Basketball Players and the Lies People Tell Them

April 8, 2010

I have to say that this article, published on HoopsWorld.com, and written by Steve Kyler, really hit home with me. When the article discusses “runners”, these are guys I’ve dealt with and interacted with many times when scouting a player or teams:

A “runner” – an employee of the agent gets close to the player and his family – makes the initial relationship. When it’s time for the athlete and the family to make the decision, a lot of times the runner acts as an intermediary feeding informed information to the family about what teams are scouting the player and what teams may have the player in their rankings.

Yes, and those guys are the ones completely unregulated by the NCAA, and they try to get close to kids and eventually get a payoff. When you are a lifelong fan of basketball, you tend to see athletes from their televised games, and that’s usually when their presence has reached a much higher maturity. NBA players have to be really polished, comfortable in interviews, articulate. That’s something that a lot of us learn as we become adults, we shed the slang and sometimes self-conscious speech of our teenage years and become confident and communicative. But high school basketball players are kids, regardless if they are 6’8″ and can dunk like madmen, they still are teenagers. Most players I’ve personally met are actually polite and respectful, something I’m not sure could have been said about myself at their age.

But teenagers don’t have the world experience of adults. One thing you learn as you actually move out from school age to ‘real life’ is an ability to survive a very harsh world, and these ‘runners’ are slick talkers who can get into a kid’s good graces all too easily. For many young players who come from meager backgrounds, they have very little knowledge of their own real worth and very little understanding of how to find out things like if they actually have an NBA career ahead of them, or whether they are really on a coach’s radar. Many players and their families whom I’ve met don’t know basic things like the fact that college coaches don’t scout players by reading your local paper’s box score. When a guy shows up at their kid’s game and tells them he knows a couple of college coaches (which he likely does), the parents and the kid think they’ve gotten lucky and that this guy is the only person who can land them a big time scholarship.

This can be disasterous when players have a legitimate shot at a pro career. Even players who are talented enough to land on an NBA roster can miss out, especially if they are not prepared or if they are not talented enough to really make a splash in the NBA. That won’t stop the hangers-on from filling kids’ heads with visions of dollar signs and SportsCenter highlights:

Beyond the top three prospects this year – John Wall, Derrick Favors and Evan Turner – the next ten players could go in any combination of orders, and while “a runnner” may say “Dude you’re a lock for the top 19” there is no truth or substance to those claims.

That doesn’t stop players from making a bad decision on an empty promise. Have you ever asked yourself, what is this kid thinking?

The article goes on to explain a bit about how players can get paid even while in high school and college, and there’s not much the NCAA will do about it. It’s a huge gaping hole in the system, this part is 100% true:

Let’s make one thing clear: whether directly or indirectly, most of the college players projected in the top 100 have an agent or someone involved with an agent in their lives and likely have had that since AAU basketball.

It’s hard for young players to understand what they’re involved in and even harder for kids who come from families without a lot of good parental guidance.

Read the full article here.


The NBA Pre-Draft Training Business

April 7, 2010

John Wall

The following excerpt is republished with permission from TheRookieWall.com, and it gives excellent insight into the “business” of the NBA draft and the people surrounding players who want to cash a big NBA paycheck. Remember, once a player gets any time in the NBA, even if he doesn’t last, he gets more money when he goes overseas and is in higher demand just because he has NBA experience.

Each year roughly one hundred young men place their names in the pool of players who will be eligible for the NBA Draft. From anywhere between one and four years these players have worked at perfecting their skills in college, and now they think they’re good enough to play in the best league in the world, the NBA. As soon as their eligibility is up they’ll sign an agent, hopefully after asking the right questions and being advised by someone they trust. Once all that happens the real work beings; players start going through some form of pre-draft training.

Pre-draft training is a part of any agents pitch, and it has taken on an insane amount of importance for draft eligible players. In the recruitment of a top player, an agent will typically spend anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 in flights, meals, and hotels for he and others to see just one player throughout a season. Then, if the agent is lucky enough to land that player, he will have to empty the piggy bank again, this time probably spending in the neighborhood of $25,000, most of which isn’t reimbursable mind you. Of that $25,000, at least $10,000 of it will go towards a pre-draft training program for the client, and the rest will cover anything from meals, travel, to new gear (every soon-to-be NBA player needs to look fly).

Read the rest of the article at TheRookieWall.com


ACC Players in the Draft; UNC Offers McAdoo

June 26, 2009

A quick rundown of ACC players taken in the NBA draft last night:

First Round

#12, Charlotte – Gerald Henderson , Duke
#13, Indiana – Tyler Hansbrough, UNC
#16, Chicago – James Johnson, Wake Forest
#18, Minnesota – Ty Lawson, UNC (traded to Denver)
#19, Atlanta – Jeff Teague, Wake Forest
#28, Minnesota – Wayne Ellington, UNC
#29, New York – Toney Douglas, Florida State

Second Round

#46, Phoenix – Danny Green, UNC
#51, San Antonio – Jack McClinton, Miami

Some initial head scratches in the overall draft, such as why Jack McClinton wasn’t drafted higher or why the Bobcats took a guard when when they need post players so badly.

