SBJ/April 21 - 27, 2008/Labor Agents

Coming draft brings ex-Bulls star Armstrong into spotlight for WMG

B.J. Armstrong, the former Chicago Bulls point guard who later worked for the team, was quietly hired by his former agent, Arn Tellem, to work as an agent and mentor for Wasserman Media Group’s NBA practice a little more than two years ago.

This year, Armstrong’s profile in the agent business is likely to grow. He is the primary agent for LSU forward Anthony Randolph, a top draft prospect, and sources say he is instrumental in WMG’s recruitment of Memphis guard Derrick Rose, who could be the No. 1 pick this year.

Rumors began spreading in the basketball community earlier this month that WMG would sign Rose, who is said to be competing with Kansas State forward Michael Beasley for the top draft spot, even though speculation for months had been that CAA Sports had the inside track. As of midweek last week, Rose had said he would go pro but had not officially signed with an agent.

Armstrong would not comment on Rose. Of Randolph, he said, “He has a tremendous amount of talent, but the thing I am most impressed with about him is he is a tough kid and he understands nothing will be achieved without hard work.”

The Tellem-Armstong teaming continues a friendship that started nearly 20 years ago. “B.J. was one of the first basketball players I ever represented and I worked with him since he was drafted in 1989, and he has been part of my family for the last 20 years,” Tellem said. “He has all the qualities that will make him a terrific agent for the next 20 years.”

Derrick Rose (left) is rumored to be ready to
become a WMG client; Anthony Randolph
has already signed.

Armstrong, who played on three Michael Jordan-led championship Bulls teams, said, “I was with Arn when he started in the business, before he became a mega-agent.” Armstrong became certified by the National Basketball Players Association to represent NBA players in team negotiations more than a year ago, and his title is WMG vice president of basketball.

Randolph is ranked No. 8 and Rose is ranked No. 1 by Web site NBADraft.net. WMG also has Stanford forwards and twin brothers Brook and Robin Lopez, who were signed by agent Bob Myers. NBADraft.net ranks them No. 4 and No. 15, respectively.

URBON MOVES FROM OCTAGON TO CAA: Joe Urbon, an MLB agent and Octagon baseball director, has left Octagon to work in CAA Sports’ baseball division, headed up by Casey Close.

Another Octagon baseball agent and baseball director, Steve Hilliard, remains at Octagon.

It is not clear how many clients may follow Urbon to CAA. At Octagon Urbon represented Cleveland Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore, Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman James Loney and Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Jason Bay. Urbon was very involved in developing Octagon’s program of representing Japanese players who came to the U.S. to play in MLB.

“Octagon Baseball is in very good hands under the leadership of Steve Hilliard,” said Phil de Picciotto, president of athletes and personalities at Octagon. “Joe started as an intern with us and was part of our family for 14 years, so clearly we wish him the best.”

PRIORITY SIGNS PROSPECTS: Priority Sports and Entertainment, which represents dozens of NBA and NFL players, has signed New Mexico shooting guard J.R. Giddens and Oregon guard Bryce Taylor (son of former NBA player Brian Taylor) for representation. Agent Aaron Mintz will serve as primary agent for the players.

LOOKING SONNY FOR MONTGOMERY: San Antonio-based Montgomery Sports has signed Arkansas shooting guard Sonny Weems for representation. Agency President Roger Montgomery will represent Weems.

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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