Sean Marks is in Lithuania Thursday scouting European teams for prospects, both for the draft on June 21 and free agency which begins 10 days later. Just last week, he and others in the Nets front office were all over New York, scouting the Big Ten, Big East and ACC tournaments, the first two at the Garden, the ACC at Barclays.
Next month, the Jordan Brand Classic will also be held in Brooklyn. Expect Marks to be there as well ... and maybe at practice before the event at the HSS Training Center.
HSS, in fact, became the de facto practice court for a number of big hoops programs over the two two weeks of regional tournaments. There were other New York venues that had teams in — whether it’d be St. Francis Brooklyn’s Pope Physical Education Center or Terminal 23 in Manhattan, for example, and the Knicks have their own complex, except, you know … Westchester.
The programs — as well as journalists who track them — were happy to post pictures of HSS on their social media accounts ...
The Duke Blue Devils, including lottery projected Marvin Bagley, Wendell Carter and Gary Trent Jr., along with Trevon Duval and last but not least, Grayson Allen:
The NCAA Tournament bound Florida State Seminoles:
The Notre Dame fighting Irish, who were led by combo forward Bonzie Colson, a possible NBA or G League player in 2018-19:
Notre Dame next practice up at the Barclays Center. Brought their own boom box, keeping things super loose. Mike Brey: "You gotta blast motherf**king Jay-Z!" pic.twitter.com/HyneePTehS— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) March 5, 2018
The Boston College Eagles, who have Jerome Robinson, a possible first-round pick if the high-scoring junior enters the draft:
Checking out Boston College’s workout in Brooklyn. Buzz lately has been All-ACC guard Jerome Robinson (20.7 PPG) trending toward the first round. Nice matchup between BC and Georgia Tech tomorrow in the ACC tourney. pic.twitter.com/KisiWLERck— Jeremy Woo (@JeremyWoo) March 5, 2018
Omer Yurtseven and North Carolina State. Yurtseven is currently mocked at 29 by nbadraft.net, around where the Nets’ Toronto Raptors pick stands:
And the ACC Champion University of Virginia, the Nation’s top-team, who produced Joe Harris:
“Great, love that,” Marks texted NetsDaily from Croatia.
When teams other than the Nets play or practice in Brooklyn, people point to the value of it to Nets scouts, who get to watch so many great prospects in such a short timeframe ... and so close to home, or even at home.
“Just the convenience factor for all our group to watch high-level games and not travel,” Marks noted. (They can’t just walk down the hall at HSS, however, NBA scouts with permission can attend scrimmages, but at this time of year, not too many college coaches want NBA executives serving as distractions when they’re battling for a big prize.)
But it’s more than that. Call it reverse scouting.
It’s subtle, but the Nets love that so many college and high school prospects are getting a look at the $52 million training center, with its player amenities, workout spaces and, of course, that view of the city. It gives the players a good (first) impression of the organization, one that could help the Nets reputation down the road when some of those prospects might be free agents. The Nets hope the players are, in a way, scouting them.
It’s not just that long view across the New York Bay Marks wants them to appreciate, but a long-term view of the Nets organization. He won’t say it directly, but he notes, “The city and Brooklyn attract high level talent – it’s an attractive market not only for NBA teams and player, but I would hope the NCAA feels the same.”
Moreover, many NCAA college coaches and players are getting a first-hand experience of (and seemingly an appreciation for) how the Nets treat company, and more importantly, their players. Providing hospitality to the programs and institutions builds relationships, too.
Every little bit helps.
There’s no telling when Brooklyn will serve as an advantage for the Nets when it comes to wins and losses. But when you combine a good reputation for thinks like player development with player amenities and a practice facility located in the heart of New York City, it can’t hurt. As Lionel Hollins said when he toured the facility under construction, “this will never be a reason for players not to come here.” (Always a way with words, that Hollins.)
Rebuilding a team, an organization, is not just about adding players. It’s about building a reputation, a culture if you want, as a professional organization, one that cares about its players ... one as big and as bold as the city where it plays.