Friends and Rivals Josh Hart, DeAndre' Bembry Work Out for Sixers

Josh Hart and DeAndre' Bembry are pretty familiar with each other by now.

You may have seen them battle it out for the last three years on the Main Line during their time at Villanova and St. Joe's, respectively.

But their time as rivals goes back even further.

"I knew Josh Hart through AAU growing up," Bembry said, "and of course him kicking us at 'Nova throughout the three years I've been here."

"I think in our games, I think I always top him," Hart joked. "I'm always gonna hold that over his head a little bit, but it's a great matchup every time we go at it."

Hart grew up in the Washington, D.C. area where he starred for Sidwell Friends School, while Bembry was playing at The Patrick School in Elizabeth, N.J. After three successful seasons playing their college basketball in Philly, Bembry and Hart participated in the NBA draft combine last week.

On Monday, the pair of Big 5 stars were back on City Line Ave. at PCOM to participate in a pre-draft workout with the Sixers. While the Sixers aren't exactly his "hometown team," it was still exciting for Hart to be back in the area and see some familiar faces out on the floor.

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"It was cool," the national champion and Big East first-team selection said.  "We want to see each other do well. We want to support each other. Definitely competition, though."

Hart is still testing the NBA waters and won't make a decision on his future until May 25, the deadline for players who haven't signed an agent to pull their names out of draft. Hart's already worked out for the Los Angeles Clippers, but he said his decision will be based on "feel" and not just where he's projected to go. Especially this early in the process.

There is one way he would make the decision go to the NBA for sure.

"I gotta have Philly take me with the No. 1 pick," Hart joked. "It's going to be more of a feel. Obviously, everyone wants a first-round guarantee. It's tough to get that. A full month before the draft, there's so many different variables that can happen in that month. Coach (Jay) Wright is there supporting me whichever way I choose."

Bembry's mind has already been made up. The 21-year-old forward hired an agent and has put his name into the draft pool. This was Bembry's first workout since the combine in Chicago, but he was greeted by a familiar face this morning: St. Joe's head coach Phil Martelli.

"This was my first workout, so it was great to start in Philly," the Big 5 and Atlantic 10 Player of the Year said. "Saw Phil Martelli, of course. Talked to him. Right after this, I workout for Boston and Toronto.

"I saw [Martelli] in Chicago as well. He asked me in Chicago would I be comfortable with him coming. I should've told him 'no' just to be funny. Phil, he's a great person, there's a reason why I went to St. Joe's. He's a great man."

In addition to his workout with the Clippers, Hart is working out for the Celtics, San Antonio Spurs and Atlanta Hawks.

A day in L.A. with a championship coach in Doc Rivers in the books, and a day with five-time NBA champion Gregg Popovich in San Antonio on the docket. Not bad for a kid still weighing his options. At the very least, Hart will be able to glean something from NBA royalty before returning to the Wildcats.

"It's humbling," Hart said of his pre-draft experience. "These are some of the best coaches in the business. Definitely humbling. Every chance you get you try to pick their mind a little bit, gain a little extra knowledge."

The next week or so will go a long way in making up Hart's mind. He said last week at the combine that he's "50-50" and said on Monday that he's still there.

Bembry was in a meeting with Sixers head coach Brett Brown when Hart spoke and it took him a little longer to get to his media availability. When he finally greeted the local press, the other prospects --  includeing Temple's Jaylen Bond, Seton Hall's Isaiah Whitehead, VCU's Melvin Johnson and Louisiana-Lafayette's Shawn Long - were already showered, changed and heading out.

As Bembry addressed the crowd of reporters, Hart gave him a tap on the backside.

Bembry stopped mid-sentence to shake Hart's hand then turned and said, "You see that? Josh Hart: National champion."

The two have always viewed their competition as a friendly rivalry and are grateful for the other guy pushing them.

"Me and 'Dre have been playing each other since we were like 14, 15 years old," Hart said. "He wants to see me do well, I want to see him do well. We definitely go at each other but it's all love."

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