DeAndre' Bembry was in familiar territory on Monday.

He participated in a pre-draft workout with the Sixers, his first with an NBA team. The Sixers practice at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, right down the road from St. Joe's where Bembry spent the last three years honing his skills.

Bembry is scheduled for workouts in Boston and Toronto, but was glad that his first was in Philadelphia.

"I still have my apartment over here," Bembry said. "My lease isn't up so I can go back. Matter of fact, after this I'll go see some of my roommates. Definitely a little more comfortable being in Philadelphia rather than being somewhere else."

It was comforting for Bembry to be surrounded by some familiar faces as well. He was joined Monday by two Big 5 rivals: Villanova's Josh Hart and Temple's Jaylen Bond. The Sixers also brought in two players that Bembry had been working out with in Las Vegas: VCU's Melvin Johnson and Seton Hall's Isaiah Whitehead.

Before their time on the Main Line, Bembry and Hart faced off during their AAU days. Johnson, who referred to Bembry as a "freak," squared off with him several times in the Atlantic 10.

"Just try to get somewhere where I know they're going to try to get me better," Bembry said of his decision to train out West. "Just being out there with Isaiah Whitehead — I played against him growing up in Jersey — just being around those type of people, being in a comfortable environment and pushing each other because we all are trying to get to the same place."

 

Whether it was the familiarity or not, the Sixers liked what they saw out of Bembry. With picks at No. 24 and No. 26, he'd be a logical target for them as a 6-foot-6 wing player with the makings of an elite defender. Marc Eversley, the new VP of player personnel, enjoyed the matchup of the two Big 5 swingmen.

"Max effort from both kids," Eversley said. "Bembry is a very smooth athlete, shot it particularly well today, very impressed. Josh is going through the process right now of determining whether he's going to stay in the draft or not. 

"They were matched up head to head. Two local kids going at it and they both played hard."

Eversley mentioned Bembry's shot, something draft analysts have harped on when assessing Bembry's game. Oddly enough, his three-point percentage went down every year on Hawk Hill. During a strong freshman campaign, he shot 35 percent from downtown. That number lowered to 33 percent during his sophomore year before dropping below 30 percent this season.

As Bembry became more of the focal point of St. Joe's offense, he fired up more shots. Some maybe were forced and/or contested. Bembry isn't shying away from that criticism and is working to prove to teams that he can be relied on to shoot the basketball.

“A lot of people feel like I can’t shoot at all," Bembry said. "I definitely want to hit a couple more jump shots so they can feel I can shoot a little more better.”

Maybe the knock on Bembry's shooting is so strong because there's not much else in his game to knock. The term "do-it-all forward" was overused by just about every Philly outlet (including this one). But Bembry deserves the praise and has the hardware to prove it, winning both A-10 and Big 5 Player of the Year.

Back in January, UMass coach Derek Kellogg likened Bembry's game to some guy named LeBron James. OK, that praise is lofty, but if you put Kellogg's quote into perspective you get what he's saying. Bembry stuffs the stat sheet and impacts the game in so many ways. Whether it's scoring (17.4), rebounding (7.8), playmaking (4.5 assists) or defense (1.4 steals, 0.8 blocks), opponents knew where No. 43 was at all times.

Even more appealing to NBA teams than his ability to do everything is his willingness to do anything it takes to win.

"Well first off, that I'm a team player," Bembry said when asked what he's trying to show NBA teams. "I can do just about any and everything that a coach wants me to do. Whether it's just playing defense or if you want me to be the leader of the team — try to score or get others involved — I feel like I just tried to show them my overall game and overall personality."