Sunday, November 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Khalif Wyatt isn't taking anything for granted, aims to improve

It was about twenty minutes after camp had concluded. Most of the Sixers players were already in the locker room or on their way out of the gym. The court was much quieter than it had been just a short while ago. On the far basket, Nerlens Noel was practicing his free throws and short-range shot with coach Brett Brown, and on the basket above where the media members were standing, Khalif Wyatt worked his way around the arc, practicing his NBA three.

Khalif Wyatt isn't taking anything for granted, aims to improve

Khalif Wyatt. (John Raoux/AP file photo)
Khalif Wyatt. (John Raoux/AP file photo)

It was about twenty minutes after camp had concluded. Most of the Sixers players were already in the locker room or on their way out of the gym. The court was much quieter than it had been just a short while ago. On the far basket, Nerlens Noel was practicing his free throws and short-range shot with coach Brett Brown, and on the basket above where the media members were standing, Khalif Wyatt worked his way around the arc, practicing his NBA three.

Noel's spot on the Sixers roster is already assured. He will have a spot waiting for him when he is ready to return from his injury issues, and most people have at least an idea what his role might be when that time comes.

Wyatt, on the other hand, is just trying to make the team.

"I tried to bring energy and I tried to play hard and made sure I got better as the week went on," Wyatt replied when asked about his performance after camp's first five days.

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"I was confident. I tried to defend as best I could, and I played hard. I just played my game, I didn't try to do anything I couldn't do. I just competed really."

The Sixers backcourt is currently crowded, and the fact is that some of the faces that became familiar over the course of camp won't be on the roster come opening night.

Wyatt, the former Temple University standout who went undrafted this past June, is doing everything in his powers to put himself in the best position to be on that roster come October 30th, including shedding some body weight.

"I'm about ten pounds lighter and I feel good. I feel a lot better than I would have if I came in ten pounds heavier," Wyatt stated.

"My wind felt good, my body felt good. It was a good experience for me, and I feel like I got better as the week went on."

Another area Wyatt has been working on is his defense. Wyatt has always been known as an offensive weapon, but he says that Coach Brown is looking to see him perform on the other end of the ball.

"Coach Brown wants to see me defend. I think he knows I can shoot, score a little bit. He wants to see if I can defend."

Wyatt believes he performed well in that area throughout camp.

"I think I competed on the defensive end all week," he continued.

"I think I got better. I've been watching film with the coaches of myself on defense, just trying to get little footwork things down. The main thing is just giving my maximum effort on defense every time."

Wyatt will have an opportunity to show this improved defensive ability during the team's upcoming games overseas. The team plays Spain's Bilboa Basket on October 6, and then face off against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Manchester on October 8.

"I've never been out of the country so that will be a good experience," Wyatt explained.

"It will be a good chance to go out there, hopefully get some minutes, and just play. Just get out there and show that I belong. You're never really done proving yourself and it will just be another chance to show people what you can do."

Although Wyatt has never been out of the country, he isn't looking at the trip as an opportunity to sightsee or explore local nightlife.

"For me its all business," he stated, referring to the trip. "Maybe the vets can take a little vacation, but for a guy in my position there's no time for vacation. It's time to go out there and show that you belong."

For a guy who has become accustomed to being the alpha-dog on a basketball team, Wyatt certainly seems to be adopting the right attitude.

When asked what his potential role with the team may be, Wyatt explained balancing a couple different roles.

"It depends who is out there with me. Sometimes I'm out there with the starters and then I'm looked to to facilitate and play defense, and sometimes I'm out there with the reserves and then they want me to be a little more aggressive and look to score. I guess it matters who I'm out there with and what role they need me to play at that time."

As the remaining media members and assistant coaches begin to disperse, Wyatt continues to swish three after three, including about six straight from the far corner. His talent is evident, and his potential is intriguing. If he continues to approach improvement with an open mind and dedicated determination, Wyatt should have plenty of opportunities to 'show people what he can do.'

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