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IPZ Board Member Bob Hurley Remembers Taking On Kobe Bryant

Bob Hurley remembers when St. Anthony played against Kobe Bryant, Lower Merion

By Dan Canova

Bob Hurley remembers it like it was yesterday.

When St. Anthony traveled down to Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia during the 1995-96 high school basketball season to take on Lower Merion High School, Kobe Bryant was the No. 1 senior player in the entire country.

Prior to the game, a former scout from the Boston Celtics went over to Hurley and asked for his thoughts on the 17-year-old, who in just a few months would be drafted into the NBA and end up being one of the greatest players to walk the face of the Earth.

“I was just telling him how I thought he was a tremendous player,” Hurley recalled. “He was so versatile and poised… But I had no idea that he was going to be this great. I could only see that he would have been a really good player in college. But I couldn’t see at 17 years old, by the time he was 19 or 20, what was apparent to everybody.”

Hurley then went into the locker room to share with his team that NBA scouts were at the game to see Bryant play. St. Anthony was without its two best players at the time, Anthony Perry and Rashon Burno, due to missing school and practice the previous day. And since it was a day before the game, if you didn’t practice, you didn’t play.

Even without Burno and Perry, St. Anthony held a halftime lead and eventually pulled out a 15-point victory over Lower Merion, despite 28 points from Bryant. But it was after the game, what Hurley remembered most about Bryant.

“I thought the really nice thing was after the game ended, he asked me if the two of us could sit down and talk,” Hurley said. “And he just wanted me to go over the things that I saw with him, and the things that I thought he needed to get better at.

“When the second half started, we were up one point, and I didn’t think he had everybody ready for the second half of the game,” he added. “We jumped into a 10-point lead. I told him that he should have been all over his team in a dead-even game to win the first four minutes of the third quarter. He came out and played terrific, but he didn’t have the rest of them fired up. So, we got up 10 and maintained that the rest of the game. He thanked me and I told him to keep doing everything he’s doing.”

The previous year, Lower Merion actually made the trip up to Jersey City, and the Friars hosted Bryant as a junior at the No. 28 school in the Heights, which at the time was St. Anthony’s home court.

Hurley said it was unusual because when an out-of-state team would play St. Anthony, the Friars would normally go to them first, and then the following year the opposing team would say they have a scheduling conflict, and they couldn’t make the trip to Jersey City. But Lower Merion’s head coach Gregg Downer called up Hurley and said that they wanted to come up and play in Bryant’s junior year, only if they agreed to go down to Philadelphia for his senior season.

Hurley recalled that “a normal crowd was at the game, and nobody knew that a tremendous talent was in Jersey City that night.” Bryant ended up with 35 points and was phenomenal, according to Hurley.

“In my own household, my wife didn’t think Kobe was that good because we beat them twice in a row,” Hurley said. “And she felt that he should have been able to beat us on his own, which I thought was a little disrespectful to our team because we won the Tournament of Champions both in ’95 and ’96. We had two really good teams with eight or nine kids that ended up playing at the college level.”

When Hurley was at his Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2010, Bryant was there for the Los Angeles Lakers late great owner Jerry Buss, who was also inducted. Hurley recalls due to the madness of that night, he didn’t even know Bryant was there, but he would have loved to share a few minutes with him and just talk to him.

On Sunday afternoon, Hurley was just minutes into his drive leaving UConn’s Harry A. Gampel Pavilion after watching his son Danny coach the Huskies, and he received a call from Danny’s wife, Andrea, with the heartbreaking news that Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people who had died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

“Things happen in life, but for three different families to be decimated with this, the effects that it’s going to have on the remaining family members, it’s just something we are going to remember for a long time,” Hurley said. “In its own way, when John Kennedy died in the plane crash, and the biggest one in my life the assassination of John F. Kennedy, this is up there with them. I’ll remember this the rest of my life. On the ride home from UConn, we turned on the radio because we had hours on the way back from the game. And as you piece together all of the information, it was just tragedy.”

View the story on NJ.com.

Miami Herald: Silva’s surprise reunion

Inside the surprise that had Heat’s Chris Silva thinking he was ‘seeing a ghost’

By Anthony Chiang

Basketball worked to separate Chris Silva from his family. Seven years later, basketball helped to reunite Silva and his family.

