June 20, 2016
Ever since he pitched the ball back to Kris Jenkins late on a Monday night in Houston a few months ago, Ryan Arcidiacono’s life has been a whirlwind. And just like his coach, you get the sense that while Villanova’s national title was a dream come true, he could do without some of the added attention.
After all, there’s a reason that ‘Nova players routinely joked that he was Jay Wright’s son.
“It’s just been crazy honestly,” Arcidiacono said. “There was no sad faces on campus up until graduation. I moved down to Maryland, had some workouts, and flew around the country working out for all these NBA teams.
“I’m glad it’s settling down now and I can just focus on the next chapter of my life with these NBA workouts and hopefully summer league.”
Just as LeBron James did in Cleveland last night, Arcidiacono put the exclamation point on his legacy on the Main Line with the magical NCAA Tournament run. Taking into account how he found the program and then how he left it, there is an argument to be made that Arcidiacono is the most important player in the history of Villanova basketball.
But now it’s time for him to move on to the professional ranks, and the question becomes what Arch looks like wearing a uniform other than Villanova (which will admittedly be weird for everyone). What skills can he bring to an NBA team?
“I think I can lead a team, I think I can bring a lot of consistent shooting and get people the ball where they want on the floor,” Arcidiacono said. “I can help just be a coach on the floor and make guys connected on the defensive end.”
“He’s just competitive,” Sixers director of basketball operation and scouting innovation Vince Rozman said. “In drills, in 1-on-1 competition, in shooting drills, he just wants to win. That’s endearing. He plays hard, he’s vocal. You’re not a captain of your team for four years without being a competitive kid.”
And the Langhorne native has been competing quite a bit during the pre-draft process. While someone like Ben Simmons has little to gain from working out for NBA teams, Arcidiacono is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. The Sixers are the 11th team to work him out, and he’ll fly to New Orleans for one final workout tomorrow.
At Sixers practice, Arcidiacono found a couple of familiar faces in assistant coaches Billy Lange and Curtis Sumpter. Lange was an assistant at ‘Nova when Arcidiacono was a freshman, and he helped in his development.
“I remember every single morning we’d be shooting in the gym with Darrun [Hilliard], doing as much shooting and ball-handling as we could,” Arcidiacono said.
Arcidiacono said that it wasn’t until college when he thought the NBA would be a possibility. And while he was practically raised to be a Villanova basketball player, he also wouldn’t mind playing for the local pro team as well.
“It would mean the world,” he said. “Growing up watching this team, being from the area. Like you said, I wanted to play for Villanova and like you said, I wanted to play for Villanova and eventually if I could play for the Sixers, that would be awesome.”
Arcidiacono is likely to go undrafted. Working out on the court behind him during the interview was T.J. McConnell, another undrafted player that surprised everyone last year. Arcidiacono is a long-shot to be an NBA player, but with his college career and the intangibles he brings, it would be foolish to completely rule the idea out.
Arch was joined in Monday morning’s workout by Perry Ellis (Kansas), Trey Freeman (Old Dominion), Justin Moss (Buffalo), Pascal Siakam (New Mexico State), and Jameel Warney (Stony Brook). Ellis is most recognizable name of that group, a four-year star at Kansas.
As a sophomore (and no, this wasn’t in 1996), Ellis played with Joel Embiid, who also took in the workout. He had some high praise for his former teammate.
“He was such a smart guy, it was impressive,” Ellis said. “He picked up things so fast. You could just see how good his footwork was. He’s going to be great, he’s going to be a great player.”
Special advisor Jerry Colangelo was also at PCOM on Monday, and many of the Sixers scouts were in town for meetings on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. According to Rozman, one of Bryan Colangelo’s strengths is his preparedness.
“We had a lot of productive meetings this weekend,” Rozman said. “It’s just everybody wants a little different information, they digest it differently. We had a lot of good arguments this weekend, a little bit of agreement. [Bryan] can prod the room in the right direction.”
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann