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The Portsmouth Invitational Tournament has become a hotbed for college basketball players trying to make their mark on NBA scouts, GMs and coaches. Each year the higher-ups from the NBA gather in Virginia for four days to check out who they could steal in the second round of the Draft.
At last year’s PIT, Richaun Holmes, Darrun Hilliard and Pat Connaughton stood out from the rest of the pack enough to get NBA contracts. Besides the basketball though, the PIT has evolved into a place for the game’s heavy-hitters to gather. Movers and shakers from back in the day and the current NBA line every hallway and seat in the gym. The tourney marks the beginning of the NBA’s offseason, where agents and GMs get to shine.
Knowing that based off of 40-plus years of work in the sports industry, Dr. Lynn Lashbrook figured that Portsmouth was the perfect place for his company to hold an all-day conference about the business side of basketball.
Dr. Lashbrook is the President of Sports Management Worldwide, an online platform that helps young professionals break into the business world of sports. Dr. Lashbrook has worked as an educator and agent for almost all of his life, holding jobs as Athletic Director at several universities, as well as being a professor for all that time. He’s also the agent for over 100 clients in the NFL. After a lifetime working in sports, Dr. Lashbrook is still in love with athletics.
“I always say sports are a weapon of mass construction, they’re a substitute for war,” the Doctor says. “Sports is part of our civilization.
“Sports Management Worldwide is about getting people into the game.”
SMWW has grown from one student to having alumni from over 140 countries. Dr. Lashbrook got the idea after watching Jerry Maguire, the Tom Cruise movie about a sports agent. Now with 25 courses for college credit, his company is revolutionizing the way higher education is done. Dr. Lashbrook compares higher education at this transitional moment to the way cell phones made payphones obsolete.
“Find me a pay phone, I’ll give you a dollar, find somebody using it, I’ll give you $5,” Dr. Lashbrook says. “We’re a revolution of education. I would say that traditional professors are skeptical that online is robust and valid. And that’s where I won’t compromise. I know that it’s cost-effective. It’s global. We’re growing because our product is working and people are satisfied. That’s the only way we grow. I always tell people SMWW is more than a website. It’s a web of people. And that’s really what online education is.”
The conference at Portsmouth this year will feature familiar names like Adrian Wojnarowski, Gar Forman and Mark Warkentien. Those and others will be part of an 8-hour day with panels and Q+A’s. They’ll offer insight and advice about getting into the big time. Dr. Lashbrook says he and the panelists will discuss globalization, agency, digital video editing, analytics, scouting, the trends, the future, the business side of basketball.
All the relationships that Dr. Lashbrook has developed throughout the years, from knowing Lucius Allen (ranked 293rd in the SLAM Top 500 player list) from back in the day, to working with Warkentein while he was still working at UNLV, will be on full display throughout the weekend.
“We’re about helping people,” Dr. Lashbrook says. “People that come and speak at our conference appreciate that we’re trying to help the younger generation. Colleges, their curriculum can’t connect you to the business side of sports. You have to get off campus. That’s how we started SMWW, that’s who we are.
“We leave room after every presentation for questions. And in many cases, the panel will stay around, so you get to network. And then in the lobby, you’ll meet coaches, and players, and agents. At the end of the day, it’s more than an eight hour conference, it’s the whole weekend. And then you get to go to the games and you get to watch. And it’s the digital video editing, and the analytics, and the media and the scouts. You’ll be able to talk to people. I’ve never had somebody come to SMWW conference didn’t thank me personally. We know what we’re doing. When you’ve spent as many years teaching you realize it’s not about teaching, it’s about learning. I created a learning environment. It’s fun. If you’re not having fun, you’re not learning.”