Two years into its existence, LIFT Sports Management has scored a potential superstar: The agency has signed projected No. 1 NBA draft pick, Paolo Banchero.
The basketball-focused agency was founded in summer 2020 by former NBA player Mike Miller, who played for 17 years, and LIFT CEO Donnie McGrath, who played professionally for 13 years, mostly in Italy, Greece, and Lithuania.
“Mike was one of the first coaches to offer Paolo a scholarship when he was coaching at Memphis,” McGrath told Front Office Sports. “They built the relationship organically, and Paolo felt that it was a great fit.”
- The agency’s first signing was the Orlando Magic’s RJ Hampton.
- Slowed by the pandemic, LIFT signed another five clients in its first year, now has 13 total.
- Its roster includes Banchero’s Duke teammate Wendell Moore Jr., Alabama’s JD Davison, and Kentucky’s Kellan Grady, all of whom are entering the NBA draft.
“Coaching at Memphis and being on the recruiting scene helped me understand what was important to the next generation of NBA players,” said Miller, Lift’s president and certified agent. Miller added that as a player and coach, younger players often reached out for guidance on “anything from pick-and-roll coverages to issues in the locker room to contract advice.”
LIFT was founded on the premise that many agencies don’t support their clients to the extent that they could, because their representatives don’t have professional playing experience.
“Being able to talk basketball and help them with their development on the court is a big thing,” said McGrath.
He also noted that players can “get lost in the mix” at some of the bigger agencies. “We want to create a really high-touch boutique, where everybody gets a lot of attention, kind of like a family environment.”