Former SU basketball star Billy Owens pivots to a sports agent role

first_img Published on May 24, 2020 at 7:14 pm Contact Zach: [email protected] Comments The Daily Orange is a nonprofit newsroom that receives no funding from Syracuse University. Consider donating today to support our mission.Billy Owens wanted to become a sports agent, but Neil Glasberg needed one more reference before hiring him. It was 2013, and Owens was in his third season as an assistant coach at Division-III Rutgers-Camden. But he wanted to transition into another basketball role.He’d already established himself as a player — over 600 games and 10 years in the NBA after receiving all-conference honors at Syracuse. He was making a name for himself as a coach, preparing Scarlet Raptors for professional careers overseas. Former basketball players and coaches rarely became agents compared to those in other sports, yet that’s exactly what Owens wanted. While vetting Owens as a potential addition to his PBI Sports & Entertainment agency, Glasberg, its founder, president and CEO, called one of his clients: Jim Boeheim, who coached Owens at Syracuse from 1988 to 1991. AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“There were only three players I’ve ever coached who were the Rolls Royce’s of student-athletes,” Glasberg recalled Boeheim saying. “Billy Owens was one of them.”Six years after joining PBI, Owens has become Glasberg’s “talent finder” for coaches and other clients. The job overlapped with coaching for five more seasons, but after leaving Rutgers-Camden following the 2017-18 season, the agency role has become the former All-Rookie First Team’s sole connection to the game.“I leverage his network connections to get to people,” Glasberg said. “He has credibility in this industry, whereas I’m trying to build it.” Owens became an agent because he wanted to support players and coaches in basketball, Glasberg said. During Owens’ upbringing in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, he lacked that support. He had people in his neighborhood saying he was destined for the NBA and that he’d soon be making millions of dollars.Pressure spoiled Owens’ draft night after the 1991 college season. He didn’t kiss his mom, shake his dad’s hand or hug his brothers before walking up to the stage and greeting the commissioner at Felt Forum. Owens voluntarily rushed the moment to alleviate heightened expectations. “I walked straight up to the stage so quickly,” Owens said about the night he was selected third overall. “I put the hat on, and shook the commissioner’s hand, so it could be over with.”Katelyn Marcy | Digital Design DirectorSimilar pressures came when teams recruited him for the wrong reasons, Owens said, and when his versatility drew comparisons to Magic Johnson, the prototype, positionless player of the 1980s. But then there was Michael Jordan, who had been a part of Owens’ inner circle since Owens was in ninth grade. Jordan tried recruiting Owens to play at North Carolina, but their relationship extended beyond basketball. When Owens spent a week at Jordan’s house, they played pool in his basement and threw the football back-and-forth outside. Jordan became the mentor Owens lacked.Almost 40 years later, Owens wanted to replicate Jordan’s voice of reason as an agent. PBI isn’t a typical sports agency because it represents coaches, Glasberg said. Even before hiring Owens, Glasberg knew he could scout coaches, and verified that during visits to the NBA Summer League in 2014 and 2015. “Those were the best cultivated days together,” Glasberg said. “An opportunity for Billy to meet and recruit the coaches.”Billy Owens (right) joined PBI Sports & Entertainment in 2013 and become the agency’s “talent finder,” going to events like the NBA Summer League and scouting. Courtesy of Neil GlasbergOwens recognizes the value of a good coach — someone capable of developing talent and forming relationships with players — after his eight-season tenure at Rutgers-Camden. In practice, players asked Owens how they should prepare themselves for professional careers. He’d tell them to live in the moment and focus on winning basketball games. But if Owens didn’t see professional potential in players, he’d say that too.“I don’t sugar-coat it because then you’re playing with young kids’ minds,” Owens said. “For them to have their dreams crushed can do serious damage to them when they become real adults.”From 2015 to 2018, Owens helped Isaac Destin — a 6-foot-7 forward with no previous professional aspirations — become an exception. He gave Destin specific drills during the Scarlet Raptors’ practices to mold him into a positionless player, a style of play Owens helped pioneer. The drills improved Destin’s hook-shot, his now go-to move. And at the end of Destin’s senior year, an overseas career became a possibility because of Owens’ vision. “Off the court, people will look at Billy Owens and instantly link him to the Hall-Of-Fame career he had at Syracuse,” said Marcus Taylor, a guard who Owens coached from 2013 to 2018. “He’s more than that. He’s a father, a genuine person who loves the game of basketball.”When Destin arrived at Rutgers-Camden, Owens had already started working for PBI. He’s scouted mainly NHL, NBA, and NFL coaches and used his network within basketball to help the agency gain leverage, Glasberg said. For Owens, it’s just the latest transition.center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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