Basketball agents: how profitable is the job, why do they do it and how is the player valued at the salary level

They are the other face of basketball. They are not usually on the cover of the newspaper nor do they usually have an exuberant media presence, but they represent a support for the players and in many cases accompany them from their training process to the path to stardom or failure.

Facundo Hernandez, Just Ugartemendia Y Jesus Rostan They are three basketball representatives who escort figures from the Uruguayan League and also foreign players. How profitable is your work compared to other agents? What is the criteria to decline for one or another player? And above all, What motivates them to be silent protagonists of this sport?

The reasons that led them to debut in the work have different edges, but they are all united by the passion for this sport. In the case of Rostán, he found in the role of agent a way to continue in the field after his career as a professional player; Hernandez’s wish went the same way after suffering an injury that cut short his greatest wish at the age of 27. And Ugartemendía fully immersed himself in that world after his group of friends, all of them basketball players, asked him to accompany him. “They considered that an agent was needed to help them with certain types of things, I started with Manuel Mayora, with Guillermo Curbelo and Nicola Pomoli, they asked me for that and we started together,” he said. Today it has, among many, the representation of other Uruguayan League basketball players such as Manuel Romero, Hernando Cáceres, Juan Ducasse and Federico Soto.

First look

Facundo Hernández, basketball representative. Photo: Francisco Flores.
Facundo Hernández, basketball representative. Photo: Francisco Flores.

It all starts with a rapprochement between the agent and the player, but it happens differently depending on the age. When he is a minor, the consulted representatives affirm that they prefer to talk with their parents. But if he is older, the talk is already direct with the protagonist. “I have realized in recent years that because I have that premise of not wanting to represent 14 or 15-year-old players, I have lost the possibility of representing those players, so today globalization means that the first contact is through networks. social. Parents often get in touch there and there is a first approach, I like to meet them and see what the family context is like, that they know me, that they see how I work, but when it comes to professional players who already have a career They are generally based on recommendations,” said Facundo Hernández, who began his work in 2010 and today represents around 35 professional basketball players.

What do they seek

In order for agents to include you in their client portfolio, they must meet certain criteria. “It seduces me when a young player, especially, tells me: ‘My ambition is to play in the NBA’, beyond the fact that his performance has only made it to the First Division, but when a player has big goals, I am passionate” Hernandez remarked with some exaltation. Strictly speaking, what are the variables that make one player more eligible than another in the eyes of scouts?

Rostán is one of the pioneers in Uruguay in terms of representation and has lived through the entire development of the profession since he started in 2006. “The way it has changed a lot, especially because we operate based on international trends that have been evolving And we have had to adapt. At one time, when we started, players looked a little older, it was difficult to go see players of 14 or 15 years, we looked for those closest to 18, today that age range has been extended because the clubs that recruit professionally, who are European or from the NBA, are increasingly looking for them at a younger age because they want to be the ones who finish developing it”, he explained. As the agent understands, this international pattern had an impact on the type of player they want. “Today the main thing you are looking for is the physical, there is no doubt. Regardless of whether he holes or the style of the shot, the important thing is whether he fits into a physical biotype that is sought after today: long arms and legs or athletic players. Today, at the age of 14 or 15, you are seeing if he can achieve significant physical development, if he has a tendency to be overweight, if his parents are tall, and related aspects. And then it is necessary to know what habits he has, if in his head is to be a professional basketball player or use it as a weapon to be able to study and improve in his life”, adds Rostán, who contrasts these variables with those sought in 2006 : “The big boys who were going to have size attracted attention, it didn’t matter if they were athletic or heavy physiques, the important thing was that they were big, it was seen that they were going to take place in any team or category, they were looking for players who had already hatched and were playing in a senior-level competition.”

That vision coincides with the proposal by Ugartemendía, who cites an Argentine player who managed to become an international star: “If you listen to Ginóbili, he tells you that he left Argentina when he was already the best, the same in Italy or in the NBA, They went when they were the best in the Euroleague. And now in the two competitions they want to train them at 15 or 16 years old, that leads to the process being advanced, you leave by projection, not by level, but because you have a certain height, physical biotype or talent; The process is speeding up.” And although he is convinced that the player must demonstrate part of his level before leaving him, he also recognizes that the academy of a European team has better internal competition than that of a Uruguayan team. “But they are not chess pieces, you have to take into account the personal and family situation,” remarks Ugartemendía.

And the salary?

The comparison is unavoidable. When hearing the representative word, the visual image associates it directly with football. But there are important differences in the role of a basketball agent.
The three interviewees affirmed that the income is dissimilar, and even Hernández assured that it is a thousand times less than what a soccer representative can earn. “When I started I worked 12 hours at a newsstand,” he said. FIBA establishes a 10% for the representative for the placement of the player and a possibility of another 10% if the player’s finances are handled, but Ugartemendía affirms that “nobody separates them and it is 10% in general.”

When asked if there is a minimum or maximum amount to be received by the player, he said: “No, that depends a lot on the team and the situation of need. There are chips that win $30,000 and others that win $400,000, they are the most extreme examples, but it happens. And more than anything with the youth players, who generally, being from the club, fix figures that are cheaper”.

Jesús Rostán, one of the pioneers in terms of representation in Uruguay. Photo: Francisco Flores.
Jesús Rostán, one of the pioneers in terms of representation in Uruguay. Photo: Francisco Flores.

At the level of the Uruguayan Basketball Federation, those players who are 22 years old must receive a remuneration equivalent to one minimum salary, which from the following year will become two. Regarding the player’s link with the club, Rostán stated: “They have the rights of the players until they are 23 years old and until then the link with the basketball player is one of advice, but not of direct participation for receiving money in exchange for that; you invest many years in the beginning and end of the player’s development, you dedicate it to earn the player’s trust, show him that you can be really productive for his career, and when they really start to produce money, which in Uruguay is always a few years after 18, only then does an economic return begin to arrive, ”concluded the former player.

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Basketball agents: how profitable is the job, why do they do it and how is the player valued at the salary level