Trust The Process: The Beginnning

There’s always moments in time where you remember exactly where you were, who you were with and what you were doing that just stick in your head.

For myself, and many other crazed 76ers fans, that day was June 27, 2013. The day The Process truly began.

I was sitting on media row at an empty Bollman Center, prepping for a month of clinics and tournaments and showcases with Hoop Group with a live feed of the Draft blasting on another tab of my laptop.

There wasn’t much reason to pay attention to the top of the draft in terms of rooting interest, with the Sixers picking 11th in what was ultimately on the weaker end of draft classes. It wasn’t until Twitter started going crazy with rumors and the usual #WojBombs that I started to pay attention.

Jrue Holiday, who had been tagged as the future of the franchise under the previous regime, along with Evan Turner, was off to New Orleans. Nerlens Noel, the No. 6 pick in that draft, plus an extra pick, was on his way to Philadelphia.

When the trade was signed and sealed, I initially wasn’t a fan; At the time, Jrue was coming off his best season (career highs with 17.7 PPG and eight APG) and Noel wasn’t scheduled to play the next season after that gruesome ACL tear. Months after the Draft playing NBA2K with my college roommate he cried (jokingly, I think) when the crowd started the “MVP” chant for Holiday.

But the more time passed and the more I thought about it, it was clear that was the only way to go. What General Manager Sam Hinkie and the Sixers were selling wasn’t the status quo, it wasn’t the idea that the seventh- or eighth-seed and a small chance at an upset in the first round was good enough. What the Sixers front office was selling was something that hadn’t been there since Allen Iverson was dropping 30 points a night. Hope.

June 27, 2013 – The Day Hope Came to Philly

In order to truly compete, a team needed a star and that wouldn’t happen picking in the 10-18 range. Sure there were attempts to get a star to lead the team (Elton Brand in 2008, Andrew Bynum in 2012) but it never truly prospered. The only way to truly build, in the beginning of the Superstar Era, was the draft. 

And even in the aftermath of the Hinkie era and the beginning of the Colangelo era, that hope has exploded into what is basically a nationwide phenomenon.

Just take a look at the handful of preseason games: Joel Embiid is proving he can be a generational player when healthy and an even better s*** talker on Twitter. Ben Simmons, despite his broken shot, has at least three or four plays a game that remind you why he had such lofty expectations coming out of LSU.

Robert Covington, one of the biggest diamond-in-the-rough finds, has blossomed into an elite wing defender and a capable 3-point shooter. Dario Saric and TJ McConnell are bordering on folk hero status and JJ Redick gives them the shooting that has been sorely missing for the past few seasons.

Sure the 76ers are coming off a year where they won just 28 games, the most since The Process began in 2013, and have yet to prove they can compete on a nightly basis. But if Embiid stays healthy, Simmons somehow finds his shot and Markelle Fultz’s shoulder/abhorrent shooting stroke gets fixed, is it really hard to imagine the Sixers gunning for the fifth seed in a talent-depleted East?

The Process has handed Philly three budding stars, will Sam Hinkie’s vision finally come to fruition soon?

This is the type of hope that Hinkie and Co. built their regime on during his three-year tenure. And it’s been incredible to see just how that hope has changed a city deprived of a true winner. The go-to Philadelphia chant when a team is losing (which has happened plenty the last few years) of “E-A-G-L-E-S” has now been replaced by chants of “Trust the Process.” Embiid gave himself “The Process” nickname, an incredibly appropriate moniker given his injury-prone time in the NBA. Hell, even #RaisetheCat has become a national thing (Good work @GipperGrove).

It’s that hope that makes this team intriguing to follow, because of that Process. No team has gone to his length, something that people only thought happens in NBA2K GM Mode, in an attempt to rise to the top. And it’s a refreshing take in a league that has, in recent years, only had a handful of competitive teams vying for the championship.

It’s a Different Feel

I’ve gotten my hopes up throughout the years between the Eagles’ consecutive trips (and mostly failures) in the NFC Championship game, the rise and even faster fall of the Phillies between 2007 and 2013 (we’ll always have 2008) and a Flyers organization that gave Philadelphia a glimmer of hope in 2010.

It’s certainly an unfamiliar time (especially considering the last few years) in Philadelphia sports. The Eagles and Flyers have found early-season success while the Phillies are in the early stages of their own Process with some players already showing their ability late in the regular season. 

