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Netflix’s The Circle Star Antonio DePina Is Making Overseas Basketball Connections

Antonio DePina | CEO | Overseas Basketball Connection & Overseas Combine

3 years ago, Antonio DePina had just graduated from college and had signed his first professional basketball contract to play in Europe where he then played in both Portugal and Spain. Fast forward one year to 2018 and Antonio was now starring on the Netflix reality TV show The Circle! And the surprises kept coming. After the show, Antonio became an entrepreneur and founded two businesses Overseas Basketball Connection and Overseas Combine to create career opportunities for both men and women with the aspirations of playing professional basketball. And now, in 2020, the pandemic has not slowed Antonio down at all as you will see with his newest business venture. Check out Antonio’s rollercoaster of a career and how he has been using his experiences to help others and solve global issues. Enjoy!

× The interview with Antonio DePina was conducted via a phone conversation and later transcribed. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a professional basketball player and how that led to becoming an entrepreneur.

I started playing basketball when I was around seven years old but I never really took it seriously. I started taking it more seriously when I hit middle school. I was really bad when I first started but I ended up getting when I was about 14 but I had to work really, really hard for like a good year to get good.

I ended up playing college basketball by the grace of God and then I ended up finding my first professional contract right out of college in 2017. I was 22 years old and I played for a couple of teams in Europe, one in Portugal and one in Spain. And then came the Netflix opportunity where I was cast for The Circle.

Antonio DePina from Netflix's The Circle | CEO | Overseas Basketball Connection & Overseas Combine

My career really fell together like dominos. I believe it all happened for a reason and that has led me to where I am today as CEO and Founder of Overseas Basketball Connection (OBC) and Overseas Combine.

The sequence started in 2018 when I decided I’m going to stay home instead of returning overseas. If I hadn’t decided I would stay home, I would have never gotten on Netflix. I decided to stay home that season. I had never auditioned for any show before in my life and I never planned to.

When I grew up, I never thought about that stuff like ever.

But, because I was home, I filled out the application. So I went to the audition and didn’t think anything of it, I didn’t think I was going to get on. At least two months passed and I got a call a week before the show was supposed to be filmed and they said, you got it. You have to fly to the UK. And the first thing I thought was oh wow I really can’t play this season now.

Being on The Circle was really cool, I liked it.

Do you intend to continue pursuing your professional basketball career? Why/why not?

After The Circle, I decided I’d rather just help guys get overseas than to actually play. I love basketball, but I knew I was done playing when I could watch it in person and not wish I were the one playing.

I loved playing overseas, it was fun! But, like any job, there were little issues. My experience playing overseas is definitely what motivated me to create my app Overseas Basketball Connection (OBC) and also why I started Overseas Combine.

The one thing that becomes very evident when you start playing overseas is that it is a business and we as players are just like chess pieces to the business. Depending on where you play overseas, they don’t always treat you as well as we’re used to in the NCAA and the facilities are not as high quality.

But the biggest issue I found overseas was that there were really, really good players who never got the opportunity to, to make it there. They just never had that opportunity to be seen by the right people and I’m talking about really, really great players. My app OBC is the solution to that problem.

When you starred on the Circle you were discreet about your life off the show but, did starring on reality TV benefit your career?

On the show, I promoted myself as a basketball player but when the show was over I decided it was time to make my app. I took the momentum from the show to the app. It took a long time to make the app, but it ended up working out.

I think I would have made the app eventually even if I had not joined the Netflix cast because I already had this stuff in my mind, to like solve a problem. But the show kind of just boosted my desire to do that. At that point, I had lots of interviews lined up and it was the perfect time to use those experiences as marketing for OBC.

Antonio DePina from Netflix's The Circle | CEO | Overseas Basketball Connection & Overseas Combine

We actually just did an interview with Jeff Teague, the NBA player. And we did an interview with Andre Drummond. It’s that little blue check that I’ve got next to my name now thanks to the show that has helped me so much in becoming an entrepreneur.

Since COVID-19 essentially shut down the basketball industry, many players are finding it more difficult to secure contracts to play overseas than usual. How effective has your app been in helping athletes secure contracts during this desperate time?

COVID-19 has definitely made it even more difficult than it normally is to sign contracts overseas because it has restricted travel and really limited the ways the players can get their game in front of European coaches and teams.

Normally players can travel to these countries before having signed contracts to work out with teams or attend open tryouts, but this year no one can travel without a signed contract.

At this point, the only options for players are to either hire an agent, get my app, or attend my Overseas Combines.

I’m really glad I launched my app before the pandemic, this year has been a surprisingly good year for me.

This week Overseas Basketball Connection also acquired your first professional basketball. What motivated you to grow your business in that direction?

I bought CB Alfinden whose name will be changed to OBC Alfinden in Zaragoza, Spain to continue solving the problems that I encountered when I played overseas.

When I played, I didn’t like the way Americans and imports of all nationalities were treated.

Often times pay comes late, there are poor accommodations, and they don’t feel like they are valuable beyond what they can do on the basketball court. If you don’t win as an import, you get sent home and replaced. I never felt like they cared about me as a human being, they only cared about what I could do for their club.

All of that is going to be different for my team. We are going to have excellent accommodations and my guys are going to be paid on time. 

My goal is to change the way overseas basketball is structured and run starting with my own club.

Stacey Leawood Stacey's Final Thoughts

Most of us are firm believers that everything happens for a reason and this definitely appears to be the case for Antonio DePina. As a former pro basketball player Antonio identified many issues that he wanted to solve to improve the overseas basketball experience he had for others and his stint as a reality TV star gave him the platform he needed to do it. With his new basketball team acquisition, he has yet another outlet to solve the problems he faced as a professional basketball player and another chance to get talented athletes the opportunity to live their dreams. Antonio’s journey has been full of constant surprises and I can’t wait to see how he’s going to shake up the basketball industry next!

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