Tahjere McCall learned last week that his first private workout in the NBA draft process would be with his hometown team, the Philadelphia 76ers.
A Northeast Philly native who attended Carver High School of Enginering and Science, McCall was taken aback by the opportunity.
“You should’ve seen my face when I got the text,” McCall said. “To be in Philadelphia with my first workout, you can’t write it up.”
The Tennessee State guard was one of six prospects at the Sixers training facility in Camden for a private workout. McCall didn’t have far to travel, either, having come back home to stay with his mom after the school year.
When McCall first got the text from his agent, he had to call his mom — of course — before sending out a text to Robert Covington, who also attended the same college and currently starts for the 76ers.
The Sixers’ defensive specialist gave him some advice.
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“Just play your game,” McCall said of Covington’s advice. “If you go into something trying to impress people, you try to do something you’re not too comfortable doing … he said just be yourself and play your game and the rest will take care of itself.”
McCall said he felt comfortable working out in front of the Sixers brass with notable names like Maryland’s Melo Trimble and Colorado’s Derrick White. The two-time Ohio Valley Conference defensive player of the year had a chance to show off his defensive prowess in the 3-on-3 games.
“Talk about a kid who’s tough,” said Sixers VP of Player of Personnel Marc Eversley. “He brings toughness to the court. He’s got to work on his offense a little bit and work on his jump shot. He’s a defender, I think that’s his elite skill.”
As for his Philadelphia roots, McCall grew up being a hard-core 76ers fan because of Allen Iverson, “you could not not be a Sixers fan [when he was around].”
McCall doesn’t know of any future workouts with other teams yet, but if this was the only one he gets, so be it. He’s spent his whole life taking one opportunity — like having only one offer out of high school to later only having one school interested in him when he transferred to Tennessee State from Niagara — and wouldn’t mind doing the same if the 76ers are the only interested party.
He’d also have a good excuse to stay at home, where he says his mom’s cooking is well worth the stay for the ribs and fried chicken.