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Latest News, NBA / Mar 23, 2011 / 2:00 pm

Doing Everything To Make It

Brian Kortovich

Brian Kortovich

If you’re a 6-0, 180-pound, Wall Street intern, having pro dreams to play in the NBA may not seem like the most realistic of goals. Just don’t tell that to Brian Kortovich. Having got his start on the hard-court as a youngster in Cleveland, Ohio, Brian quickly rose the ranks to become one of the best young talents in the city.

After making a name for himself on the Shooting Stars AAU team and playing high school ball at Holy Name High School – one of the top private Catholic schools in the city – he had to transfer to Brunswick High School because of financial hardships. Having ambitious hopes at the beginning of the season, his senior year there proved to be a bit of a disappointment, and as a result had no offers from any D-I schools and had to settle for the few D-II offers available to him.

Still, he made the best of it. Hoping it would lead to a Division I scholarship, Kortovich chose to attend hometown Cuyahoga Community College – and this time he didn’t disappoint. Over his tenure there as starting point guard, he put up 17 points and six assists per game while leading the NJCAA in three-point field goals made (111) his freshman year. (He even drew comparisons to a young Mark Price.)

In case you were wondering, he crossed paths with LeBron in Cleveland during his summer breaks from college during the James’ first few years in the NBA. Through a mutual friend, they were able to play together in a couple organized pick-up games, earning praise from King James on one occasion after leading his team to a string of victories while putting on a shooting clinic. “Yo kid, you can really shoot the lights out,” was all that James said, though the words still reverberate within Kortovich to this day.

Brian Kortovich

Brian & LeBron

After his sophomore year at Cuyahoga, he transferred to Division I Manhattan College, choosing them over the likes of Cleveland State, Delaware State and Auburn. On a full scholarship and expectations at their highest, Brian suffered a bout of injuries that kept him from progressing as anticipated.

Would that deter him? Not even in the slightest. After graduating college in ’06 back in Ohio, Brian decided that in order to pursue his dream and connect with the right people, he needed to take his talents to the Mecca of everything basketball, New York City. He found a job interning on Wall Street in the commodities exchange during the day, while exploring the NYC hoops scene at night – a double life even Clark Kent would admire.

He quickly began earning his respect on the playgrounds of NYC – not an easy task for a six-foot white kid from Cleveland – and was able to get burn at Rucker Park, Pro-City, West 4th Street, Tri-State and Dyckman. He even earned the nickname “Smokin’ Aces,” given to him by EBC’s Hannibal for his sweet stroke behind the arc.

All his hard work and networking paid off when Brian landed his first pro gig in Kuwait. Subsequent to that he’s found himself playing pro ball all over the world, landing on rosters in Italy, France, Israel, the Dominican Republic and eventually getting drafted into the D-League.

His time spent globally branding his name and honing his game was not an effort in futility, as it eventually led him to the grandiose stage of the NBA. In the summer of ’09, he was invited by the Knicks for an individual workout. He impressed coaches and staff so much that they invited him back for preseason workouts that year and the following year, scrimmaging with the likes of Amar’e Stoudemire, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler.

“Brian is a lights out shooter and has a great understanding of the game,” Knicks assistant coach Dan D’Antoni said. “He has been overlooked for whatever reason. He can play in the NBA and proved it against our guys. There’s a spot for Brian on every NBA roster.” Even Knicks assistant GM Allan Houston – who himself was a sharp-shooter during his playing days – had only praise for the young Ohioan. “Brian is a tough competitor who knows the game and has a great stroke,” Houston said. “He has seen the level of energy and commitment that it takes to play at the highest level. I love his passion.”

After word spread of his impressive workouts, the New Jersey Nets extended him an invitation to their preseason camp where he caught the eye of assistant coach Sam Mitchell. “Brian is an extremely hard-worker who can really shoot the basketball with the best of them,” Mitchell said. “He can definitely be an asset to teams at the NBA level.”

