By Jonathan Saxon
Learning in the classroom takes many forms, but one of the most impactful ways to learn a topic is to gain insight from an industry professional. And that’s exactly what Brooklyn Nets scouting director BJ Johnson offered to students when he visited Bowie State University earlier this week.
Johnson and the Nets have been working with BSU’s Sport Management program for the past three years to shine a light on the different career possibilities in sports and to provide students with professional insights from team employees across different departments. The partnership was originally borne from Johnson wanting to give back in a sustainable way after the protests which followed the death on George Floyd in 2020.
“My thought was to share our knowledge and expose students to what it’s like to be in a front office of an NBA basketball team,” said Johnson. “Because it’s hard to imagine, if you’re not in it, all the details that go into all of our jobs.”
Johnson regularly attends the Zoom meetings that are scheduled as part of Dr. Alex Anderson’s independent study in sports management class, but this week he came to campus to visit with the students in-person as they presented mock pitches that were designed to persuade free agents to sign with the Brooklyn Nets. Johnson enjoyed being able to meet the students and offer feedback in-person after only interacting with them virtually.
“It’s a blessing to see them in person,” he said. “They can see I’m real and we’re really committed to doing this. It’s been a great experience to go from the idea stage that we were at three years ago to now.”
“It was a really great experience to meet him in person,” said Antania Evans, a junior communications major with a concentration in public relations. “Over Zoom, he was always friendly and able to answer any questions we had. He was eager to help us. To meet him in-person was really nice.”
Dr. Anderson has called the relationship between Bowie State and the Nets a blessing and is grateful for the information Johnson and other Nets representatives have shared about basketball operations, scouting and other behind the scenes functions that drive an NBA franchise.
“BJ has demonstrated his commitment to Bowie State and our students by allowing us to learn from and connect with professionals in the Brooklyn Nets organization,” he said. “Visiting our campus displayed the dedication and passion BJ has for our students.”