Posts tagged college hoops
The HBL Announces New Additions to Advisory Board and Athlete Advisory Board

Cleveland, OH – October 3, 2019 – Ricky Volante, CEO of the Historical Basketball League (HBL), and David West, COO of the HBL, today announced the addition of several new members to the league’s Advisory Board and Athlete Advisory Board.

The HBL is the first professional college basketball league. The HBL will compensate and educate athletes, allowing players to directly benefit from their talent, marketability, and hard work without having to sacrifice their educational opportunities or leave the United States.  As the HBL transforms from concept to reality, it is disrupting the amateurism model and shifting the landscape of collegiate athletics. As a result, the HBL’s Executive Team places great importance on the role of the HBL’s Advisory Council (Advisory Board, Athlete Advisory Board, and Academic Advisory Board).  Comprised of influencers from various industries critical to the long-term success of the HBL, the Advisory Council includes current and former elite college and professional athletes, experienced higher education professionals, and leaders in sports marketing and management.  Members of the HBL Advisory Council bring vast experience in the fields of technology, finance & investment, sports, media & content, legal, and academics. 

The HBL Advisory Board works closely with the HBL Executive Team to provide input on decisions related to overall strategic planning and execution of the HBL's mission and vision.  New to the HBL Advisory Board are Damon Jones – former Senior Director of Player Development at the NBA; Ameesh Paleja – Founder of Atom Tickets and Chief Technology Officer at OfferUp; Manny Ojobaro – Finance Manager at CapitalG; and LJ Kwak Yang – leadership and business developer, entrepreneur, investor, and former Googler

“We are very excited to announce our new Advisory Board members.  Damon, Ameesh, Manny, and LJ bring significant expertise in fundraising, media content creation and distribution, sports sponsorships, and college and professional basketball,” said Ricky Volante.  “We are thrilled that they have joined the HBL Advisory Board and look forward to the many ways in which they will leverage their experience and resources to provide the league with strategic guidance as we transition into the next critical growth phase, which includes finalizing our media and apparel partnerships, hiring coaches, recruiting players, and much more.”

Damon Jones said, “In the 19 years that I have worked with elite collegiate and professional athletes, one of my main goals has been to ensure athletes are given ample mentorship and support. I am impressed with the unique resources the HBL has in place to help empower college basketball players on and off the court, and I am excited to be a part of this movement that will greatly enrich each player’s experience. Focusing on the players' individual development and using basketball as a means to shape their off-the-court aspirations will maximize their opportunities now and in the future.”

“It’s an exciting time to be joining the HBL Advisory Board.  My hope is to compliment the already talented HBL Executive Team with my experience in the tech and media spaces, as they lay the groundwork to launch the league’s inaugural season and connect with basketball fans across the country,” said Ameesh Paleja.

Joining the HBL Athlete Advisory Board to counsel the Executive Team on matters critical to the experiences of athletes in the HBL and serve as mentors to the league’s players are: Chekesha Johnson – actress, model, and former basketball player at the University Arkansas at Pine Bluff; Emily Hu – world record setting powerlifter and medical device researcher; and Nadia Eke – Ghanaian Olympic triple jumper.  

Regarding these additions, COO David West said, “We are excited to welcome Chekesha, Emily, and Nadia to our Athlete Advisory Board.  I'm proud that the HBL is taking a leading role in providing athletes rarely afforded and meaningful opportunities to engage in the management and ownership of sports.  I look forward to more pro athletes taking advantage of the HBL’s multiple options for involvement, whether as a league investor, advisory board member, or team ambassador."

Chekesha Johnson added to West's sentiments saying, "As a former college basketball player, I am pleased to be part of executing a vision that will change the status quo and allow college athletes to be justly compensated for their significant contributions.  As a Millennial, I want to change the future for the next generation of athletes.  I look forward to working with this incredibly seasoned and talented group of current and former professional athletes as we pave the way for the future of college athletes."

