NCAA Players Revealed in FBI Report to Receive Benefits

It looks like we have our first name drop in the FBI investigation over corruption within college basketball. Yahoo Sports reported this morning that numerous players, from major programs, received impermissible benefits while at, or currently at, school from the ASM Sports agency. The reports come directly from the financial records and spreadsheets of Andy Miller and Christian Dawkins, two men formerly associated with the agency. Dawkins was one of the ten people arrested in September when this news first broke.

The report lists in detail the payments and loans given to players in an attempt to get them to sign with ASM upon declaring for the NBA Draft. The report includes current NBA players such as Dennis Smith, Markelle Fultz, Josh Jackson, Kyle Lowry, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Kuzma and more. It also lists current NCAA athletes such as Wendell Carter (Duke), Collin Sexton (Alabama), Kevin Knox (Kentucky) and Miles Bridges (Michigan State).

It’s important to note that these transactions were mainly between the player’s families and ASM directly, which is different from the school’s directly funneling money to the player and his family in return for a commitment. It’s possible coaches were unaware of these deals occurring, so I don’t expect much to happen to them based on this report. No school other than Xavier would comment on the report. Below is head coach Chris Mack’s comment:

“I have no relationship with Andy Miller or any of his associates. He plays no role in the recruitment of potential student athletes on Xavier’s behalf. Beyond that, our staff has never created a path for him to foster a relationship with any of our student-athletes while enrolled at Xavier. Any suggestion that I or anyone on my staff utilized Andy Miller to provide even the slightest of financial benefits to a Xavier student-athlete is grossly misinformed. We are prepared to cooperate with any and all investigations at any level.”

Former Xavier player Edmund Sumner was a name listed in the documents. I don’t disbelieve Mack. I’m sure he did not utilize ASM to land recruits and I’m sure he was never introducing Sumner to Andy Miller. As I said before, these transactions are primarily between families of players and the agency. It could have gone on behind a coach’s backs. However, as a head coach, you have a pretty good idea of what goes on within your program, on and off the court. For all these coaches to be 100% blind to these deals happening seems a little farfetched, but I’m not here to point fingers and make up rumors.

The news basically just cures a craving that most of the college basketball world has had since last week, when the report of hundreds of documents being in the FBI’s possession broke. It’s illegal, but nothing earth shattering. Most players have dollar amounts next to their name in the thousands, but others are much less. Some players are listed on the report solely because the agency picked up the bill for dinner meeting. Others received a couple hundred dollars to make some bill payments, allegedly.

As for the NCAA, they released a statement this morning, but it was pretty vague and unconvincing. “The Board and I are completely committed to making transformational changes to the game and ensuring all involved in college basketball do so with integrity.” That’s just a piece of the full statement put out by Mark Emmert. Unless those changes are compensating players and their families, in some fashion, for the monetary value that they provide to the NCAA and universities, these cases will never go away. I’m not saying players need hundreds of thousands of dollars, but some of these records are for hundreds of dollars. There is some middle ground that would eliminate this corruption and help players’ families. That’s a conversation for another day.

As I said before, not much should happen to head coaches with this report. I would expect a lot of teams to have to eventually forfeit some wins (joy) for having ineligible players play. We may just get to a point where the NCAA just vacates every National Championship for the past 20 years. Just pretend no one won anything and try to start fresh. It will be interesting to see how the programs with active NCAA players fair for the rest of the year. With conference tournaments and Selection Sunday coming up it’s worth monitoring. This report gave everyone a taste at what could be out there, but it remains a waiting game.

Stop Worrying About Markelle Fultz

Markelle Fultz is likely done for the year. Philadelphia 76ers general manager Bryan Colangelo gave a very blanketed quote when asked about Fultz’s status. “There’s always a chance that he’s going to be out there soon, and there’s a chance that he’s not going to play this year.” He said. The news of Fultz potentially sitting out the rest of the year has sent the NBA Twitter world into a frenzy. The word bust is being thrown around and people are already to lump Fultz with Kwame Brown and Anthony Bennett. But let’s make one thing clear.

