Apr
07

Who Will Represent The 2008 NCAA Men’s Basketball Champions?

Memphis Tigers

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.

  • http://www.google.com AgentInTraining

    Damn. This is what I call a quality post. Go Jayhawks!

  • http://www.kenjisummers.com Kenji Summers

    I like Kansas and their intense DEFENSE but Memphis will win this game.

  • Zak

    I agree. Wonderful article. I am also looking forward to the time coming up after tonights game.
    Hey Darren, what are the chances on getting an interview with worldwide ? I would love to conduct it for the blog.

  • http://sportsagentblog.com Darren Heitner

    Some of the best Journalists in the world have tried with absolutely no success. The NYT recently ran a piece on Worldwide and they were not even able to get his personal comments. Worldwide- if you are reading this blog, shoot me an email!

  • Duke

    This guy Worldwide is insane. What a mystique. One primary question though….. Where is this guy getting all of his cash? He has all these connections, but if his M.O. is that nobody ever gives him anything, how is he posting up in an apartment across the street from the King, how does he pay for his Benz, etc.? There is no way he could afford all of that simply as a mortgage broker — especially given the state of the mortgage market now. There has to be some funding from Nike in there I would imagine.

    I would be really interested to know how the guy distinguishes himself from the thousands of other wannabees who strive to be an “insider.” The people skills Wes has must be absolutely phenomenal. Great insight.

  • http://Jonesonthenba.blogspot.com JONESONTHENBA

    IMO it’s a three pronged attack that Wes is running. He gets paid from shoe companies, colleges, and agents. Its starts with the AAU and his associations with players from the grass roots. Players and their families trust him because of his strong association with established basketball stars and with other entertainment stars such as Jay-Z. He pretty much knows everyone associated with the NBA, plus tons of important people outside of the league. Of course families are going to let a guy like that in. Once he’s in with the families, he attempts to funnel them to one of his colleges. His two prominent schools are Oregon and Memphis. That’s why you’ve seen players from Michigan bypass on Michigan State and Michigan in favor of Oregon and Memphis. Wes’s main AAU hub is the Richard Hamilton sponsored team “The Family.” Funny name considering that Wes calls himself “Uncle”, and his players his “nephews”. Kind of Godfatherish, huh? From there he gets paid from funneling players to particular shoe companies. Nike is the company he is aligned with now. He’s close with Phil Knight (thus his involvement in the build up of Phil’s favorite school the University of Oregon) and head of Nike Basketball Lynn Merrit. His Nike connection has allowed him access to the Colangelo guided Team USA, despite the fact that they have not allowed registered NBA agents to be around the team in the way Wes is allowed to be. Next, Wes tries to send all of his players to choose Leon Rose as an agent. From what I’ve heard, he gets paid the majority of commissions for all of the players he sends to Leon Rose. Leon Rose would not have a single big name NBA client if not for Wes. As David Falk was quoted in saying in the GQ profile on Wes, “Wes has all of the pull, Leon has none.” So he has a pretty good thing going that he certainly makes money from. But the difference between Wes and other runner types is that Wes is a smart guy. He’s likeable to many and knows how to navigate through all types of environments. He’s a guy that can relate to both the players from the innner city and CEOs of companies like Nike. He doesn’t ask the players directly for money, so to them he’s an asset, because he’s one of the few thats assisting them without sending them a bill or asking directly for money or trying to sell them something (hang out in an arena after a game and you’ll see how many people have their business predicated on selling NBA players stuff. Everyone is constantly trying to take from them). Wes gets paid, but not by hounding players for money, so his reputation stays solid. My only problem with Wes is that he is not transparent in what he does. But then again, that is a problem I have with almost everyone on the business side of the NBA. As well, I don’t think Wes can say that he is giving impartial advice that is geared only to help the players when he only funnels players to colleges, shoe companies, and agents that he has an association with. This is not neccesarily because its the best situation for the player, but because Wes has an association where he will get paid or get more clout from the player going to one of his associates. I feel its disingenous to paint yourself as purely looking out for a players best interest, when really there is financial motivation behind your advice to a player to go to a particular shoe, sign with a particular shoe company, or sign with a particular agent. But again, in a world where there are guys stealing money from players and constantly trying to milk these guys dry, I don’t think Wes is that bad. I mean, he gets paid, but doesn’t take directly from players like many of the snakes out there. I also have a problem with him aiding LeBron leave Aaron Goodwin. From all accounts, Goodwin Sports had managed LeBron flawlessly, but LeBron ending up leaving him after encouragement and pressure from Wes and Maverick Carter. This was totally a move by Wes and Carter to help them gain more power and not someting where they were looking out for LeBron’s best interest. But hey, Wes introduced LeBron to Jay-Z, so whatever Uncle Wes says goes, right? Anyhow, maybe I am just being naive about wanting him to be more transparent. I’m sure if he was to do this, he wouldn’t be able to do what he does. If anything, you have to admire the way he has been able to build a network of people. Tons of people from all sorts of backgrounds trust the guy. Many sports business people wish we could say the same thing about them. To get a good feel of how he operates you should check out this TrueHoop post:

    http://myespn.go.com/blogs/truehoop/0-20-153/Gregory-Dole–My-Summer-with-William-Wesley.html

  • Matthew Allinson

    Nice breakdown Nate! I can see that you have spent a lot time figuring out Worldwide. Shoot me an email at matt@accessathletes.com. I have a few things to ask you. Thanks!

  • http://Jonesonthenba.blogspot.com JONESONTHENBA

    A article about how Wes has influenced the development of the Oregon and Memphis programs

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/columns/story?columnist=forde_pat&id=2811417&sportCat=ncb

  • http://blog.xclusivesm.com Matthew Vuckovich
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