A native of Gabon, Africa, Silva left his home country in 2012 just days away from turning 16 to come to the United States with a dream of making it to the NBA. Silva, now 23, had seen his parents and three brothers only once since then, and that was when he returned to Gabon for two weeks to renew his visa as a sophomore at the University of South Carolina.

But just hours prior to Friday’s home win over the Pacers, the Heat, the NBA and NBA Africa teamed up to surprise Silva with his mother, Carine Minkoue Obame, following the team’s walkthrough. It marked the first time he had seen his mother in three years.

Silva, who is playing on a two-way contract with the Heat, was caught completely off guard.

“As a matter of fact, I talked to her like two days ago and she was still back home on Christmas,” Silva said in advance of Saturday’s Heat matchup against the 76ers at AmericanAirlines Arena. “We were just talking, catching up and all that. I saw right after the walkthrough, I saw her walking in and I couldn’t believe who it was. I thought I was seeing a ghost. After I realized it was her, I couldn’t help myself. I was emotional.

“This is a great league. For them to do something like that for me means a great deal. It shows the heart of the people running the league and NBA Africa. I just thank them, I’m grateful for them doing this.”

The Heat documented the surprise. The video showed a shocked Silva as his mother walked onto the AmericanAirlines Arena court, with teammates and coaches huddled around him. It unfolded like this:

“The holidays also are really about being around the people you love, and mostly everybody feels very grateful that you’re able to spend that quality time,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said to the team in the video, setting up the surprise for Silva.

“But I always think about Silva,” Spoelstra went on to say. “When was the last time you saw your family?”

“Three years ago,” Silva answered.

“We have a great surprise for you,” Spoelstra said. “Merry Christmas, brother.”

That’s when Silva’s mom walked through the tunnel and onto the court.

“That’s my mom!” Silva said in the video, seemingly in disbelief moments after realizing it was his mother and quickly bursting into tears.

Following Friday’s game, Spoelstra called it “one of the most special moments I’ve been a part of in this profession.”

“This has been in the works for about a month and I was so nervous bringing the group together,” Spoelstra said. “… To be a part of it as an organization, to be able to make this happen with the NBA and to be able to experience and have Chris experience this moment, it was really incredible. And hearing the gasps and the responses from his teammates is something I’ll keep with me for a long time.”

Heat wing Jimmy Butler said of Silva’s moment: “That’s love right there. Family is everything and that will always be bigger than basketball. For his mom to be here is special. He has been away from her for so long and he’s working incredibly hard. … I hope that they stay up all night and talk about what they missed over these past three years.”

When Silva first arrived to the United States from Gabon in 2012, he didn’t speak English and had never been on an airplane before the long trip. Once Silva made it to the United States, he attended and played basketball at Roselle Catholic High in New Jersey before playing four college seasons at South Carolina.

At first, the transition to the United States was a tough one.

“Coming here and not knowing anybody, speaking no English, it was a challenge at first,” said Silva, who did not play in Friday’s win. “Basketball just helped me get through all of this, get away from those sad moments. It definitely helped me get through all of this. Basketball then made my family come here, I’m just grateful for this game.”

Spoelstra remembers when Silva revealed his story to the team during training camp in early October. While Spoelstra didn’t know much about Silva’s background before the Heat signed him as an undrafted free agent this past offseason, he learned a lot about Silva in that moment.

“Back in training camp, one of the nights, one of our sessions, some of the young guys told their stories to the team and Chris’ story stood out,” Spoelstra said. “Incredible bravery on his part to be able to come to a new country, didn’t speak the language, didn’t know anybody, to chase a dream. We feel that we’re a place where we can make dreams happen. But I had goosebumps. Everybody has goosebumps when he was telling that story. Then to fast track three months to be able to be a part of something like this is something I’ll take with me for the rest of my career.”

Silva entered Saturday averaging 3.8 points and 3.6 rebounds in 9.5 minutes in 25 games with the Heat this season. With two-way contract players allowed to spend up to 45 days in the NBA during the G League season and the rest of the time with their team’s G League affiliate, Silva has yet to be sent down to the developmental league.

The Heat will have enough room under the hard cap to convert Silva’s two-way contract to a standard NBA contract starting Jan. 14, and Silva has enough two-way days available to play in every one of Miami’s games before then. The Heat has an open roster spot with just 14 players currently under standard deals.

If Silva has his two-way deal converted to a standard NBA contract, that will be another memorable day. But Friday stands alone.

