Dorian Giles had a tough decision to make early on as a student at the University of Missouri. Giles, an avid basketball player throughout his youth, had dreamed of one day suiting up at the collegiate level. While those dreams were put on the back burner as Giles chose to attend Mizzou, during his sophomore year he was in contact with a university about a playing opportunity. He suddenly had a life-changing choice to consider.
A simple conversation with former men’s basketball player Torren Jones not only kept Giles at MU – it helped jumpstart his career.
“I saw Torren in Dobbs after a tough loss, and he was looking a bit down,” Giles said. “I couldn’t decide if I should go over and say anything or not, but I finally sat down and told him to keep his head up. I was just being regular with him, having a normal conversation like I would with any of my peers. We talked for quite a bit, and I ended up telling him about me potentially leaving to hoop. I also mentioned my interest in becoming a manager for the Mizzou men’s basketball team. Torren said he would put in a good word for me with the coaching staff. A week later I was hired as a manager for the team and made the decision to stick around at MU.
“Ultimately, God showed me that it was going to be meaningful to stay at Mizzou. It was hard to come to terms with that chapter of my life, specifically my playing career, coming to a close; however, it paid off.”
Giles graduated in 2016 with a degree in parks, recreation, sport and tourism (emphasis in sport management), as well as a minor in business. He left with numerous connections and has already built a strong career in player representation, marketing and brand building.
“I learned a lot during my time at Mizzou, including the importance of taking risks,” Giles said. “You have to get everything you can from each opportunity. You also have to hustle. It’s not always going to be easy. I learned how important it is to be strong mentally to continue through the ups and downs.”
Giles got his first taste of Columbia and the Mizzou community during his junior year of high school. Giles, who attended Lincoln College Preparatory Academy, a magnet high school in Kansas City, Mo., visited a friend who was a enrolled at MU.
“Columbia felt really passionate about everything Mizzou, and that piqued my interest,” Giles said. “Campus felt like a lot of fun, too, which was important to me.”
Once Giles started doing his own research, he realized that MU was soon going to offer a sport management emphasis area within the parks, recreation, sport and tourism degree. His freshman year was the first time Mizzou offered that option to students.
“I knew that I wanted a career in sports, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do,” Giles said. “That emphasis area sounded super relevant to me as a huge sports fan. I felt it would give me the opportunity to figure out my professional goals while maintaining interest in my coursework.”
The degree was the perfect fit.
“I was definitely enlightened,” Giles said. “I knew there were multiple opportunities out there – the sports industry is an incredibly rich one. I didn’t know about the specifics, though. I learned a ton through the program and was able to build so many strong networks as an undergraduate student.”
Those networks only strengthened as Giles got more involved with the men’s basketball team. He was able to see the business side of sports, as well as interact with the players and coaches.
“It was a unique experience for sure,” Giles said. “It was interesting to see all the moving pieces and how they all come together. The resources and connections were definitely the biggest value for me.”
As a Tiger, Giles was a member of Athletes in Action and the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. He also served as a strength and conditioning intern for the Mizzou football team.
“I’m very thankful for everyone who supported me at MU,” Giles said. “Mizzou served as a catalyst for all of this, and I’ll always be a resource for the university. I appreciated every moment while I was there.”
Entering the Industry
Giles’s first professional experience after graduation was a result of a relationship he built as a manager for the Mizzou men’s basketball team. A fellow manager told Giles about a coaching clinic that he should look into attending. The clinic was led by Drew Hanlen, a strategic skills and performance coach who has worked with some of the top National Basketball Association (NBA) players.
“My goal in going to this clinic was obviously to learn – but it was also about connecting with Drew,” Giles said. “I was able to do just that, and I made sure to stay in contact with him throughout my time as an undergraduate student.”
His persistence paid off, too. Giles was offered an internship immediately after graduation to work with Hanlen’s training company, Pure Sweat Basketball. Giles wore many hats in that role. Along with analyzing film and creating training curriculum for potential clients, he also would step in as a practice player, going head-to-head with current NBA players Jordan Clarkson, Bradley Beal and Zach Lavine, among others.
“I was obsessed with showing how I could add value to what Drew was doing,” Giles said. “Working with Mizzou basketball players allowed me to understand these athletes as individuals, which helped me tremendously when I was working with Pure Sweat. I wasn’t star struck or anything; I was more interested in understanding how these athletes perform at such a high level so consistently. I learned how they stay at the top of their game and applied those lessons to what I was interested in.”
While Pure Sweat offered Giles a look at the training and player development sides of the sports industry, he was again exposed to the business side of the operation as well. He was connected with agents, managers and public relation specialists throughout his four-month internship.
“Mizzou did such a good job of helping me understand how to utilize my passion for sports, and my internship took that to a whole new level,” Giles said. “I was interacting with so many individuals and really saw what type of opportunities were out there.”
Making His Mark
Giles’s career leveled up during his next internship opportunity. He spent three months with Athletes First, a full-service management firm that represents elite athletes, coaches and sport personnel. It was there he met his mentor, David Mulugheta. a premiere National Football Association (NFL) agent. Giles also started thinking about law school.
“I was having a discussion with David about my future goals, and he advised me that I should go to law school,” Giles said. “That’s all I needed to hear. I made the decision then that I wanted to pursue a law degree.”
Giles recently graduated from Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law with his Juris Doctor (JD), giving him another tool on his sports journey. Along with earning his JD, Giles passed the Texas Uniform Bar Exam and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) Agents exam.
“Adding value to situations is how you continue to move up in this industry,” Giles said. “I’ve been obsessed with that mindset since I was a student at Mizzou, and it’s only grown as I’ve gained more experience.”
Throughout his law school journey, Giles was also managing his first professional athlete. During his internship with Athletes First, Giles started working with Charles Harris, a standout defensive end for Mizzou, who was slated to be a first round pick in the 2017 NFL draft. Giles and Harris had a friendship that went back years. The two attended the same high school and stayed close throughout their time at MU. As Harris began talking to agents, Giles helped him vet those opportunities. Harris eventually signed with Athletes First – and Giles has served as Harris’s manager since 2017. Harris currently plays for the Detroit Lions.
“Working with Charles is really exciting,” Giles said. “It’s a lot of meetings and a lot of scheduling – but each day is very different. I’ll go from running an errand to setting up an event to securing a sponsorship to reviewing a contract. It’s like putting a puzzle together. I love storytelling in general and Charles and I have been building his story for quite a bit.”
Along with serving as Harris’s manager, Giles worked with Moses Moody, a first round draft pick of the Golden State Warriors, during the Warriors’ championship season (2021-22). He currently serves as a consultant to two technology companies, too. Giles is also the basketball director with Humble Over Hype, a nonprofit focused on making changes through the spiritual development of athletes. It’s a lot to juggle but Giles said he enjoys the freedom that comes with each of his roles.
He has some bigger projects coming as well. His story is just getting started.
“I’m dreaming big for sure,” Giles said. “I’ve already worked with two first round picks, and I’ve been sought out by other athletes. It’s just a super exciting time right now. I’ve put a lot of work in, and it’s taken a lot of faith, perseverance and consistency, but things are happening. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”