- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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Former Arizona recruit Brandon Jennings is expected to sign with a European-based agent as early as Monday, get an American-based marketing director for sneaker company deals and secure a contract with a European or Israeli team within the next two weeks, Jennings' advisors told ESPN.com Friday.
Sonny Vaccaro, who is acting as an advisor to Jennings and his mother, Alice Knox, said Friday that he will meet with Jennings Sunday in Las Vegas, where he will attend the NBA summer league.
"Brandon will have a European agent, who only deals with European contracts, and he will pick a marketing firm that is not connected to the agent who is American based," said Vaccaro, who is considered the godfather of grassroots basketball sponsored by sneaker companies after working for Nike, adidas and Reebok during his career.
"The shoe industry is actively involved already," Vaccaro said.
Vaccaro and Los Angeles-based attorney Jeff Valle are two of the Knox-Jennings advisors as he pursues a European contract to wait for the 2009 NBA draft. Kelly Williams, father of New Jersey Nets guard Marcus Williams, is also a close family friend and advising Jennings. Jennings stayed with Williams the past month while participating in a local summer league in the New York area. Williams, like Jennings, is from Los Angeles.
Jennings signed to play at Arizona out of Oak Hill (Va.) Academy but is from Los Angeles. Jennings isn't eligible for the NBA draft until a year after he graduates from high school. Jennings didn't receive a qualifying standardized test score. His third and final test result was due Friday but Valle said it's a moot point. Jennings is choosing Europe over Arizona.
Vaccaro said that European and Israeli teams don't know Jennings and that's why he needs a European-based agent. American agents Bill Duffy and Andy Miller were considered to be frontrunners for Jennings. Duffy said Friday he wasn't pursuing Jennings as a client.
Vaccaro said Jennings has a preference of Italy or Spain since those are the countries that "he knows." But Valle said Israel is also a possibility. Both Vaccaro and Valle said Friday they expect Jennings, who was ESPN.com's top point guard in the class of 2008, to be on a top level club team. But Vaccaro said a number of the teams that he could end up with have junior club level teams as well.
Vaccaro said he has suggested getting a deal done by Aug. 1 so Knox and Jennings could visit the country they choose before the season starts in September. Both Vaccaro and Valle said Jennings would be joined by Knox, and possibly one or two other close friends, when he goes overseas.
Valle said Jennings could be open to a multi-year contract overseas, although his primary goal is to play in the NBA, beginning in 2009-10. The NBA confirmed once Jennings signs a pro contract overseas and is 19, he will become eligible for the 2009 draft. But Vaccaro said a longer-term deal with a buyout is a possibility for Jennings since it would give the overseas club leverage with an NBA franchise and give Jennings some security.
Valle said Friday that he is not working pro bono for Knox and Jennings. He said that Knox was referred to him by a mutual friend. Valle said his primary work as an attorney is in the entertainment field.
"I've dealt with various entertainers and talent and, in a lot of ways, there are similarities here," Valle said. "The assumption has been for him to play one year but I suppose if there was a multi-year deal on the table then it could make sense. But ultimately Brandon wants to play in the NBA."
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.