Emily Hu stated, “As a former professional athlete, I'm excited to join the HBL because I believe that college athletes should never have to risk their education and their future to play a sport at the highest level. I was fortunate enough to receive the education of my choice from a top college, so I will never have to rely on my athletic ability to put food on the table. I’m passionate about helping other talented young athletes succeed off the court, and the HBL’s vision gives college athletes that opportunity.”

The HBL has secured backing from over a dozen investors from a range of industries and backgrounds and is preparing to launch its inaugural season in eight cities: Philadelphia, Baltimore, District of Columbia (D.C.), Richmond, Norfolk, Raleigh, Charlotte, and Atlanta.  The HBL expects to finalize its domestic media partnership in the coming weeks and will then shift its focus to hiring head coaches and securing an apparel partner, as well as continuing to engage and recruit 4-star and 5-star prospects.  Expect more exciting news from the HBL, including updates on coaches, players, team names and logos, as well as further details on team and league sponsorships and partnerships.

Press inquiries for interviews, additional facts, and images should be directed to  To keep up to date, follow the HBL on Twitter (@hb_league) and Instagram (@hbleague).


Sarah Bray

Innovant Public Relations


The Historical Basketball League (HBL) and NFL Hall of Famer Terrell Owens Announce Historic Partnership

Terrell Owens, NFL Hall of Fame Wide Receiver, becomes first Team Ambassador for the HBL, launching in June 2020.

Cleveland, OH (June 24, 2019) – Ricky Volante, CEO of the Historical Basketball League (HBL), and David West, COO of the HBL, announced Terrell Owens is partnering with the league to become its first Official Team Ambassador.  

The HBL is the first college basketball league to compensate and educate its athletes.  The league will begin play in June 2020 with an inaugural schedule of eight teams in East Coast cities spanning the Mid-Atlantic and Piedmont regions.  With its athlete-centric model, the HBL does not have traditional team owners, opting instead for coupling investor-operators groups and team ambassadors.

As a Team Ambassador, Owens will serve as an influencer and marketing face of one of the HBL teams.  He will work with the HBL’s management team to identify and secure local sponsors, partners, and investors.  Additionally, Terrell will serve as a mentor and resource to the athletes. HBL CEO Ricky Volante said, “Terrell’s interest in positively and meaningfully impacting the next generation of athletes made him an obvious choice as a Team Ambassador for the HBL.”

Owens, a Hall of Fame wide receiver, ranks third all-time in career receiving yards (15,934) and touchdowns (153).  Throughout his 16-year NFL career, Owens played for the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, and Cincinnati Bengals.  Owens was selected in the 3rd round of the 1996 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers after graduating from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Owens’s experiences in the NFL and at UT-Chattanooga give him a first-hand understanding of how the current college sports system does not meet the needs of college athletes.  Owens was drawn to the HBL because of the league’s mission – developing athletes for careers in basketball and beyond, and providing meaningful educational opportunities, all without requiring athletes to sacrifice their fair share of the revenues they generate.  On joining the HBL, Owens said, "The change the HBL is bringing is long overdue, and I'm thrilled to join as the first Official Team Ambassador. An athlete-first model that will treat college athletes equitably and as partners is needed, and I'm excited to be a part of its development."

HBL COO David West was thrilled to be able to start working with the NFL Hall of Famer.  West said, “I’ve always admired TO. After speaking with him about the HBL, it was clear that we felt similarly about creating an equitable opportunity for college athletes, one that puts the athletes first.  Ricky and I look forward to working collaboratively with Terrell to see the HBL vision realized.”

Before the HBL, basketball players were excluded from the lion’s share of financial benefits while everyone around them received significant compensation.  The HBL provides a new and better opportunity, one without economic and academic exploitation. The HBL’s players are projected to earn between $50,000 and $150,000 per season based on athletic talent and marketability, in addition to receiving a guaranteed scholarship and having the ability to fully commercialize their name, image, and likeness, all without jeopardizing their eligibility with the HBL.

Other industry veterans are impressed as well.  Luke Bonner, owner of Power Forward Sports Group and HBL Advisory Board member, said, “What the HBL is doing is truly groundbreaking, building a bridge between the professional athlete community and the next generation of top talent.  These Ambassadors will help prepare athletes for the professional game in a way not offered by the current system.”

