eric paschall

Villanova's Eric Paschall, Phil Booth lead Sixers pre-draft workout group with Tennessee's Grant Williams, Oregon's Louis King

Villanova's Eric Paschall, Phil Booth lead Sixers pre-draft workout group with Tennessee's Grant Williams, Oregon's Louis King

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers on Saturday hosted their most interesting and talented pre-draft workout group so far.

National champions and Villanova products Eric Paschall and Phil Booth were reunited while the team also brought in projected first-round pick Grant Williams from Tennessee and fringe first-rounder Louis King out of Oregon.

Not surprisingly, Paschall, who will likely be a second-rounder, Williams and King all stood in the portion of the workout open to the media. 

‘I can’t get away from this kid’

Paschall and Booth have been teammates since Paschall transferred to ‘Nova from Fordham in 2015.

Both went from being role players on the 2018 national championship team to being the leading scorers on last year’s squad. They didn’t lead a repeat effort, but still managed to win the Big East and a Tournament game.

“I think what’s interesting about their group is that they kind of have to accept progression of roles throughout their career,” Sixers senior director of scouting Vince Rozman said. “With Eric, he came in from Fordham and kind of played fifth fiddle [in 2017-18] to their four NBA guys and they move on and he accepts a more dominant role in the offense and started making plays off the dribble. …

“I don’t know how they do it, but they all kind of excel in all of them.”

Paschall and Booth have worked out for a bunch of teams and the process has kept them apart for longer than they’ve been in years.

But there was definitely something special about being reunited in a workout for the Sixers.

“My agent told me, ‘Yeah, Phil is in your workout,’” Paschall said, “and I just started laughing because I can’t get away from this kid.”

While it’s a cool story, make no mistake, there is real interest.

“They’re just really good players,” Rozman said. “We can sell it that way, but we need talent and Villanova and Temple and St. Joe’s and these schools bring them in, they all have really successful college careers and it’s fun to watch.”

That is especially the case with Paschall. While Booth will likely go undrafted and have to fight his way to an NBA roster spot, Paschall will get drafted at some point. There are even those that think he could sneak into the backend of the first round.

With four second-round picks, including selections at Nos. 33 and 34, Paschall would make a ton of sense for the Sixers. He has NBA size, is a decent shooter and is a winning basketball player. Even beyond the actual success he had with the Wildcats, Paschall is a player who just makes winning plays. 

With his experience, it’s possible he could help the Sixers right away.

“I think I’d fit in well,” Paschall said. “I think they’re a very well-rounded team and I could just hop in and help contribute immediately. Just being older and more physical and being able to catch and shoot and just make plays.”

A talented group

Williams and King are both incredibly intriguing prospects, but for very different reasons.

Though Williams is just 20, he played three years with the Volunteers. He’s solidly built at 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds and his basketball IQ is off the charts. The biggest question surrounding Williams is the position he’ll play at the next level.

He’s not at all concerned.

“I’ve never really believed in positions much because in this league nowadays it’s not what you play on offense, it’s what you can play on defense,” Williams said. “No matter how big or small you are, if you can guard multiple positions and be versatile, I feel like you have a place in this league.”

Williams could be a target for the Sixers at No. 24, though Rozman admitted he’s not even sure where exactly Williams would play.

Like Paschall, King could be a fit with one of the team’s four second-round picks. King, out of Jersey City, New Jersey, was a one-and-done player with the Ducks. 

There’s plenty to be intrigued about with King. He’s 6-foot-8 and features a seven-foot wingspan while being able to play on the perimeter. He shot 38.6 percent from three in his lone season and may have quick enough feet to hang with guards. 

He admitted he had to put on weight — as his zero reps on the bench at the combine indicates — but a switchable 3-and-D wing would be on every team’s wish list.

The Sixers are no exception. 

