by Joseph Vecsey

Brunswick High School (Ohio) graduate, Brian “Smokin’ Aces” Kortovich, is the newest up and coming basketball player in New York City. He’s got a jump shot that looks good even when he misses (which is rare), a handle, great passing skills and he plays team ball. Basically, he plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. Over the past few years, he’s been balling in leagues and tournaments throughout the city, and putting up numbers while doing it. Among the tourneys, he plays at the EBC at Rucker Park, West 4th street, Kingdome, Dyckman and Nike Pro-city at Hunter College.

Did I mention he’s white?

There are not too many white ball players in the city right now that you can catch at all those different tournaments— aside from a few, like Donnie McGrath, who’s been making quite a name for himself on the asphalt and overseas. Aside from the occasional exception, though, It’s never easy for a white guy to make a name for himself in streetball. Especially when you’re a white kid from Cleveland, Ohio.

Brian attended Cuyahoga Junior College in his hometown where he averaged 17 points and 6 assists while starting at the point. While there, he also lead all of Juco in three point shooting. From Cuyahoga he transferred to Manhattan College. On a full ride and with ambitious hopes, Brian ended up suffering a few injures that kept him from doing the damage he was capable of. After graduating, Brian ended staying in New York, finding work as phone clerk assistant to a broker on Wall Street. Figuring once he was in the Mecca of basketball he could use the opportunity to make a name for himself in the epicenter of the basketball world, Brian worked hard at his job, and even harder at basketball.

After struggling to find tournament teams to play on, Brian finally found one. Not too long after, he earned his moniker at the legendary Rucker Park, scoring 31 against the talented White Chocolate. The MC, Hannibal, gave Brian the nickname “Smokin’ Aces”Brian Kortovich after showing off his deadeye three ball stroke. He had now earned the right for the announcers to stop calling him Nick Lachey—a nickname they clowned him with in previous games. Not done there, Brian also went on to win the three point contest at Dyckman. After running in all these leagues and tourneys for two short years, Brian practically knows everyone in the basketball world. That’s what happens when you can play ball and reside in New York.

Since gaining exposure in the Big Apple, Brian has gotten the opportunity to play overseas in Kuwait, France and Italy. But being from Ohio, even though he knows playing overseas pays the bills, Brian still may appreciate playing at parks like Rucker more.

“I always heard about the Rucker so playing there meant a lot,” says Kortovich.

All the networking and big games in summer leagues are really starting to pay off for Brian. Recently, Brian got invited to a New York Knicks workout. While there, he ended up shooting the lights out. According to Brian, Donnie Walsh and Coach Mike D’Antoni were impressed with his shooting and told him he was on their radar. Brian hopes to get invited to training camp or possibly a summer league next summer. Until Brian goes back overseas or possibly lands somewhere better, you can catch him constantly working out at Chelsea Piers Sports Club, and hooping in tournaments  around the city.

So far the work he’s put in has paid dividends, as Brian recently signed a deal with the K1X. From unknown Juco baller to endorsed professional, Brian’s doing bigger and bigger things with the rock, proving once again that hard work pays off.

For more information about Brian or to see some videos of his skills, log onto www.BrianKortovich.net.