Philly's Cox wants to earn Sixers spot

The soon-to-be 26-year-old, a cousin of Kobe Bryant's, has played in France.

John Cox, who has an impressive basketball pedigree, enjoyed his two professional seasons in France, but there is nothing like playing at home.

And in the NBA.

Cox, who was a standout guard at Philadelphia's Engineering and Science before attending the University of San Francisco, is a long shot to make the 76ers' roster, but he is plugging away in minicamp. He is hoping for an invitation to the summer league in Las Vegas, where the Sixers will begin play Friday.

"It's been good here in my hometown," Cox said after yesterday morning's workout at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. "I'm familiar with a lot of the staff and some of the players."

His father, Chubby Cox, was a Philadelphia Public League star at Roxborough who attended Villanova for two years and finished his career at San Francisco.

And Cox has a cousin by the name of Kobe Bryant, with whom he has remained close throughout the years.

"Kobe is always encouraging me and telling me to keep working," said Cox, who added that after his summer-league duties, he expects to work out with his cousin.

For now, Cox is working at point guard. At 6-foot-5, he has the height to play the position and the versatility to move to shooting guard. In 34 games for Le Havre of the French League, he averaged 14.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists this year.

"It's been a good experience, even off the court - a different culture and different way of life," Cox said.

But?

"It's not the NBA, which is everybody's goal," he said.

Cox, who will turn 26 on Friday, wasn't drafted in 2005 after his senior year at San Francisco. This is his first NBA camp, and he has caught the eye of Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks.

"When you are looking at the point-guard position, you are looking for a guy who can run your basketball team, defend the point-guard position, and make his other teammates comfortable, and he does that extremely well," Cheeks said.

Cox hopes it is well enough to earn him a trip to Las Vegas.

Notes. Cheeks expects to take 12 players to Las Vegas. The veterans and draft choices make up nine of those spots, since Shavlik Randolph isn't expected to play as he recovers from an ankle injury. That means Syracuse's Gerry McNamara, Temple's Dustin Salisbery, Arkansas-Little Rock's Rashad Jones-Jennings (the NCAA rebounding leader), Cox, and Philadelphia University's Christian Burns appear to be battling for the final spots. . . . A Milwaukee Bucks official said the team still hadn't met with first-round pick Yi Jianlian, a player the Sixers tried to move up in the draft to acquire. Milwaukee is working out in Las Vegas in preparation for the summer league, and Yi will play there for the Chinese national team beginning Friday. . . . Cheeks said that assistant coach Bernard Smith would coach the summer-league team in Vegas and assistant Henry Bibby would guide the summer-league team in Utah, where the Sixers will play July 13-20. . . . Cheeks has been impressed with second-round pick Derrick Byars, the 6-7 swingman from Vanderbilt. "I like his defense, and that will give him a chance to make a team," Cheeks said.


Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarduccci@phillynews.com. Read his blog at http://go.philly.com/deepsixer.