SALT LAKE CITY – The excitement is there for Jahlil Okafor, as he gets ready to make his professional debut tonight when the 76ers take on the San Antonio Spurs in the first game of the Utah Summer League. The excitement, however, is buried deep in his 6-10 frame, as trying to see it outwardly is nearly impossible.
"Not really, I'm good. I feel ready," said Okafor when asked if he has jitters after yesterday morning's shootaround at Energy Solutions Arena. "I want to win, compete and have fun with my teammates. I don't get caught up in statistics, I just want to win."
There is a lot being thrown at Okafor and the other rookies the past couple of weeks. There were two-a-day training sessions in Philly, followed by the trip out here and now three games in four days with practices also sprinkled in. As much as the coaching staff wants to see the players' skills on the floor, they also want to see how they adapt to the rigors of the NBA.
"I wouldn't call it extra work," said Okafor. "This is what I do. This is my job now. I've been enjoying it. I have my dad with me. I have a lot of my family members with me in Philadelphia, so it's been good. I just want to compete. I want to do what the coaches ask of me and just compete at the highest level."
Sixers fans won't be as interested in the outcome of the game as they will with the play of Okafor. His feelings couldn't be more opposite.
"When you worry about the team, it makes it easier on yourself as opposed to when you're trying to do something individually. I love being a part of a team with guys who have your back. It makes it easier on me."
It all begins for him tonight.