NCAA Football

NCAA rules prevent college basketball player from making NIL money, so walk-ons offer their teammates

NCAA rules prevent college basketball player from making NIL money, so walk-ons offer their teammates

The Denver Pioneers may be the only college basketball team in the country with their own in-house NIL agent. Denver point 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’s making the best of the situation by acting as an agent for his teammates. team and doing valuable work. experience along the way.

Earlier this week, Fuentes closed a deal for three of his teammates Saucy Southern BBQ, a restaurant right across from the sprawling University of Denver campus. Fuentes recruited Pioneers redshirt freshman guard Ben Bowen, junior guard Tommy Bruner and sophomore guard Tevin Smith to represent the restaurant during the academic year because of their social media savvy as well as their personalities . Besides being the best player on the team, Smith, Fuentes said, is definitely the funniest and never stops making people laugh. Meanwhile, Bruner has a big appetite, which is perfect for a restaurant offer.

Fuentes isn’t making 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 down the road.

“I can’t get any endorsements, I can’t get any money, but I can be the guy that gets the deals for other guys,” Fuentes said. “I’m really excited. I’m really passionate about this 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 starter 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 the Congo, earned a big payday 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 playing Division I college basketball hasn’t been traditional.

Fuentes attended Menaul High School, a small international school in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He graduated in 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said his basketball recruiting didn’t go too well and he started college in Denver as a freshman, not being involved with the basketball team. He was able to get his foot in the door as a team manager in his second year.

During his first two years in college, Fuentes stayed in shape and worked on his game for himself. This season he has earned the opportunity to join the squad as a starter.

He’s been climbing the ladder, but he knows he might not get a lot of playing time this coming season. Fuentes will still strive on the court, but decided it was important to start building a resume for a professional career off the court as well.

“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, so I wanted to get out. 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 trade deals for college and professional athletes.

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

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

Mason encouraged him to use his international background as an advantage rather than 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, as he’s pursuing a double major in marketing and information systems and analytics.

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

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

Within days of contacting Mason, Fuentes began reaching out to local businesses and secured a meeting with Khristian Matthews, one of the owners of Saucy’s South 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 only the first step in what Fuentes is trying to achieve. He already has ongoing negotiations with another company for another of his colleagues.

“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 myself to build a network and I hope that more players will approach me to be the guy to handle their deals. I’ve been working really hard for many years and I think the key to success is effort, self-confidence and consistency.”

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