The Knicks and Nets both went in different directions, but Kortovich gained the invaluable exposure needed to help him get to that next level. Though not always the fastest or strongest player out there, he has a work ethic that is boundless, a drive that is unparalleled… and did I mention he can shoot the lights out? He’s just a regular guy waiting, make that working, for that next big break.

Follow Arie on Twitter at @arnie_starkish.

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  • Krayzie

    If only vince carter or rasheed wallace or tim thomas had his work ethic and desire, they all had hall of fame talents!

  • AT

    Great Story, seems like a really dedicated guy! Keep up the hard work, it’ll pay off!

  • James Dod

    I’ve seen this kid play! The best shooter I have ever seen at any level-hands down. His passion and drive to succeed in the game of basketball is unparalleled. No doubt he will one day make it to The League. Good luck BK!

  • Frankie

    Brian is incredibly committed to his craft and tremendously excels at it. Once many professionals of their respective industry speak with such high praise of one’s ability it no longer becomes opinion but now fact! Let’s see which NBA GM is savvy enough to pick up this diamond in the rough!!! Keep fighting Brian!

  • Frank Novy

    Great article, I like to see the kid play. Will someone sign him!!!!

  • Witnessed his talents…

    I’ve competed against Brian Kortovich on the basketball court many times beginning in High School. His handle, his stroke, court vision, and decision-making are all extremely sharp. He has only gotten better and better each year. He is a perfectionist regarding his training and it is displayed in execution in games. His best asset, however, has nothing to do with his physical abilities. He has a warrior mentality where failure is not an option. He has any will continue to work harder than his competition. Period.

  • John cocktoastin

    Here is the reality.. I was in Knicks and nets camp with homeboy in 09..yea can shoot.. Plays no d. For real like none. Yea we both didn’t get picked up.. But i went d league and Europe and where did he go? There is a reason the dude not gettin picked and it ain’t cause he a white boy.. Real talk .. Put him up against homicide .. It’s a wrap.. Pro vs pro

  • Joe

    check this kid out on youtube. if your still not convinced, CHALLENGE HIM!!! they don’t call him lights out for no reason.

  • JD

    @john c….. obviously thats not your real name. if you were in training camp with Brian like you said you were, than you are smart enough to know that there’s a difference between street ball and pro ball. I’ve seen Brian play many times, the kid belongs in the NBA and proved it …its NOT a white or black thing! And dont tell me dude cant play no D….gotta love the haters out there!!! LOL and tell me, how many guys actually do play d in the league – Real talk! Just give the kid the props he deserves! Keep going your thing BK

  • Ali

    I’ve been around the game of basketball my entire life, and would like to think I love the game more than anyone…but then I met Brian Kortovich. Until you meet Brian, your definition of a purpose driven person is lacking. He is a true inspiration because he doesn’t stop, or even pause, at setbacks. Instead, he uses them as footstools to get closer to accomplishing his goals. It’s impossible not to catch Brian’s energy and enthusiasm from even a simple conversation. I have no doubt that he will not only reach his goals, but he’ll also find a way to use his basketball to have an impact that reaches far greater than even his shooting range (which by the way, is ridiculously far). That’s just the kind of person Brian is.

  • KB

    This kid can really play – someone give him a shot!

  • TC 4 Life

    Bottom line is the guy can play at the NBA level. When guys like Alonzo Gee and Cedric Jacksona are collecting NBA checks, it is laughable that a team does not sign him to at least a 10 day. Ask Jordan Farmar how it went for him when the Nets brought Brian in, good thing Jordan had his contract signed already, LOL

  • B-Vass

    If the league werent full of over-hyped pre-madonna athletes who are quick and can jump but cant hit shots or play a good mental game, BK woulda been signed by now. Argue that. Its too bad the NBA has become what it is cuz they could use alot more really good BASKETBALL PLAYERS…like Brian.

  • Frank

    John C sounds like you are sippin on a lil to much hatorade. If he wasn’t that good GM’s, coach’s & players would not have had such positive things to say.

  • Billy T. Ski

    Sounds like it’s time to put him on a team and let the ball do the talking! Good luck to Brian!

  • JBad

    This guy can really shoot. Check out this link I found-http://vimeo.com/19438769
    The kid doesn’t miss

  • Dan Z

    I was invited to a tournament in Harlem last summer and had the chance to see Brian play. I was curious to hear what the fans had to say about the players, so I went around asking them what they thought. Everyone I spoke to mentioned Brian’s name (though most referred to him as “Smokin’ Aces” or “Soul Man”) and commented on how good of a shooter he is. And the other people who posted on here are right… Not only is he a great shooter, athlete, and player, but he is a great person with an infectious attitude that can’t help but put a smile on your face. It’s great to see he’s getting the attention he deserves and I hope someone is willing to give him a shot.

  • Max

    I have met Brian and this kid has what it takes. Keep up the hard work and it will only be a matter of time before he is in the NBA!

  • JM

    That’s why we nicknamed him, “Shooter”!

  • Favre

    If anyone has what it takes, it’s Brian. Way to hustle Wingy!

  • Avery Headley

    Brian is an excellent shooter with the skills to match. In due time, his skills will be seen by all in the NBA!

  • Vforchet

    I have seen this guy play before. Hands down the best shooter I have ever seen in a game. I have been recruiting players for years. What lit my eyes up even more is how aware he is with the ball. Watch this kid pass. Ridiculous.

  • Paul T-W

    If Brian were paid for his passion and committment to excellece in basketball, he’d be the highest paid player on NBA courts! It’s time to let him “professionally” do what he does best! Sink’em Ace!

  • JC

    I know he will get the break he deserves…Any decision maker who is fortunate enough to see his talent, level of commitment and love of the game won’t be able to let him walk off his court!

  • http://www.dimemag.com Lucas Shapiro

    Wow! What a story. Good stuff Arie.

  • http://bouncemag.com LowerEastScribe

    Brian’s aight. I’ve seen him play and he’s def a dead eye shooter, although I don’t know that he can shoot off the dribble that well but he’s good nonetheless. Wish him the best.

  • Randy Ro

    I happened to see this kid workout for Speedy Claxton last summer…truly one of the most amazing shooting perfrmances I’ve ever seen. I kid you not if he shot 120 shots over the course of 45 minutes…he might have missed 15. It was unreal. I wish him well.

  • Rockhead

    Regardless of whether or not BK makes the NBA – and I truly hope he does get a shot – it’s his character that sets him apart from so many other talents in the game. He’s grounded, accessible, generous & has a deep respect for all elements of the game. He understands putting TEAM first and only a shortsighted fool would pass up an opportunity to have a guy like him on their squad.

  • Bradley

    What a story, hope this kid makes it some day.

  • Milani Malik

    I’ve worked out with him myself and he definitely works hard and is a positive person who’s hungry to succeed, which I hope for him will pay off.

  • andie

    Hey NBA!!!Someone give him a “shot”!!!
    What do you have to lose??
    Cleveland especially!!!
    Good Luck BK

  • Yo Kenny

    Flat out best shooter I have ever seen. Even better than the dude who beat Will Smith on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. YO KENNY!!!

  • Christian Brown

    Great Article! Brian is one of the nicest guys I know. I’ve had the honor to play against Brian in college while he was at Manhattan College, and during the summer while he was shooting everyone’s eyes out at Dyckman. I even got to work with him on the big screen (Just Wright). Brian is as dedicated as they come! A true role model to anyone who is aspiring to do anything positive with themselves. Good things happen to good people. Your time to shine extra bright will come soon brother. Keep doing what you’re doing. I salute you brother- onward!

  • yo man

    this kid is awesome! saw his video…this kid doesn’t miss a basket…he’s the real thing! Somebody sign this dude, Man!

  • Michelle

    Korto is AWESOME!! Saw him playing in Cleveland and was really impressed!! Wish you in the NBA!!

  • Joe

    This kid works out every day at Chelsea Piers and his work ethics is unbelieveable! Barely misses a shot. Seems like a nice kid….Good Luck in the NBA because I know you deserve to make it.

