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Haskins and hoops mix well together

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Brent Haskins beginning his 13th season in NBA

By Bobby Brockman

 

If you’re name is Haskins and you’re from Central Kentucky and you have not been involved any time with basketball, you might be considered an outcast.
No one can say that about Brent Haskins, who turned 39 yesterday and has picked up a new title this summer — Pro Personal Scout for the Phoenix Suns.
“It’s kind of the family business,” Haskins laughed recently while in town on a visit. “That’s all I knew.
“I grew up around the college game and that’s what I thought I would eventually go back to. But, the opportunity came in the NBA. I stuck it out and have been able to advance.”
Haskins, who will still be based out of Minneapolis, was born in Phoenix when his dad played for the Suns, the son of Clem and Yevette Haskins says the last name helps more than hurts in his business.
“The Haskins name doesn’t bring pressure with it,” Haskins said of the label. “It’s actually a blessing. There are a lot more advantages and disadvantages. Everywhere I go people do always ask how he’s (Clem) doing. But, no matter what field I went in I wanted to be successful.”
He says he’s been home more this summer than most.
“I used to figure out when we were cutting hay and try to miss it,” Haskins offered. “But, Campbellsville IS home.”
Brent, who has the typical Haskins size (6-3), will begin his first season with the Suns after 11 seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves and last season with the Houston Rockets.
Brent, who started as an assistant under dad at the University of Minnesota, will be more of a player evaluator of other players in the NBA plus college and minor league players.
“This is more of what I want to do,” Haskins said of his change from assistant coach/advance scout. “I want to be a player personnel director or a general manager some day.
“This helps me get more involved.”
Other than his dad, Haskins credits current Rockets’ head coach Kevin McHale with being very helpful in the business.
“He liked me as a person and my basketball intelligence,” Haskins said of McHale who he also worked with the Timberwolves.
“I like the Phoenix organization because it seems like former players stick around the area — like a family.”
No doubt Brent throws a lot of stuff at his dad, but Clem also admits things have changed since he was in the NBA — especially with salary caps.
“People just don’t understand how big NBA players are,” Brent said about the league.
“For instance, when LeBron James comes down the court, you can feel the wind and know it’s him.”
Brent had told Clem how good Kobe Bryant was years ago, but daddy was skeptical.
“They were playing one of my former players, Bobby Jackson’s team and Sacramento was up about 30 on the Lakers. Kobe got about 35 himself in the third quarter and the Lakers came back and won. “I called Brent and said, ‘son you were right about Kobe.’”
When pressed on the subject, Clem said his all-time NBA team would be Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain 1A and 1B at center, Oscar Robertson and Jerry West 1A and 1B in the back court and Elgin Baylor at one forward. He didn’t pick another forward but said former teammate Connie Hawkins was one of the most talented players he ever saw.
Brent goes with Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant in the back court on his modern-day best team and adds Kevin Durant and LeBron James up front with Dwight Howard in the middle.
“We’d score some points,” Brent grinned. “They’re all so competitive. I love Kevin Durant, but no doubt LeBron is the best player on earth.”
Brent leans on a lot of connections he’s developed through the years for help.
“I’ve made some good contacts and you have to have those people so you can get the information about players — on and off the court,” Brent admitted.
“His reputation speaks for itself,” daddy said of son. “He’s proven himself. He stands on his own name.
“I had someone in the newspaper business tell me that if he had a question about the Timberwolves, he went to Brent. They don’t put rookies in his position.”
“I do think I’ve proven myself enough that Phoenix sought me out,” Brent concluded. “I was the only one they interviewed.
“It’s hard work, but it’s enjoyable hard work. I’m a basketball fan, so I couldn’t ask for a better job.