Temple coach Fran Dunphy recalled attending 76ers practices when Kevin Ollie was on the roster, and he took note of the way Ollie worked and how he conducted himself.
"His level of professionalism was at the highest level," Dunphy said Tuesday. "I was not even a little bit surprised by his success after becoming a college basketball coach."
The pinnacle of that success took Ollie just two seasons as Connecticut's head coach to reach. The Huskies captured the national championship last year, defeating St. Joseph's and Villanova on their way to the title.
"I think it's because of his basketball IQ and his goodness as a person," Dunphy said. "I think he's a smart guy and an understanding guy as to what makes young people tick."
The teams coached by Dunphy and Ollie will begin their American Athletic Conference seasons against each other Wednesday at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.
The Owls (9-4), whose three-game winning streak includes an upset of No. 10 Kansas, already have won as many games as all of last season. The Huskies (6-4) have posted two convincing victories after a loss to Duke and enter conference play relatively healthy.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday in Hartford, Ollie said he would often see Dunphy at Sixers practice when Larry Brown was coaching and speak with him.
"Fran has been in my corner," Ollie said. "When I became an assistant, he always was able to lend his ear to me, lend his heart if I had any questions about recruiting or about head coaching, doing certain things the right way.
"I have so much respect for Fran because of the type of person he is, a very genuine person. He loves the game and treats his guys with respect - players and other coaches."
Temple has improved since two transfer players, guards Jesse Morgan and Devin Coleman, became eligible on Dec. 18. The Owls averaged 4.5 three-point baskets before then but have hit 11.3 threes per game in three games since. Morgan averages a team-best 16 points.
Junior forward Jaylen Bond pulled down 18 rebounds and scored 12 points Sunday in a 66-56 win over Delaware State.
The Huskies are led by senior guard Ryan Boatright, the preseason AAC player of the year, who leads the conference in scoring at 19.2 points per game.