Markelle Fultz will be just fine

The day he entered his name into the 2017 NBA Draft, Markelle Fultz received the criticism. “Washington didn’t even make the tournament,” is what many unknowledgeable fans would say. There’s truth to that, but neither did Ben Simmons a year before. The reason is not their fault. If you’re going to point to anything, point to the coaching first. Look at what Will Wade and Mike Hopkins are doing at LSU and Washington, respectively. They both have those programs trending in the upward direction for the first time in awhile. A good coach goes a long way at the college level.

Playing on the West Coast, and not in prime time a lot, left Fultz in the dark most of his year in college. Not many people on the East Coast stayed up to watch a bad Washington team lose in the Pac-12. That is completely understandable. But lack of knowledge or exposure doesn’t make a player less talented.

What’s going on with Fultz is very uncharacteristic, and the cause for concern by Sixer fans is understandable. Even more so when you remember what Philadelphia gave up to draft him. How does a player who has been playing basketball his whole life “forget” how to shoot? The more Fultz stays off the court, the more questions arise and the more people demand to see practice videos of him shooting. The situations are different, but Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons didn’t play their first seasons either. Now Fultz isn’t sitting due to injury, but let’s not turn our backs on a 19 year old so quickly.

It’s all bizarre. Colangelo said today that Fultz can’t shoot outside the paint. That screams scary, but it also seems a little unrealistic Regardless, as you’ve been doing for literally years now, Trust the Process. Don’t jump to negativity before year one is over. If there’s one person who will work his way back, its Fultz.

Markelle Fultz worked his way to the national spotlight. He didn’t grow up a highly touted recruit and prospect. He wasn’t playing varsity basketball as an 8th grader or some of the crazy things you hear top recruits doing at young ages. Markelle Fultz was playing JV basketball as a sophomore. He transformed himself from a kid playing JV basketball to a top 10 recruit nationally through his work ethic. He went from unknown to #1 pick by getting in the gym. The same work ethic that will get this bizarre shot dilemma solved. Take a deep breath, Philly.

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 NJ.com and the Star-Ledger. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewKoob.

Markelle Fultz Lives up to Hype in Summer Hoops Debut

Summer hoops season is just a teaser of sorts, but Monday’s preview of the 76ers gives off the sense that Philadelphia is on the up-and-up. All of the pieces are coming together, and Philadelphia has a lot to look forward to with Markelle Fultz proving worthy of the No. 1 pick overall to the City of Brotherly Love.

The stars of the game were Jalen Brown and Jason Tatum on paper for the Celtics, but Fultz, who saw less playing time for the Sixers, gave us a glimpse of what’s to come for his career. He finished with 17 points and three blocks in his 22 minutes of play.

Handling both sides of the court in his debut showing, Fultz has the potential to round out a Philadelphia team that is screaming “it’s about time.”

Redick to play key leadership role in Philly

With most of their offense on the court being young, the Sixers’ addition of J.J. Redick will add a veteran in the mix, giving players like Fultz, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid space to see the floor. Not to mention Redick is a multidimensional player offensively, having a knack for nailing the ball in from beyond the arc – anything like that will surely improve an offense that has been ranked 30th for not one, but the last four seasons. I don’t need to remind you that there are 32 teams in the league.

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons Philadelphia 76ers

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons

Redick was enthusiastic about the one-year, $23 million dollar deal having turned down several offers to be in Philly. He will play a big mentoring role in developing the team’s youthful roster.

Fultz and Redick won’t be the icing on top of the cake, however. The Sixers won’t be vying for the title next season. But be sure to expect to see a gradual improvement in Philadelphia overall.

The team’s level of play also hangs heavy on injury. The Sixers will need to have a healthy Simmons, who missed the entirety of his rookie season, and Embiid, who has played just a total of 31 games in three season, to both be healthy.

Trust the process, right?

