Word of mouth matters throughout the NBA, and it didn’t take long for the concept of doing a Chinese shoe deal to gain traction. A year after Wade signed, Rajon Rondo agreed to a six-year deal with Anta, following in the footsteps of teammate Kevin Garnett, who landed with the company in 2010 after his Adidas deal was up. When Golden State Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson received an offer from Anta the following summer, his agent at the time, Bill Duffy, suggested he reach out to Rondo, a fellow BDA Sports client, for feedback. “Wait till you go out there,” Rondo told Thompson. “They’ll show you so much love.” “At first, you know, you’re skeptical,” Thompson said. “Then, you come over [to China] and you see it firsthand, how much these people love hoops.”
Pensack Sports Management Grouphas signed Washington Wizards forward Chris McCullough, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, for representation. NBA agent Adam Pensack will represent McCullough. He was formerly represented by ASM Sports.
CAA Sports has signed Atlanta Hawks forward Taurean Prince for representation in all areas. Prince will be represented by a team of agents led by Dave Spahn and Steven Heumann. He was formerly represented by Impact Sports. Prince was the No. 12 pick in the 2016 NBA draft. He is averaging over 12 points and five rebounds a game and participated in the Rising Stars Challenge at NBA All-Star this year.
The National Basketball Players Association is investigating whether agents may have violated its regulations as it relates to the federal investigation into corruption in college basketball, the union’s general counsel confirmed. “We are actively looking into allegations about several agents,” NBPA General Counsel Gary Kohlman said. He declined further comment on the union’s inquiry. Andy Miller, who voluntarily relinquished his NBPA agent certification last year, is the one NBPA-certified agent who has been linked to the federal investigation, as the FBI raided his offices last year. Miller has not been charged, but a former employee of his agency ASM Sports, Christian Dawkins, was arrested by federal authorities last September and charged with several felonies.
Ugo Udezue was living the American basketball dream. The Lagos, Nigeria, native was an NBA agent for one of the most respected agencies, BDA Sports. The former Wyoming basketball big man’s clients included players Andre Roberson, Nene and Festus Ezeli. So why did Udezue give up being an agent to go back home? To give Africa its own NBA. “This is the best thing I have ever done in my life,” Udezue said. “This is the best decision I ever made in my life. It’s surreal. Like a dream. If someone asked me four years ago if I was moving back to Africa, I would have said no. But I’m home. And most importantly for me, I’m building an industry that never existed before. We’ve created jobs. We’ve created opportunities in just over a year of being in existence.”
The CBL is in its infancy and there has been a lot of red tape for Udezue and the league to fight through. But with Udezue’s knowledge from working as an NBA agent and being around the NBA, the CEO of the CBL is hoping to grow it into a powerful league that not only develops players in Africa but also has African team owners and employees. “The challenges were mostly political,” Udezue said. “People didn’t understand what we were trying to do. It was bucking the system. Sub-Saharan, just by heritage alone, we have the best basketball players. It’s in our DNA. With my experience in the game, I knew there was a lot of value in this region. But there was no professional basketball league because the precolonial system that has been in place didn’t make room for that when it comes to sports.