DETROIT -- After leaving Syracuse to join the Utah Jazz as a scout in 2004, Troy Weaver began his meticulous rise through the NBA ranks, which culminated with him being named the Detroit Pistons' general manager earlier this month.
It's not a path some expected he would pursue. He once appeared set to become a Division I head coach. Instead, he chased his original dream -- the NBA.
"If I had to look at his career trajectory, I would've thought he would be a high major Division 1 coach by now," Damon Handon, a longtime friend of Weaver, told the Free Press. "You say his path is different, it is. If he had to coach an NBA team, he could coach an NBA team. That was his passion. His passion was coaching."
Weaver is a rarity among NBA executives. He isn't a former NBA player or high-level college basketball player. He didn't attend an Ivy League college. After graduating from Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C., he played one season at Prince Georges Community College in Maryland and earned his associate degree. He later attended Bowie State part-time for his bachelor's.
What has enabled Weaver to ascend to one of the highest positions in a front office is a trait he has had from the beginning -- an uncanny ability to evaluate talent. From 1993 to '96, Weaver coached the DC Assault, a prominent Washington-based AAU team, which now goes by the name, DC Premier. In a short span of time, he brought an influx of local talent into the program and led them to the prestigious AAU Tournament of Champions in 1996.
At each career stop, including college assistant jobs at Pittsburgh (1996), New Mexico (1999) and Syracuse (2000), his talent evaluation stood out. He was instrumental in bringing Carmelo Anthony to Syracuse in 2002, and he led the charge for the Oklahoma City Thunder to draft Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams years later.
It's why, at least in part, the Pistons believe Weaver is the right hire to lead their rebuild. But to understand Weaver the GM, it helps to first understand Weaver, the AAU coach.
Weaver tapped into his connections during his time with the DC Assault. He had a relationship with longtime Nike executive George Raveling, a legendary college basketball coach and Washington,D.C., native. After Weaver's arrival, Nike began sponsoring DC Assault, helping to elevate the credibility of the program.
"Troy had the most experience in coaching because him and his family, they always knew basketball," said Mike Sumner, a longtime friend of Weaver, who co-founded DC Assault in 1993, shortly before Weaver arrived. "Dad, mom, brothers, everybody. And I was just basically out of college, coming from overseas playing. ... I learned a lot from Troy once he came over and started coaching with us."
Weaver's knack for identifying talent immediately stood out. One of the first players he brought to the program was Dalonte Hill, who had played for Weaver's 11-and-under basketball team at Columbia Park Community Center in Landover, Maryland, in the early 1990s.