Kevin Haskin: Jacob Pullen happy to return to uhh, Kansas, as member of 76ers

K-State’s all-time leading scorer looking for NBA opportunity after vast overseas experience

Philadelphia 76ers’ Jacob Pullen in action during a preseason NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

LAWRENCE — The plea was sent Wednesday night on Twitter by one of the Philadelphia 76ers familiar with Allen Fieldhouse.

 

No, not that Sixer. Or for that matter, that prolific tweeter.

Joel Embiid certainly attracted the attention of some fans permitted to attend Philly’s practice, as well as a throng of media, who assembled Thursday on the hallowed hardwood of Kansas.

Yet another familiar player, a four-year rival of the Jayhawks, blended into the background after asking his Twitter followers for one specific prop — a purple hoodie.

Kansas State fans were happy to oblige one of their all-time greats, Jacob Pullen. He thought the better of it, though, especially since the 76ers’ predominant color happens to be blue.

“I actually had a lot of people say they would bring my purple request,’’ said Pullen, the Wildcats’ all-time scoring leader. “But you know, I didn’t want to get in trouble wearing purple under all this blue and stuff, so I told them to keep me on gray today. I didn’t want to have to wear blue in this gym.’’

So Pullen wore a black hoodie as his undergarment under his No. 00 practice jersey.

While decked in purple for K-State from 2007-11, four visits to Allen Fieldhouse resulted in four defeats for Pullen, an All-Big 12 guard who participated in three NCAA Tournaments under Frank Martin.

Pullen helped to resurrect K-State basketball, beginning with his freshman season when K-State beat KU for the first time in Bramlage Coliseum, ending an improbable string of 24 straight victories for the Jayhawks on the Wildcats’ home floor.

Trips to Allen Fieldhouse, however, always ended in defeat.

“Never won here, so it’s never fun to come here, but it’s a great place. Fun to be back in Kansas,’’ said Pullen, who was reminded of those matchups when he first stepped on the court for Thursday’s workout, which prepared Philly for a 7:30 p.m. exhibition game Friday night against the Miami Heat at Kansas City’s Sprint Center.

“My junior year when we had the lead and blew it, but they had a good team that year too,’’ Pullen said of that Elite Eight squad, which was ranked No. 5 when it visited No. 2 KU late in the year.

“It was just always fun to come here. I told my (Philly) teammates how it would be loud. We’d start out down 18 because we couldn’t hear anything.’’

The NBA opportunity for Pullen, 27, comes after touring professionally in Israel, Spain, Italy, China, Croatia and Russia the past six seasons. His travels prompted him to gain dual citizenship in both the United States and Georgia, where he played for that country’s national team in EuroBasket 2013.

“It’s been a great journey,’’ Pullen said. “Got a lot of culture and grew up a lot. Spent a lot of time (overseas) just enjoying it. Learned a lot of different languages, but now I just want to stay home and enjoy the States for a while.’’

Those experiences make Pullen even smarter about basketball — wisdom he hopes can earn him a spot with the Sixers, with whom he played in the 2012 NBA Summer League.

Over the summer, Pullen evaluated various possibilities. Some, he said, were with other NBA teams.

He concluded that Philadelphia presented the best chance for a belated leap into pro basketball’s biggest show. In three preseason games he has averaged 5.7 minutes and 2.7 points.

“Me being able to shoot the ball and do the things I do, I feel like I have a shot to help them,’’ Pullen said. “We’ll see what happens when it comes down to the chopping block.’’

For a few hours on Thursday, though, Pullen remembered Sunflower sellouts, something he and Embiid occasionally trades barbs about since. The legendary ‘Phila’ uniform happens to work against Pullen too since “we wearing blue and red all the damn time, excuse my language.’’

That’s Jake. Not only the top scorer in K-State history but also one of its most charismatic players.

One who was capable, along with additional NBA-caliber talent (Michael Beasley and Bill Walker), to restore a rivalry with Kansas upon his arrival in Manhattan.

“I really didn’t understand it until my freshman year at home, playing against KU and winning that game,’’ Pullen said. “Then coming to play KU here and getting beat, I realized it was a real rivalry, it was the real deal here and there were a lot of people who enjoyed these games.’’

And, enjoyed a flashy, yet gritty, Chicago baller named Jacob Pullen.

Contact Kevin Haskin at kevin.haskin@cjonline.com or @KevinHaskin on Twitter.

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