Interview with James Kerti (Basketball Scout)
James Kerti is a basketball nut. A scout for high school and college players, James also does consulting work in the NBA. Additionally, James serves as a Managing Editor and National Scout for PremierBall, a national basketball scouting and recruiting service to which over 50 Division I schools have subscribed. James' work has also been featured on various ESPN TrueHoop sites.
With James' newest project, HoopsThink, readers "will learn new insights about the game while having the opportunity to pursue their own careers in basketball."
1) After graduating Villanova with a computer science degree, you took some online classes at Sports Management Worldwide and earned a certificate in scouting and digital editing. Can you talk about the program a little, for those who don't know about it or might be interested?
The courses with Sports Management Worldwide helped me gain a broader understanding and appreciation of basketball concepts like scouting and the collective bargaining agreement. The opportunity to connect with great basketball minds like Ed Gregory and Frank Burlison was invaluable, and in fact, crucial in helping me launch my career.
2) You spent 3 years working for software companies (including some time at Oracle). What made you decide to transition to the sports world and focus on basketball?
I've always wanted to work in sports. Thanks to my last three years of self-employment, I developed an eye for identifying ways to leverage my skills and connections. I used my technical skills to help Frank Burlison, one of the best talent evaluators ever, and turned that project into an opportunity to start scouting and writing for his website. I always look for ways to keep helping people and adding value where I can.
3) What's it like being an entrepreneur? Can you talk about some of the advantages and disadvantages?
For me, the entrepreneurial life took some getting used to. I embrace the freedom it offers, but completely owning my financial security adds extra pressure and stress.
I love the freedom to choose which projects I work on and which clients I work with. I feel blessed to work with people I genuinely enjoy friendships with.
4) How do analytics play a role in scouting?
At the high school level, you can't do much with analytics. The little bit of hard data that exists gets obscured by differences in the level of competition.
I use statistics and analytical tools in conjunction with my eyes and ears to evaluate college players. Every scout has their own preferences. I probably use analytical tools more than most, but I focus heavily on using my eyes and ears in my evaluations.
5) What's your favorite part about working in sports?
I love that I get to spend my days focusing on subject matter that I truly enjoy. It provides so many advantage. When you love what you do, the learning and working processes come so much more naturally.
6) What advice would you give to students and young professionals looking to break into the industry?
Do something meaningful. It doesn't have to be some amazing project. A collection of scouting reports, an analytical project, interviews you've conducted with prominent people in the industry, whatever. If you've done something that demonstrates your skills, you stand out. You avoid being just another resume in a stack of thousands of identical resumes.