Sixers impressed by free agent, and Philly native, Wayns

Wayns
Wayns
Posted: October 03, 2012

WHILE MUCH of the talk surrounding the 76ers has centered on Andrew Bynum and Evan Turner and the departure of Andre Iguodala, there was another topic that raised many players' eyebrows and voices when brought up at media day on Monday. The cause of all the excitement is Roman Catholic/Villanova product Maalik Wayns.

Signed as a free agent at the end of July, Wayns has impressed his new teammates during their workouts together for the past few weeks, heading into Tuesday's start of training camp. Similarly, Wayns opened eyes with his play in the Orlando Summer League in July with his quickness to the basket, hard-nosed play and skilled point-guard abilities. While veteran Royal Ivey might be penciled in as the backup point guard to Jrue Holiday now, it wouldn't be surprising if Wayns is the one getting 10 or so minutes a game in the not too distant future.

"Oh, man, Maalik can play," Turner stated excitedly. "He's been using his speed. One thing we don't have is that level of speed on this team. He's fearless, he's tough. He just likes to play basketball, he competes. He's everything a point guard should be."

Said Holiday: "He's tough, tough. He has a lot to learn, but he's a tough point guard. I guess when you think of those Philly point guards, like Jameer [Nelson] . . . He's a point guard who gets the job done. You really see (his speed) like a Brandon Jennings or John Wall. Just attacking you in the open court, Maalik definitely has that. I think it will be best for me to go up against him in practice and vice versa. Going against that speed is definitely going to help me."

Wayns left Villanova after his junior year in which he was named all-Big East after averaging 17.6 points, 4.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds. His game style had to change from playmaker to scorer because that's what coach Jay Wright needed from the 6-2 guard. When he played three terrific games in Orlando (11.7 points, 5.7 assists, 2.3 steals) many saw the natural point guard skills that had been pretty much put in a closet for a year.

"My game has improved tons. I've improved tremendously," Wayns said. "You're going to see a whole different player. I don't have to score the way I did at Villanova, I don't have to do the things I had to do. I can just be a point guard and get these guys shots. I have a lot of big guys around me.

"A lot of people didn't know I could play the point guard position that way [like he did in Orlando]. A lot of people didn't know that I could pass like that or run the team like that. I just showed them, and that's what earned me an NBA job. I knew I could do that. I did that my sophomore year. My freshman year I did it, too. My junior year it was just a different situation so now I can get back to myself and how I played in high school and how I played coming up."

He grew up a Sixers fan and now dons the number 18 for the team he's been rooting for since he can remember.

"It means a lot," he said. "It's incredible being a Philadelphia 76er, being from Philadelphia, never leaving. I love the city. I'm a Sixers fan at heart so now being a Sixer is great. I'm happy to be here and it's a great situation for me. Whatever coach [Doug Collins wants me to do, I'll do.

"Jrue's a great point guard and if I can spell him some minutes that would be great. I'm here to do whatever the coach asks me to do. We talk a whole lot. He's expecting a whole lot out of me so I'm looking to make him happy. I'm just looking to compete everyday, work hard and let everything take care of itself. I'll be the first one in the gym and the last one out of the gym. That's me. I'm a blue-collar guy. I'm in the right situation. I'm in the right spot."

Philadelphia always has been the spot for him.

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