Peppered with questions the day after his 20th birthday regarding whether he’d interviewed with a slew of NBA teams, Tyrell Terry’s responses were consistently and predictably in the affirmative.
The Raptors, Thunder, Suns, Nets, Knicks, Bulls, Timberwolves and Warriors are among the teams Terry has met with, he said in a conversation with reporters on Tuesday via Zoom. The Sixers have interviewed the Stanford guard, too.
“I’ve had great communication with them, as well as my agent,” he said. “I think it’s an organization that has a lot of pieces, a lot of talent. I think it’s going to be interesting to see how they all put it together to make that next jump in the Eastern Conference. I’m very aware of what the organization has and what their values are. I’ve had great communication with them thus far.”
It’s logical that the Sixers would have interest in Terry, who’s participating in this year’s virtual NBA Draft Combine. He shot 40.8 percent from three-point range and 89.1 percent from the foul line in his one college season. Terry’s pure shooting stroke and ability to play both guard spots would presumably be appealing to the Sixers, who searched for positive backup point guard play all year and finished the season 21st in three-point frequency despite Brett Brown’s persistent pleas to “hunt threes.”
That was the gist of what the Sixers told Terry during their meeting, according to him. The team holds the 21st pick, in addition to four second-round selections.
“During my interview, there’s a section where you’re allowed to ask questions,” he said. “One of the questions I asked them, how do they see me fitting into their system? They had some really positive responses. They love my shooting, the uniqueness of my shooting, and my ability to play lead guard as well as play off the ball. I’ve had great conversations with them. My agent has, as well, as far as fit.
“I’m not really sure exactly how high their interest is or the extent of that, but I’ve had some great conversations with them about fit and their interest in me.”
Terry brushed aside a question about whether he finds it concerning that the Sixers are still searching for a head coach to replace Brown, but the pervasive uncertainty about the team is notable as the pre-draft process advances. The front office looks the same as it did when the Celtics polished off their sweep of the Sixers, though it’s unclear how long that will be the case and what might change. One imagines there will be more clarity by Nov. 18, when the draft is set to be held.
Meanwhile, Terry is trying to answer questions for the league at large during this unusual pre-draft process, and he knows his size will be scrutinized. His agency, Beyond Athlete Management, says he’s gained nearly 20 pounds since he arrived in college and is now close to 175 pounds. He’s also grown vertically and said Tuesday that he stands “a little bit over” 6-foot-3 in shoes.
The height is outside of Terry’s control, but what’s he done to gain the muscle? The Minnesota native described a daily routine that involves meditation, affirmations, weight lifting, on-court workouts and meals prepared by his chef.
“I think it’s a three-part thing with mental health, nutrition and taking care of business on the court and in the weight room,” he said.
In case it’s not already clear, we’ll state it now: Terry is sharper than the typical just-turned-20-year-old. It’s apparent in his levelheaded answers to the questions tossed his way, but also in areas like his defensive anticipation, playmaking and crafty finishing around the rim.
Unless he suddenly sprouts Brian Dawkinsesque biceps or hits a dramatic growth spurt, though, Terry will likely continue to be asked about his size for a while. He thinks his intelligence can help compensate for any disadvantages related to stature.
“I think there’s a lot of things that I need to work on to overcome my size,” he said. “The biggest thing is just using my IQ in the right way, studying the game. I think I have a skill set that will be successful at the next level. I may not have the body for that yet, but I think with my IQ and my skill set, I think I can find my ways to maneuver around that like I did at the collegiate level.
“The NBA is a different beast as far as physicality. That’s why I’ve been working on my body so hard. When my IQ, skill set and body kind of link together, I think that’ll bring a lot of success at the next level.”
The Sixers are far from the only team who appear intrigued by that idea.