For the Love of the Game
This agency isn’t all about raking in top dollars.
Percell Coles, a 6-2, 200-pound guard, starred at Simon Gratz (Rasheed Wallace’s alma mater) and then went on to a successful career at Cleveland State, but he was always dissatisfied with what he saw in the hierarchy system within the game of basketball.
“What I didn’t like was that the people who weren’t on full scholarship were treated differently than the starters,” stated Coles. “I didn’t like that because I believe that before we’re basketball players we are human beings, and we need to be treated as such. I think people get wrapped up and involved in the business. I was always a friend to these types of people and I always thought, Maybe when I’m done with basketball I can help some of these people out? Maybe I can start my own agency.
“When I was playing pro in Europe I said to myself, I’m going to build all my contact information up. I’ve played in Russia, Spain, Ukraine, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and China.”
More than just a player and on opposite terrain from Solomon (he had made it to the pros), Coles clearly had deep ambitions of wanting to help people—basketball players—in their struggle to get noticed by a professional team overseas.
“When Jon and me met, it was almost destined to happen because he had his players and I had my contacts. Everything came together perfectly.”
The two have an agency called Self-Motivated Athletic Agency. Instead of being based on getting high profile and hyped players, SMAA is trying to reach a niche group of players—a collection that Solomon is adamant about reaching because he understands the value added to the players’ psyche from having people care about their improvement.
“With the guys that Percell and I recruit, we look for guys who didn’t get a fair chance,” explained Solomon. “They work hard, they listen, and they want to succeed. A lot of agencies look to find the best guys but that’s where we stand out because we look for the people who are the most passionate and hard working.
“I would love for all the players who come to this agency to reach their goals in basketball,” explained Solomon. “I want everyone in the country to know who I am because I want to tell my story. It doesn’t matter if you’re the last person picked [gasps]… I’m trying to get these young adults in the right direction, get them where they want to go. I want people to watch people when they’re playing basketball and to be honest when they evaluate players, because they can always improve.”
What stands out about Jon Solomon, Jason Hall and Percell Coles is that they all have a strong, unwavering passion in what they believe in. Solomon and Coles want to help people—players—like Hall, who are pursuing their dreams in the basketball arena while building their lives up at the same time. It doesn’t matter that Coles’ career high is 83 points in an ABA League Game in 2005 or that Jon’s career high is a meager 5 points when he was at Arcadia—they have the same mind frame.
The agency and its players just got back from a tournament in China where they visited six cities and competed against teams all over the CBA and they are getting ready to head back on another one in the next few weeks.
In addition to this story, there has been coverage of SMAA’s incredible team of persistent ownership and athletes by Comcast Sports Net and various other news outlets.
True to their core slogan, SMAA isn’t even close to where they expect to be in a few years. When your motto is “Dream Big, Achieve Bigger!” there’s always something better at the next turn.
You just have to work hard to get there…
***Below is a list of the other athletes who SMAA works with regularly.
Kwan Waller is a 5-11 super-athletic lead guard with a relentless passion for the game of basketball. He averaged 13.2 ppg at Kentucky Wesleyan.
Mike Johnson played at Virginia State. He is an extremely good defensive player. He has a very good basketball IQ and makes people around him better.
Jon Myers is a 6-0 guard who played at Delhi JuCo and averaged 19 ppg. He is excellent at getting to the basket and works very hard on his game.
Damon Brown is a 6-3 pure scorer with the ability to slash to the rim as the primary threat in his arsenal. He played at SUNY Pottsdam and averaged 18 ppg. He and Kwan Waller were the first two players to come to SMAA.
Kevin Casey averaged 15 ppg at West Hills Community College. He is hyper-athletic, 6-5 shooting guard with major upside. He shoots the ball very well from the perimeter.
Frank Barr is an extremely skilled 7-foot center who understands the game. He is very humble and hard working.
Deione Lathem is a 6-8 inside-outside player who is developing his post moves. He has a great attitude and is constantly getting better.
James Stuart is a 6-10 big man from Delaware State. He is a great rebounder and very skilled inside, combined with tremendous upside and a great attitude.