Philadelphia 76ers: Markelle Fultz seems to be benefitting from working with Drew Hanlen

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

After a forgettable rookie season, Philadelphia 76ers point guard Markelle Fultz turned to trainer Drew Hanlen to help rediscover his shooting stroke.

Drew Hanlen has helped develop some of the brightest stars in the NBA.

Joel Embiid, Jayson Tatum, Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Clarkson all turned to the founder and CEO of Pure Sweat Basketball to assist in elevating their games.

The most recent addition to that star-studded client list is Philadelphia 76ers point guard Markelle Fultz, whose rookie campaign was plagued by “the yips,” a condition where Fultz simply forgot how to shoot, according to Hanlen.

The trainer is currently working with Fultz to return his jumper to form, sharing coy snippets of the progress the guard is making on social media to tantalize Sixers faithful while keeping Fultz’s shot away from public scrutiny.

Hanlen is a former point guard for the Belmont University Bruins, having played four years for the school from 2008-12. The 5-foot-11 point guard finished his collegiate career averaging 6.5 points, and 3.2 assists per game. While those numbers kept any NBA dreams from coming to fruition, his mark is now felt across the league thanks to his specialized training.

Hanlen’s work as a trainer actually began before he even stepped foot on a collegiate court. As an undersized point guard player coming out of Webster Groves High School in St. Louis, Hanlen learned to push himself harder in training than his competition, something that caught the eye of another player’s father, who paid Hanlen to teach his son to do the same.

That was the spark that launched Hanlen’s training career.

Hanlen went on to work with other St. Louis natives. That included time with Bradley Beal, who would go on to become the third pick in the 2012 NBA Draft after one season at the University of Florida. Hanlen kept working with Beal after he was selected by the Washington Wizards, ultimately helping the guard go from a 41 percent shooter during his rookie year to an NBA All-Star who shot 46 percent this past season.

With a deft understanding of Beal’s game as a knockdown shooter, Hanlen helped the Wizards guard add an array of moves to his repertoire, each with the end goal of finding space for a jumper.

Complex magazine even profiled Hanlen on its list of “Trainers Behind the NBA’s Most-Improved Players” in 2014 due to his standout work with Beal.

Hanlen’s gym hours with the Wizards star lead to numerous young players reaching out, quickly amassing the trainer a client list that included numerous lottery picks.

Part of Hanlen’s allure comes from the results seen across the league and how efficient his workouts are. The other part comes from relatability. Hanlen is in his late 20s and is very much a peer to the players he works with. He understands today’s generation of players, their motivations, and the modern NBA game. He’s active on social media and uses his YouTube channel to share training videos to inspire others. He even helped Zach LaVine create a viral clip of the then Minnesota Timberwolves guard catching and dunking footballs.

Of course, Sixers fans may know Hanlen best from his work with Embiid, as the center was impressed with what Hanlen did for Wiggins, specifically with how he transformed the former number one overall pick’s mid-post game. Hanlen helped Embiid learn to attack off the bounce and use his dribbling skills to get around opposing bigs who can’t move so well laterally. It’s a skill set Sixers fans saw on full display this past season.

For Hanlen, the process starts with figuring out what a client’s team needs from them. Then he addresses those areas specifically. He’s a sort of jack-of-all-trades, a film junkie with a wealth of knowledge who prioritizes a players role above everything else.

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The role the Sixers need Fultz to play is that of a dynamic guard, one who can create and make his own shot. Last year, that shot was broken, as we all know. Hanlen vows to fix that.

It may be his toughest challenge to date, since the yips, as we’ve seen with MLB pitchers, can be more mental than physical. Still, Hanlen has stated Fultz is “ahead of pace” and that should leave fans salivating for the guard’s sophomore campaign. If that’s not enough, there’s always this tweet that has left Philadelphia fans feeling excited about what could be in store for the 2018-19 season with Fultz.