Mat Ishbia: From Michigan State Walk-On to NBA Team Owner
Mathew Ishbia who some may know as the new owner of the Pheonix Suns (after dropping a whopping $4 billion on the Arizona franchise) is not only a Detroit native, but a Michigan State basketball walk-on, and national champion.
Back in 1998 Ishbia graduated from Seaholm High School in Birmingham, Michigan before enrolling at Michigan State University. Here he would go on to study business administration while playing for the basketball team alongside Mateen Cleaves who helped lead the Spartans to an NCAA National Championship in 2000.
Smart and Sports Spartan
After deciding to head to Michigan State without a scholarship, Ishbia trusted his skills in an open tryout. He's good enough to make the team and eventually earned a scholarship before his senior year. In four seasons for the Spartans, Ishbia had 28 points, 12 rebounds, 13 assists, 7 steals, 12 personal fouls, and 16 turnovers.
After his senior year he would be a grad assistant coach for Toom Izzo and the Spartans, he was offered a job to be the assistant coach at Cleveland State University that he would turn down to become the 12th employee at United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM).
After holding positions from account executive to loan originator, Ishbia finally made his way to the top as he was named the CEO of UWM in 2013. As the company continued to grow and expand, Ishbia was starting to look for more business ventures.
Securing The Suns
After purchasing an independent baseball league in Utica, Michigan, launching two websites, and striking a deal with the Detroit Pistons Gaming Team, Ishbia was still looking for ways to be involved in the sports sector of the world.
Ishbia donated over $30 million to his Alma Mater, Michigan State University, for their athletic department. He is credited with funding the football practice facility and the basketball court which will both feature his name. He is also a part of the investment group that paid the large $95 million contract for Mel Tucker's extension.
After all of the controversy surrounding Robert Sarver, both himself and the team decided it would be best if the team was sold to a new owner. After many months of deliberation, negotiations, and whatever else takes place in these kinds of business transactions, Ishbia has secured the bag.
He wrote a check for $4 billion, making him the sole owner of the Pheonix Suns basketball franchise and the youngest owner in the NBA. The $4 billion price tag is also an NBA record and comes with a majority stake in the WNBA's Pheonix Mercury as well.