BROOKLYN – When the Sixers selected K.J. McDaniels, an athletic wing player from Clemson, as their No. 32 pick in the second round of the NBA draft, he barely recognized what was going on.
The Barclays Center was instantly flooded with chants of “K.J., K.J.” from the remaining Philly fans dotting the arena. He descended from the upper levels of the arena and snapped his team hat on.
And if McDaniel was being honest, he didn’t even expect to get selected last night. Not by the Sixers, or by any other franchise in the NBA.
“It’s a blessing to be in Philly; I’m shocked I even got picked,” McDaniels said, fixing the brim on his new cap. “[The executives] showed us a great time for my day there. It’s a great city to be in, and I’m looking to get to know it better.”
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McDaniels, the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year, scored 17.1 points and grabbed 7.1 rebounds per game in his junior season at Clemson. The 6-6, 200-pounder from Mobile, Ala. has been labeled a hard worker on the defensive side of the ball, but there’s more to his lanky frame than he gives off.
“I came a long way, McDaniels said. “Clemson gave me an opportunity to showcase my talent and to be called here once again is a blessing. I have to thank God and my family.”
“That’s the main reason why the crowd erupted,” McDaniels continued. “Because most of them were my family out there. You know, we all know where we came from. Just to get here is a blessing. I know they’re behind me all the way.”
Later in the second round, the Sixers selected Syracuse forward Jerami Grant, a 6-8, 214-pound athletic swingman from Hyattesville, Md. Grant was a part of the Orange team that went to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He averaged 12 points and 8.6 rebounds this past season.
The franchise also selected Louisville guard Russ Smith with their No. 47 pick, Yahoo Sports reported that he was traded to New Orleans for the rights to Pierre Jackson, a former Baylor guard the team picked in last year’s draft.
With the No. 52 pick, the squad picked Vasilije Micic, a 6-6, 202-pound guard from Serbia. The No. 54 pick was used on Nemanja Dangubic, a 6-8 forward from Serbia. The Sixers later announced that they had traded him to the Spurs for the rights to Jordan McRae, a 6-6, 185-pound guard from Tennessee drafted at No. 58.
But when it comes to the Sixers’ first choice of the round, McDaniels said he and the rest of the new pieces could get the roster back where it needs to be.
“I’ve watched those guys play,” McDaniels said, “and we can get Philly back on the map. We can get these guys back on and we can learn off each other and be a good team. This is going to be a good team.”