Pringle's agent a pro's pro

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - April 18, 2021 - 12:00am

Barangay Ginebra star Stanley Pringle said the other day his basketball journey wouldn’t have taken off without the guidance of his agent Ben Pensack. From when Pringle graduated at Penn State in 2009, Pensack was the man who directed his career. “Out of college, several agents called but Ben flew out from California to talk to me, meet my family and show me the ropes,” said Pringle. “I felt comfortable with Ben and we’ve been together since I started playing as a pro in Belgium, Poland, Ukraine, Indonesia and now in the PBA.”

Pensack, 47, and his brother Adam, 41, co-founded Pensack Sports in 1999. They built a solid reputation of integrity, sincerity and transparency in placing basketball players all over the world. Pensack Sports represents two undrafted NBA players now making waves as starters, Christian Wood of the Houston Rockets and Kendrick Nunn of the Miami Heat. There are many more Pensack players in the NBA, Japan, Russia, Greece, France, Israel, G-League, Australia, New Zealand and others.

I had a chance to speak with Pensack on the EASL Clubhouse platform last Thursday and found out why he’s known in hoop circles as a highly-knowledgeable, well-connected and seasoned agent. It’s not just about the hard work he puts in but also the heart that he displays in providing the best opportunities for his athletes to play the game they love and make a living out of it for their families. 

Pensack’s first client was former University of Idaho player Shawn Dirden, now account executive at Synergy Sports Technology. Dirden played in China, Holland, Sweden, Lebanon and Venezuela before coaching at the collegiate level for over 10 years. Pensack and Dirden remain good friends to this day, a relationship nurtured beyond their professional ties. Another Pensack client Kaniel Dickens was referred by Dirden. “Kaniel was a 6-8 amazing athlete with small forward skills,” said Pensack. “I watched his videos and I knew he could play in the NBA. But his collegiate stats weren’t that impressive, something like 12 points and six rebounds. I called up NBA scouts and they kept hanging up on me. I arranged workouts with about 12 teams. He wasn’t just a big man, he was a guy who could shoot and handle. Utah eventually picked him on the second round in 2000 and he got to play for New Jersey, Portland and Cleveland. An exceptional guy was John Cox whose father Chubby was an NBA player. Kobe Bryant was John’s cousin. John played from 2005 to 2019 and today at 39, he’s still getting offers. A player who’s putting up incredible numbers in Japan is Julian Mavunga. They love him in Japan and the other night, he had 46 points in an OT win. He played in Europe before but found a niche in Japan and he’s thriving like fine wine. It’s gratifying to see players like Julian develop into outstanding athletes.”

Pensack said the primary goal of Pensack Sports is always to get players into the NBA but for players who fall just short of obtaining an NBA contract, the markets in Asia provide a very competitive and high-paying alternative option.

Pensack said Asia leagues are booming and an attractive destination for foreign players. “Japan is really growing, they’re very professional, money’s on time and they treat players like family,” he said. “China is highly competitive and probably the highest paying league outside of the NBA. Korea pays good money and treats players well. I love the PBA. They’ve got the best fans in the world, the Philippines is basketball-crazy and the PBA plays high-level basketball. For players who don’t want to be away from their families for 10 months playing in Europe or other leagues, the PBA is perfect because they play two to three months a conference then go home or move to another league so they’re busy the year round.”

Pensack said he’s not opposed to the concept of naturalization. In Japan, each B-League club is allowed to recruit one naturalized player and the national team picks one from the pool. Nick Fazekas, Ryan Rossiter, Gavin Edwards and Papa Nour Faye are among naturalized players in Japan. “I think it’s a good thing to level the playing field internationally and an opportunity for players to gain valuable experience,” he said. “As an agent, I look out for opportunities so players can compete against the best. In the EASL, guys will get to play against top teams, the best of the best in East Asia, including the PBA. The competition will improve the level of play in the domestic leagues, too and I’ll surely recommend playing in the EASL to our players.”

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