CAMDEN, N.J. – No, the Sixers did not import Villanova’s pep band for the workout the team staged for potential draftees Thursday morning at its practice facility.
But they could have.
Three of the six players who took part – Josh Hart, Darryl Reynolds and Dylan Ennis – spent all or part of their collegiate careers playing for the Wildcats.
Also, Jay Wright looked on. And former 'Nova assistant Billy Lange has been part of the Sixers’ staff for a while now.
All of which was “very weird,” in the estimation of Reynolds, a willowy 6-foot-9 forward taking part in his first workout for an NBA team.
“But it was comfortable,” he said, “and I’m glad that my first one was with some guys that I knew, some familiar faces.”
Three other guys – Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, Davidson guard Jack Gibbs and French forward Tidjan Keita – also participated.
Of the six, Brooks and Hart have the highest profiles. Brooks was the Pac-12 Player of the Year, while Hart earned the same honor in the Big East and also took home the Julius Erving Award as the nation’s top small forward.
Hart was shaking his head afterward about the way he shot the ball (see story), while the 6-foot-7 Brooks nailed one jumper after another.
“It raised my competitiveness when we played three-on-three,” Brooks said. “I just took shots I practiced, and they were falling today. There’s great players out there, who raised their intensity. That’s what I love.”
Brooks averaged 16.1 points while shooting 48.8 percent from the floor and 40.1 percent from 3-point range for the Ducks, who went 33-6 and lost by a point to North Carolina in the national semifinals. The Sixers are the 12th team to invite him in for a workout, but he said he is none the worse for the wear.
“I always find a way to pick myself up when the competitiveness starts, and try to give my best, every time I come out and play,” he said. “I love the game, so regardless if my legs are tired or I’m feeling some kinks or something … somehow, some way I get past it and play.”
Ennis, a 6-foot-2 guard who has been Brooks’ teammate at Oregon the last two years, participated in his ninth workout. He and Brooks became the third and fourth Ducks to audition for the Sixers, following Joey Bell and Tyler Dorsey.
Ennis began his collegiate career at Rice, then spent the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons at Villanova. He followed that by taking the graduate-transfer route to Oregon, in hopes of improving his stock as a point guard.
But he hit another detour when he broke a foot and missed all but two games of the 2015-16 season, as his former teammates were winning a national championship. After petitioning the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility he averaged 10.9 points in 2016-17 for the Ducks, shooting 48.4 percent from the floor and 35.8 percent from the arc.
Now 25, he is certainly well-seasoned, and he showed in the sliver of the workout open to the media that he is vocal.
And, he said, “I’m gritty. Anything you ask me to do, I’m going to go do.”
That was a common refrain on this day – not exactly a surprise, given that this was a de facto job interview for fringe prospects.
Reynolds, a Lower Merion grad who averaged 4.5 points and 5.4 rebounds for the Wildcats this past season, said he wanted to show that he was “going to compete and do everything.”
And Brooks believes he is a “high-motor guys can fit in a lot of places” – that with the Sixers he could provide scoring off the bench, “just feeding off (Joel) Embiid and (Jahlil) Okafor and those guys.”
But Thursday morning’s session was more of a Villanova feeding frenzy – pep band not included.