Friday, August 20, 2010

May the Schwartz Be With You

We're always looking for local angles these days, so a story on Jeff Schwartz, the New Haven native and 1982 Cheshire High grad who is the agent to numerous NBA stars -- not to mention Jim Calhoun -- was a natural.

Jeff's an interesting guy. He focuses on taking clients who are good people, and in return really tries to foster a family-type atmosphere with them. Guys like Emeka Okafor, Jason Kidd, Lamar Odom, even Calhoun, look at Schwartz as more than just an agent. He's been to Calhoun family weddings, once lived for a short time at Kidd's California home, and, yes, he was in the wedding party at the famous Odom-Kardashian nuptials last September (no comment on whether Lamar signed a pre-nup!).

And while Schwartz represents Calhoun, it's important to note that the coach doesn't steer his ex-players to him. Yes, Okafor, Hilton Armstrong, Charlie Villanueva and A.J. Price are Schwartz clients. But the dozen or so other ex-UConn players playing professionally right now chose other routes.

"Sometimes it works against me," Scwartz admitted. "Coach is tough on those guys, and at the end of year, when they're all done, sometimes they want to run as far from him as possible. The shackles are off."

Here's Schwartz's take on a couple of other subjects that didn't make the story:

(On the proliferation of street runners and dirty agents who have had too much influence on some amateur players in recent years)

"I wish that there was tighter scrutiny with it. You’ve got some really good agents out there who do things right way, but then you've got a lot of people who put kids in harm’s way. We talk to our union a lot about it, trying to keep things at a professional level and allow college kids to enljoy college experience. I think it’s an issue across sports. I don’t know how it gets solved."

(On the rule that a player must be at least one year out of high school to be drafted by the NBA)

"I think the more mature someone is, in general, the better chance they have at success at anything. However, I represented Martina Hingis when she was 16 years old and No. 1 in the world, so I've seen it from all sides. I really think it’s on a case-by-case basis. Do I think, overall, it’s helpful to have a year or two of college? It never hurt anybody. I think it’s good thing."

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