When Shavlik Randolph announced last spring that he would forego his senior year and enter the NBA draft, Duke basketball fans were miffed at the very least. Many fans chuckled at Randolph’s decision, even saying that the Blue Devils might be better off with freshman stud Josh McRoberts in the starting lineup.
Now it might be Randolph enjoying the last laugh.
Randolph signed a partially-guaranteed contract with the Philadelphia 76ers late last month after the NBA and its union ratified their new collective bargaining agreement. He then shined at the 76ers recent mini-camp and received an invitation to the team’s training camp, which will be held on Duke’s campus in early October.
In the camp’s final-day scrimmage, Randolph had 16 points on 6-for-7 shooting, five rebounds and two blocked shots. The former Blue Devil also took three charges in the game, impressing the 76ers coaching staff on both ends of the floor. And this wasn’t against powderpuff competition; the camp included veteran NBA players Kyle Korver and Andre Iguodala, as well as second-round draft pick Louis Williams.
Randolph showed during the camp that he can step behind the three-point line and hit the long-range shot, but he has yet to develop the consistency that his new coaches desire.
“Once he gets that little 15, 16-foot jump shot, he can be an effective player,” 76ers head coach Maurice Cheeks said. “I think people discredit his toughness. As he plays a little bit more, the toughness will come out, the ball skills will come out and his jump shot—he has to work on getting that jump shot down.”
Since leaving Duke, Randolph has aimed to regain the form that led him to be ranked as the No. 1 player in his recruiting class during his junior season in high school. At Duke, Randolph was often asked to play out of position on the low block, and to do that he put on weight and lost flexibility.
During the summer, he worked to regain his offensive explosiveness without losing the power.
“Shavlik is a little bit stronger than people think,” Cheeks said. “He can rebound the ball in traffic. Offensively, he can put the ball down on the floor.”
Randolph is believed to have received a guarantee of about $50,000 of the $400,000 NBA minimum salary, although no official figures were released.
The 76ers will return to Duke to hold their training camp at Cameron Indoor Stadium for the third consecutive year. At first thought to be a potentially awkward situation for Randolph, it now seems as if it could be a welcome homecoming.
Randolph has told newspapers recently that Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski has been working on his behalf behind the scenes. He also said in June that he was looking forward to seeing his former teammates.
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