Before signing a two-year, $4 million deal with the Wolves in late summer, the well-traveled Tolliver had donned a dozen jerseys in the three years since graduating from Creighton University in 2007.
With a host of stops in the NBA's D-league, a mesh of 10-day contracts and partial-season stints, along with overseas gigs in both Germany and Turkey, Tolliver's path to Minnesota has more lines than a Lindsay Lohan birthday party.[jump]
Yet it shouldn't be considered ironic that a man searching for a home has become an expert at evaluating them for others. Tolliver graduated from Creighton with a degree in finance and was on the dean's list all four years as a Bluejay, eventually leaving Omaha with a cumulative 3.53 GPA. Concurrent to his versatile floor game, his business acumen away from the court is just as multi-faceted.
"I'm part owner of a real estate company, 'Say You Can, LLC,'" Tolliver explained after a recent Wolves practice. "Me and one of my best friends have an agreement; we basically rehab homes and we also buy and sell homes in all different types of ways, all types of different investments in the Springfield, Missouri, area, where we're from. On the side, I have a few rental properties that my family kind of runs for me. And I'm in the process of buying some investment properties in California, also. It's pretty much spread all across the country right now."
Attributing a business work ethic that is matched by only his basketball prep, Tolliver is tireless in his quest for knowledge. He is currently expanding his off-court vision into an advertising business with another friend in Arkansas and continually keeps himself abreast of business culture via both literature and television, counting Flip This House among his favorite programs.
"Basically, in my free time between practices and games, I'm talking to lawyers, talking to my business partners," Tolliver says. "It takes a lot of time to do that type of stuff. Last night, one o'clock in the morning after the game, I'm not tired so I watched an hour and a half of a video that educates on a new real estate method that people are using to sell homes. I dedicate a lot of my free time to learning."
Rather than lamenting his world tour toward earning a multi-year contract, the 25-year-old views his travels as playing a major part in making him a more refined player, and a more learned investor.
"It's helped shape me into a more well-rounded businessman, on and off the court," Tolliver continued. "I've been all over the place, all over the world. All over the United States, playing with different teams. It's made me realize that nothing is promised on the basketball end. At the end of the day, who knows--this could be my last year, or next year could be my last year, or the year after that. The stuff I'm going to be doing after basketball is just as important, or maybe even more important, than the stuff I'm doing on the court. That's why I'm dedicating so much time to these other business opportunities, so that once I'm done with basketball I have all these other things in place to where I don't have to worry about them. They're not taking money out of my pocket, they're bringing money in."
With the threat of a league lockout after the season, Tolliver--named by teammates as their player rep in the matter--says that off-court business discussion among players has become more vibrant. The Wolves are the league's youngest team and Tolliver has become a magnet for many younger Wolf pups seeking financial advice.
"The biggest thing is for these guys to not get into a lifestyle that they can't maintain for a long, long time," the forward explains. "I think that's the biggest problem. If they make $8 million a year and they spend a million or two million dollars a year, they think, 'I'm saving a lot of money.' But at the end of the day, once they get done, if they've made $40 million and they spend two million a year--do the math. It's not about how much money you make; it's how much you spend."
While Tolliver has yet to make any investment moves in the Twin Cities market (he currently rents), he adds that while his business beginnings found him reaching out with that lengthy wingspan, more and more deals are starting to come his way.
But even with his budding off-court success, has basketball ever been in his rear view?
"Not all at," Tolliver states with passion. "First and foremost, my dream, ever since I was a kid, was to play in the NBA. It's something I love more than anything else."
Yet Tolliver knows that he can't forever wear shorts for a living. And it's his ultimate hope that someday he'll be regarded more for his business numbers than his NBA stats.
"I hope a better businessman, honestly," he concludes, speaking toward a basketball vs. business legacy. "It's something that's going to last a lot longer than basketball. Hopefully, I can play another 10 years. If that's it, that's great. That would be 14 years playing professional basketball. In 10 years, I'll be 35. At the end of the day, I plan on being successful on this business side of things a lot longer than 14 years."