The intern: How Nathan Mensah’s work with a wealth management company made San Diego State defense richer

LOUISVILLE – His teammates know Nathan Mensah as a young man who likes to crack jokes and tease them a bit, but there are two aspects in which they find him extremely serious: when he erases someone’s ill-advised layup from the face of the planet , and when he talks about business.

Mensah is the last line of defense for a San Diego State team that has performed exceptionally well on all lines ahead of him. He averaged 1.7 blocks per game early and averaged 21 minutes. He is the Mountain West Conference’s two-time Defensive Player of the Year but came very close to being a one-time Defensive Player of the Year and missed an opportunity to play against Creighton at the KFC Yum! Center in the NCAA South Region Finals.
Mensah is one game away from the Final Four.

He almost turned pro a year later because there didn’t seem to be a better option.

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“A year ago, I definitely said that I did almost everything I could do and that I had a great opportunity to turn pro,” Mensah told Sporting News. “When I sat down and talked to my guardian, my friends and family and also to my teammates, I left with a bad grade. We didn’t win the Mountain West Conference tournament, and we didn’t win the regular season, and we only lost one game in the NCAA tournament — we didn’t achieve anything.

“So I figured I’m not going to leave with a bad grade. I’ll leave a note for people to remember.”

However, because of his stay at SDSU, Mensah felt compelled to earn some money to help his family in Ghana. He is 24 and has three sisters and a grandmother at home. So the obvious solution was to find some sort of name/image/likeness deal and play his fifth season with the Aztecs. Isn’t that what everyone is doing now?

Well, maybe, but not these college athletes in the United States on student visas. Except for three defined areas, they are not allowed to do any paid work. One of them is the “curricular internship”, which means it must correspond to the student’s declared field of study and be an integral part of the school curriculum. If there are no government regulations, we simply call this an internship.

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“His thought process was, ‘I feel guilty, I need to make money, I can’t just make nothing.’ He’s a great student, he was dying to graduate too, so he was kind of torn,” Aztec graduate Kevin McFarland told TSN. “So I asked: What is he studying? Well, he’s in marketing and finance. And I thought: Oh!

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McFarland is a founding partner of major financial services company Concurrent, with offices in Tampa and San Diego. And he came up with the idea of ​​giving Mensah an internship that would allow him to make some money — not the hundreds of thousands or millions you’ve heard about from other college athletes — while continuing to play for San Diego State.

“He came into my conference room and we sat down. We did the math that if he interned 20 hours a week… and he tested the market to see how much he would make playing overseas or going to the G League, and we did figured it out somehow.”

Mensah entered the NBA draft to see what his league prospects might be. After that discussion, he withdrew on the last possible day to “bet on himself” with another season as the starting center for the Aztecs, his guardian Ku Amoaku told TSN.

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When this turned out to be the case, the Aztec trainers also bet on him. They had the opportunity to track other centers in the transfer portal and there was a big chance they would miss them all if they decided to wait for Mensah to make his decision on a possible return. Due to Mensah’s circumstances, the process was more complicated than it otherwise would have been, but they eventually decided it was worth the risk.

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“The teams that are really successful have this guy protecting the rim, be it (Ryan) Kalkbrenner tomorrow night — they have someone anchoring the defense,” Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher told TSN. “Nate does that for us. Defensively he makes the difference. You can make mistakes when he’s in the back. Like yesterday. And he ends up with five blocks. He was great to keep going.

“Most of these guys who are here for four or five years eventually get tired of school. But, like most of us, they leave and never find time to return because they work. So the internship was very important to him. He’s preparing for life after basketball. Whether he ever jumps on the train to make it professionally in the US or heads overseas, he has a life after basketball, and that’s all you hope for any of them.

Mensah met Amoaku, a first-generation American whose parents emigrated from Ghana, when “Ku” began running camps and programs to promote the game in his ancestral homeland. Eventually he founded the African Youth Basketball Association (AYBO), a non-profit organization that seeks sports and educational opportunities for athletes from all parts of Africa. “We walked with him every step of the way,” Amoaku said.

Mensah left Africa at 15 and attended high schools in Massachusetts, California and Nevada. Since then he has not been at home.

“I always tell my friends; They ask me why I didn’t come back, I’m a man on a mission,” Mensah said. “And when I’m done with the mission, I’m going back.”

Mensah admitted it was difficult being away from home for so long, but he came to the US with other athletes from his hometown of Accra. Joel Mensah played at Cal State San Marcos this season. Samuel Adjei is working on a master’s degree at Concordia University in Nebraska.

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“We’re watching each other,” Mensah said. “We try to hit as many as possible. It kind of makes me feel like I’m close to family.”

Mensah was named a four-time SDSU Scholar-Athlete and won an award for achieving a 4.0 grade point average in 2020. McFarland said Mensah will graduate with an MBA in late summer. Mensah initially trained in Excel and how to operate a Bloomberg terminal along with interns from Wake Forest and the University of Tampa. He attended a recruiting event in Florida.

“And as he got to know the company, we gave him projects that didn’t really have a due date,” McFarland said. This helped keep Nathan within his 20-hour limit every week.

“He had to see how all the marketing was set up. We handle all compliance and monitoring for all our consultants. He also met with all advisors to reflect on the wealth management and the business. For a huge, big company with assets in excess of $13 billion, there was always something to do.”

When asked if there was one aspect of working with a wealth management firm that felt really new to him, Mensah said, “I would say taxes. Taxes were a big thing I learned. In my first month there, I started saying to my teammates, “Hey, you gotta start this. You must open an LLC in your name. I started preaching it.

“For me as an athlete, one thing I preach to you is what you can do while you’re still playing to make sure you’re getting financial bang for your buck.”

If only he could make notes while playing with the Aztecs, you could easily see it: “I will prevent you from paying more taxes than necessary.” Maybe one day.

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