Byars ready to play for Sixers

Monday, July 2, 2007 at 1:30am

Ed Snider, chairman of the Philadelphia 76ers, said he was surprised when Derrick Byars was available at the No. 42 slot in last Thursday’s NBA Draft.

Byars was just as surprised, but for different reasons.

The former Vanderbilt star had expected to be a first-round draft choice and rest in the comfort of a guaranteed contract. Instead, his path to an NBA career will be filled with more obstacles.

While Snider and the 76ers were pleased that Byars fell into their laps in the second round, Byars will attempt to shake off the disappointment and put a positive spin on his draft slide.

“I can’t worry about that,” he said. “I can’t worry about things I can’t control. I’m happy my name did get called among 60 names.”

After his predraft workout with the Sixers, Byars was told he had “great upside, even though I’m 23 years of age.”

“You can look at it two ways,” Byars told the Philadelphia Daily News. “You can look at an 18-year-old and say he has a lot of potential, [or] you look at a 23-year-old and you might say he’s already hit his peak, but I feel I’m ready to produce right now.

“That’s the advantage I have: You won’t need three ears [for development], which is the case you might have with some of these younger guys. But, I mean, it doesn't matter. All that matters is, you’re doing it now; you’re ready now. I’m ready to produce right now.”

The Sixers drafted Georgia Tech small forward Thaddeus Young and Colorado State power forward Jason Smith with the 12th and 20th picks in the first round. Byars is familiar with both players.

“Jason and Thaddeus were in the same workout I was in,” he said. “They are great players, obviously. Jason is an agile big man. He can step out and shoot it and I’m looking forward to playing with him. Thaddeus I know a lot about, he is from my hometown (Memphis). He is an incredible player.”

ANOTHER FEATHER: Vanderbilt left-hander David Price continued his run through the postseason National Player of the Year trophies Friday when he was named the 2007 Golden Spikes Award winner by USA Baseball.

Price also recently won the Dick Howser Trophy, the National Collegiate Baseball Writer’s Association’s Player of the Year award.

Price, the No. 1 overall pick in last month’s Major League Draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, was one of five finalists for the Golden Spikes Award along with teammate Pedro Alvarez, Florida’s Matt LaPorta, Florida State’s Tony Thomas and Texas’ Kyle Russell.

Price is the first Commodore to receive the award and the first player from the SEC since South Carolina pitcher Kip Bouknight won it in 2000.

Contract negotiations between Price and the Devil Rays are ongoing.

VU FOOTBALL TICKETS: Single-game tickets to seven of Vanderbilt's eight home football games on campus go on sale today through online, telephone and box office outlets.

Opponents for Vanderbilt's eight-game home schedule include Richmond, Sept. 1; Alabama, Sept. 8; Ole Miss, Sept. 15; Eastern Michigan, Sept. 29; Georgia, Oct. 13; Miami (Ohio), Oct. 27; Kentucky, Nov. 10; and Wake Forest, Nov. 24.

Single-game ticket offerings to the Vanderbilt-Alabama encounter will not be available until early August, Commodore athletic officials said, in order to allow priority seating for more Vanderbilt season ticket holders.

Vanderbilt officials have sold more than 9,600 season tickets through June, an increase of nearly 40 percent over the same date one year ago.

Premium individual tickets for SEC games against Ole Miss, Georgia and Kentucky are $42. When available, the Alabama ticket will also cost $42. Prices to the four non-conference games are reduced, ranging from $12 for the opener against Richmond to $22 for the Eastern Michigan, Miami (Ohio) and Wake Forest outings.

Discounted single game tickets in end zone sections J-L of Vanderbilt Stadium also are available, with prices ranging from $22 for all SEC games and $12 for the four non-SEC games.

Starting Monday, Commodore fans and college football enthusiasts can purchase individual tickets by phone – 615/322-GOLD (option 1) or toll-free at 1-877-44-VANDY. Purchasing through the Vanderbilt’s official athletic website, www.vucommodores.com, started Sunday, July 1.

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