Shizz Alston

'Elite scorer' Carsen Edwards reminded of dominant performance vs. Villanova before pre-draft workout with Sixers

'Elite scorer' Carsen Edwards reminded of dominant performance vs. Villanova before pre-draft workout with Sixers

CAMDEN, N.J. — Carsen Edwards had a day to kill before his pre-draft workout Wednesday with the Sixers. The avid basketball fans of Philadelphia made sure one of his finest performances at Purdue, his 42-point game against Villanova this March in the NCAA Tournament, was fresh in his mind.

“I went into Chipotle and two people mentioned it to me,” he said. “I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s me.’ It’s cool, though. It was a blessing to be able to play that way and be on that stage doing the things I did. And I’m just continuing to work to be the best player I can be.”

Edwards averaged 24.3 points per game as a junior and nearly 35 in the NCAA Tournament during Purdue’s run to the Elite Eight. His scoring credentials are such that his height, or lack thereof, doesn’t dull the excitement about his NBA prospects. Edwards measured in at 6-foot and a quarter inch at the NBA Draft Combine — with shoes on. From a physical standpoint, Edwards’ height is mitigated by his strong 200-pound frame, with his massive quads a feature that stand out in person, and his 6-foot-6 wingspan.

Senior vice president of personnel Marc Eversley called Edwards an "elite scorer" and emphasized that the Sixers see Edwards as more than his physical traits.

“His height is not as much of a deterrent in terms of potentially fitting with us.” Eversely said. “I wouldn’t get caught up on the height thing. He’s got a big heart, plays hard, competes. And again, he can really, really shoot the ball. I think that’s going to be kind of his pathway into the league.”

Edwards agreed with Eversley’s assessment when looking specifically at how he’d fit with the Sixers. He shot 35.5 percent from three-point range on 10.6 attempts per game last season, many of them with a very high degree of difficulty.

“I feel like I can fit well with just being off the ball. Being able to shoot. Like I said, getting back to defense, defending the opposing team’s guard  — which is easier said than done  — but just making an impact on that," Edwards said. "Running the floor, getting to the corner, being ready to shoot.”

While most of the focus naturally falls on Edwards’ scoring, he said after the workout that he wasn’t satisfied with his defensive play.

“Just in my opinion, I’m honest with myself and I feel I could’ve defended a little better, made shots tougher for people I was guarding,” he said. “But for the most part, I gave everything, I competed, and I appreciate them bringing me in and having this opportunity.”

After workouts with Indiana, Utah, Brooklyn and the Sixers, Edwards said he has several more to come before the draft, including with Milwaukee, Boston and Oklahoma City. All the teams he listed have selections between No. 22 and No. 30.

Local ties 

The other five participants in Wednesday’s workout were Jonathan Kasibabu from Fairfield, Quinndary Weatherspoon from Mississippi State, Charles Matthews from Michigan, CJ Massinburg from Buffalo and Eric Carter from Delaware. 

Carter, a native of Jackson, New Jersey, averaged 15.8 points and 9.7 rebounds as a redshirt senior for the Blue Hens. He said he could envision himself as an “energy guy” and stretch four with the Sixers. Although the 6-foot-9 Carter took only seven threes in his college career, his free-throw percentage and overall production improved each season at Delaware. If the Sixers believe he can keep growing, Carter might be a candidate to continue his career in Delaware, with the Blue Coats. 

As you might expect, Carter was a fan of the Sixers growing up … and the Knicks. 

“No, I’m not a bandwagoner,” he said. “I mean, I like both. A.I. was my favorite growing up, so I was always on the Sixers. It’s just exciting.”

Another local player will work out for the Sixers on Thursday in Temple’s Shizz Alston Jr., with Harry Froling, Donta Hall, Jaylen Hoard, Josh Perkins and Dylan Windler the other participants. Windler, who shot 42.9 percent from three on 7.1 attempts per game as a senior at Belmont, could interest the Sixers at No. 24, or with one of their two early second-round picks (33 and 34). 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

The Fran Dunphy era ends as Temple falls to Belmont in First Four of NCAA Tournament

usa_fran_dunphy_temple.jpg
USA Today Images

The Fran Dunphy era ends as Temple falls to Belmont in First Four of NCAA Tournament

Updated: 1:31 a.m. 

DAYTON, Ohio — A few seconds were still left on the clock when Fran Dunphy headed to midcourt for his final postgame handshake, the outcome long decided. Belmont was simply too much for his Owls.

Nobody else in the NCAA Tournament is excited to face their efficient offense, either.

Kevin McClain scored 29 points and led the decisive second-half run as Belmont got its first NCAA Tournament win, pulling away to an 81-70 victory Tuesday night and ending Dunphy's career in the First Four.

The 11th-seeded Bruins (27-5) play Maryland on Thursday in the East Region.

"We belong in this tournament," said McClain, who finished two points shy of his career high. "You can see that."

Belmont got an at-large bid after losing to Murray State in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament title game. The Bruins showed the selection committee's faith was not misplaced, getting the breakthrough win on their eighth try.

"I think that they can play in this atmosphere and this is important," coach Rick Byrd said. "I didn't think many times we played well, or knew what we were in offensively, but they found a way to win. And you never play perfect, and I think they've got some toughness about them."

The loss sent Temple (23-10) into a transition. Dunphy is retiring after his 13th season at Temple, where he replaced John Chaney. Dunphy previously coached 17 seasons at Penn.

"The game of basketball has given me way more than I have given to it," Dunphy said.

He was hoping to coach another day, but Belmont's high-scoring offense pulled away at the end. Senior guard Shizz Alston Jr. led the Owls with 21 points.

"That team is smart," Alston said. "They only do what they're good at."

