From Villanova legend to NBA hopeful, Josh Hart 'demands perfection' from himself

From Villanova legend to NBA hopeful, Josh Hart 'demands perfection' from himself

CAMDEN, N.J. — There are questions that have come up frequently during the Sixers' pre-draft workouts:

When are the top picks coming to Camden?

Is Josh Hart working out?

The Villanova standout donned a Sixers jersey and took the court with former teammates Darryl Reynolds and Dylan Ennis with head coach Jay Wright watching from the sidelines on Thursday (see story)

Hart worked out for the Sixers last year before deciding to play his senior year at Villanova and defend the Wildcats' NCAA championship. 

"Everything about the NBA went out the window," Hart said of his return to school. "I knew if I decided to go back to 'Nova to have to be all in on 'Nova. ... The NBA never crawled into my mind until the end of the year."

Hart increased his scoring production to 18.7 points and 40.4 percent three-point shooting, along with 6.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists. Hart left Villanova as the only player in school history with more than 1,900 points, 800 rebounds, 250 assists and 150 steals.

Hart actually has been adjusting his shot since the end of the season. He wasn't thrilled with how they went down in the workout but hopes the Sixers noticed the alterations he has made. 

"I didn't shoot the ball too well today," Hart said. "That comes with the territory. Changing the shot, you go through growing pains and today was a little bit of a growing pain. Even if you miss shots, it shows my jumpshot is different. It's more fluent, smoother."

The Sixers are well aware of Hart's game beyond a workout. They have had the opportunity to get a close look at him over the last four years and also watched him at a pro day. 

"He was very impressive," Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said last week. "But it was a one-on-none workout, so we're not going to get a lot out of that other than the fact that he had tremendous stamina throughout. I will say this, he didn't have a lot of breaks in the course of the workout. He's a talent. He's going to be a solid pro for somebody. We've seen a lot of video, we've seen a lot of live impressions. He's going to be a nice NBA player."

Hart, a projected second-round pick, also worked out with Pacers, Nets, Magic, Jazz, Suns, Thunder, Lakers and Trail Blazers before the Sixers. He still has the Hawks, Spurs and Suns left on his schedule. 

His road to NBA consideration has been a long one from his high school days when he doesn't think "anyone knew who I was" heading into college.

"What other people say can only fuel you so much," Hart said. "It has to come from you. If it doesn't, you won't be successful. ... I'm my biggest critic. I drive myself as much as I can. I demand perfection from myself."

Hart plans to watch the draft locally at Two Liberty Place in Philadelphia. He expects to feel more anxious than nervous, pointing out this is the first time he does not know where he will be playing basketball next.

"To be the number one pick, I think that's probably what I'm hoping for," Hart joked of his draft night expectations. "I wish I knew where I was going. The goal is to get your name called." 

Josh Hart drafted in 1st round, goes to Lakers; undrafted Kris Jenkins reportedly joins Wizards

Josh Hart drafted in 1st round, goes to Lakers; undrafted Kris Jenkins reportedly joins Wizards

Josh Hart heard his name called, while Villanova teammate Kris Jenkins did not.

Hart snuck into the first round of Thursday night's NBA draft, going 30th overall to the Utah Jazz. However, the Wildcat is headed to the Los Angeles Lakers, via a trade.

While Jenkins went undrafted, it looks like he'll have a shot with an NBA team. Jenkins will join the Washington Wizards this offseason to compete for a roster spot, according to a report by's David Aldridge.

After winning the national title as a junior with Villanova, Hart collected plenty of accolades in a standout senior season. The 6-foot-5 wing was named a consensus first-team All-American, Big East Player of the Year and took home the Julius Erving award as the top small forward in the country.

For the 32-4 Wildcats, Hart, a Silver Spring, Maryland native, averaged 18.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game, while shooting 40.4 percent from three-point range.

"I'm my biggest critic," he said last week after a pre-draft workout for the Sixers. "I drive myself as much as I can. I demand perfection from myself."

As Hart travels west, Jenkins, on the other hand, will head home for his NBA opportunity. The 6-foot-6 forward, beloved for his buzzer-beating three-pointer to win Villanova its 2016 national championship, is from Upper Marlboro, Maryland. He worked out for the Wizards in early June. He also worked out for the Sixers on Tuesday.

"It's a blessing," he said after his session with the Wizards, via the Washington Post. "You always root for the hometown team, you always want them to do well. Honestly it's humbling to be in this position, to grow up in this area, to have some games here and play college ball here and then come back and work out for the Wizards."

After flirting with the NBA draft process following their title-winning season, both Hart and Jenkins decided to return to school for their senior campaigns.

They both took to Twitter on Thursday night following the draft — Hart in excitement, Jenkins more in a humorous manner.

Sixers 'dug very deep' into Markelle Fultz's perceived weaknesses

Sixers 'dug very deep' into Markelle Fultz's perceived weaknesses

CAMDEN, N.J. — You don't have to do much research on Markelle Fultz to find his perceived shortcomings.

Washington finished 9-22 his only season there. Draft experts also questioned his effort, especially on the defensive end of the floor.

None of that concerned the Sixers when they made him the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft Thursday night.

"One of the weaknesses was, 'Does he bring it every night defensively? Did he have that killer instinct?'" Sixers head coach Brett Brown said following the pick. "I think if you take a high character person and you take an athlete, you have the foundation to coach him to be an elite defender."

There isn't much question about Fultz's offensive game. The 19-year-old guard averaged 23.2 points, 5.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game in his only season with the Huskies. He also shot an impressive 41.3 percent from three-point range.

His skill set as a shooter and scorer seems to complement the skills of franchise centerpieces Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. With his selection, president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo is hoping the Sixers can start to build a winning culture.

But does Fultz's nine-win season at Washington concern him at all?

"You look at every aspect of evaluating a prospect," Colangelo said. "We've dug very deep on this and we feel that regardless of whatever the performance of the University of Washington Huskies was last year, it's not relevant to who Markelle represents, what he represents as a player, and how he is going to fit in and help us turn this program around."

Fultz took an interesting path to being the No. 1 pick. He didn't make the varsity team at famed DeMatha High School in Maryland as a sophomore (see story). A growth spurt helped bring more attention to his game.

He chose Washington because of the relationship he had developed with its coaching staff. He also thought he'd have the opportunity to play with sophomores Marquese Chriss and Dejounte Murray. Instead, both players were surprise one-and-dones and Fultz was forced to carry the team on his shoulders.

"He wasn't always considered the best prospect, but he emerged and earned the right to be the best prospect," Colangelo said. "You're talking about a young man who goes to the University of Washington, didn't have great team success. Unfortunately, part of that may be personnel driven, part of that may be circumstantial.

"To do what he did at the level of the Pac-12 and to be able to average 23 points a game, six rebounds and six assists. You're talking, again, about great performance on the floor, a player that does so many different things and we believe someone that's going to help make his teammates better. "

Colangelo mentioned that Fultz "has the tools" to become an excellent defender. Fultz stands at 6-foot-4 with an impressive 6-foot-10 span. He also has plenty of athleticism and strength to compete defensively against NBA ones and twos.

Brown acknowledged that defense could be the biggest hole in Fultz's game, but feels like he could get the most out of Fultz on the defensive end.

"I think that down deep he understands the knock against him and I believe that when we get him with our program, he understands how we see the world here," Brown said. "It's gonna be an evolution, no doubt. But it's a willing defensive player and it's a willing athlete, a gifted athlete under a roof of a quality person. I think having those types of qualities lets you have a far better chance to mold him into the type of defensive player we need here."