  • Harry

    SOOOOOOO, why didn’t the KNICKS pick him up… We OBVIOUSLY don’t have a three point shooter, we have R. Mason and S. Williams… and they don’t even stand a chance next to BRIAN… Sign him to a 10-day contract, so we can survive the first round of the playoffs.

  • Mike F ME

    Any team would be a fool to pass this kid up. C’mon Cav’s give this shooter a chance. It would be nice to see a local kid make it.

  • Papi4lyfe

    I read this story and I think of John Starks, how he fought to get into the NBA and then became a Knick’s LEGEND. Good Luck Brian

  • Knick_Fan

    Knicks should Snatch him before another team grabs him.

  • JD

    People get caught up in the fact that this kid can only shoot! Yes, true that his jumper is off the charts and hits from anywhere, but thats only one part of his game. He can break guys down off the dribble, get to the rack, and set other players up..AND believe me – you dont want to guard this guy in a pick n roll situation. If you go under the screen, u might as well put 3 pts up on the board!!! Dude is crafty and just knows how to get it done on the basketball court.

  • Elliot N

    I’ve seen this kid absolutely out shoot everyone. His work ethics would be greatly appreciated on any pro team.

  • http://Marklarush.com Larry Allen

    Brian is a great player and even better person. Whichever route he takes, he will be a millionaire in 5-10 years.

  • TW

    B Kort is the total package at the pg position. Played with and against him as well as other professional ball players, in and out of the league. He has the work ethic of the NBA level guys already. I really hope to see him, AT LEAST, get a shot one day!! MF Smokin’ Aces!!

  • Steve W

    Knicks should give this guy a shot.. How about a 10-day?? He would be great in the D’Antoni system. They’ve seen his game. This is crazy – sign this guy up!!

  • NYKnicksFan

    Someone give Brian a 10-day contract!!! Especially the Knicks! Why Not?!?!?They are familiar with him- he was in camp with the team the past two preseasons and made it to the last cut. Not only is he a talented player, he wouldbe a great locker room guy!What alot of people dont understand is that chemistry on a team and between the players is a major factor in winning and losing. U bring a guy in like Brian on board and it could only help. His positive attitude, unparallel work ethic and all the other intangibles that he brings to a team are valuable to an organization!

  • Vinny

    TWO WORDS….RICK BRUNSON!!! Does that name ring a bell? Brian is could be this guy but with a deadly jumper.

  • Jeanine

    So proud you are a Cleveland Guy. Good Luck and keep the Faith! Keep playin and believin!

  • Harry lopez

    This story reminds me of John Starks who is now a Knick Legend… Keep working hard… And hope to see you in the blue and Orange

  • J-Vass

    I have known Brian since 4th grade cyo basketball thru his high school years. He played against teams I coached and with teams I coached. He is a very good friend of our family. Reading many of these comments,seems to indicate the readers have him pegged right. I always told the kids I coached that 80% of the game was between the ears and 20% physical. I have told Brian that Steve Kerr made a living in the NBA with that 80% & I now he can and will.Would love to see a NBA team give him a chance. Knowing him as I do that team would not be disappointed!

  • ldk

    Finally somebody is recognizing BK’s Talents! I’d pay good bucks to see BK beat the socks off of this John C dude! Thanks for hook up on BK’s videos…trying to google him…that vimeo video link in on the website along with some pretty interesting articles! Great Job BK, would love to see on the Knicks next year!!!

  • J-smooth

    Brian is the TRUTH! If a guy like him can stay dedicated to his craft for this long and overcome all that he has to be playing at a high level…well, theres no doubt in my mind that he’s going to be playing in the NBA very soon!

  • J-smooth

    Brian would be a great fit in the D’Antoni sysytem!

  • jane

    Hard work and dedication! This is what drives Brian….praying for only the best…

  • http://brunswick.oh.us Timothy Smith

    I have known Brian for a long time and there is just no quit in this kid. He shoots the light out on the court and off the court you cannot find a higher quality person.
    NBA needs this guy!