June has been a busy month for the HBL.  In addition to bringing Owens on board, the HBL announced it was launching its 2020 season in eight cities: Philadelphia, Baltimore, District of Columbia (D.C.), Richmond, Norfolk, Raleigh, Charlotte, and Atlanta.

HBL CEO Ricky Volante explained that with Owens on board as the first Team Ambassador, the HBL was on track to meet its goal of being the premier destination for NBA-bound college athletes and thus creating must-see basketball for anyone interested in watching future all-stars during their college careers.  “Our Team Ambassador roles enable current and former professional athletes to participate in the strategic development and implementation of the HBL’s business model – something they are currently excluded from with other professional leagues. Athletes have an incredible wealth of knowledge, and value far beyond what they can do on the field. In addition to addressing inequality affecting college athletes, we believe that more former athletes should be represented in senior management positions of professional sports leagues.  We (and Terrell) expect that others will continue to join us in fixing college basketball and the role of athletes in sports more broadly.”

Volante promised more news in the coming weeks and months as the league plans to roll out the initial members of the HBL’s Athlete Advisory Board, team names and logos, as well as to announce further details of sponsorships and partnerships as the HBL moves toward its June 2020 launch.

Press inquiries for interviews, additional facts, and images should be directed to  To keep up to date, follow the HBL on Twitter (@hb_league) and Instagram (@hbleague).

June Open Letter From Ricky Volante, HBL CEO

In the six months since hiring David West as the HBL’s COO, our Management Team has been hard at work. With approximately one year until our June 2020 launch, I want to recap what we’ve accomplished and what to expect in the coming weeks.

Inaugural Cities of the HBL

Our team reviewed the Prospective City List carefully, focusing on: (1) market size, (2) the local basketball market, (3) school and educational options, (4) venue options, (5)the city’s appeal to potential recruits, (6) cost of living, (7) proximity to elite talent, (8) commercial marketability, and (9) the geographic footprint of the HBL. Upon concluding our review process, we determined that the following cities will be the Inaugural Eight:

  • Atlanta, GA

  • Baltimore, MD

  • Charlotte, NC

  • Norfolk, VA

  • Philadelphia, PA

  • Raleigh, NC

  • Richmond, VA

  • Washington, DC

The Inaugural Eight includes three of the top 10 markets by greater metropolitan area population in the US (Atlanta (9th), Philadelphia (8th), and DC (6th)), five of the top 25 markets by greater metropolitan area population  (Baltimore (21st) and Charlotte (22nd)), and three of the Top 10 highest rated local markets for NBA viewership  (Norfolk (1st), Raleigh (7th), and Richmond (8th)).

If you have not already noticed, the Inaugural Eight are located on the East Coast, in close proximity within the Mid-Atlantic and Piedmont. These teams will eventually be known as the eastern division (or conference) of the HBL. Over the course of the next five years, the HBL will launch additional divisions of eight teams in the other quadrants of the US.

Why start with the East? In addition to the market size and basketball interest within these markets, we wanted to align ourselves where much of the best talent in the country already resides.


Additions to the HBL Advisory Board

We have added several important members to the HBL Advisory Board:

  • Manny Ojobaro is the Interim Head of Finance at Capital G, a private equity firm under Alphabet, Inc., the parent company of Google. Manny has a strong background in finance, investments and transactions, having also held positions with EY and Google.

  • LJ Kwak Yang is a leadership and business developer, entrepreneur, investor, and former Googler. LJ has considerable experience in guiding start-ups, developing leaders, and interacting with the investment community.

We’re excited to welcome Manny and LJ and look forward to working with them.

Creation of the Athlete Advisory Board

David and I often mention that we are working to add current and former professional athletes to the HBL Athlete Advisory Board (AAB). The HBL AAB members will serve as mentors to our players and further as a resource to the HBL, especially when making critical decisions that will impact our athletes and the direction of the League. We feel that athletes should have an important voice in the growth and future direction of the HBL. Professional athletes are typically blocked from these kinds of opportunities because the barriers to entry within ownership groups of professional teams are often too high.

