Story by Doug Carroll, GCU News Bureau
Photos by Jerry Gallegos, iia Photography
LAS VEGAS -- In a city where so much rides on chance, GCU online student LaWayne McGhee is gambling on old-fashioned hard work to make his dream of a career in the sports industry come true.
McGhee, 23, originally from Chicago, is working an internship with Impact Basketball in Las Vegas and soon will be starting another one with the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers. His sights are set on a career in some capacity in pro basketball.
"Things have started to happen (for me)," said McGhee, who bumped into a group of seven other students from the Colangelo School of Sports Business while all were watching Wednesday afternoon's practice by the U.S. Olympic men's basketball team.
That encounter led to an invitation for the group to tour Impact's facility, where noted trainer Joe Abunassar works in the offseason with the likes of Kevin Garnett, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love and other stars of the hoops firmament. The visit was scheduled for this afternoon, ahead of the U.S. team's exhibition game tonight against the Dominican Republic national team.
Ironically, Abunassar was the one to recommend GCU to McGhee, who is looking to complete his college degree after leaving Southern Illinois University, where he studied sports administration.
"I'd never heard of GCU before," McGhee said. "I contacted counselors and found out what I needed to do. It was a smooth transition."
McGhee said that during last year's NBA lockout, he traveled from Las Vegas to Los Angeles to help various players stay in shape. He said it was a challenge to stay on top of his schoolwork, but he did.
"The best thing I could have done was online study," he said. "If I had been taking ground courses, it wouldn't have worked."
He said he is seven courses from a bachelor's degree in sports management and will consider postgraduate study with GCU when he is done.
"I was fortunate to find GCU," he said.
Wednesday's practice session included a brief visit for the GCU students with Jerry Colangelo, whose schedule has been hectic in overseeing the American team's defense of the gold medal it won in 2008 in Beijing.
The U.S. squad has had to make a number of roster adjustments in recent weeks and was tinkering right up to the start of camp in Las Vegas. The London Games begin on July 27.
"There's great camaraderie on this team," Colangelo told the students. "(The players) like each other, and now we've got to get them to play together. There's no second place for us."
Colangelo said he plans to visit GCU in the fall to discuss at length how he rebuilt the culture of USA Basketball.
"Basically, we had to show respect to the world basketball community," he said. "That's how you earn respect. I explained that eye-to-eye to each player. You build that one step at a time."
The seven GCU students who made the trip will see tonight's game before leaving town. They are recent graduate Sean Archer; upcoming seniors Jake Ellis, Derrick Frisby, Marissa Mabley, Preston Poznoski and Casey Tucker; and junior Brandon Kaehr. The two-day event was arranged by Dr. Brian Smith, director of the Colangelo School of Sports Business.
Also watching Wednesday's workout was Scott Mossman, former head coach of men's basketball at GCU. Mossman, 53, is now involved with Synergy Sports, a video scouting service based out of southern California.
Synergy's clients include the U.S. Olympic team, every NBA team and 300 NCAA Division I teams. This year, all of the teams in the Pacific West Conference -- which includes GCU -- will subscribe to its services.
"We cut video from every game and apply analytics to it," Mossman said. "We're the only company in the world doing it."
Mossman coached GCU's most recent men's basketball PacWest championship team in the 2006-07 season.
Contact Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or [email protected].