. Joe's teammate DeAndre Bembry. Bembry, who went through a workout with the Sixers earlier in the week (see story), assisted on Miles’ game-winning three-pointer in the NCAA Tournament after creating a dynamic duo with the senior all season long. Bembry advised his former teammate to "just have fun" with the session.

"It's huge," Miles said of Bembry's going through the same process. "He's my best friend, he's my brother, and it's good seeing someone who battled with you throughout the season have such success after the season's over as well as you. 

"So it's kind of a huge process and you like to see your brother do well. I'm glad me and him are able to go through the process. We're getting what we deserve from the season after having a hard-fought season."

Now with Big3, Rashard Lewis praises Sixers' signing of former teammate JJ Redick

Now with Big3, Rashard Lewis praises Sixers' signing of former teammate JJ Redick

How time flies.

JJ Redick first played with Rashard Lewis on the Magic in 2007, Redick’s second season in the NBA. Ten years later, the 33-year-old Redick has signed a massive one-year, $23 million contract to be one of the Sixers’ leaders. Lewis, 37, is currently competing in the BIG3 league. 

Both Redick and Lewis are in different places in their careers than when they were teammates. Lewis sees Redick excelling in this new chapter. 

“He’s the veteran player here, but when I played with him in Orlando he was a young fella,” Lewis said. “He’s learned a lot playing with Orlando as well as the Clippers. I’m sure he’ll share a lot of his knowledge with these guys because they’ve got a very young team.”

Redick’s NBA insight came from doing a lot of observing early on. He didn’t start off as the main offensive option. Instead, he was a student of the game in his early days with the Magic while Lewis was one of the go-to players. 

Redick averaged just 6.0 points as a rookie and 4.1 points in 8.1 minutes per game during his second season. He clocked a total of 10 minutes during a 2008 postseason in which the Magic reached the Eastern Conference semifinals. The following season in 2009, though, Redick averaged over 20 minutes during their NBA Finals run. The Magic also made it to the Eastern Conference finals the next year.

“The chemistry we had was great,” Lewis said. “I think he’s going to bring that here to Philly.”

Over time, Redick developed into one of the best long-range threats in the league. He holds a 41.5 percent career three-point shooting percentage, sixth among all active players. The Sixers have been in need of go-to scorers, especially from beyond the arc. 

“He’s going to help this team,” Lewis said. “He’s going to open it up because he’s a shooter.”

The Sixers are entering an important phase this coming season. They finally have a foundation in place and a core to build upon for years down the road, not just the time being. The younger players will benefit from listening to Redick during practices, games, team flights, and all the other scenarios in which they can soak up his experiences. That could include the playoffs, too, in the suddenly wide-open Eastern Conference. 

“The way he played the game, he’s not only a good shooter but he’s a smart player,” Lewis said. “He has a high basketball IQ. That’s why he’s still playing in the league. A lot of teams have a lot of respect for him.”

Sixers draft pick Jonah Bolden signs 3-year deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv

Sixers draft pick Jonah Bolden signs 3-year deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv

Sixers draft pick Jonah Bolden is officially headed back overseas.

Bolden, the 36th overall selection in last month’s draft, signed a three-year contract to play in Israel with Maccabi Tel Aviv, the team announced. The deal does contain opt-out clauses for the NBA.

“Jonah is a very talented young player with great potential, an athletic forward who knows how to shoot the ball and a great guy who likes to work hard,” Maccabi Tel Aviv head coach Neven Spahija said, per the EuroLeague's official website. “We believe he will develop into a great player.”

Bolden had hoped to join the Sixers for next season after spending summer league with the squad. The 6-10, 227-pound forward averaged 8.7 points on 36.8 percent shooting from the field and 31.4 percent from three-point range between the Utah and Las Vegas Summer Leagues. He also put up 6.2 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks in 23.4 minutes a game.

Bolden entered the draft after putting up 12.1 points (59.7 percent from the field, 38.1 percent from three-point range), 6.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals a game for KK FMP Beograd of Serbia last season. Those numbers earned him the Adriatic League’s Top Prospect award, previously won by Dario Saric and Nikola Jokic.

Bolden won’t be the only player on Maccabi Tel Aviv’s roster with Sixers/Philly ties. Former 2013 Sixers second-round pick Pierre Jackson and Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, native Jake Cohen are both members of the team.