It was a wild start to the first-ever UFBA Futures Auction, as the platform launched basketball scouting on the cusp of March Madness with the future stars of both the UFBA and NBA at the top of mind.
11 scouts purchased 115 players for a grand total of $11,440 USD worth of SCORE tokens (SCO), split over the incoming classes of 2022 and 2023.
The first overall spot was won by Nick Taylor of scouting agency VIP Sports Management Inc., who selected the rights to French star Victor Wembanyama, a 7'2" power forward who is largely expected to be the no. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, for $710 USD.
The trio of stars for this year's class - Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero, and Chet Holmgren - went to scouts Joanne Maude and John Sullivan, with Maude scooping the Gonzaga center Holmgren for a steal at $255 USD. With Holmgren potentially tabbed as a no. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft in June, that could very well end up as the biggest steal in UFBA history thus far.
Maude nabbed 37 players overall for a grand total of $3,995 USD, while Indera S. grabbed the second-most players at 34 for $1,865 USD. Taylor only purchased five prospects on the day, including Wembanyama, but also added top prospects Keegan Murray, Malaki Branham, and continued looking to the future with G-League star Scoot Henderson as well.
John Sullivan got in on the action as well, grabbing six prospects for a total of $1,270 USD, including Blue Devil Paolo Banchero, and potential 2023 breakout star Emoni Bates.
The final scout to top $1,000 USD in spending was Tony Fox at $1,080 - Fox purchased the rights to Canadian star Bennedict Mathurin, Kentucky's TyTy Washington Jr., and also cornered the market on Nikolas, grabbing both Jovic and Djurisic.
Newly-installed Renegades GM Christian Clermont wasn't outdone either, nabbing five prospects, including a potential steal with Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji for $150 USD.
Luca Cesaretti and Simone Saccarola, both affiliated with the UFBA's Street Spirits franchise, grabbed some bargains at $490 USD across seven players, while the Bombers' own Mike Marth selected 11 players for $300 USD, including Kansas guard Christian Braun and UCLA standout Johnny Juzang.
Scout Erin Jones only grabbed four players overall for $260 USD, but with Jeremy Sochan and Walker Kessler among them, the selective shopping may still very well pay off.
UFBA Scouting Director Daniele Franceschi was pleased to get the basketball scouting off the ground prior to March Madness, as he says it affords scouts and general managers the opportunity to watch some of their players try and improve their draft stock in the most famously chaotic tournament in North America.
"Only upwards from here. It was cool to go through the process and see the auction play itself out," says Franceschi. "Fascinating to see Victor [Wembanyama] go first ahead of the 2022 guys."
Apart from Chet Holmgren, Franceschi also lists a few more potential steals from the first-ever UFBA Futures Auction.
"Keyonte George at $85 USD was a bargain," said Franceschi. "Tari Eason at $80 USD also stood out to me." Both prospects are likely to be drafted; Eason is ranked at the top of the second round of the 2022 NBA Draft, while George is likely a lottery pick in 2023.
Beginning with the 2024 Futures Auction following the 2022 NBA Draft later this summer, scouts will have to prepare their own lists for purchasing players - the onus will fall on them to prepare and select the players they want from the pool of all eligible players.
The Open Market also becomes available to all scouts on Monday, March 14 at 6pm ET - any player eligible as detailed here can be registered first-come first-serve for the $20 USD worth of SCO. Scouts must have the SCO (and a minimum amount of ZIL for network gas fees) in their wallet at the time of the transaction.