If there’s one player who is excited about playing for the Philadelphia 76ers, it’s point guard Maalik Wayns. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. This is his hometown team. He grew up watching the Sixers.
Wayns was a huge basketball star at Roman Catholic High School and Villanova. He played in the Sonny Hill League. He’s a big part of the Philadelphia basketball fabric. He knows there’s nothing like playing NBA basketball in his hometown.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder, has been playing extremely well during the Sixers training camp at Saint Joseph’s Hagan Arena this week. He’s penetrating and looking for the open man. He’s stopping and taking the open jumper. He’s doing all the things that have made him a great player over the years. And he’s doing it here, which makes it even better for him.
“This feels great,” Wayns said. “This is a good opportunity and especially being home. This is my hometown. I’m embracing it. I’m taking it all in. I’m just happy for this opportunity. I’m happy to be in this situation.”
Wayns was signed as a rookie free agent over the summer. He was an early entry candidate for the NBA draft following his junior year at Villanova. He was named second team All-Big East in 2011-12 after averaging team-highs of 17.6 points and 4.6 assists to go along with 3.8 rebounds a game. Wayns ranked seventh in the country in free throw shooting (89.2 percent) this past season.
Despite his accomplishments, Wayns was not selected in this year’s draft. He did manage to play as a member of the Orlando Magic in the Orlando Pro Summer League. Wayns appeared in three games, tallying 11.7 points, 5.7 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 2.33 steals in 26.7 minutes a game. He was ranked second in the league in both assists and steals. That was enough to catch the eye of the Sixers.
Now, Wayns is showcasing his skills as a playmaker. The Sixers have veteran point guards Jrue Holiday and Royal Ivey, but they also have Wayns who can bring a lot of energy to the floor.
“That’s my game,” Wayns said. “That’s how I play. At Villanova, I had to score. That’s what the coach asked me to do. But now I can get back to my roots again and be a pure point guard. I think the summer league helped a whole lot. It showed how I can be a point guard. It was a good opportunity for me. It gave me a chance to show what I can do.”
Doug Collins, Sixers head coach, has been very pleased with his play in training camp.
“I love him,” Collins said. “He gives us a different element. He gives us speed. When he came in early working out, I watched him play. Our guys like him. They trust him. Maalik has a chance to be a real good player. He’s very comfortable here. I think he’s found a home.”
The Sixers will open the preseason against the Orlando Magic in Orlando on Oct. 11. The Sixers first home preseason game will be against the Boston Celtics on Oct. 15. They also have another home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 17.
Wayns played a lot of college games at the Wells Fargo Center. Now, he’ll have a chance to play there as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers.