Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Marquin Chandler, the next chapter
He has come a long way from his beginnings in Oakland yet he still resides there and possesses a strong allegiance to the area. Similar to a number of other athletes with such roots, it's a matter of 'you can take him out of O-Town but you can't take O-Town out of him.'
Now flush from very successful stints abroad in the Philippines and South Korea as well as elsewhere, he took this year off to both regenerate and to facilitate various business enterprises.
But all was not champagne and roses in his life.
Way back when, Chandler was attending his second high school but on his third high school basketball team, that being Newark Memorial High, where he formed a kinship with Craig Ashmore, the long time basketball coach there.
"I had an aunt living there and she wanted me to come," Chandler recalled.
That proved to be a turning point.
Because "I was on the wrong track," Chandler readily admits.
But that turned around -- no, make that he turned it around.
According to Chandler, his transformation had a lot to do with Coach Ashmore.
"He was stern but very understanding and me and him had an understanding. He is one of my favorite coaches and I believe he could easily be a college coach."
In his time at Newark Memorial, Chandler developed into a college basketball prospect.
So much so that after graduation, it was off to George Washington University in our nation's capital -- "I chose George Washington because I connected well with the coach and because it's one of the top universities in the country academically."
But there's an interesting back story before his heading off to D.C.
Chandler recalled "Baylor was my #1 choice because they were the first team putting in the time and effort in recruiting me."
But as time went on, teams grew impatient and pulled out of his recruiting process.
Indicating how access to information has become commonplace of late but not necessarily so just a short number of years ago, Chandler was unaware he needed to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) in order receive a scholarship to play in college.
"Coach Ashmore told me that 'you can't get a scholarship without taking the SAT' so I had to do it. I didn't pass until June and by then a lot of offers had disappeared."
He liked his time at GW but, two years later, the pull of home and a young daughter proved irresistible.
Academically, he chose an interesting major and for a particular reason.
It was administration of justice.
"I grew up in Oakland with a lot of crime and I thought I could be a mentor because of my street credibility," Chandler explained. He is especially proud of his earning his B.A. because "me making it to college was a big step and I'm the only member of my family on either side with a college degree."
On the court, especially in his senior season, watching him perform were Adam and Ben Pensack of the Pensack Sports Management Group.
They introduced themselves and the relationship bloomed from there.
"They scouted me, liked what they saw and were very genuine," Chandler recalled. "I respected that because finding the right agent is big."
There was a Sacramento Kings tryout followed by time in Belgium before Chandler eventually landed in the Philippine Basketball Association. Again, it was another good pairing.
"I was kind of looked at as a funny, real skinny kid" but then his ability to score and rebound made a strong impression.
It was a situation where the team took care of his housing but his initiation off the court was a very different experience.
"I didn't speak the language but soon I learned enough of it and also learned my way around," he remembered. "I'm very adaptable." So much so that he has a business in the Philippines to this day.
His year there was followed by a season in Latvia and then Singapore with a team possessing a for-the-record-books name: the Singapore Slingers.
Chandler then returned to the Philippines, followed by spent two seasons back in South Korea before finishing out in Bahrain and then Portugal.
It was while in Bahrain that he noticed the court had a fence around it with a gate, a setup designed to handle unruly fans although Chandler never experienced any of the situations abroad that sometimes make headlines.
As for his travels, Chandler recalled "I had trouble in Belgium and Korea with the language but pretty much everybody in the Philippines spoke English."
Looking back, the various teammates he played with "welcomed you. There wasn't much resentment but you do get a sour apple once in a while."
It really wasn't until his time in Portugal where some jealousy finally appeared.
There was also the aspect of having money for the first time.
"I realized early on I didn't know how to handle money because I never had any," Chandler said. "But one time when I got hurt, it gave me a glimpse of what could happen if I couldn't play anymore."
The Pensacks helped with this aspect and Chandler is doing well.
He is currently pursuing business opportunities in the East Bay, one in particular that especially hits home for him -- ABG Sports Training (www.abgsportstraining.com which is still under construction).
"There is pretty good talent in the Bay Area, a nice crop of players, who don't get the attention they deserve. I want to have a major facility like the ones in Las Vegas, Chicago and other places where the young guys can train alongside the pros. When I was 12, 13, I was in the same gym with Brian Shaw and I want to help out the next generation."
About one such talent, Chandler said, "I saw Damian Lillard in high school and I saw his growth throughout the years and about two years ago I told Ben Pensack that he's going to the NBA. Now he is the top point guard in the draft."
Chandler may return overseas to ply his trade once again but being with his family and acting on his dream are just as important.
Here's Adam Pensack on Chandler: "I have given Marquin some pointers for sure with his training business as he gets it up and running but the business he has in the Philippines is all his own doing though. Marquin has an acute innate business sense. He is just really entrepreneurial by nature and he is not afraid to put his ideas into action. Fortunately, he has good judgement so things have tended to work out well for him. He has a gift for business much like his gift for basketball so I really believe he will do well with his training business down the line."
Call Chandler a local who made good and is now intent on giving back.