In a way, this was just what 76ers coach Doug Collins wanted.
''You like someone and you want someone to come in and make you think; that's what you love to do as a coach,'' Collins said after watching Syracuse's Wesley Johnson go through a spirited NBA predraft workout at Philadelphia College Of Osteopathic Medicine. ''Watching Wesley work out was like, 'Wow, that was impressive.'''
Johnson's session followed Thursday's appearances by Georgia Tech's Derrick Favors and Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins, and Wednesday's workout by Ohio State's Evan Turner.
The 6-7 Johnson, who will turn 23 July 11, played one season at Syracuse after transferring from Iowa State. He averaged 16.5 points shot 50.2 percent from the floor, including 41.5 from three-point distance, becoming the first transfer student to be named Big East Player Of The Year. He has been projected to go in the top four in the June 24 draft.
Conventional wisdom has the Sixers using the No. 2 pick to select Turner after the Washington Wizards use the No. 1 overall choice on Kentucky's John Wall.
But Collins said of Johnson, '';This young kid, he's got it. (He's) charismatic, he can play, (he's) respectful, he's older. (He's) impressive.''
Johnson was put through a 45-minute workout, including plenty of pick-and-roll and isolation-type drills. While rumors and smoke screens typically rev up draft day nears, Johnson believes the Sixers are genuinely interested.
“I think there’s a good shot for me to come here,” he said.
One question dogging Johnson is how he’ll adapt to man-to-man defense in the NBA after exclusively playing in a 2-3 zone at Syracuse. He isn’t worried.
“It’s more about competing than anything,” Johnson said. “Not to knock the zone. We had great success in the zone but going back to man-to-man is something I grew up playing so I’m ready to get back to it.”