Lehigh's C.J. McCollum would like to play for 76ers

Lehigh's C.J. McCollum, a scoring machine, could be gone before the 76ers exercise their draft pick.
Lehigh's C.J. McCollum, a scoring machine, could be gone before the 76ers exercise their draft pick. (JOE MAHONEY / AP)
Posted: May 18, 2013

CHICAGO - C.J. McCollum remains intrigued with the 76ers even though they didn't request to interview him at the NBA draft combine.

"I was [attending college] pretty close to Philadelphia, out in Bethlehem," the Lehigh senior guard said. "So I will be interested to see if they are taking a guard or a post player in this draft."

The organization's biggest needs are a post player and a backup point guard. However, one could argue that McCollum could be a solid addition to a team planning to make offseason moves via trades and free agency.

"I'm a fan of the Philadelphia 76ers," McCollum said. "So it will be interesting to see what happens."

There's a chance the Canton, Ohio, native will already be drafted once the Sixers, who will likely get the 11th pick, make a selection.

ESPN analyst Chad Ford ranks him as the seventh-best prospect in the draft class. However, in his mock draft, Ford has the 6-foot-3 scoring machine going ninth overall, likely to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

In the eyes of NBA personnel, McCollum could become the next Damian Lillard.

Lillard, a Portland Trail Blazers guard, is coming off a phenomenal rookie season. But coming out of unheralded Weber State, there were questions about whether he could survive against NBA competition. He responded by being unanimously voted rookie of the year.

A year later, Lehigh's McCollum is coming out of the unheralded Patriot League. And like Lillard, some have questioned how he will fare on an elite level.

And, there are concerns about his left foot. McCollum was sidelined last season after breaking the foot against Virginia Commonwealth on Jan. 5. He headed into that game leading the nation is scoring at 25.7 points per game.

"I feel really good," McCollum said. "I haven't felt this well in a long time. I'm fully recovered. I got cleared about 2½ weeks ago. . . . No limitations at all."

He wants all the NBA teams to know that he's mentally and physically capable of contributing right away.

"Offensively, I think I can do a lot of things on the ball and off the ball," McCollum said. "Pretty crafty on ball screens, pretty good at reading screens. You just get a heady player who's ready to come in and fit into your system."

He also said he would benefit one particular franchise that plays home games in South Philly.

"They have a good core, a really good nucleus," McCollum said of the Sixers. "I think they need that scorer."


Contact Keith Pompey at kpompey@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @pompeysgridlock.

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