“Today has been crazy,” Silva said. “From seeing my mom and catching a good win, all that, it’s crazy. I’m shook.”

Silva will have his mother with him for the next 10 days. And he can’t wait to spend time with her.

“I don’t know much about Miami, but I’m going to find out about Miami,” Silva said. “I’m going to try to take her out to dinner to some nice places and spend a lot of time with her.”

View the full story on Miami Herald.

Miami Herald: Family is Heat Rookie Chris Silva’s Motivation

Heat rookie Chris Silva’s motivation? Family and the dream to one day be reunited.

By Anthony Chiang

Running can be symbolic of so many things.

For Heat forward Chris Silva, running is symbolic of his unique journey and hope to one day be reunited with his family.

The undrafted rookie describes himself as more of the long-distance type who is known for his two-mile runs following basketball workouts. Silva prefers to run on a track or any circular path.

That’s where the symbolism comes in.

“It just unblocks my head. All I think about is making it,” Silva said of running. “There’s something about it. I like to do a circle because when I get tired in a circle, I know I can’t stop here. I have to finish to get back to the house.”

Playing under a two-way contract with the Heat, Silva (6-8, 234 pounds) is currently on his own circular path trying to make it back home to his family. He’s averaging 4.2 points and 4.3 rebounds in 18 games in his first NBA season.

A native of Gabon, Africa, Silva left his home country in 2012 just days away from turning 16 to come to the United States with a dream of making it to the NBA. He has seen his parents and siblings only once since then, and that was when he returned to Gabon for two weeks to renew his visa as a sophomore at the University of South Carolina.

“Two weeks felt like two days, to be honest,” said Silva, 23, of his lone trip back to Africa to visit his mother, father and three brothers. “I don’t think anybody besides my uncle has ever seen me play basketball.”

Silva’s uncle, Miguel, will watch him play again Wednesday when the Heat faces the Celtics at TD Garden. The Heat (14-5) begins a challenging back-to-back set Tuesday against the Raptors at Scotiabank Arena.

Miguel, who is Silva’s legal guardian, lives in Boston and is one of Silva’s only relatives in the United States. The two have been through a lot together.

Miguel stayed up all night to track the four different flights Silva took to first arrive to the United States from Gabon. Silva didn’t speak English and had never been on an airplane before that long trek, with Miguel worried he would get lost along the way.

Once Silva made it to the United States to attend and play basketball at Roselle Catholic High in New Jersey, there were tough times Miguel had to talk Silva through. Silva was homesick almost immediately.

“He felt lonely. He wanted to see his mom, his dad,” Miguel recalls. “But he couldn’t make it. I remember at some point, the high school told me he had been down and they wanted to send him home to see his family. I said, ‘No, I’m going to talk to him because he just got here.’ I didn’t want him to want to go back right away.”

Miguel told Silva: “It’s a struggle, I understand. You feel lonely. I also got to the point after three months that I wanted to go back home, too. You’re going to be fine. You got good people who love you.”

Now, Miguel sends daily updates to their family in Gabon regarding Silva’s accomplishments — from being voted onto the SEC’s All-Defensive team in each of his final two seasons at South Carolina to playing for the Heat as an undrafted rookie.

While attending the Heat’s Oct. 23 season opener against the Grizzlies at AmericanAirlines Arena, Miguel sent a short video to the family of Heat public address announcer Michael Baiamonte introducing Silva when he entered his first regular-season NBA game.

“I have to update the family pretty much every day,” Miguel said. “They try to watch him play online, but the internet is so messed up over there. Now they have WhatsApp, so I can take a picture or record a video and send it to them.”

The time change also makes it difficult for Silva’s family to watch any of his games. A 7:30 p.m. Heat home game begins at 1:30 a.m. in Gabon.

“It’s a luxury to have cable in Gabon, especially to have those channels for those games,” Miguel said.

Silva has grown accustomed to going through life on his own, though. It has been seven years since he arrived in the United States.

“After spending all these years doing it by myself, I kind of got a hang of it,” Silva said. “But it would be nice. I don’t want to say being away from them is difficult, but it would be nice once something is hard or I have a good game to go home and see my mom. Talk to somebody in the family.”

View the full story on Miami Herald.

Alexey Oleynik + ETFMG Sponsorship Highlighted in Bloomberg

In Zero-Fee Era, Wrestlers and Astronauts Help Funds Fight Back

By Claire Ballentine

  • ETF issuers need to stand out in market ruled by three firms
  • Tactics include advertising gimmicks, and taking to Twitter

Smaller asset managers are getting creative as they look to take the fight to the likes of BlackRock. Meet the Boa Constrictor.

The UFC heavyweight best known for winning bouts with a rare judo chokehold burst onto the exchange-traded-fund scene earlier this year as an unlikely advocate for a cannabis fund run by ETF Managers Group. At a dinner arranged by the issuer in midtown Manhattan last month, Boa — real name Alexey Oleynik — taught impromptu lessons on how to throw a punch, and flexed for tough-guy photos in a shirt branded with the company’s logo.

It may seem like a gimmick, but the intent is serious: Oleynik is bringing ETFMG to the masses, bearing the firm’s name during fights and spreading its brand on social media.

Read the full story on Bloomberg.

Chris Silva Makes Waves in First Miami Heat Preseason Game

By Anthony Chiang

Forward Chris Silva, who is among those competing for a two-way contract from the Heat, impressed in his 14 minutes Tuesday. Undrafted out of South Carolina, Silva finished with 16 points, nine rebounds, two steals and two blocks.

“He made us watch him. That’s for sure,” Spoelstra said of Silva. “He’s had those moments in training camp, too. The offensive rebounding, the pursuits. He had a great block tonight. But he probably had five blocks better than that in training camp, where he shocked everybody in the gym. His efforts, his second jumps, his pursuits, all of these things, that’s a talent. That’s a skill to have a motor like that.”

To read the full recap, visit the Miami Herald.

Business Insider: 451 Media, Oleg Prudius Sign Deal To Develop Mythical Character

Former WWE Star the influence for new character, Rogan

NEW YORKSept. 30, 2019 – 451 Media Group has signed an agreement with Oleg Prudius to develop a series based on an all new mythical character, Rogan, God of Gods, the company announced today.

451 Media Group is a diversified media, tech and entertainment company co-founded by Michael BayAnthony GentileJohn Gentile and Doug Nunes, that empowers original and mainstream creators across film, TV, immersive VR/AR, mobile gaming, digital content, and publishing.  451’s portfolio includes original IP from such acclaimed talents as Scott RosenbergGeorge PelecanosRob Cohen and Mark Mallouk and many more.  451 is also a strategic investor with a portfolio in a range of innovative media technology companies.

“Meeting Oleg led to us developing this character which he can embody and bring to life,” said 451 co-founder Anthony Gentile. “It was a first for us as all of our previous characters had been based on fictional characters; it allowed us to incorporate those unique aspects of Oleg’s bigger-than-life persona that so impressed and fascinated us, and to create a wholly new original character and mythology. We are all thrilled to have ‘The Big O’ in our 451 family.”

Prudius wrestled under the name “Vladimir Kozlov, The Moscow Mauler.” He won the WWE Tag Team Championship with his partner Santino Marella and regularly fought against the biggest names in the sport including Triple H, The Undertaker, Jeff Hardy and Shawn Michael. Prudius was also the 2005 USA Open Heavyweight Sambo Champion. Since becoming an actor, Prudius has logged 21 credits which include roles in The Fate of the Furious and John Wick: Chapter 2 and, most recently, in season two of Marvel’s The Punisher. His most significant role came as the strong man “Bear” in the action thriller and billion dollar box office hit Wolf Warrior II.

“I am honored that 451 is developing the character Rogan with me as the model,” said Prudius. “I owe so much to Vince McMahon and WWE for giving me the opportunity to build my personal brand, and now I must thank Anthony and the team at 451 for opening even more doors.  As I have researched my ancestry, the character of Rogan could easily have been my ancestral blood. This is a project I am so deeply excited to develop.”

“Oleg is an amazingly talented and dedicated professional,” said Robert Zito, Managing Partner of IPZ, which represents Prudius. “He is a phenomenal ambassador for brands, and will literally go through walls to make his projects successful. We could not be more happy for him.”

About 451 Media Group:  451 Media Group is a full spectrum media entertainment company that builds its own IP and portfolio of exclusive transmedia brands to provide the highest quality stories, characters, and engaging new worlds. 451 utilizes leading advancements in mobile and online technology, and other innovative media channels to develop and launch its IP and brands across all worldwide platforms.  For more information, visit www.4five1.com.

