Scouts and Street Agents Pt 1
The term street agent was commonly used many years ago when the PSAL was the strong league in NYC. The Public Schools had the great teams at Boys, Wingate, Clinton, Franklin, etc. During these times there were no AAU tournaments in Vegas, or College Park or Providence. There were semi large tournaments in Pa., Conn., Portchester, NY, and the big NYC event called up at the community center in the Bronx in the Bronx. Part of a hospital and I cannot think of the name. Montifiore?
Players from that era were often paid to play in games and tournaments by street hustlers and agents. Often it would be $50 or $75 a player for the top 4 guys and the rest played for free. I have the names of the street agents but it might be in poor taste to mention. But many books mention them. They made a living betting on HS and college basketball while also selling players to many colleges throughout the country. At the time it was no such thing as coaches spending weeks in NYC and NJ. Sneaker camps? never heard of them. Just great rec teams that often had hired guns! Even good people such as Leroy Otis gave out quarters to young players on his Young Life and Church of the Masters teams for ice cream after games. Those who remember him should be reminded of the change always in his pocket.
I cannot think of one person currently around the game with the reputation that past street agents had. They were crooked and they let you know. Well, there are maybe a few around, but still not on those guys level. Those guys did everything from supplying women to taking a kid clothes shopping. They were investing in the future. After selling the kids to colleges, they would stay in touch in order to deliver the kids to a particular agent who would pay the street agent for their services.
The people who currently run scouting services are far from being street agents or illegal. Tom Konchalski runs a service and talks to coaches all the time. Is he illegal? Of course not! Many people calling themselves scouts are really folks who love HS basketball. They go to a lot of games and become rather good at establishing communication with great players and gaining trust. They are more of an information service than a scouting service. UCLA or St. Johns will not offer a scholarship to a kid based on a "scout" saying he is a good player. With earned trust and credibility a scout can get a college coach to watch kids play. Hell, Tom himself cannot get schools to give scholarships without the coach seeing kids play. Junior Colleges are the exception to the rule. A person such as Ed Butler in NJ, who may be the best of all the scouts, can get on the phone and get a kid into a high level JC sight unseen. In the future so will All the others. Russ Blake can also open doors at JCs as he did for Kasib Powell years ago. Kasib went on to play for Bob Knight at Texas Tech and has come close to making NBA rosters plenty of times. But most of the scouting services are strictly for fans. Coaches are not reading those reports like they are reading the Bible. They make the person putting the report together feel they read it like it is the gospel. They do this because many "Scouts" have good relationships with players they might recruit.
I will not say much about this, but I tend to question the credibility of some scouting services. Russ Blake and I use to debate this yearly (I have big respect for the job Russ does). Most of these guys have never played, coached (even biddy ball), managed, or even watched much. They have no idea of who can play and cannot play. Yet they rank players! Hell Stevie Wonder can see that OJ (No need for a last name) is a player. Same with his teammates, Ditto Lance Stevenson. But what about kids who are at schools not on the radar screen? Find those! It still amazes me to see the list of the top 300 SRS, top 300 Juniors, Top 125 4th graders, all from NYC. Who has really seen those kids enough to evaluate them? And what are the evaluations based on? Those services that sell this meaningless information are the real crooks. They are the ones that sell rumors and hearsay!
As far as AAU teams are concerned I have not seen many folks get rich off AAU teams. I see guys lose money because they are committed to helping kids. I see guys with huge egos attempting to be the best. But so what, that hurts no one while providing a service. People always complain about sponsor money and the AAU teams that get it. Are the complaints based on jealousy? Gary Charles of the NY Panthers spends more than he gets. Jim Salmon in NJ does fund raiser including selling hot dogs at events sponsored by the Hoop Group to pay expenses. Gauchos? Who are they stealing from? No one! Riverside Church? Ditto! The new teams have taken it a step further. New Heights based in NYC has tutoring and position practices. The Westchester Hawks are doing great things. I can go on and on about this. In fact, many from the above mentioned programs are being steered to academically sound prep schools (more on this at a later date).
In closing let me just say it could be much worse. It could be the people from years ago still on the scene. Buying and selling players. Thanks to stronger HS coaches and caring people it will only get better.'