The Sixers had long been the organization, between Iverson’s departure in 2007 to the beginning of the Hinkie era in 2013, that drew the least interest among the main four professional teams. There’s plenty of pieces that still have to fall in place for the Sixers to get back into a competitive state. But make no mistake, the pieces are there. The only thing the fans can do now is something they’ve been saying for the past three years: Trust the Process.

Andrew Koob is a former Hoop Group Digital Media Member and a native of Warrington, Pa. He currently is a high school sports writer for and the Star-Ledger. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewKoob.

2016 Pitt Jam Fest Day Two Recap


A full slate of games in the heart of the live recruiting period gave plenty of memorable moments in downtown Pittsburgh.

With a full day of basketball in the rearview mirror, let’s take a look back at just some of the expansive action that took place at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center:

TTG Elite survive and advance

The Pittsburgh-based program is on its way to the 17U Platinum quarterfinals with a pair of wins Saturday. The first came in a 65-53 victory over Cecil Kirk where Brennan Jackson posted 10 points in the first half.

The second contest ended in heart-pounding fashion. The game against the Ohio Unity needed an extra frame to decide a winner after Ohio Unity hit three free throws with less than a second remaining to tie the game.

A Shawndale Jones contested layup with seconds on the clock to give TTG Elite a 53-51 victory. They’ll play for a chance to crack the Final Four when they play the DC Blue Devils at 9:15 a.m. on Sunday.

Blue Devils dominate

Speaking of the Blue Devils, they showed college coaches and fans alike why the program is a forced to be reckoned with.

The 17U Blue Devils started off the day with a standing room-only crowd watching their game with the Uncommon Bulls (VA). That contest turned into a blowout as the Blue Devils cruised to a 61-41 victory in a matchup littered with Division I talent.

DC got a bigger scare when they faced Team Final Black (PA) in the following round. The Blue Devils built a big lead, but a three-point barrage from Team Final Black made it a tightly-contested game. The Blue Devils were able to hold off long enough to secure a 59-56 win.

Tshiefu Ngalakulondi impressed throughout the day, putting his length and scoring ability on display with a number of high-impact dunks. Suk Mathon did his share in the post, playing well against Uncommon Bulls’ Simon Ejike-Obinna.

NJ Playaz Red scrap to wins

It wasn’t an easy day for the 16U NJ Playaz, but they made the most of their opportunities and continue into 16U Platinum championship bracket through Saturday.

The Playaz started off their day with a close 63-61 victory over Early Risers (NY) and found themselves in another grinding battle against TNBA West Ohio. Anas Amos hit a game-tying layup with 6.6 seconds in regulation, then a Playaz three-pointer with less than a minute all but secured the decision in a 57-53 overtime effort.

Jalen Carey displayed why he is considered a top 50 prospect in the 2018 class, displaying a smooth shot and plenty of athleticism that has plenty of high-majors pining for the 6-foot-2 New Jersey guard.

The Playaz compete in the quarterfinals against Erick Green Premiere at 8 a.m. on Sunday.

Middlesex creates Magic en route to quarterfinals

The Middlesex Magic had a path to the 17U Platinum quarterfinals that was far from a given.

The Massachusetts-based program was given all it could handle in the third round against TNBA West Vega (OH), but pulled away with a hard-fought 45-41 win.

The road didn’t get any easier with a matchup against Team Takeover Black 16U, one of the more athletic programs in the entire field. A back-and-forth affair that had plenty of physical moments ended in the Magic’s favor by way of a 59-55 triumph. Brendan Hoban tallied 18 points and 6 assists in the win; the 6’2 guard has had quite the weekend.

Cormac Ryan impressed throughout the day, scoring in bunches. The 6-foot-5 guard connected on four three-pointers in the Magic’s first game and posted 22 points in the win.

Middlesex will get the chance to battle its way to the championship, starting with a 9:15 a.m. Sunday tipoff against WV Wildcats Select.

Pitt Jam Fest Day One Recap

DSC_0157The first day of the Pitt Jam Fest at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center kicked off what is sure to be a fantastic week of basketball in the Steel City.

Here’s a few recaps of games from around the Convention Center Friday night that drew crowds and college coaches alike:

Team NYC Lightning 64
JB Hoops Coyle 57

The Lightning collected a couple of wins on the opening night of Pitt Jam Fest, most notably with a 64-57 victory over JB Hoops Coyle.

The two sides never backed down for the full slate, playing to a 57-57 tie with just 1:27 remaining. Thanks to free throws and a few untimely miscues from JB Hoops, the Lightning were able to score the final seven points of the contest.

Brandon Jacobs led the Lightning with 16 points, followed by Brandon Carroll with 10. Logan Bailey paced JB Hoops with 13 points, while Paddy Casey put up 12 points.


