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Volume 23 No. 13
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Wasserman signs 3 potential NBA draft lottery picks

Wasserman has signed a large class for representation in next month’s NBA draft, including three projected lottery picks, Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura, Virginia forward De’Andre Hunter and Virginia Tech guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

Website nbadraft.net had Hachimura ranked No. 4, Hunter ranked No. 5 and Alexander-Walker ranked No. 13 on its mock draft last week.

Hachimura is expected to be the first Japan native drafted in NBA history. He is represented by agents Jason Ranne and Darren Matsubara. Hunter and Alexander-Walker are represented by agents Thad Foucher and Joe Smith

Wasserman also signed UCLA forward Kris Wilkes (No. 35 on nbadraft.net), and Wake Forest forward Jaylen Hoard and Tennessee guard Jordan Bone, who are potential draftees.

As far as other international prospects, Wasserman signed Luka Samanic, a forward for Petrol Olimpija in the Slovenian Basketball League who is considered one of the top players from overseas. Additionally, Wasserman is representing Alen Smailagic, a forward who formerly played for KK Beko in the Serbian league and now at age 18 is the youngest player in the G League, playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors.

One of Wasserman’s new clients, De’Andre Hunter, led Virginia to this year’s NCAA championship.
Photo: getty images
One of Wasserman’s new clients, De’Andre Hunter, led Virginia to this year’s NCAA championship.
Photo: getty images
One of Wasserman’s new clients, De’Andre Hunter, led Virginia to this year’s NCAA championship.
Photo: getty images

Wasserman also signed Gonzaga guard Josh Perkins, UConn guard Jalen Adams, Iowa State guard Nick Weiler-Babb and Utah guard Sedrick Barefield. Wasserman agents Greg Lawrence, Foucher, Smith, Ranne and Matsubara represent the players.

Ranne started his career at Wasserman and rejoined the agency in 2015 as COO of team sports after working as director of strategic planning for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He called the class “a testament” to the agents, culture and services of Wasserman.

In April the agency unveiled a new training and services program for its NBA draft prospects called Wasserman Connect, which through partnerships with companies and brands provides an array of services, including fitness and mental training, nutrition and education on financial fraud and investment risk, among other things. The partners in the program include Exos for fitness training; Kettlebell Kitchen for nutrition; Headspace, a mindfulness training company; and BrightLights LLC, which provides financial education for athletes.

The global reach of Wasserman played a part in the recruitment of the class. Wasserman has an office in Toronto and is “devoted to the Canadian market,” said Foucher, who represents Clippers guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the cousin of Alexander-Walker. Both players are Canadian.

Foucher called Alexander-Walker “the next major NBA prospect from Canada.” As for Hunter, Foucher said, “He’s an incredibly hard worker who likes challenging himself to improve, and is putting all his energy into getting ready for the draft.”

LAGARDÈRE SIGNS GOLFER: Akshay Bhatia, a 17-year-old phenom who is generating buzz in the golf world, is foregoing college and signing with Lagardère Sports for representation in all areas.

Bhatia, the 2018 American Junior Golf Association Rolex Boys Player of the Year, will be represented by Jeremy Elliott, senior vice president of golf, and managed day-to-day by Tommy Riehle, player manager.

Bhatia will remain an amateur in hopes of representing the U.S. in the Walker Cup in September. Once he turns pro, Lagardère will pursue playing and marketing opportunities in the U.S. and internationally.

Bhatia was born in Northridge, Calif., and lives in Wake Forest, N.C., but his family hails from India and Hong Kong. Last week he was the No. 8-ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Rankings and the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world under the age of 18. He also won the Junior PGA Championship in both 2017 and 2018, which made him the only player to win that championship twice. Last month, he made the cut at the Web.com Tour’s RTJ Golf Trail Championship.

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.