Bem­bry still mourns painful loss

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Bob Grotz bgrotz@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @BobGrotz on Twit­ter

PHILADEL­PHIA >> De­An­dre’ Bem­bry didn’t put much thought into uni­form num­bers un­til June.

Two weeks be­fore the NBA draft, Bem­bry, the reign­ing At­lantic 10 Con­fer­ence player of the year at Saint Joseph’s Univer­sity, re­ceived tragic news. His younger brother, Adrian Potts, was slain in North Carolina in a dis­pute some­one else had over a cell phone.

On Satur­day Bem­bry re­turned to the city where he grew into a man wear­ing No. 95 for the At­lanta Hawks. It’s the birth year of Adrian, who was one of his big­gest fans. The heavy heart hasn’t gone away.

“Not at all,” Bem­bry said softly. “Def­i­nitely, it’s still there.”

Af­ter the life-chang­ing event, and af­ter the Hawks took Bem­bry off the board with the 21st over­all pick, they swung a three-team deal with the Utah Jazz for an­other firstround pick, Tau­rean Prince of Bay­lor. The rook­ies be­came best friends. Some­times they drive to work to­gether as they live on the same floor of a con­do­minium com­mu­nity.

Bem­bry and Prince, for what­ever rea­son, are as close as broth­ers.

“De­An­dre’ is very funny,” Prince said. “We have a lot of laughs on the bench and hang­ing out with each other. He’s a cool guy. I’m glad I met him in the draft process. It’s just ironic, us, com­ing to the same team.”

Bem­bry played six min­utes, scor­ing two points and grab­bing a cou­ple of boards as the Hawks coasted to a 104-72 win over the Six­ers at the Wells Fargo Cen­ter. The 6-6 Bem­bry subbed for Kyle Korver, the 35-year-old for­mer Sixer who scored 15 points, with 6:04 re­main­ing, the Hawks hold­ing a 24-point lead. Prince, who lists at 6-8, came in 19 sec­onds later.

By then, the Cen­ter was emp­ty­ing partly be­cause it was all over but the math and also to avoid the an­tic­i­pated traf­fic snarl. The Owls were play­ing across the street at the Linc. The Fly­ers had a night game at the Cen­ter with the Penguins.

In the early por­tion of the Six­ers game, Bem­bry scanned the seats look­ing for old friends and Hawks fans dur­ing time­outs.

The weekly talks Bem­bry has with Hawks coaches Phil Martelli and Ge­off Arnold, among oth­ers, have been as pow­er­ful as the prayers from Hawk Hill. Bem­bry is grate­ful he didn’t have to take on his bur­den alone.

“Ev­ery­thing is go­ing pretty well,” Bem­bry said. “I’m on a good team. A lot of vets are help­ing through­out this process and also I’ve got some­one be­side me that’s go­ing through the process as well, be­ing a rookie as well. So ev­ery­thing’s been go­ing pretty well.

“I get a lot of love back here in Philly.”

Bem­bry nod­ded to­ward Prince, seated next to him in the locker room, while mak­ing the re­marks. They met at a Nike camp the sum­mer be­fore their last years in col­lege. This past sum­mer they com­peted against each other in the NBA’s pre-draft process to heighten their draft stock.

“We worked out against each other in Bos­ton,” Prince said. “We were sup­posed to work out a cou­ple more times but some­thing hap­pened.

“It’s just crazy to end up at the same spot.”

Bem­bry wore No. 43 and was A-10 rookie of the year as a fresh­man on the Hawks team that lost to even­tual na­tional cham­pion UConn in the NCAA Tour­na­ment. A scout thought Bem­bry was the most draftable player at the re­gional.

Bem­bry stuck around while Hawks had to re­build the next year and the fol­low­ing sea­son, they won the A-10 cham­pi­onship and beat Cincin­nati in the NCAA tour­ney. The ride ended in the round of 32 with a loss to Ore­gon.

Prince said Bem­bry’s comic side comes out dur­ing im­per­son­ations of lo­cals from Philly, New Jer­sey and North Carolina. He de­clined to give an ex­am­ple.

When it was sug­gested to Bem­bry that a few Philly fans might be around the Cen­ter to wel­come him back, his sense of hu­mor reared up.

“I think more than just a few,” he said with a smile. “But I guess we can say, just a few.”

That’s De­An­dre’ Bem­bry. Once a Hawk, al­ways a Hawk whether it’s Saint Joseph’s Univer­sity or At­lanta. n The Delaware 87ers in­vited sev­eral play­ers to train­ing camp in­clud­ing Tem­ple prod­uct Dionte Christ­mas, who was on the Six­ers’ pre­sea­son ros­ter.

Other in­vites on that pre­sea­son ros­ter are An­thony “Cat” Bar­ber and for­wards Shawn Long and James Webb III.

Guard Davon Usher re­turns to the First State fol­low­ing a four-game stint with the Sevens in 2015-16 and a stand­out se­nior sea­son at the Univer­sity of Delaware. Usher av­er­aged 19 points, six re­bounds, two as­sists and two steals for the Blue Hens in 2013-14.

The Sevens trade at Delaware’s Bob Carpen­ter Cen­ter Tues­day.

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