James McAdoo offered by UNC

James McAdoo (PF, 6’8″, 2011) now has another offer from an ACC school, and it’s a big one. The UNC Tar Heels have offered McAdoo according to Scout.com, and this offer is added to the existing ones he has from Virginia, Clemson, Kentucky and Florida. McAdoo is one of the top ranked recruits for 2011 and has several big schools after him. He’s also strongly considering Duke at this time.

McAdoo is a strong player with good patience and timing. That timing allows him to be both a shot blocker and a scorer when combined with his solid 10 foot floater and ability to wade through traffic to get through the hoop. Definitely a big time prospect.

Here’s some video of McAdoo:


Noel Johnson Commits to ACC; NBA Draft Notes

June 25, 2009

Last summer we tracked Noel Johnson (6’6″, SF, 2009) as an ACC recruit, but despite looking at several ACC schools, Johnson ultimately committed to Tim Floyd and USC. However, Tim Floyd was found to be guilty of recruiting violations and is now no longer the head coach of the Trojans.

Johnson decided to withdraw his commitment from USC and now has decided on Clemson, giving Oliver Purnell some talent on the wing to help replace K.C. Rivers and Terrence Ogelsby.

Sean May, Raymond Felton & J.J. Redick

A quick note on some former ACC stars, if you watched the NBA Finals a few days ago you know that J.J. Redick has played well but seems to be underutilized by the Magic. However, it is apparent that he’s going to stay in the NBA for now, and I expect the Magic to try and trade JJ and Rafer Alston during the draft.

Meanwhile, two former UNC stars from the Tar Heels’ 2005 national championship team are seeing their careers continue in different directions. The Charlotte Bobcats have decided not to make a qualifying offer to Sean May, which would make him a restricted free agent. At the same time, Charlotte has made a qualifying offer to Raymond Felton. A qualifying offer is just a starting point, which means that the player can look at other teams but the Charlotte has the first right to match the offer in order to keep the player.

I’m not surprised with Felton, one of the few bright spots for the Bobcats and one of the more underrated starting point guards in the NBA. The Bobcats have never been a serious playoff contender and thus, no one on the Bobcats gets much publicity, not even Gerald Wallace or Emeka Okafor.

With Sean May, it’s all about injury. He’s been injured or dealing with chronic pain for nearly his entire stint in the pros. In three seasons he’s been unable to play even one season’s worth of games. The reality is that the Bobcats still might sign Sean, but the team can’t keep money tied up at the PF spot when they are so thin there. I believe that the move not to offer May is a sign that they want to see what they can get in the draft.

NBA Draft

Ah, the NBA draft. One of the most annoying things about the NBA is how much they promote personalities over teams, and it often starts right here on draft day. This year the perennial losing L.A. Clippers are sitting on the number one draft pick, and everyone expects them to take Blake Griffin, a monster PF who should be an impact player. I like Griffin’s game, which involves basically leaping from the half court line and dunking on anyone who gets in his path. The only concern I would have is that when UNC thumped his Oklahoma Sooners in the NCAA tournament, he seemed to have a hard time handling the double team and doesn’t seem to have much mid range game. Still, the NBA is about man-to-man and he is an athletic freak.

I see a lot of mock drafts picking UConn’s Hasheem Thabeet as the number 2 pick, and I’ve got to say I see that as a huge mistake. I’d take Ricky Rubio, Brandon Jennings, James Johnson or Stephen Curry over Thabeet. I think Thabeet is the most overrated player in this year’s draft.

Most underrated player going into the draft? Possibly Tyler Hansbrough. It’s fashionable to hate Hansbrough and claim he’ll be a joke in the pros. Throw all the college awards out the window, because they mean nothing to the NBA, but in Hansbrough, I see a better version of Glenn “Big Baby” Davis or Corliss Williamson. He has developed a better shot than either of those players but he will need to be more of a rebounder in the pros. Charlotte worked out Hansbrough, Gerald Henderson, Steph Curry, K.C. Rivers and Ben McCauley over the past couple of weeks. Charlotte’s roster move with Sean May could make room for Hansbrough at the 13th pick. Most drafts have Tyler going late first round, but it’s probably going to depend on the Bobcats. There aren’t many PF players to pick from this year, and the ‘Cats will have to decide if they want to take the best player available (which could be Brandon Jennings) or draft for need.