“He’s really skilled,” Rozman said. “He has great size. He can handle and kind of make plays off the dribble … His shot is obviously very, very attractive and projectable. He’s here for a reason. There’s no doubt.”

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Villanova beats Seton Hall to become first team to win three consecutive Big East Tournament titles

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USA Today Images/Noah K. Murray

Villanova beats Seton Hall to become first team to win three consecutive Big East Tournament titles

BOX SCORE 

NEW YORK — Villanova became the first team to win three consecutive Big East Tournaments, beating Seton Hall 74-72 on Saturday night behind seniors Eric Paschall and Phil Booth and key contributions from freshman Saddiq Bey.

Seton Hall star Myles Powell, guarded closely by Booth, missed a 3-pointer in the closing seconds that could have won it. Booth was called for traveling as he tried to corral the rebound, however, and the Pirates got one more chance with 0.4 seconds left. Anthony Nelson's long inbounds lob bounced off the backboard and was slapped away by the Wildcats, who got to party on the Madison Square Garden floor yet again.

"This one is special, very special. This team has taught me so much," Booth said during the postgame ceremonies at center court. "These young dudes are like a fresh breath of air for me, being around them."

The 25th-ranked and top-seeded Wildcats (25-9) were in the Big East final for a fifth straight year, and have won four of the last five championships. The only loss during that span was to Seton Hall in 2016, and Powell and the third-seeded Pirates (20-13) gave Villanova all it could handle once again.

"Can't thank Phil and Eric for their leadership enough," Wildcats coach Jay Wright said. "They've been great examples of what a Villanova basketball player is their whole career."

Powell scored 25 points to cap a spectacular three days in Manhattan for the high-scoring guard.

Paschall had 17 points and eight rebounds, and Booth scored 16 and was selected most outstanding player of the 40th Big East Tournament.

Bey, who Villanova fans hope will lead the next wave of championship teams, had 16 points and 10 rebounds.

"Our team loves playing here in the Garden," Wright said.

Villanova had a chance to seal it in the final 30 seconds but Paschall was called for a charge when he lowered his shoulder into Myles Cale with 24 seconds left. Powell quickly scored inside at the other end to cut the Wildcats' lead to 73-72 with 15.5 seconds left.

The Pirates sent Paschall to the line with 13.7 seconds remaining and he made the first and missed the second. Seton Hall rebounded and called a timeout to set up a final play with 8.9 seconds left.

Big picture 
Seton Hall: Nelson scored 12 points off the bench for the scrappy Pirates, but other than Powell, they had a hard time finding offense. They did force 14 turnovers. They'll go as far as Powell and a tough defense will take them in the NCAAs.

Villanova: The Wildcats also got key contributions from sophomores Jermaine Samuels (12 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (six points and seven rebounds). The inexperienced players have provided inconsistent production much of the season, and if Wright's team is going to make another deep run in the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats will need more games like this one from the young guys.

"Things were rocky right until the last second of this game," Wright said. "It's been a rocky season."

Up next 
Seton Hall: The Pirates are headed to their fourth straight NCAA Tournament, matching a school best (1991-94).

Villanova: The defending national champions will be in the NCAA Tournament for the seventh straight season, but will probably be seeded worse than a 2 for the first time since 2013. Villanova also won the 2016 national title.

No. 17 Villanova falls to No. 1 Kansas in Final Four rematch

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No. 17 Villanova falls to No. 1 Kansas in Final Four rematch

BOX SCORE 

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Lagerald Vick had never watched last season's Final Four loss to Villanova before this week, when top-ranked Kansas had to endure every minute of it while prepping for Saturday's game against the Wildcats.

"We watched it for like, a week straight," Vick said. "It was definitely hard."

He'll have better memories of the rematch.

Vick poured in 29 points Saturday, Dedric Lawson added 28 points and 12 rebounds, and both helped the Jayhawks make just enough free throws in the closing minutes to hold off the No. 17 Wildcats 74-71 in a game that was nip-and-tuck almost the entire way.

