NCAA rules prevent college basketball player from making ZERO money, so walk-in brokers deal with teammates

The Denver Pioneers may be the only college basketball team in the nation to have its own in-house NIL agent. Denver guard Carlos Fuentes, originally from Spain, can’t make money from most NIL deals due to his international player status, but he’s making the most of the situation by acting as an agent for his teammates and getting valuable work. experience along the way.

Earlier this week, Fuentes made a deal for three of his teammates with Saucy’s Southern BBQ, a restaurant right across from the University of Denver’s sprawling campus. Fuentes recruited Pioneers redshirt freshman guard Ben Bowen, junior guard Tommy Bruner and second-year guard Tevin Smith to represent the restaurant throughout the school year because they know how to use the media social, and also because of their personality. 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 affair.

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

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

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

Hayden Smith

Some international college athletes have found ways around NIL restrictions. Kentucky star Oscar Tshiebwe – born in the Democratic Republic of Congo – earned a big payday on 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 a college student, not involved with the basketball team. He was able to get his foot in the door as a team leader during his second year.

During his first two years in college, Fuentes stayed in shape and worked on his game on his own. This season he had the opportunity to join the roster as an extra.

He’s come through the ranks, but he knows he might not get much playing time this coming season. Fuentes will still push hard on the pitch, but he decided it was also important to start building a CV for a career off the pitch.

“In reality, I know being a professional basketball player is very hard to achieve,” Fuentes said. “I know my academics will always be with me, no one can take that away from me, so I wanted to get into it. I want to work in the world of basketball.”

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

Mason said he didn’t see that kind of initiative from a lot of people, so he was immediately impressed with Fuentes.

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

Mason encouraged him to use his international experience as an advantage rather than a disadvantage, as technically his network is already global as he has family and friends in Europe. Fuentes speaks Spanish, English, French and Italian. He is also good with numbers, as he pursues a double major in marketing and information systems and analytics.

The main message Mason had for Fuentes was simple: “You are more valuable than you think.”

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

Just days after making contact with Mason, Fuentes began contacting local businesses and secured a meeting with Khristian Matthews, one of the South Saucy barbecue owners. Fuentes immediately contacted Mason to tell him the news and ask his advice on what to do next.

It was a success, but it was only the first step of what Fuentes is trying to accomplish. He already has negotiations underway with another company for another of his teammates.

“I’m just trying to grow in every way, as a player this year, as a person and also to grow in this sports industry,” Fuentes said. “I think it’s a good opportunity for me to network and I hope more players will contact me to be the guy to handle their stuff. I’ve worked really hard for so many years and I believe that the key to success is effort, self-confidence and consistency.”

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