The Bruins entered the tournament second in the nation at 87.4 points per game. The Owls' aim was to slow the high-percentage offense just enough to give themselves a chance. Temple hung in during a first half that featured five lead changes and ended with Belmont ahead 37-31.

The Bruins pushed their lead to 11 points by hitting their first two shots in the second half. Alston, who led the American Athletic Conference at 19.7 points per game, hit three 3-pointers as the Owls surged ahead 50-46. Alston has been the Owls' catalyst, scoring at least 20 points in each of his last nine games.

McClain led a 16-3 run that put Belmont ahead to stay. McClain finished two points shy of his career high.

The Bruins' balanced offense had more than enough even though leading scorer Dylan Windler was held to five points on 2-of-7 shooting, matching his season low. Windler came in averaging 21.4 points.

Big picture 
Temple: Former Owls star Aaron McKie takes over for Dunphy. McKie is an assistant on Dunphy's staff. The Owls haven't won an NCAA Tournament game since 2013, when they beat N.C. State at Dayton before losing in the second round. They went 2-8 in eight appearances under Dunphy.

Belmont: The Bruins got only the second at-large NCAA Tournament bid in Ohio Valley Conference history, along with Middle Tennessee in 1987. They'd dropped their seven appearances when they had automatic bids.

Tourney history 
Temple's last NCAA Tournament win was in 2013 over N.C. State in Dayton. The Owls are 33-33 all-time in the tournament.

Belmont is making its eighth NCAA appearance since 2006. Its closest previous brush with a victory was a one-point loss to Duke in 2008.

Moose tracks
Six-foot-11 freshman center Nick Muszynski missed the OVC title game with a sprained left ankle, injured the previous game. Muszynski, whose nickname is Moose, started Tuesday and had 16 points and four rebounds. He wore a protective boot after the game.

"I thought he played terrific," Byrd said. "We just didn't know what we were going to get. Frankly, yesterday in practice he didn't look very good at all. But he really showed a lot today."

Philly fewer 
Philadelphia's Big 5 rivalry lost two of its longtime coaches Tuesday. In addition to Dunphy heading into retirement, Saint Joseph's fired Phil Martelli after his 24th season.

No stage fright 
The crowd at University of Dayton Arena was 11,874, the second-largest Belmont has played in front of this season. The high was 14,804 at Mackey Arena on Dec. 29, when Belmont lost to Purdue 73-62.

Up next 
Belmont heads to Jacksonville, Florida, for its game against Maryland.

Shizz Alston's career night vs. UConn helps keep Temple's NCAA tournament at-large hopes alive

usa_shizz_alston_temple_uconn.jpg
USA Today Images/David Butler II

Shizz Alston's career night vs. UConn helps keep Temple's NCAA tournament at-large hopes alive

BOX SCORE 

STORRS, Conn. — Shizz Alston Jr. told himself he wasn't going to let Temple's NCAA tournament bubble burst against UConn.

The senior scored a career-high 34 points, leading the Owls back from a six-point second-half deficit to a 78-71 road win on Thursday and keeping their hopes alive for an at-large tournament berth.

Alston hit 12 of his 14 shots from the floor and was 4 of 5 from behind the arc for Temple (22-8, 12-5 American), which had beaten the Huskies by 18 points in Philadelphia in January.

"I just wasn't going to let us lose," Alston said. "I knew if we kept pace with them, we could pull it out in the end, but I never wanted them to get separation, because they're a dangerous home team."

Quinton Rose added 20 points for Temple, which secured a bye in the first round of next week's conference tournament.

Christian Vital had 26 points off the bench for UConn (14-16, 5-12), which lost for the first time this season at Gampel Pavilion. Josh Carlton added 21 points in a losing effort.

UConn trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half, but came back to take its first lead five minutes into the second half on a long 3-pointer from Tyler Polley.

Carlton brought the crowd to its feet with a dunk off a spin move, part of a run that saw UConn go up 53-47.

The Huskies led 58-56 when Alterique Gilbert, their point guard, took an elbow to the face and had to be taken to a local hospital for treatment.

Vital said that took the air out of both the team and the arena.

"He's one of our best players," Vital said. "Clearly, whenever you have one of your better players go down, it's going to disrupt the team, especially in the second half. We had our flow going."

A steal and dunk from Alston put Temple up 65-60 and the Owls hit their free throws down the stretch to hang on.

"He made some big, big baskets tonight," said Temple coach Fran Dunphy, who was coaching his final regular-season road game. "He's not a dunker, but I'm sure he felt he had great legs about him on that play."

Big picture 
Temple: The Owls have won five of their last six to join Houston, Cincinnati and UCF with tournament byes.

UConn: The Huskies finish the regular-season 8-1 at Gampel Pavilion. They are 6-15 on all other courts. UConn will have to win this weekend and take at least two games in the conference tournament to avoid a third straight losing season.

"This is what it should look like in year one of what we've gotta do around here, rebuild this thing," said UConn coach Dan Hurley.

Stats of the night 
Temple shot 49 percent from the floor, hit 7 of 12 shots from 3-point range and made 17 of 20 free throws.

Moving up the charts 
Alston's four 3-pointers gives him 89 this season, tying him with Mike Vreeswyk for fifth place on the program's single-season list. His 589 points this season ranks 20th in program history.

Better from distance 
The Huskies, who missed all 15 shots from behind the arc against USF on Sunday, missed their first two in this one. The streak ended with a long 3-pointer from Christian Vital that gave UConn its first points. He ended up hitting seven of 11 3-point shots and the team was 10 of 29 from long distance.

Up next 
Temple: The Owls close the regular season at home on Saturday with a showdown against UCF, which came into Thursday 12-4 in the conference.

UConn: UConn wraps up the season at East Carolina on Sunday.