Devon Dotson added 11 points for the Jayhawks, including four effortless free throws in the final 1:10 to help Kansas (9-0) end a three-game losing streak to Villanova -- the last two in the NCAA Tournament.

"This atmosphere was just awesome," Wildcats coach Jay Wright. "We played a great program, just a great atmosphere -- tough game -- and they just did a great job getting Lagerald Vick in spots where he wanted it, and Dedric Lawson, you know you're not going to shut them out."

Still, the Wildcats (8-4) had chances in the final couple minutes.

Collin Gillespie's three-point play drew them within 69-65 with 31 seconds left, and Vick gave them an opening when he threw the ball away on the ensuing inbounds play. But Vick atoned for the mistake by pulling down a defensive rebound, and then calmly made a pair of free throws at the other end.

Phil Booth's deep, line-drive 3 got Villanova within 71-68, and after Lawson made the second of two foul shots for a 72-68 lead, Booth added another driving layup to trim the deficit to two.

Lawson added two more free throws to restore a 72-68 lead with 7.5 seconds left, and Gillespie was fouled at the other end. He made the first but was forced to miss the second on purpose, and the ball squirted toward the Wildcats' bench, where a scrum ultimately gave Kansas the ball with 0.4 seconds left.

Once the Jayhawks inbounded the ball, they finally had a long-awaited win over the Wildcats.

Even if it came with far less on the line.

"We're still 1-2 against Villanova," Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. "We beat them in the Sweet 16. They beat us in the Elite Eight. They beat us in the Final Four. The game today was nice, but it wasn't a real game like the others were real games."

Booth finished with 29 points for the Wildcats. Eric Paschall scored 17 but was rendered ineffective down the stretch because of foul trouble, and Gillespie finished with 15 but was just 1 for 7 from 3-point range.

Kansas has now won 39 straight in Allen Fieldhouse as the nation's top-ranked team.

"They're a very good defensive team," Booth said. "We missed some shots at the end, but they did some great things defensively with their length. They just did a great job."

The Jayhawks led 33-31 at halftime, despite playing most of the way without Dotson and fellow starter Quentin Grimes. Grimes picked up three early fouls and Dotson had two, relegating them to the bench.

Their teammates picked them up with the kind of defensive effort Kansas sorely needed in their lopsided Final Four loss, when Paschall and Co. made just about shot they took. The Jayhawks harried the senior forward into a couple of crucial turnovers while largely shutting down the paint.

Villanova found its offensive stride in the second half.

Then again, so did Kansas.

And what most had envisioned as an up-and-down, back-and-forth showdown between national powers turned into precisely that. There were eight ties and eight lead changes, the majority of them in the opening minutes of the second half, as two of college basketball's blue-bloods went toe-to-toe in the Phog.

"This was a good game that allows you to have a quality win," Self said, "and you play through the experiences that make you better. But Jay would tell you, we're both going to play in bigger games than this."

No Quinerly
Villanova freshman Jahvon Quinerly watched from the bench after an Instagram post earlier in the week criticizing his own program. Wright said Quinerly had apologized and it would be used as a "teaching moment." The five-star recruit has played in only eight games this season.

Celeb sightings
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Hall of Fame Royals third baseman George Brett were in the crowd. So was a handful of former Kansas players, including Nick Collison, who is No. 2 on the school's career scoring list.

Big picture
Villanova played much better than it did in a loss to Penn earlier in the week, putting a scare into the No. 1 team in the country. But the Wildcats were just 3 of 15 from beyond the arc in the second half, and they were dominated on the glass for the second consecutive game.

Kansas has certainly earned its ranking, beating a trio of ranked teams already this season. The one thing the Jayhawks haven't done is win a true road game, and they'll get that opportunity when they head to No. 20 Arizona State next weekend.

Up next
Villanova plays UConn next Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Kansas hosts South Dakota on Tuesday night.