The initial members of the AAB will be announced later this week, and we expect to add more people in the coming weeks, especially as the NBA playoffs conclude.

RJ Hampton Goes Abroad and Kenyon Martin Jr. Decommits From Vanderbilt

As many have already discussed, RJ Hampton, a consensus top 5 prospect from the Class of 2019, announced that he will forego all US-based basketball opportunities to play with the NBL Breakers (New Zealand) next season. A week later, Kenyon Martin Jr. decided to decommit from Vanderbilt and announced that he, too, will be playing overseas next season.

What does this mean? Well the obvious answer is that the US-based basketball options for players after high school (but pre-NBA) are flawed. If they weren’t, why would players feel the need to look elsewhere? But rather than dwelling on the downside of this situation, the good news is that starting with the Class of 2020, no player will have to choose between: (1) compensation abroad, (2) playing with 25-year olds domestically, or (3) being exploited for all they are worth domestically. Instead, they will have the opportunity to join the HBL and receive meaningful educational opportunities while being compensated, all without feeling the need to move 5,000 miles away. This won’t be limited to athletes straight out of high school either, as returning players from previous recruiting classes will have the opportunity to join the HBL as sophomores, juniors, or seniors without having to enter the transfer portal.

Looking Ahead

There is still much to accomplish between now and next June. Looking ahead, there will be many more things to announce in the coming days and weeks.

Coaching Search

We have begun the process of identifying and contacting potential head and assistant coaches for our teams. This will be a critical component of our overall strategy for recruiting players. It’s crucial that a player and his family feel comfortable knowing that our coaches will be of the necessary caliber to holistically develop and prepare them for the next stage of their career. We’re looking forward to wowing the world with these, and anticipate making our first hire within the next month.

Additions to the Management Team

As with growing any business, it is important to build a team that is talented and mission-aligned, and it’s no different for the HBL. As the hiring of David legitimized our efforts in the basketball community, we will be adding additional members to the Management Team soon that will have NBA front office, player representation, and/or college basketball coaching and operations experience. These additions will contribute to the HBL’s business and basketball operations.

Team Intellectual Property

Now that our cities have been unveiled, our design team has begun to identify potential names and color schemes for each city. Upon finalizing each team name, we will then begin the process of developing a logo/mark and corresponding merchandise. Local artists in each market will have the opportunity to participate in the development process, as we try to capture the essence and vibe of each city.

Team Ambassadors

As an extension of the Advisory Board and Athlete Advisory Board, the HBL will be announcing Team Ambassadors for each of the inaugural eight teams. Ambassadors will be one of the public faces for our teams as they enter the world’s consciousness. Think Spike and the Knicks, though the Ambassador will be more than just the team’s super-fan. HBL Team Ambassadors will be far more involved in the business side of the League, whether as part of each city’s operational team, as an HBL shareholder, and/or even as a coach. As with the other personnel announcements, get ready to be really excited.


Since David joined the Management Team in November we have welcomed a series of new investors, and will continue to. One of the most exciting parts of the regional model we’re implementing is that it drastically reduces the first-year operational costs of the League. We took heed of the AAF’s collapse and wanted to establish a strong footing that will allow the HBL to steadily grow in the coming years, while not taking an all-or-nothing approach at the onset. Our  plan lets us get the HBL right with a regional footprint and then roll it out nationally over the course of the next half decade.

Player Recruiting

Speaking of rollout, scouting for the HBL’s first 100 players has officially begun! As the summer season ramps up, we will continue to identify our targets in the Class of 2020, as well as current college players and top international prospects.  Don’t expect to hear actual names until towards the end of the year or even 2020, as we remain respectful of our targeted athletes’ need to maintain varsity eligibility until they are ready to make their move to the HBL. As these names hit the news, you’ll be able to see why the HBL is confident we will be the premier college basketball league in the world, and that #AmateurismIsACon.

***Statements in this letter that refer to forecasts, future plans, or expectations are forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Statements that refer to or are based on projections, uncertain events, or assumptions also identify forward-looking statements. Such statements are based on the company’s current expectations and involve many risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in these forward-looking statements.