Finding the right agent to represent you when you pursue a career overseas can make a significant impact on your career trajectory. If you are in discussions with prospective agents, you must be prepared to ask questions. In a way, you will be placing your career in another person’s hands. Do not just take what agents tell you at face value. Ask the questions that are relevant for you to make an informed decision about whether to hire the agent or not.
Here are a few questions a basketball player should ask before hiring a potential agent to represent them in their overseas endeavors.
What countries do you specialize in and in which leagues in these countries will you market me?
-Agents likely have 2-3 countries where they do a majority of their business. The rest are probably done with partner agencies. Just because the perspective agent says they will market you in Germany (for example), does not mean the agent means the top league there. Germany has 6 leagues that hire foreign players. Of course, the players that play in the 6th league earn only a portion of what the players in the 1st league earn. A clear knowledge of where the agent markets you will be important to understand how much earning potential you might have.
-How do you plan to market me to teams?
A good agent will have a plan in place to market you to overseas teams. They should have a solid understanding of your skills, strengths, and weaknesses, and be able to present you in the best possible light to teams overseas. Will that agent be marketing you at the position you feel you can perform the best at? Hopefully, that plan is in tune with your own goals.
-What kind of support will you provide while I am playing overseas?
An agent’s job does not end once you sign a contract with a team. A good agent should support you throughout your time playing overseas. This can include assistance with language barriers, cultural differences, and contract negotiations…but also a line of communication needs to be established between you and your agent. You should also ask how the communication will be with the team or coach. You need to know that especially if things are not going well, your agent needs to be able to communicate with them.
-What is your understanding of the various overseas leagues and their rules and regulations?
This is especially of interest if you have an American-based agent. The rules and regulations of overseas leagues can vary significantly from those in the United States, and your agent must have a solid understanding of these regulations. Ask about the agent’s experience with various leagues and their knowledge of the unique challenges that may arise while playing overseas. This can help ensure that you are fully informed and prepared for your overseas endeavors.
-How do you handle conflicts of interest?
It’s important to ask your potential agent how they handle conflicts of interest, such as representing players on the same team or working with teams that may have competing interests. Even dealing with players within the agency that play the same position could be an issue. How do they push players with the same skill level for jobs? Make sure the agent has a clear plan in place for managing conflicts of interest.
-What are your plans for my long-term career development?
A good agent should not only focus on finding you a team to play for overseas but also have a plan in place for your long-term career development. This can include strategies for improving your skills and expanding your network.
-And lastly, especially for rookies, I would ask what your agent will do to further your basketball education overseas. Agents do not have time to thoroughly educate players on what to expect. Ask if they would invest in a session with me for example, or anyone that can explain the ins and outs of what you are about to experience. I cannot prepare you for everything, nor would I want to, but I can help to flatten your learning curve.
In conclusion, finding the right agent to represent you can make a significant difference in your career trajectory as a basketball player. By asking these questions before signing an agreement, you can ensure that you are working with an agent who has the experience, expertise, and commitment to help you achieve your goals. That helps establish a sense of trust.