  • Theresa Ryba

    Great story. Good Luck Brian!!! Much success to you!! Keep up the hard work and determination!!!

  • Skip

    If anyone deserves a break, it’s Brian. This kid can make every shot in the liquor cabinent.

  • J.Lorincz

    Brian grew up and played with my son in High School. It was easy to figure out his dream even at an early age. Brian had spent the night and the next morning my wife was thrilled with the new wallpaper NBA design in our son’s bedroom. Wall to Wall covered with pictures of NBA stars that were cut out from magazines during an all nighter. Ever since I have followed his career and have always admired his “never say die attitude”, dedication and committment to the game he loves. He is a talented individual and has accomplished a lot despite many obstacles along the way. If ever an athlete deserved a shot to fullfill his dream in the NBA Brian’s name should be at the top of the list.

  • http://espn.com Mack Milly

    I have seen Brian play first hand, and I can tell you that he can shoot better than half the pros in the NBA.. His mental toughness is what I truly admire most about him.. He is a fearless competitor and isn’t afraid to go at anybody.. I’ll put up my money on him any day!

  • JK

    Seen the kid play in New York and he stands out on the court. He could help a NBA team even on a 10 day.

    JK

  • jason pabon

    The dude can really ball I’ve seen him in the gym everyday working hard there’s not many with the will brian got I think the nba should give him a shot good luck brian

  • Brian Novy

    Wow! What an article and i’ve known you a lifetime and every bit of this article is true. You are a very hard worker and your one to follow your dreams. I remember when you were just a little guy always wanting to shoot hoops every chance you could get. You’ve always stood by me in my trials and tribulations and Im proud to back you up on this. Keep up the good work and know that the family is 100% behind you. And by the way…. Yo Kid Shoot the Lights Out!!! ;D

  • Beverly Torres

    Dedication can carry and lifetime, and Brian has dedicated his life to the game of basketball. Keep it up!!

  • Sue

    Brian has such a great passion for basketball. He will do whatever it takes to “make it”. Good luck, Bri!

  • Stephen

    This guy deserves a 10-day in the league. He will eat you up, and spit you out. The best work ethic I have ever seen on the basketball court!

  • Jason Robertson

    I grew up with him in Brunswick, Ohio. Everyday he would get up and immediately hit the hoops. I would be chasing the girls in the neighborhood, while Brian was chasing his dreams. Outstanding ball player and an even better person. Way to go Cuz

  • B-REAL

    I’ve been following Brian for a few years now – WHEN this kid makes the NBA, someone should make a movie out of his LIFE! Very inspiring stuff BK….Keep at it!

  • paulie

    To put himself with in this close of making the NBA, speaks volumes of Brian’s will and determination, especially all he had to overcome to get to this point in his career. I myself doubted Brian several times, BUT time and time again — he keeps proving me wrong and I am man enough to admitt it!!! Its only a matter of time before he will be in the NBA.

  • jon walker

    B! You are one of the most dedicated young men I have ever met! All your hardwork will not go in vain! KEEP PUSHIN! A door will open for you! I ahve never seen anybody shoot the ball the way you do! In life hardwork and opportunity will eventually meet! Stay healthy and ready! Your time will come! God Bless! Coach WALK!

  • S. S.

    wow…that’s an amazing journey, can’t wait to see this guy playing in the NBA!

  • BP

    Good Luck kid, every team needs a few hustle players. Whether they make the stars better or put up a few quality minutes a game, he can be an asset.

  • Renee

    A great story!!! Awesome to hear about someone so dedicated!!

  • Jesse Poe

    Clarke Kent for real. Thanks for posting!

  • Jackie

    Great article! I hope Brian makes it to the NBA!

  • cookie

    Awesome post, hope this guy goes far. Winning!

  • Andy

    glad I came across this story. motivational to say the least…

  • AT

    CONGRATS to Brian!!! Just heard he signed with the Texas Legends, D league affiliate to the Dallas Mavericks!! His dedication is paying off and things are only going to go up from here!