On Tyus Battle’s Mount Rushmore of supporters the general categories of family, coaches and teammates made the cut in the announcement that he was returning to the Syracuse Orange for his junior season. He also made sure to explicitly thank Drew Hanlen.
“Who isn’t working with Drew Hanlen?” It’s becoming an easier question than the opposite. From left to right that’s Hanlen, Tyus Battle and hip-hop superstar 2 Chainz.
Hanlen’s persistent jokes online, affinity to go live from workouts on Instagram and lively gatherings with groups of NBA players and celebrities alongside the future stars of the league makes him the perfect pair with Joel Embiid. That and his willingness to take shots at rival trainers.
The cartoons of his clients across the top of his Twitter page reads like the Rising Stars roster; Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, Thon Maker and even former Syracuse star Tyler Ennis. Also among the recent Hanlen disciples: Darius Bazley (sorry to bring it up).
More join the wave almost daily. Hanlen helped refine Jayson Tatum’s skills last offseason preceding one of the great NBA rookie runs with the Celtics. He’s now pressed with fixing Markelle Fultz’ yips-hindered jump shot and he’ll assist Battle in his goal to join the ranks of future NBA all-stars.
Between preparing the future of basketball, including Battle and fellow 2019 prospect R.J. Barrett, Hanlen tosses passes to Mo Bamba as he hones in on a three-point shot and equipped LaVine with the handles to embarrass one of his assistants he put in front of the Bulls dunk champ. Then his assistants battle one-on-one while he announces it, with Embiid and company watching shirtless in the background.
The juggling of responsibility is massive for Hanlen, but Battle’s in good company.
“The biggest thing with Drew is he’s a complete film junkie,” David Lee, one of his earliest clients, said in 2013. “He personalizes everything that we do. I’m a hard worker, but I want to be efficient; I don’t want to be in the gym five hours for no reason.”
John Jenkins, who Hanlen helped get drafted in 2012, prophesized that “in 10 years, the whole world will know about him.” He gave too much leeway. It hasn’t even been a decade since Hanlen averaged 10 points per game at Belmont, where his coach worried he wasn’t enjoying college enough as his early dabbling into training became and obsession. Now he has a family of NBA protégés he crosses the country to work out with, but this summer’s been mostly situated around Santa Barbara.
As the Syracuse world panicked over Battle’s perceived last-minute indecision when his initial Instagram post regarding his return got deleted within minutes, he was squeezing in one more workout with Hanlen. Between the room for ball-handling, shooting and passing in Battle’s already explosive game the efficient improvement over short periods of work could lead to startling results when the Orange open in the Dome this fall.
The crowded gyms Battle resides in before then showcase how much demand for attention awaits anyone seeking out this basketball Yoda.
Los Angeles is the site of his workouts through this spring that more resemble festivals. A recent five-on-five game featured Embiid, Kelly Oubre, 2 Chainz, Semi Ojeleye, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Barrett and other prominent NBA players and prospects.
The onslaught of demand for Hanlen’s services, which begin as the sun rises around 5 a.m. seem to stretch beyond the capabilities of one man, but as his company Pure Sweat consolidates around NBA Draft transition in the big market of LA, it’s the players vying for his attention.
Lee thrived late into his career with Hanlen’s assistance. Beal’s exploded as one of the league’s budding superstar scorers out of their shared home of St. Louis. Born and raised there too, Tatum’s inconsistent season on the three-point line at Duke transitioned into a 40 percent year with the Celts.
With insight from Hanlen, the Lakers and other teams that worked him out and a year behind him as Syracuse’s go-to option Battle will spend the rest of his offseason in LA, according to his father. Even though every day won’t be spent with Hanlen, there’s no better resource to have in the same city.