About IPZ: IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.

To view on Business Insider, click here.

IPZ Board Member Bob Hurley Named the Greatest Scholastic Coach in New Jersey History

The Greatest of All-Time

By Matthew Stanmyre

1. Bob Hurley, St. Anthony (boys basketball)

In 45 years as coach at St. Anthony, Hurley led the tiny Catholic school tucked in the shadows of Jersey City to 28 state championships, 13 Tournament of Champions titles, eight undefeated seasons, four national championships and 1,184 wins, establishing an unmatched legacy in New Jersey high school sports. In addition, more than 200 of Hurley’s players went on to play in college and several made it to the NBA. In 2010, he was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame. His career may have kept going, except St. Anthony, after years of struggling, shuttered in 2017 amid financial constraints.

To view the list of the top 10 New Jersey coaches, visit the Star Ledger.

IPZ Managing Director Jeff Curtin Quoted in Fortune

Women’s World Cup: Who’s Up for a Big Payday?

By Kate Bowers

The U.S. women’s soccer team is crushing it on the field, winning its first three FIFA World Cup matches by a combined score of 18-0, but who—besides Alex Morgan—will collect after the tournament?

This year’s FIFA World Cup has generated more buzz, more content, and more dollars for female footballers than any women’s World Cup before. With an expected one billion viewers of the tournament globally, as defending champs, Team USA’s mixture of familiar faces and newcomers have racked up plenty of paid partnerships.

Most are smaller social media deals, for unpublicized amounts, but such linkups could pave the way for bigger, long-term partnerships. There’s Mallory Pugh sitting in a BMW; Megan Rapinoe plugging sports drink BodyArmor and serving as a VISA brand ambassador; and Lindsey Horan noshing on Chipotle. There’s a whole-team effort plugging Hulu’s live sports.

Plus, the team has a compelling off-field agenda, where winning could propel women’s athletics globally. In March, 28 players filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation, citing lower pay and unequal working conditions. That move, too, has drawn corporate support. Sports bar Luna has promised to pay each woman on the roster $31,250 to compensate for the bonus difference paid to men versus women who made the World Cup team.

“The World Cup and the Olympics put the sport under a microscope,” said Jeff Curtin, managing director of sports marketing firm IPZ and head of its soccer practice. The firm does not have any clients playing in the World Cup. “From an individual perspective, this is the moment to capitalize.” While Curtin noted endorsement deals on the men’s side are “exponentially larger” (top-endorsed male footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, for example, made $47 million in 2018), he emphasized “the women’s side is growing.”

Brands have a “great opportunity to leverage this women’s team and not just superstars like Alex Morgan,” said Jessica Giordano, senior vice president of client consulting and service for GMR, a marketing firm that connects brands with athletes. “There are a lot of powerful individual stories.”

Two things will help catapult players, Giordano said: Having a “magical moment in the World Cup” and having the business acumen afterward to capitalize in an authentic, personal way.

Dishing marketing deals

With the U.S. team advancing to the knock-out round of 16, which starts June 22, here’s who has the potential to cash in big:

First, the obvious.

Alex Morgan (Twitter 3.6M, Instagram 6.4M: The 29-year-old striker, lead plaintiff on the discrimination lawsuit, strides ahead of her teammates in having built a personal brand worth an estimated $3 million. In addition to endorsements from NikeCoca-Cola, Secret, Chapstick, and others, Morgan has a book series, and an Amazon series. But considering what other leading male athletes of similar appeal command (Roger Federer recently inked a $300 million, 10-year deal with Uniqlo), there’s lots more room for Morgan. Curtin sees her as a fit for Lululemon, Athleta or any other athleisure brand. Recently, VW named her brand ambassador for its Atlas SUV. As for magic tournament moments to propel her business? Check. She notched five goals (a World Cup record-tying performance) in the first U.S. match against Thailand. Another partner: Beats by Dr. Dre.

Carli Lloyd (Twitter 836K, Instagram 918K: The veteran forward and team co-captain is off to a strong start, scoring three goals in the tournament so far. Hat-trick heroics in the 2015 World Cup final made her iconic and netted her an estimated $366,000 including all bonuses and appearance fees. Partners: Nike, Johnson & Johnson, Yolked, and others.

