The Kansas Jayhawks and the Memphis Tigers are set to tip off the 2008 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship tonight at 9:21PM EST, and until that time, many newspapers and blogs will be writing about the two teams and their players, and contemplating which team that wears the color blue will come out victorious. One common thread will be that Kansas, as a school, has more experience when it comes to making it this far in the Tournament. Kansas has been in the Championship Game eight times, including this year. For Memphis, this is only the team’s second visit to the final game. Kansas has won it all twice, been in the Final Four thirteen times, made the Tournament thirty-seven times, and has eighty Tournament victories. Memphis has never won the Championship, and does not rank close to Kansas in any of the other categories discussed above. But throw all that information out of the window, because it does not matter. Tonight is anybody’s game.
Instead of making predictions like every other sports blog, I decided that it would be interesting to look at the individual top players at each school that are currently on the court and those that have graduated to play in professional ball. What sports agents have dominated Memphis and Lawrence? Which agents have a comfortable relationship with the Championship Game coaches? Are there other people at each campus that may be influencing players?
Kansas Jayhawks in the NBA and their agents:
- Nick Collison – Mike Higgins (SFX)
- Drew Gooden – Calvin Andrews (BDA Sports)
- Kirk Hinrich – Jeff Austin (Octagon)
- Raef LaFrentz – Mike Higgins (SFX)
- Paul Pierce – Jeff Schwartz (Excel Sports Management)
- Scot Pollard – Mark Bartelstein (Priority Sports & Entertainment)
- Wayne Simien – Leigh Steinberg (Steinberg & Moorad)
- Jacque Vaughn – Jeff Austin (Octagon)
- Julian Wright – Rob Pelinka (SFX)
Memphis Tigers in the NBA and their agents:
- Earl Barron – Mark Termini (Mark Termini Associates)
- Rodney Carney – Chris Emens (Octagon)
- Shawne Williams – Happy Walters (Immortal Sports)
- Lorenzen Wright – Andy Miller (ASM Sports)
It was not an easy task to find out the agents of all of the players listed above. After a quick glance at the names and the agencies listed above, it seems like representatives from Octagon and SFX will have some nice seats in San Antonio. I am sure that Jeff Austin and Mike Higgins will be in attendance, but I doubt that they say a word to each other. Which Jayhawks will they be fighting for? DraftExpress.com currently lists Darrell Arthur going #20 in the first round and Brandon Rush being snagged at #25 overall in the 2008 NBA Draft. Will either player (or both) sign with Octagon and/or SFX?
Then there is Memphis and its three stars that are suggested to be selected in the 2008 NBA Draft. DraftExpress.com has Derrick Rose being the 2nd overall pick, along with Chris Douglas-Roberts (CDR) being picked at #15 and Joey Dorsey going in the middle of the 2nd round. The list of agents for the current Memphis NBA players does not suggest that any particular agent/agency has an advantage for this year’s talented crop of Tigers. But as far as Memphis is concerned, the history books need to be swept off the table and it must be realized that this is an entirely new organization.
The landscape in Memphis was redone in 2000, when the University named John Calipari its new basketball coach. He led the team to win the NIT Championship in 2002 and then took Memphis to the NCAA Tournament in 2003 and 2004, something the Tigers were not used to. In 2006, the Tigers got a #1 seed in the Tournament, and Calipari realized that it might have been time to return to old friends with heavy influence in the basketball community.
Ever hear of a guy named Worldwide Wes? If not, I suggest you read this GQ article on him. The heading describes William Wesley as, the most connected, most discreet, most influential man on and off the court. Not a bad guy to have on your side. In fact, there may be a lot of validity in equating the success of this year’s Memphis Tigers team with Calipari’s connection to Wesley. Don’t think that Calipari has been working with William? Why else would he say that Wesley is a goodwill ambassador for the University of Memphis program? Wesley openly roots for Memphis to win and has been instrumental in bringing relations between Memphis basketball and China.
The sports agent point of all of this is that besides having a strong connection to Calipari as a coach, Worldwide Wes is a big fan of Leon Rose as an agent. None of the four Memphis Tigers currently playing in the NBA are signed with Rose, but you may see some or all of this year’s Memphis draft class signing with the basketball agent if William Wesley has his way. It seems like if there is one player out of the three Memphis ballers leaving for the draft this year that is least likely to sign with Rose, it is Joey Dorsey. I have seen reports linking Wesley with Rose and Douglas-Roberts, but have come up empty in any connection with Dorsey.
I cannot wait for the game tonight. I honestly have no idea who is going to win. But for me, the most exciting period for me is after the game is over and players start to make their decisions on representation for the 2008 NBA Draft. Stay tuned as we update you on the agent signings by both teams’ draft-entry players.