Many guys have dreams of breaking into the NBA but don’t quite know where to start. Organizations in the National Basketball Association often march to the beat of their own drum, making it very difficult for a recent college grad to break into this extremely competitive industry.
For those who wish to have a future in NBA scouting, player personnel or basketball operations, TPG Sports Group is proud to announce the first annual “Pro Scout School” to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 14 and 15. This event gives NBA hopefuls the chance to connect and learn from some of the leagues most successful basketball executives, scouts, agents and general managers while submitting their own personal scouting reports to be evaluated by the professional scouts themselves.
The list of panelists include event MC Fran Fraschilla of ESPN, Phoenix Suns GM Ryan McDonough, Utah Jazz Assistant GM Justin Zanik, Los Angeles Clippers VP of Basketball Operations Gary Sacks, Portland Trailblazers Assistant GM Bill Branch, Dallas Mavericks Director of Player Personnel Tony Ronzone, and former NBA GM Jim Stack to name a few.
I caught up with TPG President and Director of International Scouting for the Indiana Pacers, Pete Philo, to talk about Pro Scout School, how he broke into the NBA and evaluating talent.
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Dime: Pro Scout School is a one of a kind event. How did you and the guys at TPG come up with the idea for it?
Pete Philo: Years ago I came across a scout school for Major League Baseball and I inquired a little around our industry and found out that there was nothing like it in our industry. And I thought it was a pretty neat concept that Major League Baseball does. So that, with the combination of my travels, it’s the most common question I get from either fans or basketball people, coaches, evaluators, video people. It seems like they all have the same questions. “How did you become a scout,” “How do I become a scout,” or “How can I get into scouting?” And I know how difficult that answer is, so I wanted to create something that made sense from learning how to scout because it’s different, it’s completely different. As well as create a platform where people can connect and build relationships because that’s how you get into our industry.
Dime: With a star-studded panel of NBA executives, what should people trying to break into the NBA expect from this event?
PP: Well number one, they should expect to learn. It’s funny, I did an interview the other day with USA Today and we got talking about a certain situation with international basketball. I got a call from three different assistant general managers last week and it was weird because they were all within a day of each other and they all were trying to register (for Pro Scout School). And I told them — well first of all, NBA scouts and executives are coming as our industry guests. I want as many people as possible to come, but I said, “Why don’t you come and be on the panel?” and they all said the same thing: “We want to learn.” They said, “We want to steal. We want to see what’s out there and see how different teams are doing different things.” And I thought that was a great week of calls because you’re talking about people that have made it already; people that are in the industry at an assistant general manager level and they’re continuing to want to learn. You can imagine how much stuff there is to learn in terms of scouting.
Dime: On the event itinerary, you’ve challenged the event participants to create scouting reports during NBA Summer League competition to then be evaluated by current NBA scouts. How beneficial do you think this experience can be for someone trying to break into the league?
PP: Well I think that it’s extremely beneficial because one: you’re going to learn. People are going to learn. They’re (scouting reports) going to be evaluated and they may learn something that they wouldn’t have learned by just going (to Summer League) to evaluate by themselves. It’s almost like being graded on a test. Secondly, you can imagine if you’re lucky enough to get in front of a general manager for an interview or have an in somewhere with maybe a director or someone looking to bring in a scout or bring in an intern, you have the ability to say, “I attended scout school.” I would think that it would put you at an advantage and a step ahead. And two you can say, “I’ve realized that I have a lot to learn and I also realized once I had my scouting report evaluated that it’s helped me. It’s helped me become a better scout and now I look at the game differently. And now I know what to watch versus what I thought that I needed to watch.”
Dime: Speaking of breaking into the league, how did you first break into the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks?
PP: I developed a relationship basically with Donnie Nelson. I was playing basketball at the time overseas and in my summers, I would spend a few weeks in Dallas working out with some of the Mavs guys and some of the Americans playing abroad. A lot of those guys were playing pick-up ball at the Mavs practice facility. So I’d go in there an play pickup and any chance I had, I’d go knock on Donnie’s door and ask him for five minutes and that led to many minutes of conversation. And really what that did was built a trust between he and I, and he was able to trust me with some things and get to know me as a person. And then I was lucky. I took advantage of that time and I trusted him and he gave me some good guidance and I was able to get in once I stopped playing.