Julie Ertz (Twitter 261K, Instagram 639K): A feisty and physical midfielder, Ertz is a “known entity for U.S. soccer on her second World Cup,” Curtin said. Like Morgan, Ertz has a branded presence that extends beyond big soccer moments. She launched the Ertz Family Foundation based on empowering kids through faith and sports, with her husband, Eagles tight end Zach Ertz. The foundation is backed by big brands like Marriott and Dunkin Donuts. Partners: Johnson & Johnson, California Almonds, Secret, and others.

Megan Rapinoe (Twitter 442K, Instagram 598K): An outspoken activist for equality, Rapinoe is a World Cup veteran with a distinctive look: Short, side-swept icy blonde hair and her own unisex apparel brand, Re-Inc., launched with teammates Christen Press and Tobin Heath. She has the potential to draw in fashion brands that’ve never before sponsored soccer, or maybe any sport. “What do I want to be when I grow up?” she muses in an Instagram video after showing off a closet stuffed with colorful kicks. “A fashion designer.” Partners: VISA, Hulu, Body Armor, and others.

Branding limelight newcomers

Beyond these familiar faces, who will emerge as bankable stars? Here are top contenders:

Lindsey Horan (Twitter 73K Instagram 146K): Horan scored in the third minute against Sweden, the strongest competition the U.S. has faced yet. And she’s got a compelling personal story about forgoing college to move to France at age 18 and play for Paris St. Germain. “Lindsey Horan is already making waves in her first two appearances and the buzz surrounding her World Cup debut makes her a strong candidate for the breakout star of the World Cup,” said Ken Mainardis, senior vice president of content for Getty Images, which has six photographers covering the tournament. Partners: Adidas, Chipotle, Hulu, and others.

Mallory Pugh (Twitter 80K, Instragram 377K: While older teammates drop in on social media to post game shots or plug products, 21 year-old Pugh’s a digital native and has cultivated a robust presence on Instagram. Getting regular minutes both as a starter and sub, Pugh is “very marketable,” Curtin said, noting her youth and potential to appear in several more World Cups. Partners: BMW, Gatorade, Google, Listerine, and others.

Rose Lavelle (Twitter 39K, Instagram 99K): Incredibly quick with a killer lefty shot, Lavelle, 24, has racked up two goals in the World Cup so far. Like Pugh, she has an every-girl appeal, talking on social media about Harry Potter and her bulldog Wilma. Mainardis says that Getty is seeing a shift in more commercial brands seeking editorial shots to meet consumers’ interest in “imagery that is authentic.” Because the camera’s catching Lavelle’s every scowl and celebration, the budding star seems poised to deliver on both fronts: the goals and the authentic moments. Partners: New Balance, Chipolte, Hulu, Secret, and others.

Read the story on Fortune.

Cierra Dillard Chooses IPZ

BUFFALO, N.Y. + WARREN, N.J., April 9, 2019 – Cierra Dillard, Dawn Staley Award Finalist and AP All-American Honorable Mention, has signed with IPZ, the company announced today.

Standing at five-foot-nine, the Rochester, New York native has made a considerable impact for the University of Buffalo Bulls the past two seasons leading them to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments.

Going into Dillard’s senior year, the guard landed on numerous watch lists: the Wade Trophy (for the best player in women’s basketball), the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award (for the nation’s top shooting guard), the Citizen Naismith Trophy Watch, and the Dawn Staley Award (for the country’s top guard), for which she is one of four finalists.

Dillard did not disappoint. She was the nation’s second leading scorer this past season as she averaged 25.2 points per game, a team-high 5.7 assists per game, 4.9 rebounds per game, and 2.9 steals per game. The Bulls won the 2019 MAC Tournament and Dillard was named MAC Tournament MVP. Dillard closed out her collegiate career in the second round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament against the UCONN Huskies scoring 29 points, dishing seven assists, securing seven rebounds, and capturing three steals. Dillard earned AP All-American Honorable Mention honors and was named First Team All-MAC.

In Dillard’s junior year, she led the Bulls to their first ever Sweet 16 appearance. Ultimately, Buffalo fell to the defending National Champion South Carolina Gamecocks, but Dillard had a strong performance netting 29 points, six steals, six assists, and three rebounds. Dillard posted a 2017-18 stat line of 16.2 points/game, 5.2 assists/game, 4.1 rebounds/game, and 3.0 steals/game. She was named Second Team All-MAC and earned MAC All-Tournament Team honors.

