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June 07, 2016

Sixers notes: Brown and Colangelo in Turkey watching Saric; Okafor, Grant named to USA select team

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As Brett Brown and Bryan Colangelo had planned, they are currently on a trip to Istanbul to sit down with Dario Saric about the 6’10” Croatian forward’s future plans. The Sixers head coach and president of basketball operations were both reportedly spotted at Game 3 of the Turkish final between Anadolu Efes and Fenerbahce, watching the 12th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft:

Efes fell behind 2-1 in the best-of-five series, despite 18 points and four rebounds from Saric. On the season, Saric is now shooting over 40 percent from beyond the arc (in addition to 48 percent from the field and 85 percent from the line), which could prove critical on a team that has plenty of “traditional” young big men.

“For sure,” Brown said when asked if Saric was a good fit in Philly. “He’s grown his shot.”

Saric is an intriguing player, a skilled big guy whose NBA defensive fit is questionable but someone who can play multiple positions offensively. In some ways, he brings a similar skillset to the table as Ben Simmons (worse athlete, better shooter), the projected top pick in the draft.

Brown, who regularly communicated with Saric via WhatsApp during the season, says he doesn’t care if Saric is a 3 or 4.

“Watch the last six minutes of NBA playoffs and look who is on the floor,” Brown said. “It’s people like him, it’s do-alls.”

Philly flavor on the select team

Our country is blessed with an incredible amount of basketball talent, and perhaps nowhere is that more apparent than with the USA Basketball Men’s Select Team. Here you have a bunch of college stars and promising young NBA players that have zero chance of making the Olympic team this time around, and yet they all jump at the chance to play the role of scout team for a few days.

In total, 25 players were selected for the select team and two of them just so happen to be Sixers:

Malcolm Brogdon (University of Virginia); Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns); Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Detroit Pistons); Willie Cauley-Stein (Sacramento Kings); Kris Dunn (Providence College); Aaron Gordon (Orlando Magic); Jerami Grant (Philadelphia 76ers); Gary Harris (Denver Nuggets); Rodney Hood (Utah Jazz); Brandon Ingram (Duke University); Brice Johnson (University of North Carolina), Stanley Johnson (Detroit Pistons); Zach LaVine (Minnesota Timberwolves); CJ McCollum (Portland Trail Blazers); Doug McDermott (Chicago Bulls); Emmanuel Mudiay (Denver Nuggets); Jahlil Okafor (Philadelphia 76ers); Jabari Parker (Milwaukee Bucks); Julius Randle (Los Angeles Lakers); D’Angelo Russell (Los Angeles Lakers); Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics); Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers); Denzel Valentine (Michigan State University); Justise Winslow (Miami Heat) and Cody Zeller (Charlotte Hornets).

Of all the names on that list, Jerami Grant is the only current NBA player that wasn’t drafted in the first round. The select team will be coached from July 18th to July 21st by Gregg Popovich, who will take over the national team reins from Coach K in 2017. 

Jahlil Okafor and Grant won’t be the only Philly connections on the select team: Assisting Popovich for the week will be Villanova head coach Jay Wright. Sixers special adviser Jerry Colangelo also serves as the national team’s managing director.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann