Jordan McRae was in Philadelphia on Saturday as the 76ers introduced their new members to the media and gave their new players their jerseys.
The former Liberty County High School and University of Tennessee standout was all smiles as he held up a jersey emblazoned with his name and number (52) on the back.
During the 76ers media day, McRae told Matt Allibone of CSNPhilly.com that he has been down this road before.
“Being in college for four years helped me out a lot,” McRae said. “Just the fact that I went through the stages of not playing, coming off the bench and then being the best player on the team, I’ve been through everything, so nothing can really hit me that I’m not going to know about.”
CSNPhilly.com writer Dei Lynam called McRae “the most quiet” of the five newcomers introduced over the weekend.
Just hours earlier, it appeared that the two time All-Southeastern Conference first-team selectee wasn’t going to be among the 60 former college standouts selected in the two-round NBA draft.
The draft started at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, but McRae still hadn’t been selected at nearly 12:30 a.m. Friday, when the final three picks remained of the second round. McRae sat stoically staring at the TVs inside the St. James Sports Center, where family and friends had gathered for a draft viewing party.
When his named was called as the 58th pick overall by the San Antonio Spurs, he was relieved, elated and vindicated all at once. He was traded to Philadelphia moments later.
It’s not the first time McRae has dealt with adversity. When McRae was first recruited and committed to the Volunteers, he thought he would be playing under Bruce Pearl. However, Pearl was fired in 2011 amid allegations of violating NCAA recruiting rules, and Cuonzo Martin became the Vols’ new head coach.
McRae missed five games of his freshman season after being suspended for allegedly violating team conduct rules by using inappropriate language during a bus trip to play at Connecticut in January 2011. That year, he played in only 10 games, averaging 5.3 minutes per game and 1.8 points per contest.
In his sophomore season, McRae played in 34 games, with 15 starts, and averaged 8.6 points and 21.7 minutes.
He broke out in his junior season, when he averaged 15.7 points per game, played in 33 games, with 22 starts, and tallied 33.6 minutes a contest. He was named the UT male student-athlete of the year and made first-team All-SEC.
That summer, McRae participated in the Kevin Durant Skills Academy, which led to an invitation to the LeBron James Skills Academy one month later in Las Vegas.
He capped that off with an All-SEC first-team senior season in which he started in all 37 games and averaged 18.7 points per game while helping the Vols reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.
McRae is 16th on Tennessee’s all-time scoring list, with 1,521 points; tied for seventh for 3-pointers made, with 179; and ranks 13th for blocks, with 97 (only player shorter than 6-foot-7 in the top 15).