“The NCAA says something, too, highlighted on its Facebook page: “There are over 450,000 NCAA student-athletes, and just about every one of them will go pro in something other than sports.” It’s true. The odds of making an NBA roster are mind-bogglingly slim. And the odds of becoming the general manager of an NBA team are even more preposterous.
Yet two Emerson alums have done just that: Sam Presti, Class of 2000, is the general manager of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Rob Hennigan, Class of ‘04 is the Orlando Magic’s GM. In the entire history of the NBA, only two colleges other than Duke and Emerson — UCLA and Wheaton College — have claimed two NBA GMs at the same time.
But that’s not all. Four more Emerson alums are working in basketball operations for NBA teams and may one day move up. In addition to [Shawn] McCullion, Will Dawkins is the director of college player personnel for the Thunder, Joe Boylan works for Golden State as assistant coach/player personnel (Note: Boylan is the author’s cousin), and Sam Newman-Beck is an assistant video coordinator for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Somehow, Hank Smith took a small art school in Boston and created a feeder school for the NBA. It’s as if alumni from the University of Kentucky basketball program under John Calipari started winning Oscars and Pulitzer Prizes.”
Both Magic general manager Rob Hennigan and Magic scout Shawn McCullion came from Emerson College, a Division III program outside of Boston. Amazingly, Thunder GM Sam Presti came from there too and an impressive tree of NBA scouts and executives.