NBA prospects hone business skills alongside jumpshots

Bernard James #5 (bottom left) of the Florida State Seminoles battles for the ball during the final game of the 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conference Tournament at Philips Arena on March 11, 2012 in Atlanta, Ga. James will be in the NBA draft tonight.

Jeremy Hobson: Tonight is the NBA draft, when basketball teams get to choose their new players. But picking a player isn't just about the stats -- interview skills and personality count. So potential draftees have been learning how to present themselves in the business world to help their chances.

Andrew Parsons reports.


Andrew Parsons: Tonight Bernard James is in the NBA draft. He's been interviewing with teams for months. James is 27, and that's old for the pros. But he's been using his seven years in the Air Force to his advantage.

Bernard James: I've been in pressure situations in the military and I know how to handle myself -- that's what separates you from everybody else.

After the military, James went on to be a star center for Florida State. He's not at the top of any NBA team's list. So prospects like James hire trainers not only to build muscle and speed, but to practice how to be a good job candidate -- telling stories, making eye contact and being confident.

Steve Shenbaum: You'd be surprised at the things that they take for granted like what to wear in a room. Like: 'Is a hat appropriate when you're going into an interview when millions of dollars are on the line?'

Steve Shenbaum is the founder of game on Nation, which hones athletes' communication skills. He says character matters. General managers don't want drama or egos to weigh down their franchise.

Shenbaum: There's stories out there where they're asking the cab driver or the assistant at the building to tell the GMs, how did that player react to you or how did they treat you?

Tonight Bernard James hopes that he's made an impression that sends him to a top team -- despite his age.

James: I think it just leaves a really good with every team I've interviewed with that you know, I can't help but get better.

I'm Andrew Parsons for Marketplace.

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