Back in 2012, we chronicled the genesis of RBA Sports, a sports marketing agency founded by BJ Bass and Brian Rubenstein.
It was at this early stage that they had envisioned a way to help their clients realize a higher level of success, via the NBA D-League.
Fast-forward three years, and the agency has continued to execute successfully on this strategy, essentially mirroring the growth of The NBA D-League.
RBA Sports was formed in 2009. Bass had recently helped a local high school player from his hometown of Roslyn, New York, George Beamon, secure a scholarship to Manhattan College.
Around the same time, the Rubenstein family was making an investment in Basketball City, which was set to open a state of the art, 100,000 square foot Sports & Entertainment venue, located at Pier 36, adjacent to South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan.
With BJ's eye for identifying and developing "below the radar" talent (which was first evidenced by his strong conviction on Beamon, who went on to score 2000 points in his collegiate career en route to leading Manhattan back to the NCAA Tournament), combined with Rubenstein's financial background and expertise in investment management, they formed a truly unique and strong alliance.
Their first player event was held at Draddy Gymnasium in Riverdale, and among the scouts in attendance that day was Chris Alpert, who was there representing the NBA Development League.
"From that point forward, we made a strategic decision to leverage the NBA D-League," Bass told RidiculousUpside.com. "At the time, it was a relatively new platform, but we believed it was a great way to gain recognition for some of our players that we felt had NBA ability, but were yet to be noticed."
The first player to follow this blue print was Vernon Goodridge, a 6'9" power forward from LaSalle. After an impressive training camp with the Golden State Warriors in 2010, the big man was selected fifth overall in the NBADL Draft by the Springfield Armor.
Since then, Bass has placed a significant number of players into the NBA's minor league. In doing so, he has developed a strong reputation as a talent evaluator in league circles. Taking a closer look, he has quite an impressive track record:
Eric Griffin, Texas Legends
Orlando Sanchez, Westchester Knicks
Norvel Pelle, Delaware 87ers
Tony Taylor, Tulsa 66ers
Marvin Phillips, Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Isaiah Wilkerson, Tulsa 66ers
Brian Addison, Springfield Armor
Akeem Ellis, Rio Grande Valley Vipers
Phil Jones, Sioux Falls Sky Force
Kyle Hunt, Austin Spurs
Jamine Peterson, Sioux Falls Sky Force
Orion Outerbridge, Santa Cruz Warriors
Rashad Bishop, Los Angeles D-Fenders
George Beamon, Texas Legends
Dami Sapara, Los Angeles D-Fenders
Derick Beltran, Bakersfield Jam
Tyrrel Tate, Idaho Stampede
J.R. Inman, Westchester Knicks
Dane Miller, OKC Blue
Ed Jones, Delaware 87ers
Matt Dickey, Texas Legends
Titus Rubles, Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Antoine Pearson, Springfield Armor
Chris Taft, Springfield Armor
Basketball City has also become a valuable piece of RBA's strategy to grow the agency organically. In recent years, among many other grass roots Basketball related events, it has been the home of the D-League's national tryout camp.
To date, despite all of the hopefuls participating each year, only three prospects have actually gone on to be drafted and subsequently play for an NBADL team. It's a true testament to the agent's eye for talent and his determination that all three players (Hunt, Outerbridge and Ellis) were all represented by RBA Sports.
Today, Bass continues to execute on his strategy, as he will represent approximately fifteen players in this month's draft, including veteran combo-guard Ruben Guillandeaux (LaSalle) and a few talented rookies, like Jay Harris (UIC) and Jamal Branch (St. John's)
"I could see early on that the D-League would grow and be a great place to help build our agency. Players would have the opportunity to prove whether they were good enough, or even lucky enough, to make the NBA, and in parallel, improve their stock for overseas markets," Bass said.
In parallel to the growth of RBA, the D-League continues to expand. As NBA teams utilize the league more and more, it has gained recognition as one of the most competitive leagues in the world. Perhaps no one is in a better position to take advantage of this than Bass.
Earlier this offseason, we reported that representatives from eighteen different NBA teams were in attendance for the agency's annual player showcase at Basketball City. Shortly thereafter, the Indiana Pacers signed one of the players in attendance, Kadeem Jack, a 6'9" athletic forward from Rutgers.
After the 2014 Showcase, the Knicks signed another of RBA's top prospects, Orlando Sanchez, a rookie forward from St. John's, who later played for the Westchester Knicks.
Needless to say, RBA has come a long way from its humble beginnings at Draddy Gym and the NBA Development League continues to play a key role in their progress.