NCAA rules prevent college basketball player from making money from scratch, so brokers offer offers for teammates

NCAA rules prevent college basketball player from making money from scratch, so brokers offer offers for teammates

The Denver Pioneers may be the only college basketball team in the country with their own NIL agent. Denver guard Carlos Fuentes, a native of Spain, can’t cash in on most NIL deals because of his status as an international player, but he makes the best of the situation by acting as an agent for his teammates and acquiring valuable work experience along the way.

Earlier this week, Fuentes cut a deal for three of his teammates with Saucy’s Southern BBQ, a restaurant right across the street from the University of Denver’s sprawling campus. Fuentes recruited Pioneers freshman guard Ben Bowen, junior guard Tommy Bruner and sophomore guard Tevin Smith to represent the restaurant during the academic year because they know how to use social media, but also because of their personalities. . Besides being the best player on the team, Smith, Fuentes said, is definitely the funniest and never fails to make people laugh. Meanwhile, Bruner has a big appetite, which is perfect for a restaurant deal.

Fuentes doesn’t make money negotiating deals for his teammates, but he said this is a perfect opportunity for him to build his resume and help his team succeed along the way.

“I can’t get any endorsements, I can’t get any money, but I can be the guy who gets the offers for other teammates,” Fuentes said. “I’m really excited. I’m really passionate about it and this is just the beginning. It just motivates me more to keep going, to get more players, more deals, more local places.”

Carlos Fuentes earned a spot on Denver’s roster as a punter earlier this year.

Hayden Smith

Some international college athletes have found ways around the NIL restrictions. Kentucky star Oscar Tshiebwe – born in the Democratic Republic of Congo – earned a big paycheck during the Wildcats’ trip to the Bahamas this summer. However, Fuentes is not as well known as Tshiebwe. He grew up wanting to be a professional basketball player, but even his path to Division I college basketball wasn’t traditional.

Fuentes attended Menaul High School, a small international school in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He graduated in 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said his basketball recruiting didn’t go too well and he started college in Denver as just a freshman, not committing to the basketball team. During his sophomore year he was able to get his footing as a team manager.

During his first two years of college, Fuentes stayed in shape and worked on his game on his own. This season he earned a chance to join the roster as a walk-on.

He’s moving up the ladder but knows he might not get much playing time next season. Fuentes will continue to put in effort on the field, but decided it was important to start building a resume for a career off the field.

“Realistically, I know being a professional basketball player is very difficult to achieve,” Fuentes said. “I know my academics will always be with me, nobody can take that away from me, that’s why I wanted to get out there. I want to work in the basketball world.”

Less than two weeks ago, Fuentes reached out to professionals on LinkedIn hoping to learn more about being an agent. One of the people he contacted was Josh Mason, who handles business deals for collegiate and professional athletes.

Mason said he doesn’t see that kind of initiative from many people, so he was impressed with Fuentes right away.

“My first impression was that he’s very resourceful and smart. He’s got everything,” Mason said. “All it takes is one name, one big talent. He’s doing that in low-mid basketball. Imagine if he was at Duke or Kansas. I think he’ll go far because the right person will want to align with him.”

Mason encouraged him to use his international background as an advantage instead of a disadvantage, because technically his network is already global because he has family and friends in Europe. Fuentes speaks Spanish, English, French and Italian. He’s also good with numbers, pursuing a double major in marketing and information systems and analytics.

Mason’s main message for Fuentes was simple: “You are more valuable than you know.”

“He gave me great advice,” Fuentes said. “I expressed to him that I feel blessed to have the opportunity to speak with him. After talking about several things we could do, I immediately started researching and talking to people in the area.”

Just days after contacting Mason, Fuentes began contacting local businesses and secured a meeting with Khristian Matthews, one of the owners of Saucy’s Southern BBQ. Fuentes immediately contacted Mason to tell him the news and ask for advice on how to proceed.

It was a success, but it was just the first step of what Fuentes is trying to achieve. He is already in ongoing negotiations with a different company for another teammate.

“I’m just trying to grow in every way, as a player this year, as a person and also to grow in this branch of sports,” Fuentes said. “I think it’s a good opportunity for myself to build a network and hopefully have more players approach me to be the guy who handles their deals. I’ve worked really hard for so many years and I think the key to success it’s effort, self-confidence and consistency.”

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