Josh Harris feels Sixers are 'stacked for the future'

Josh Harris took a moment from entertaining students at Russell H. Conwell Middle Magnet School to talk about the next steps for the 76ers franchise.

The team's managing partner was still excited Thursday evening about securing the third pick at Tuesday's NBA draft lottery.

"I think it came out in a great way for us, obviously," Harris said during the Harris Family Charitable Foundation's launch of an "After-School All-Stars" program at Conwell. "Obviously, I would have rather had [picks] one and four."

The Sixers would have had received the Los Angeles Lakers' first-round pick if it dropped out of the top three. The Lakers were awarded the second pick behind the Boston Celtics.

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However, Harris noted that the Sixers would have had to settle for the fifth pick if not for their pick swap with the Sacramento Kings. He'll gladly take the third pick over the fifth anytime.

"By the way, we now are stacked for the future," he said. "We have a young team already. So that leaves some slots for some vets to put around our young guys and teach them about what it's like to be in the NBA.

"So it staggers it very nicely for us. And by the way, we are going to get a stud in this draft."

Harris and his wife, Marjorie, were not in Kensington to discuss their quest to build an NBA championship team. Harris, a philanthropist, provided After-School All-Stars funding with a three-year, three-city, $750,000 grant through his foundation.

The grant will help the nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles bring its program to schools in the cities. ASAS offers free after-school activities to about 70,000 students in 19 cities across the country.

The Harris foundation first sponsored a program at Thirteenth Avenue Elementary School in Newark, N.J., in November. The third program is scheduled at a school in Camden this fall.

"I've been really lucky in my life and I've had a lot of fortune," said Harris, a billionaire who's also the principal owner of the New Jersey Devils, a shareholder in Crystal Palace of the English Premier League, and cofounder of Apollo Global Management.

He believes it's important to provide after-school programs in underprivileged communities. The ASAS program at Conwell includes technology and science. It also provides students access to teachers and mentors after school and teaches youngsters the benefits of a healthy lifestyle through participating in sports.

He said Conwell is like many other inner-city schools in Philadelphia, Camden, Newark, and other communities.

"It needs help," Harris said. "It doesn't have a lot of funding, and so after-school programs have been cut all over the country. They are particularly being cut in areas that are low-income. So we are trying to step in and do what used to be done by the schools themselves and provide programming in the 3-to-6 [p.m.] time frame."

The goal is keep the kids off the streets and give them exposure. He said maybe the program will produce a future state senator, pro basketball player, or pro volleyball player. Maybe a bunch of kids from his program will get into college. That's why he's determined to help.

In August 2015, Harris' foundation gave the Police Athletic League of Philadelphia a $3.5 million development grant. It was the largest gift given to PAL.

So Harris wears many hats, including that of Sixers majority owner. Of course, there was a question about Tuesday's lottery. Harris appeared to be hyped up that night after the order for the June 22 draft was announced. He was asked if he was still sky-high two days later.

"I'll be sky-high when we achieve our goal of winning an NBA championship," he said.

kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

www.philly.com/Sixersblog

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