Uncommon Bulls 57
Prestige Prep 52

The Uncommon Bulls held off a hungry Prestige Prep team with a 57-52 win to advance in the 17U Platinum bracket.

Simon Ejike-Obinna was the star attraction, snaring rebounds and swatting shots while displaying a powerful offensive attack around the rim. Donnell Frayer displayed a confident swagger, attacking the rim with reckless abandon and setting up teammates with open shots.

VCU’s Will Wade and Robert Morris’ Andy Toole were watching the game, as were assistants from Temple and Penn State.


Team Loaded 757 58
Crusader Nation 52

Team Loaded 757 survived a tough first test in the second round, but came out with a 58-52 victory over Crusader Nation.

Taqwain Drummond tore up the stat sheet, posting a game-high 24 points en route to the win.

James Rider countered with 23 points for Crusader Nation in a valiant effort, including three 3-pointers in the second half.


Hoop Avenues Elite 54
Wayne PAL 49

Hoop Avenues played well enough to keep a hungry Wayne PAL team at bay.

Six of Chris Hamil’s 16 points came from the charity stripe and Matt Stritzel scored all of his 12 points in the first half in the win.

Ahmed Bailey poured in a game-high 17 points for Wayne PAL, while Austin Tchikatilov added 10 points.


Jersey Shore Warriors Blue 72
Champions Chance 68

The two sides scored early and often in the final 17U match of the night.

George Gordon filled up the stat sheet with 18 points for the Jersey Shore Warriors. Khari Williams wasn’t far behind with 14 points and Jesse Saul broke through the double-digit barrier with 11.

Trae Higginbotham gave Champions Chance a fighting chance with 18 points of his own. Markus Smith helped the cause with 12 points of his own.

Pitt Jam Fest Day Two Top Performers



Day two of the Pitt Jam Fest promised to be action-packed and it did not disappoint. The UA Association teams put together their respective shows while others took their opportunity in the spotlight and made sure it extended all the way to Championship Sunday. Here’s a few top performers from the second day of the Pitt Jam Fest:

“Tookie” Brown | Atl Xpress | 5-10 G | Class of 2015

On an AAU team with plenty of high-major talent, Brown might be overlooked a bit, literally and figuratively. But the guard, who verbally committed to Mississippi State back in January, made sure he was front and center for Xpress’ first win on Saturday. Great passing in the lane and a scoring touch has put his team in the 17U Elite 8.

David Krmpotich | Jersey Shore Warriors | 6-7 F | Class of 2015

Krmpotich is a little slender, but he was a defensive force in the Warriors’ two Saturday games. A good rebounder and an average finisher around the rim, the forward could really see his stock rise in the final game set.

Tevin Mack | Carolina Wolves | 6-6 W | Class of 2015

Whether it was inside or outside, if Tevin Mack was shooting it, the ball was probably going through the hoop. It was that kind of day for both Mack and his Carolina Wolves, as he hasn’t scored below 32 points in three games this weekend at the Pitt Jam Fest.

Amir Hinton | PA Renegades | 6-2 G | Class of 2015

Hinton did all he could against a talented WE R1 17U squad on Saturday. Whether it was grabbing a steal by blocking the passing lane or showing off a nice handle to get to the rim, Hinton was able to give his opponent a tough time for 32 minutes.

Mustapha Heron | New Heights (N.Y.) | 6-5 G | Class of 2016

Big game after big game for the Pittsburgh verbal commit. A 27-point performance in the Round of 16 put New Heights in contention for the 17U championship on Sunday.

Grant Golden | VA Elite | 6-9 PF | Class of 2016

Golden was nearly perfect from the field in his 24 point performance on Saturday. With his size, skills and IQ it don’t be too much longer that his only scholarship offer remains from James Madison.

Matt Moyer | VCC Ohio Warriors | 6-8 F | Class of 2016

Not to be overshadowed by his heralded teammate Seth Towns, Moyer brought plenty of energy and toughness to the table. He scored 15 points from all over the court and currently holds offers from Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Detroit and Dayton.

Jon Teske | Team Work | 6-10 C | Class of 2016

Teske won’t wow you with dunks or shot blocking but he’s a skilled post who works to get shots near the rim. Teske had an efficient scoring output with short jumphooks and 10 foot jumpers.

Peyton Wejnert | ShoreShots (N.J.) | 6-5 G | Class of 2016

Possessing great height for a guard, Wejnert is able to see the court and make plays for his teammates. He’s also a big time scorer and is a triple-double threat whenever he takes the court.

