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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Men's Basketball

Houston Global Basketball Summit offers chance at turning dreams into reality

Rec 1 - Fernando Castaldi_FEATURE

The Houston Global Basketball Summit offered Houston players of all levels a chance to compete before a bevy of international scouts, agents and coaches, in hopes to secure their dream of playing professionally. | File photo/The Cougar

Basketball players of all kinds got their chance Monday and Tuesday to prove their skills in front of scouts and agents on campus.

The McNeil Sports Group, founded by UH alumnus Mark McNeil, facilitated the Houston Global Basketball Summit at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center.

The McNeil Sports Group is a sports agency which serves to represent players, as well as managing events like their five annual summit camps.

During the Houston summit, amateurs, semi-pros and professional basketball players from the Houston area had an opportunity to compete for two days, hoping for the chance to get recognized in front of scouts, agents, and coaches from around the globe.

“We had  a Costa Rican scout, a scout from Nicaragua, and a scout from the Texas Legends of the NBA D-League,” said Brian Luby, the Director of International Basketball Operations for the McNeil Sports Group. “We bring a mixture of agents, scouts, coaches, and former players who can educate the players about the process and help them along the way.”

For 25-year-old Eric Lopez, the chance to get out in front of not only the scouts and agents, but the crowd, was special.

“It’s amazing,” Lopez said. “It’s not only the scouts, it’s some of the guys up there working out, they take the time to look over and it feels like you’re in an actual arena playing.”

For others, this isn’t a first for them, but rather a chance to get back to the professional levels and continue doing what they love.

“I’ve been playing professionally for about three or four years,” said George Williams, a 25-year-old veteran of several overseas teams. “I played different places. Egypt, London, Canada, South America, I’ve bounced around several places. It’s a great way while you’re young to travel and see the world, expenses pretty much taken care of”

Williams values the things he’s seen so far, but is looking for more.

“I’m looking for my next contract,” said Williams. “Looking for the next best thing always.”

For Luby and the McNeil Sports Group, helping players like Williams and Lopez find their place is what they love to do.

“We’ve had a lot of success stories, we’re happy to say that…The MVP of our Indianapolis camp last year went on to play in Spain, and from our Houston camp last year, we took a tour team to Mexico, and seven of those guys ended up getting signed.”

Whether its fresh faces trying their best to find their way onto the world stage, or a player searching for their next team, the Summit offers a great experience for players to live out their dream.

“It means the world to me,” said Lopez. “It’s something I’ve been working for since I was 12 or 13 years old. As long as someone gives me the chance to do it, I’m gonna go out and prove my work ethic. If they see that, then I’m good to go.”

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