Biggest Winners and Losers of the 2017 NBA Draft First Round

markelle fultz nba draft adam silver

NBA Draft Winners and Losers

Round one of the NBA Draft is in the books. A lot will be predicted before the NBA season even tips off. Players 18-22 years old will be put under a microscope all Summer long. We aren’t wasting any time,let’s dig in with our initial Winners and Losers from Round one of the 2017 NBA Draft.


Winner: Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers were a winner Tuesday when they traded up for the #1 overall pick. They promptly set their sights on Markelle Fultz, and for right reason. Fultz flew as under the radar as any player could last season at Washington and drew his share of criticism. Facts are that Fultz is one of three players to average over 20 points as a freshman, joining Michael Beasley and Kevin Durant. He brings great athleticism, play making ability and scoring to a young Sixer team.

jimmy butler chicago bulls

Loser: Chicago Bulls

The Bulls made a splash early in the draft when they traded Jimmy Butler to Minnesota for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the #16 pick in the Draft for the #7 pick. With that pick the Bulls selected Lauri Markkanen out of Arizona. Markkanen is a streaky shooter, but when he’s hot he’s as hot as anyone. Still raw, he will need to develop more before he makes a big impact. Popular opinion is the Bulls did not get enough back for Butler, and I can’t say I disagree. Between questions of LaVine’s healthy knee and shipping the 16th pick, it seems like the Bulls could have gotten more for a player of Butler’s caliber.

Winner: Sacramento Kings

The Kings had two Top 10 picks going into the Draft and came out with three first round picks. They swapped the #10 for the 15th and 20th picks, totaling a return of DeAron Fox, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles in Round 1. Fox is the quickest player in the Draft and fills a huge holes for the Kings. They got a perimeter shooter in Jackson, the ACC Player of the Year, and a potential steal in Giles. Giles was a top recruit coming out of high school, but an ACL injury caused his lone season at Duke to be underwhelming. If healthy, Giles could prove to be a dynamic post player for Sacramento.

deandre fox malik monk nba draft sacramento kings

Winner: Charlotte Hornets

Malik Monk fell drastically in the first round. A potential Top 5 pick, Monk slide all the way down to Charlotte at 11. What they got in Monk is someone who can score in bunches. Monk has the potential to be the best scorer in this Draft, something that should not be taken lightly considering the names at the top. A back court of Kemba Walker and Malik Monk is a lethal one for Charlotte. While he needs to clean up other aspects of his game, Michael Jordan and company got great value with their first rounder.

danny ainge boston celtics nba draft trade

Loser: Boston Celtics

It’s tough to say the Boston Celtics are losers when they walk away with a player like Jayson Tatum, but I’m doing it. Tatum is a great scorer, and he showed that at Duke. But when you look at how Boston’s season ended last year, it was an inability defend Cleveland’s scorers. Kyrie ate up Isaiah Thomas and no one could match up with the physical specimen that is Lebron James. Boston decided to pass on Fultz and declare IT their Point Guard, fine. The bigger issue was passing on Josh Jackson. While Jackson can’t shoot as well as Tatum, he is better everywhere else. He is an extremely good defender, can rebound and block shots. I think Tatum can be a great scorer in the League, but passing on Fultz and Jackson will haunt the Celtics down the road.

Honorable Mention: Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder didn’t steal the show with their selection of Terrance Ferguson, but they filled a big need. Like Brandon Jennings and Emmanuel Mudiay before him, Ferguson’s stock dropped a little when he went overseas to play in Australia instead of playing at Arizona. However, OKC obtained an outside shooter they needed. Joining Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo in the back court, not much spot light will be on Ferguson initially, but he will be able to spread the floor, something Andre Roberson failed to do last year.

These are gut reaction first takes. There’s a good chance one of these opinions will become laughable in a couple of years. Only time will tell however. For now, here’s to waiting for October. Give us your thoughts in the comment section and follow Hoop Group Insider this Summer as we give you all the NBA news you need.