T.J. McConnell's Decision to Not Go Overseas Paying Off

During the 2015 NBA draft, T.J. McConnell and his agent had no idea where he was going to be drafted.

About six or seven teams wanted to draft McConnell and send him right overseas, but the four-year college product wanted to work his way through the NBA.

And a few minutes after the draft, then-Sixers president and general manager Sam Hinkie and current head coach Brett Brown gave McConnell a call that started his journey to becoming the team's starting point guard.

"I said from that moment I hung up the phone, 'I'm going to fight for my life because nothing is given to me,'" McConnell said on this week's edition of Sixers play-by-play announcer Marc Zumoff's podcast Zoo's Views. "I wanted to just stick out and show them that I belonged in this league no matter what."

At the end of his senior year at Arizona, McConnell wanted to stay involved in basketball whether it was coaching or playing professionally, but he didn't have an agent at the time.  

McConnell leaned on his head coach at Arizona, Sean Miller, to help him find an agent. McConnell said he and Miller had a father-and-son type of relationship.

Philadelphia 76ers

Complete coverage of the Philadelphia 76ers and their rivals in the NBA from NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Kenny Smith on James Harden, Nick Nurse and the future of the Sixers

Nick Nurse on Joel Embiid, James Harden and playoff pressure

McConnell met with the agent Miller recommended, which was Chris Emens, who showed him a presentation. Emens told McConnell that he had the ability to play in the NBA.

"There was some doubts in my mind," McConnell said about his agent telling him that he could play in the NBA. "But when he brought up statistics and stuff of guys how I play, I didn't know some of this stuff and it got me more confident."

McConnell finished his rookie year with the Sixers averaging 6.1 points, 4.5 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game.

This season, McConnell found himself third on the depth chart after the Sixers signed veterans Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez.

But with Bayless and Rodriguez both out against the Detroit Pistons on Dec. 11, McConnell got his first start of the season and led the Sixers to a 97-79 victory in which he recorded his first career double-double.

When McConnell has started at point guard this season, the Sixers are 11-5. He also led them on a stretch earlier this season in which they won 10 of 13 games.

With Bayless (wrist) done for the year, McConnell seems to have the starting point guard job locked up for the remainder of the season, even though he probably isn't the Sixers' long-term answer at the position.

But that doesn't mean McConnell won't stop working to keep himself on the roster. It's the only thing the Pittsburgh native knows how to do.

"The moment I get lackadaisical and become a prima donna and try to act like that, I think that's the moment where I find myself out of this league," McConnell said. "And I never want that to happen."

Copyright CSNPhily
Contact Us