SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Nate Wolters has selected an agent, relocated from South Dakota to central Florida and spends a good chunk of each day training.
Yes, the next stage of his basketball career is off to a solid start.
"It's a dream job, obviously," the South Dakota State senior point guard told the Argus Leader (http://argusne.ws/17sYY2g). "If basketball's the hardest thing I've got to do all day, that's a pretty good life."
Of course, this is a transitional situation for the leading scorer (2,363) and assist-maker (669) in Jackrabbits history.
Earlier this month, the Minnesota-born Wolters chose an agent: Jared Karnes of Allegiant Athletic Agency (also known as a3) in Knoxville, Tenn. The 35-year-old was a guard at Belmont University — a program SDSU faced this season — before becoming a lawyer. He's the executive vice president and director of basketball operations at a3.
Karnes got Wolters set up in Bradenton, Fla., lining up an apartment and a training home — the renowned IMG Academy. Wolters is doing daily workouts so far consisting of five segments ranging from agility to communications class and basketball. He's part of a group of 5-6 NBA hopefuls, the most notable being Adonis Thomas of Memphis.
A basketball junkie, Wolters is in hoops heaven with the all-day training. He's especially focused on getting stronger, tightening his handle and quickening his release in advance of private workouts for teams or the NBA Combine in Chicago in mid-May — should he be invited. The two-round draft is set for June 27.
That's where Karnes comes in.
While Wolters declined an invitation to the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, a proving ground for borderline draft prospects, Karnes attended the event in order to meet with NBA general managers and team officials. It was part of the complicated process of putting together a schedule of the private workouts that are likely to begin in 3-4 weeks. Timing and geography have to be considered just like fit and draft order — and that won't truly be set for some time. The draft lottery is May 21 and early entry prospects have until June 17 to take their names out of the pool.
Karnes has never before been through this process with a prospect as viable as the third-team All-American Wolters, although his agency does represent 22 NFL players. Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry is near the top of that list. His top NBA experience has been with Charlotte Bobcats guard Ramon Sessions.
"Ideally, we want to prioritize the teams and the possible situations for him, evaluate the schedule to make sure he's getting sufficient rest so he can recover, as well," Karnes said. "We want his performance to be at a peak when we have those high-priority teams."
How did Wolters end up with the a3 team?
Karnes just started showing up to games — probably 6-7 during the season. He had no prior relationship with Wolters or anyone around him, but wound up being impressed by his talent and support system. The two got along well enough through the process that the SDSU staff wasn't surprised that Wolters chose a3 from a group of four agencies that made Power Point presentations in Brookings.
The two attended a Tampa Bay Rays baseball game recently.
"I was just comfortable talking with him," Wolters said. "He seemed like a really good guy with good morals."
Karnes has an important job, too, given that there doesn't seem to be a clear consensus among draft pundits about the 6-foot-4 Wolters, the only NCAA Division I player in the last 30 years to average at least 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in two different seasons. ESPN.com has him ranked 87th among available players, while DraftExpress.com places him 41st.
Every NBA team scouted Wolters at least once during the regular season; the first impression has been made. Now, it's all about prepping for on-court interviews.
"Nobody has a crystal ball — nobody can tell what the next few weeks will bring," Karnes said. "We expect him to continue to move up. He's training and working hard. He has a great system around him with support and his family and his agency.
"Whether he's drafted first or 60th, he's going to contribute whatever the team needs."