SBJ/June 24-30, 2013/Labor and Agents

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  • Longtime NBA agent Catapano finds himself with shot at No. 1

    Liz Mullen
    Frank Catapano has represented more than 40 NBA players and 100 international basketball players, but he never thought he’d be in a position to represent the potential No. 1 pick in the NBA draft at this point in his career.

    Catapano, 71, founder of Pro Partner Sports Management, is co-representing Kentucky center Nerlens Noel with ASM Sports founder Andy Miller. Noel last week was ranked No. 1 by DraftExpress.com and No. 3 by NBADraft.net in mock drafts.
    Catapano has been an NBA player agent for more than 30 years. His first client was guard John Bagley, who was the No. 12 pick in the 1982 draft and played in the league for about a dozen years.
     
    Catapano
    Catapano co-represented Bagley, as well as many other players, with the late Larry Fleisher, a former agent who founded the National Basketball Players Association.

    In the case of Noel, Catapano met him when he was a sophomore in high school through his former AAU basketball coach, Chris Driscoll, whom he has known for years. “He was a young, thin kid who looked like he would develop into a good player,” Catapano said. Over the years, Catapano said he met Noel about eight times and gave him advice about basketball and his future. “[I] just talked to him,” Catapano said. “The [NCAA] rules are you can talk to any kid, but you can’t offer him anything. I never thought it would be in the cards that I would be his agent.”
     
    Earlier this month, Driscoll called Catapano and asked if he would co-represent Noel with Miller. “I was pleasantly surprised,” Catapano said.

    Catapano has known Miller for years. Miller worked with Fleisher’s sons, Eric and Marc, who are also NBA agents, before he started ASM Sports.

    Despite his tenure, Catapano said player representation has always been a secondary business for him, after his “main businesses” of real estate sales and development.

    “I have always done it as an avocation instead a vocation,” Catapano said of the sports agent business.

    He runs Pro Partner Sports Management with four younger agents, and they represent about 45 basketball players, most of whom play on teams overseas. But being with a top player is gratifying for Catapano, who said when news broke earlier this month that he would be co-representing Noel, he received congratulatory calls from several NBA general managers. “Whatever happens,” he said, “I think it will be really fun.”

    > TLA SIGNS BURGOS: The Legacy Agency has signed Hiram Burgos, the 25-year-old Milwaukee Brewers pitcher who made his first major league start in April. Agents Greg Genske and Hiram Bocachica will represent him. Burgos was formerly represented by Hollenbeck & Hernandez Sports Group.

    > NFL AGENT SWITCHES: Octagon has signed linebacker Desmond Bishop, who was released by the Green Bay Packers last week. Agent Doug Hendrickson will represent Bishop, who was formerly co-represented by The Institute for Athletes and Impact Sports.
     
    Meanwhile, free agent safety Abe Elam has also left Impact, a move that has drawn some interest in the agent community, as Elam’s younger brother, safety Matt Elam, who was chosen No. 32 overall in this year’s draft by Baltimore, was still without an agent last week.

    Impact was the fourth agency that represented Abe Elam. He was previously represented by CAA Sports agent Tom Condon, and, prior to that, by Rosenhaus Sports founder and agent Drew Rosenhaus. NFL agent Eugene Parker, who joined Relativity Sports as head of its football division last year, was Abe Elam’s first agent.

    “Abe’s decision to leave Impact does not affect Matt’s contract-adviser vetting process,” said Ashley Kerns, who is a marketing agent and publicist for both Elams.

    > ROSENHAUS’ TOP PICK: Speaking of Drew Rosenhaus … The longtime NFL agent is moving closer to tying the knot for the first time.

    Rosenhaus, 46, is engaged to be married later this year to Lisa Thomson, 28, a Miami-based Coldwell Banker real estate agent. “She is a big football fan and we have just sent out the ‘Save the Date’ for the wedding announcements,” Rosenhaus said. “I have been a bachelor all these years and I am glad those days are coming to a close.”

    Like Rosenhaus, Thomson is a University of Miami alum.
     
    Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.

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