When David Fatoki, BSBA ’15, graduated in 2015 with a degree in finance and entrepreneurship from Olin Business School, he was “gung ho” about starting his career as a consulting analyst at Accenture. But a few months later, Fatoki “got an itch,” he says. “I wanted to play basketball again.”
Fatoki had played the game his whole life, including as a point guard with the WashU Bears, where he earned Division III honorable mention All-America honors and was fourth in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio. During his time at WashU, the Bears won three consecutive University Athletic Association Conference titles.
One of Fatoki’s teammates was Kent Lacob, AB ’15, who works in the front-office of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, winners of the 2022 NBA Championship, the team’s fourth in eight seasons. When Fatoki told Lacob he wanted to play ball again, Lacob invited Fatoki to a tryout with the Santa Cruz Warriors, the Golden State Warrior’s NBA G-League affiliate.
“It was kind of a joke,” Fatoki recalls, but he took on the challenge. The tryout went so well that Fatoki started looking for an agent. By October 2015, he was playing for a junior-league team in Murcia, Spain, where he stayed for one season.
“It was the study abroad opportunity I never had,” Fatoki says. In addition to taking Spanish and sports management courses, he also spent a lot of time with coaches and front-office folks with Liga ACB, the top pro basketball division of the Spanish basketball league.
“I was kind of getting a master class in international basketball just by being there,” he says.
In May 2016, Fatoki returned to Accenture. But later that summer, he attended the NBA Summer League, a tournament in Las Vegas featuring young players, coaches and executives from the NBA. Fatoki networked extensively, and by October 2016, he was working for the Santa Cruz Warriors in an entry-level position.
Fatoki steadily climbed the ladder within the organization. Along the way, NBA great Klay Thompson frequently joined the Santa Cruz Warriors as he recovered from major injuries to his ACL and Achilles. Thompson became a big Fatoki supporter.
“I love his demeanor,” Thompson told The Athletic. “He’s always calm, cool and collected. He just has this ability to relate to people, and that’s what it takes. You have to interact with so many people when you’re dealing with an NBA team. Whether it’s rookies, summer-league team, G League — it’s like a revolving door. And everybody loves Fatoki.”
In June 2021, the Santa Cruz Warriors made Fatoki their general manager. With 12 direct reports and a team of 10 to manage, Fatoki is busy, but he still makes time to stay abreast of business matters. In fact, Thompson says he still remembers Fatoki’s financial advice.
“I get to scratch all of those business-related itches that I have while staying with the Warriors,” Fatoki says. Plus, he gets to watch a lot of basketball.
“Scouting takes a lot of my time,” he says. “And that’s what I enjoy. I’m always watching basketball and looking for hidden gems and talent. Whenever there’s a ball bouncing, I’m interested.”