Mamadou Ndiaye | B’mores Finest | 6-7 F | Class of 2016

One of the most athletic players in attendance, Ndiaye possesses a ton of upside. When he begins to play with a non-stop motor, it will be scary what he can accomplish.

contributed to this article

Pitt Jam Fest: Day One Top Performers

DSC_0084If Friday was any indication, the Pitt Jam Fest is going to be full of top-notch, competitive basketball. Here’s some of the top performers from the first day out in the Steel City.

Rayjon Tucker | Team Charlotte | 6-4 G | Class of 2015
Tucker’s defensive effort set the bar high in Team Charlotte’s first UA Association game. Constant pressure on and off the ball and a vocal leader, the guard helped his team to an overtime win. Tucker holds an offer from Presbyterian College and has garnered mainly Division I mid-major interest.

Mike Nzei | New Heights (N.Y.) | 6-9 F | Class of 2015
At 6-9, he’s the second-tallest player on the team and he dominated as such. Nzei was able to lock down the paint, swatting away shots and altering the ones he couldn’t get a finger on.

LaGerald Vick | Team Thad (Tenn.) | 6-5 wing | Class of 2015
A big name in the south with offers from high-major schools, Vick showed both his inside and outside offensive game in an emphatic win over WE R1. The wing hit three of his four three-point attempts and threw down a couple of atheltic dunks as well. Vick lists offers from Memphis, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Florida and Arkansas, with Michigan State and Kansas State expressing interest as well.

Jake Silpe | Jersey Shore Warriors | 6-3 G | Class of 2015
Despite the UA Association loss, Silpe looked like the best player on the court. Almost every shot for the crafty guard was falling and, against an intense Team Breakdown, Silpe was able to keep a level head and run the Warrior offense with ease.

M.J. Walker | ATL Xpress | 6-5 G | Class of 2017
A two-sport athlete (basketball and football), the 2017 guard showed off plenty of athleticism and a sweet shot in a tough loss to D.C. Premier. Walker already has an offer from Clemson to play football and is drawing high-major interest for his talents on the court.

Danny Shand | Team Melo (Md.) | 5-10 G | Class of 2014
After seeing his team get down by 15 points, Shand’s defense and intensity in the fullcourt jolted his team to a comeback victory. He was also impossible to keep in front of on offense; causing opponents to play zone against him.

Leandro Allende | Team Florida | 6-6 F | Class of 2016
Playing up with the 17U team, the Puerto Rican native had zero trouble. Allende is able to put the ball on the floor, stroke it from deep and defend multiple positions.

Akbar Hoffman | NJ Roadrunners | 6-1 G | Class of 2014
Hoffman had his whole repertoire working on Friday and his confidence showed it. He is fearless when attacking the basket and helped him team out on the boards as well. He hit a key FT to advance his team to the next round.

Matt Cullen | Pitt Nets | 6-1 G | Class of 2015
Cullen is an absolute stone-cold knock down shooter and comes through under pressure too. He hit a game tying three with seconds left before eventually losing in OT. Cullen is deceptively athletic and capable of playing both guard positions.

Theo Holloway | Team Speed (N.J.) | 6-6 F | Class of 2015
Holloway has a solid build that holds a good amount of athleticism and strength. He also showed the ability to handle to ball in the open court and a jumper with unlimited range.

Matt McConnel | Team Bounce Pittsburgh | 6-1 G | Class of 2015
Had 25 points in a game against a Rockfish team from Louisiana. He showed off his impressive stroke from deep and toughness all night. With his leadership and ability to put up buckets, Team Bounce can continue to represent their hometown proudly.

Chris Shields | WV Wildcats | 6-8 F | Class of 2014
The Elev8 Sports Institute product showed a silky smooth handle which created space for his mid-range jumper all night. In their victory over PSP, Shields had 17 pts, moved well without the ball and showed a variety of crafty finishes around the rim. More importantly, Shields wanted the ball in crunchtime. With his length and athleticism, Shields list of colleges should continue to grow after this weekend.

Ian Sistare | NE Playaz | 6-3 G | Class of 2016
The sophomore, playing with NE Playaz 17U team, led them to victories over 6th Man Warriors and Team Price. In the second matchup of the night, Sistare displayed all facets of his game including an easy 20 points. He takes the ball strong the rack, displays a very high basketball IQ and wants the ball with the game on the line. The Boston College recruit had his team playing unselfish basketball and as his play continues to develop, so will the NE Playaz. He is one to keep a close eye on.

all contributed to this article