University student doubles as pro sports agent

Communications junior Bradley Parker works at a Miami sports and entertainment group.

Communications junior Bradley Parker manages basketball players and their schedules through phone calls and emails everyday. Parker is a player manager at United Worldwide Sports and Entertainment.

Chelsea Gortmaker

Communications junior Bradley Parker manages basketball players and their schedules through phone calls and emails everyday. Parker is a player manager at United Worldwide Sports and Entertainment.

Samuel Gordon

Bradley Parker sat on the living-room couch in his Dinkytown apartment and thumbed through the 1,000-plus contacts he has stored in his iPhone.

His contacts span four continents and more than a dozen countries. They include professional basketball coaches, trainers and players — some of whom are his clients.

Not many 21-year-olds have clients, and he has clients all over the world.

Parker, a communications junior at the University of Minnesota, works for United Worldwide — a Miami-based sports and entertainment agency.

He’s supervised by NBA agent Merle Scott, who represented former NBA star Vince Carter and represents current NBA players Josh Harrellson and Willie Green.

Though Parker isn’t a certified agent yet, he’s responsible for many of the day-to-day operations that other certified agents oversee.

He helps negotiate contracts, arrange tryouts and book travel and hotels for the five players he manages.

He’s a smooth talker with a knack for making people feel comfortable.

Parker has a genuine interest in everyone he talks to, and that’s something his clients pick up on quickly.

“I felt like he would put in the same amount of work my own family member would put in to get me the deals I wanted,” client Alex Bazzell said in an email. “He worked hard to get me the deal I have today.”

Bazzell plays professionally in Germany and is Parker’s only client currently under contract.

“I keep up with him, check up with him after games,” Parker said. “I make sure he’s getting paid — all that kind of stuff.”

Parker’s other four clients remain unsigned by professional teams, but one player has a deal pending in Canada, and the other three have recently worked out with NBA or NBA Developmental League teams or have contracts pending overseas.

Parker didn’t discuss the specifics of contract negotiations, but he does receive a small cut of his clients’ earnings.

United Worldwide, Parker said, only signs players it feels it can realistically help.

“We’re more of a smaller boutique agency. We’re close with our clients,” he said. “We know them. We know their playing styles.”

Bazzell, whose season started on Saturday, said he opted to sign with Parker and his agency because the two parties have similar goals.

Parker communicates with college and professional coaches on a regular basis, he said.

He’s also helped orchestrate combines in an effort to showcase his players to potential suitors at the professional level.

“We talk to these teams on and off,” Parker said. “So we kind of know what they’re looking for.”

Parker’s job sometimes requires travel, and he’ll often accompany his clients to tryouts or workouts.

His agency has contacts in Europe, South America and Canada.

Parker has every intention of becoming a certified agent. But right now, he said, it’s not his main focus.

He’s more concerned with his current clients and making sure he’s helping the agency as much as possible.

“I send a bunch of emails late at night so when they get to their phone or computer when they wake up, my email is the first one they read,” Parker said.

Breaking into the business

A lifelong sports aficionado, the Georgia native started his career path a couple of years ago.

“I’ve always wanted to be involved in sports,” he said. “I decided this might be the best way to do it.”

As a freshman at the University of North Florida, Parker was a student manager for the men’s basketball team. Parker traveled with the team and met players and coaches from schools across the country.

He stressed the importance of the connections he established as a manager, and through his experiences he decided he “was heading in the right direction.”

Parker’s life compass pointed him north, and he transferred to the University of Minnesota — a Big Ten school located in a major sports market — his sophomore year.

“That was a big factor,” he said.

Despite not knowing a soul in Minneapolis, Parker flourished, quickly concluding he wanted to be involved in the business side of sports.

A family member in Miami caught wind of Parker’s intentions and introduced him to Scott.

“He explained to me he gets calls for kids all the time that want to work for him,” Parker said.

Scott tested Parker by assigning him tedious tasks that required flawless focus and commitment.

“Stuff you wouldn’t want to be doing on a Friday night at 2 a.m.,” Parker said.

For the first couple of months, Scott sent Parker “busy work” at random times during the day.

Parker would research players, gather stats and report his findings to Scott, who quickly gauged that this kid was more serious than the rest.

A few months and a few trips to Miami later, Parker was on board with United Worldwide.

“He listens and follows instructions and has good communication skills with people that I have put him in touch with on behalf of the business,” Scott said. “He has a good disposition for the business.”

Parker said he talks to Scott almost daily.

“He’s my business mentor,” Parker said. “Without him, I’d be any other kid right now … not sure what I’d being doing with my life.”

Still a student

Parker manages a full-time course load along with his five clients.

As a communications major, Parker is very serious about his studies and said his commitment to academics is one of the few obstacles preventing him from earning certification.

“He’s dedicated to his school work. He gets that done on time and everything,” close friend and roommate Alec Painter said.

Painter said Parker doesn’t go out a whole lot and keeps a relatively low profile.

Parker doesn’t discuss his job with many people.

“I haven’t heard about it yet,” Painter said. “I had no idea.”

Parker planned to pursue a degree in sports management or recreational studies but switched to communications for more flexibility in future endeavors.

“Communications is just broad enough,” he said. “I can really do anything after school.”

Or in Parker’s case, during school.

But school will be over for him in May 2015. After that, his full-time focus will shift to his work — his passion.

“I realized freshman year I wanted to be working in sports for the rest of my life,” Parker said.

“Within the next three to five years, I plan to be working with Merle, at a major agency or in the process of opening my own.”