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Williamson, Hughes could give CAA dual No. 1 picks

CAA Sports could have the No. 1 pick in both the NBA and NHL drafts later this month, as the agency is representing Duke forward Zion Williamson and USA Hockey national men’s team forward Jack Hughes.

Williamson is seen as the lock No. 1 selection and the most anticipated NBA prospect since LeBron James was drafted first overall in 2003. NBA agent and CAA Basketball co-head Austin Brown and Lisa Joseph-Metelus, co-head of client management for the basketball group, are leading the team representing him.

In addition to Williamson, CAA Sports’ basketball division represents three other players who were ranked as first-round picks last week by website nbadraft.net: North Carolina guard Coby White, Oregon center Bol Bol and Stanford guard/forward KZ Okpala.

White was ranked No. 6, Bol was No. 15 and Okpala was No. 23 by that website.

CAA Sports represents Duke phenom Zion Williamson, the most anticipated NBA draft prospect since LeBron James in 2003.
Photo: getty images
CAA Sports represents Duke phenom Zion Williamson, the most anticipated NBA draft prospect since LeBron James in 2003.
Photo: getty images
CAA Sports represents Duke phenom Zion Williamson, the most anticipated NBA draft prospect since LeBron James in 2003.
Photo: getty images

Additionally, CAA Sports is representing Villanova forward Eric Paschall, Auburn forward Chuma Okeke and Michigan forward Jordan Poole. CAA Sports also is representing guard Deividas Sirvydis of the Lithuanian Basketball League.

NBA player agents Leon Rose, Aaron Mintz, Steven Heumann, Andrew Morrison, Ty Sullivan, Michael Tellem, Dave Spahn, Mitch Nathan and Brown are representing the players. Additionally, basketball marketing and client management executives Erika Ruiz, Arlesha Amazan, Kristina Kozica, Ashley Feagan, Lloyd Frischer and Joseph-Metelus will be involved in off-court representation.

The NBA draft will be held June 20 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The NHL draft starts the next night, June 21, at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, and CAA Sports could have a big night.

CAA Hockey co-head and NHL agent Pat Brisson said, “I am pretty confident that CAA will work with 12 to 15 in the top 50 this year.”

The rules are different in the NHL than the NBA, and CAA Hockey is either representing or serving as family advisers to 23 prospects who were invited to the NHL combine late last month. That group includes Hughes, who has long been seen as the likely No. 1 pick. But unlike Williamson, he has a possible rival for that top spot in Finland national team wing Kaapo Kakko, who led his country to the IIHF world championship last month.

Hughes, meanwhile, embodies the all-American hockey ideal as one of the best prospects to come out of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program since it was created in 1996. Hughes kept his commitment to the NTDP despite being drafted eighth overall by the Ontario Hockey League in 2017 and went on to score a record 228 points for the program.

Jack Hughes of the U.S. national team could give CAA the top pick in both the NBA and NHL drafts this month.
Photo: getty images
Jack Hughes of the U.S. national team could give CAA the top pick in both the NBA and NHL drafts this month.
Photo: getty images
Jack Hughes of the U.S. national team could give CAA the top pick in both the NBA and NHL drafts this month.
Photo: getty images

The New Jersey Devils hold the No. 1 pick while the New York Rangers select No. 2, so the New York sports media is all over the potential draft rivalry.

“He’s been the consensus No. 1 and, in my opinion, he will be No. 1,” Brisson said of Hughes last week.

If Hughes is selected first, he will be the seventh No. 1 overall NHL draft pick for Brisson.

Regardless, CAA Hockey could have one of its strongest years ever as it advises several highly touted prospects, including Hughes’ NTDP teammates, center Alex Turcotte, ranked No. 4; wing Cole Caufield, ranked No. 8; and defenseman Cam York, ranked No. 12, respectively, among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.

CAA Hockey also is advising wing Albin Grewe, defenseman Drew Helleson, wing Simon Holmstrom, defenseman Ryan Johnson, defenseman Jackson LaCombe, wing Brett Leason, defenseman Mattias Norlinder, wing Samuel Poulin, defenseman Matthew Robertson, wing Nicholas Robertson, defenseman Victor Soderstrom and goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov.

NHL agents J.P. Barry, Jim Nice and Brisson are serving as family advisers or agents to the players. Marketing and client servicing for the players is led by Laura Keegan, Jen Entin and Rachel Feucht. CAA Hockey’s player development group, led by Jim Hughes, Byron Ritchie, Ethan Fink and Matt Williams, also is working with the players.

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