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Archive for Sunday, May 5, 2013

Opinion: Picking an agent can be perilous for NBA prospects

May 5, 2013

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Earth to NBA prospects: Read Eric Prisbell’s outstanding reporting job for USA Today on the shoving match to get to the front of the line to start milking cash cow Ben McLemore, projected to be among the first few picks in the NBA Draft.

Read it with a dispassionate eye, and only one conclusion can be reached about how to go about selecting an agent. Ask your college coach for a list of three or four reputable agents. Interview them and pick one.

Tell your friends, your family, your AAU coaches, your former teammate’s mother or girlfriend that you don’t want to hear their opinions on the saintly altruism of Arnie the Agent. If they bring it up again, tell them you suspect they’re getting paid to tell you that and warn them if they bring it up again that’s a third strike and they’re out of your life.

Remove the middleman and let your coach answer any questions about agents. Why? Division I coaches make so much money they wouldn’t think of risking their jobs by getting paid by what to them is pocket change. A coach has one selfish motive regarding one of his players going to the NBA. He wants him to be as successful as possible because that will help the coach land recruits.

Reputable agents — yes, there are such creatures — don’t partake in the practice of paying runners to land clients. They let their solid reputations do their recruiting.

It’s a lot to ask of a young man who just left his teenage years behind to take charge of his professional career and tell those on whom he has banked to that point that he no longer needs their help and will resent them if they don’t butt out. But anyone who isn’t mature enough to do so probably isn’t ready to leave the controlled environment of life as a college basketball player.

The gist of the USA Today story: McLemore’s AAU coach in St. Louis, Darius Cobb, said that Rodney Blackstock, basically a middleman (runner) for agents, paid Cobb $10,000 and picked up three all-expenses-paid trips to Los Angeles. Cobb told USA Today that he introduced Blackstock to McLemore’s mother, Sonya Reid, at a Kansas game at Texas. Cobb also told the paper he and mutual friends with Blackstock wanted to start a sports-management company.

Think about that, and then consider that Cobb said he was telling his story to “help educate basketball families such as the McLemores and expose individuals who pursue college athletes and their families while the players still have amateur eligibility,” wrote Prisbell when paraphrasing what Cobb told him. What, because Cobb knew McLemore before he was a college athlete, it’s OK for him to accept $10,000 while McLemore was an amateur? Unfortunately, it so often is the people closest to hot pro prospects who those prospects can trust the least.

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