Prior to becoming a Buffalo Bull, Dillard played for the University of Massachusetts Minutewomen. In her sophomore year, Dillard averaged 15.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.0 steals in 30.3 minutes per game. As a freshman, she posted 10.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.5 steals per contest.

Dillard amassed 2,205 career points across her stops with Massachusetts and the Bulls. Dillard finished her Buffalo career with a scoring average of 20.6 points per game over two seasons, a new program record, and currently ranks in the top five on the UB career records list in points (5th – 1,422), free throws made (3rd – 362), free throw percentage (3rd – 80.8%), three point field goals made (4th – 190) and three point field goals attempted (4th – 554).

“I’m excited to start my new journey of playing professional basketball,” said Dillard. “I’m thrilled about how great my amateur years were and I know if I work hard and stay dedicated, I will continue to reap God’s blessings in my professional career as well. I am also happy to be represented by IPZ, as they believe in my dreams both on and off the court. They understand my vision for my career and I’m confident they will do a great job helping and advising me every step of the way. They are passionate about helping their clients in their respective professional fields and want them to be the best they can be; I’m grateful and blessed to work together.”

“Cierra is one of the purest scorers I’ve ever seen,” said Kyrsten Van Natta, IPZ’s WNBA Agent. “Watching her play is like watching poetry in motion. She knows how to get herself open from anywhere on the court and her passes are something else…they’ve been on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 multiple times. She is simply fun to watch. It’s been a pleasure getting to know Cierra as a person off the court, too, and I look forward to working with her as she embarks on her professional career.”

About IPZ: IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.

Chris Silva Signs with IPZ

COLUMBIA, S.C. + WARREN, N.J., April 4, 2019 – Chris Silva, two-time First Team All-SEC and All-Defensive Team selection at the University of South Carolina, has signed with IPZ, Silva and the company announced today.

The six-foot-nine forward hails from Libreville, Gabon and his journey to America has been well-chronicled. He played high school basketball in the United States for Roselle Catholic in New Jersey and won the 2013 Tournament of Champions with the Lions.

The South Carolina Gamecocks made a historic NCAA Tournament run to the Final Four in 2017, due, in large part, to Chris Silva. As a sophomore, Silva had a breakout season: he started all 37 games and averaged 10.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, and a team-high 1.4 blocks in 21.0 minutes per game. In the matchup against top-seeded Gonzaga, in South Carolina’s first ever Final Four appearance, Silva scored 13 points and secured 13 rebounds.

Silva continued to improve as an upperclassman and was crowned SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year for the 2017-18 campaign. Additionally, he was selected to the First Team All-SEC and All-Defensive Team in back-to-back seasons.

He also led the Gamecocks in multiple categories in his junior and senior years with, in his junior year, 14.3 points per game, 8.0 rebounds per game, 1.4 blocks per game, and he shot 46.7% from the field. In his senior year, Silva’s team leading figures included averaging 15.2 points/game, 7.6 rebounds/game, 1.9 blocks/game, with a field goal percentage of 50.8%, including 50% from three-point range.

Silva was recently named to the NABC All-District Second Team for his final season as a Gamecock.

“It was clear to all those who watched South Carolina’s games this season that Chris was the emotional and physical leader of the team, and one of the best players in the SEC,” said Robert Zito, Managing Partner of IPZ. “His relationship with his coach and teammates as a student, leader, and teammate was evident.”

Silva is the only player in the history of South Carolina’s program to record at least 700 rebounds and 500 free throws in his career. He earned multiple academic honors as a student-athlete and will graduate this year with a degree in IT.

“I am so appreciative of the opportunity the coaching staffs in high school and college – and all my teammates – gave me and I look forward to the road ahead with the team at IPZ,” said Silva.

“In 34 years of coaching, I don’t think I’ve had a player work as hard as Chris Silva to get better,” said Frank Martin, Head Basketball Coach at South Carolina. “He is an unbelievable young man of tremendous character who is a really really good basketball player.”

About IPZ: IPZ represents clients in sports, media, and entertainment, providing management, contract negotiations, consulting, public relations and marketing communications support. The company, an alliance with Zito Partners, is built on the integrity of its professionals, maintains a family focus, and provides whole life solutions for its clients. For more information, visit www.ipzusa.com.