If anything goes wrong with the Sixers rebuild, Sam Hinkie might want to keep an eye on 18-year-old, Jake Pavorsky, who's well on his way to becoming the youngest general manager the city of Philadelphia has ever had.
Pavorsky, who took the reins as the managing editor of popular Sixers website LibertyBallers.com before the 2014-15 season, has spent the past few months tirelessly building a roster for The Basketball Tournament —a 5-on-5, single-elimination, winner-take-all tournament for $1 million, which gets underway at Philadelphia University on July 17.
"It's always been a dream of mine to play a general manager," Pavorsky said. "Obviously I've always wanted to be a general manager for an NBA team and I know how hard that is, so being part of The Basketball Tournament helped me live out sort of a childhood sports fantasy and it's been very enjoyable."
His team, Liberty Ballers, is made up with a ton of locally grown talent: Reggie Redding (Villanova), Ryan Brooks (Temple), Garrett Williamson (St. Joesph's) and Ronald Moore (Siena) starred in high school around the Philadelphia area. Brooks and Williamson were teammates at Lower Merion High School, leading the Aces to the 2006 AAAA State Championship. Rounding out the roster are Antonio Pena (Villanova), Cameron Moore (UAB), Kenneth Hasbrouck (Siena) and Ryan Rossiter (Siena). Pavorsky looks to add one more player before the roster is finalized, but the roster has come a long way in just a little over a month.
"I decided to build a team back when registration opened up in April," Pavorsky said. "Using contacts that I've made through the years from writing, I started reaching out to whoever could help and eventually started reaching out to players on Facebook when things got a little desperate. I messaged about 30 to 40 guys and very few responded. I also had some conversations with agents that didn't really go anywhere, but eventually I got put in touch with Ronald Moore. He was planning on putting a team together but because of his busy schedule playing profesionally in Italy, he asked me to take care of the work behind the scenes to get the fan vote. I told him through my platform, LibertyBallers.com, that there would be no issues with getting the fan vote and he said he'd supply the talent. I'm very excited with the team we have, I think we have a really good chance of going far and winning it all. I can't wait for the tournament come July."
Pavorsky's team currently ranks sixth in the Northeast Region in terms of fan votes. The top eight in each region will receive a first-round bye in the tournament. He's doing all he can to increase the the votes, while keeping an eye on the other teams in his region.
"Getting the top eight is huge for us," Pavorsky said. "I check on all of the teams, especially the ones in the Northeast Region. I go through each of them on a daily basis to see who's on them, who recently got added as well as the free agent pool. The Syracuse team (ranked first in the region) is very good. Seeing former NBA guys like Hakim Warrick willing to play in the tournament is great. Pops Mensah-Bonsu and the City of God team have some notable names as well, but this is a big tournament and the level of talent doesn't suprise me."
Other local team's include The Blue and Gold Club, which features Chris Fouch (Drexel) as well as a slew of former Drexel alumni. Team 20th and Olney features five members of La Salle's 2012-13 Sweet 16 run team, including Ramon Galloway and Tyrone Garland. But, Pavorsky believes his team from top to bottom represents the city the best in the field.
"The cool thing about this team is that these are guys who all know each other very well and it's really just a true Philadelphia team," Pavorsky said. "They've played with eachother in college, in high school — we have a few Villanova and Siena guys who've made tournament runs together. This isn't focused on a specific college like La Salle or Drexel, half of the roster are guys who grew up here and have played here for the majority of their lives. I think they'll all gel really well and I can only imagine that any role they're asked to play they'll be more than happy to do. It's a collective effort and they understand that. We're all trying to win this prize money together."
Liberty Ballers nearly nabbed Wagner:
Pavorsky reached out to former Camden star Dajuan Wagner's people in an attempt to lure undoubtedly the most notable name he could onto team Liberty Ballers. Wagner, a former sixth pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, once scored 100 points in a game for Camden High School, and left as the state of New Jersey's all-time leader in points scored with 3,462.
"I tried reaching out to Dajuan Wagner's people to try and get him on the team," Pavorsky said. "I know he played some semi-pro ball recently and I heard he was trying to make a comeback professionally. Unfortunately I was told he's actually going to be playing professionally in Puerto Rico this summer during a time which overlaps with the tournament. It was a little disappointing. ... Having him play high-level basketball again at an event like TBT would be an incredible story line. It's a shame we missed out on him, but it's great he'll have the opportunity to play professionally again no matter where it is."