Michael Oakes is an Australian athlete manager who has extensive knowledge in a wide variety of global sports, including basketball.
As an officially accredited FIBA player agent, he is providing his knowledge and expertise for Australians as to what to expect as a professional basketball player.
Website: mummu athlete management
Finished School? Your professional playing pathways
The often confusing reality facing Australians who finish school, especially US College, and want to continue their career, is where to play next. With so many people in their ear’s; coaches, parents, friends and the dreaded agents – who should you listen to and how do you decide?
Something I always speak with players about is being realistic based on their talent. Unfortunately not all players experience the opportunity to perform at their optimum level in college due to rotational issues, injuries and sometimes bad luck, this can compound the issue further.
Ryan Broehoff went from Valaparaiso, to Besiktas (Turkey), with the Boomers and recently in the NBA Summerleague with the Denver Nuggets
So what are the options? There are a few professional routes to consider, including the NBL, NBA and in Europe.
Many players consider it a fait accompli to gain a spot at an NBL club. However in reality there are only 2 – 3 rookie spots offered up each year to college players. In 2015 there will be around 4 at this early stage - not a comforting statistic for the 12 players who graduated from Division I college recently.
To tread this path, you must stand out. Returning to Australia as quickly as possible after graduating to play in a winter competition such as the SEABL can put you at the forefront of NBL coaches minds.
There are only 60 players drafted each year with a smattering of players doing the ‘Delly’ and getting in through the undrafted rookie free agent route. There are some fantastic Australian players who have received opportunities to display their value, including three who had workouts with teams (two of which were Mummu clients) this year. However this is a long shot. Often returning to the US after you have gained some international experience can greatly assist such as was the case with Joe Ingles and Ryan Broekhoff.
To increase your chances of success via this pathway, you must stay in the US and you are best attending a draft prep camp such as Mummu’s partner Impact in Las Vegas. Also, with workouts at an all time low this year, you must have a capable agent – gone are the days of NBA teams calling up 50 workouts pre-draft.
There is a common perception amongst players that if the NBA doesn’t work out that they will 'just go to Europe.' Having staff based in Europe and multiple players placed in this region, we know first hand that this is far from being that easy!
Firstly, you must be a very good player as the standard is very, very high. If you play in a Division 2 league in Europe, be prepared to be paid poorly! Division 2 in Spain and Germany (considered great D2 leagues) pay at the most, 1500 Euro per month.
Another option is to have a dual passport (i.e. Australia and Great Britain), enabling a player to play as a local in Europe rather than an import. However even then, countries are now tightening up as to which passports can be used to allow a player to compete as a local.
Michael Oakes' views are those of his own as a player agent of mummu athlete management. He will be providing further insights into professional basketball pathways for The Pick and Roll in future.