Sixers Lead

Can Hanlen Save Fultz?

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Looking at Drew Hanlen’s social media can be overwhelming, chock full of entertaining fodder from a relatively unknown living his best basketball life. Enter Markelle Fultz.

In one Instagram scene, the bearded basketball consultant from St. Louis can be seen kicking a soccer ball around a dirt field in Cameroon with Joel Embiid. In a Twitter post, he prepares rapper 2Chainz for a showdown against Snoop Dogg.

And, in the freeze frame of a lifetime, Hanlen posts a picture of himself and Jayson Tatum working out with Kobe Bryant.

The former point guard at Belmont University, who wasn’t quite tall enough to make an NBA roster, has become an unlikely mentor and shot doctor to some of the brightest young stars in the NBA, including Markelle Fultz, the Sixers’ enigmatic No. 1 draft pick. Hanlen is CEO of Pure Sweat Basketball and counts Tatum, Embiid, Fultz, Washington’s Bradley Beal and Cleveland’s Jordan Clarkson as top-tier clients – and he isn’t shy about dropping drool-worthy nuggets about his prized pupils. Earlier this summer, he let everyone know that Fultz’s much yipped-about jumper was finally coming to life.

“It’s not perfect yet, but I think by the end of the summer it will be perfect, he’ll be back rolling and he’ll show people why he was the No. 1 pick,” Hanlen told The Talking Schmidt podcast. “Even though I do give him trouble on a daily basis and tell him and remind him that I still believe Jayson Tatum was the best player in that draft.”

It’s a funny joke, but Hanlen is serious when it comes to fixing broken players. He wants students to “trim the fat” and lose any “unwanted movement” on their shots. He prefers a quick release, but only if it doesn’t break rhythm. Tatum shoots fast, under 0.75 seconds – and Embiid is learning to get quicker every day adhering to a rigorous workout and shooting routine.

Fultz needs to get there sooner, rather than later. Otherwise, Sixers fans might put an expiration date on their “Trust the Process” mantra.

“All I can say is that it’s going really well and that we’re purposely doing things just to protect him right now,” Hanlen told HoopsHype in July. “But I think Philly fans will be very excited.”

Last Thursday morning, a video emerged of Fultz’s retooled jumper. It looks pretty encouraging to us, but you be the judge …

But exactly who is Drew Hanlen? And why should we trust him?

Here are 10 facts and figures about the NBA’s new basketball whisperer:

1. Hanlen founded Pure Sweat Basketball in high school and ran one-hour workouts for $20, mostly for players his age and younger.

2. He was recruited by coach Rick Byrd at Belmont University and played four seasons at point guard there where he was known for three-point shooting and on-the-ball defense.

3. As a senior at Belmont, he averaged a career-best 10.8 points per game while shooting 48 percent from beyond the arc, good for second-best in Division I basketball.

4. Hanlen employs the same SWOT analysis that many Fortune 500 companies and applies it to the game of basketball with his students: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT).

5. His wide-ranging list of clients and prospects includes: Jordan Clarkson, Jayson Tatum, Markelle Fultz, Joel Embiid, Mo Bamba, David Lee, Bradley Beal and Andrew Wiggins, among others.

6. Jordan Clarkson’s 0.45 second release is the fastest time on his roster. To put that in perspective, Klay Thompson — arguably the best shooter in the NBA — registers at 0.79 seconds.

7. Tatum’s mom reportedly reached out to Hanlen when her son was still in middle school because he needed to fix his release and clean up his perimeter game.

8. Hanlen grew up idolizing Michael Jordan and taped all of his Bulls games, studying and analyzing them in the hopes of mimicking Jordan’s moves.

9. While attending Webster Groves High School in St. Louis, Hanlen woke up at 4:59 a.m. every morning and took no less than 1,000 shots before starting his day.

10. Hanlen dates Cassidy Hayden (@cass_laudano on Instagram) and the two have been seen out and about at NBA playoff games and swanky parties.

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About Mike Greger

Michael Greger grew up the son of an Eagles season-ticket holder before serving as Sports Editor at Metro Philadelphia where he covered the Eagles, Sixers, Phillies and Flyers. He co-edits the popular Philadelphia sports blog, PhillySportsJabronis.com, and regularly freelances for several local publications, including Billy Penn, Philadelphia Weekly and NBC Sports Philadelphia. He is well respected in local and online sports circles due to his extensive work navigating the pulse of the Philly sports fan. His favorite Sixer of all-time is Scott Brooks – as a player, not a coach – and he isn’t ashamed to admit that he cried during Allen Iverson’s retirement ceremony. Trust the Process.

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