There’s no shortage of excellent players in the NCAA this year. Just take a look at the list of men’s players listed below.
College basketball is a sport that lends itself well to marketability. Its players are subject to intense scrutiny at a young age as they compete for NCAA scholarships. They are then thrust into the professional world as soon as they are eligible for the draft, and it is in their best interests to establish themselves both on and off the court.
For these 25 NCAA men’s basketball players, it’s an opportunity to showcase their talents to millions of fans across the country and open doors for a future in professional sports. But first, they have to get to college. College sports are booming, and their success is the result of a number of factors, including NCAA rules that allow student-athletes to turn pro after two years of competition. The rules have helped create a new generation of stars on sports teams, as well as on the court, where they often turn to their fans for advice during games.
Hanna and Haley Cavinder, twins, walked up a few stairs, held hands, and pointed to a digital billboard in New York City’s Times Square that featured their image and an announcement of the first high-profile name, image, and likeness (NIL) deal in college basketball with a synchronized turn on July 1.
They recorded the momentous event and shared it on TikTok. It was seen over 854,000 times.
The Fresno State basketball players have more than 3 million TikTok followers, which prompted Boost Mobile to sign them to a significant marketing agreement. The billboard was also a visual symbol of college athletics’ sudden change. The Cavinder twins, like others, are now more than just collegiate athletes. They’re businessmen who want to be paid what they’re worth.
Boost Mobile CEO Stephen Stokols stated during a CNBC interview, “They’re underdogs.” “They were small when they arrived. Their first year at Fresno State, they made an impact on the court. They did an incredible job establishing a large social media following… As a result, we’re looking for female athletes. We’re looking for athletes that have proved themselves and share our values.”
Given the existing contracts, it’s obvious that collegiate basketball players, both men’s and women’s, will be able to get NIL chances based at least in part on their celebrity.
Social media following is a crucial indication for a player’s marketability, according to Ryan Matha, director of football operations at Rosenhaus Sports, which now represents college players on NIL agreements. Companies often contact him to ask about partnering with the collegiate players represented by Rosenhaus Sports, particularly those with more than 100,000 followers on social media.
“Great local and regional players will perform well,” Matha said. “However, when it comes to national brands, they have to be able to monetize it.”
While an athlete’s social media following provides a concrete market for potential sponsors to tap into right away, it isn’t the only factor to examine when determining marketability.
“Recognizing the numerous aspects that can impact NIL opportunities is critical,” said Luke Fedlam, founder of Anomaly Sports Group and a partner and chair of the sports law practice at Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, a group that has partnered with universities seeking education on NIL. “But it’s also important to remember that performance within the sport will be one of the most significant drivers of opportunity.”
Take Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, who has just 87,000 Instagram followers, a fraction of the number of elite college basketball players, and has yet to start a college football game.
Despite this, according to ESPN, he has already inked NIL agreements for over $800,000 and is considering additional deals worth nearly $1 million. Companies are betting on his reputation as a rising star with a strong team. The same characteristics will benefit college basketball players.
As a result, we’ve compiled a list of “The 25 Most Marketable College Basketball Players,” a mix of male and female players with a lot of promise in the nascent NIL market for college athletes.
Our criteria are straightforward. Players with a large social media following may provide businesses with access to an established pool of prospective consumers, giving them an edge in the pursuit of NIL possibilities. They have a significant position on this list. Others, like Young, have extraordinary skill that may make them attractive targets for businesses willing to invest in their talents and potential success. Every athlete on this list has either a large fan base or exceptional skill. Or both, in certain instances.
(INFLCR supplied social media data.)
After earning Women’s Collegiate Athlete of the Year, UConn basketball star Paige Bueckers had a powerful message for the support of Black female athletes.
Paige Bueckers, No. 1
UConn point guard has 901,000 Instagram followers, 336,000 TikTok followers, and 56,800 Twitter followers.
Six Star Pro Nutrition purchased a billboard on a major highway in Connecticut weeks before the NIL regulations went into effect, stating, “America’s highest paid college athlete plays in Connecticut, we simply can’t pay her yet.” It was a not-so-subtle reference to Bueckers, the first freshman to win the Wooden Award in women’s college basketball history and an all-around phenomenal athlete who led the Huskies in points, assists, steals, and 3-point field goal percentage last season (the third freshman to do so after Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Maya Moore). Bueckers’ position as the best player at UConn, the strongest brand in women’s college basketball, has a brand official telling the Hartford Courant that she might be at the focus of a campaign.
It helps that she isn’t scared to say what she thinks. Bueckers, who has a Black brother, stated last year that she didn’t mind if she lost followers as a result of her support for the Black Lives Matter movement. She also pushed for greater media exposure and coverage of Black female athletes in her acceptance speech for the ESPYS women’s college athlete of the year award in July. That’s why, according to the Wall Street Journal, the current face of women’s collegiate basketball, who has trademarked “Paige Buckets,” is expected to earn more than $1 million this season through NIL agreements.
Emoni Bates is number two.
College TBD, five-star recruit with 395,000 Instagram followers and 25,500 Twitter followers
Bates shared a picture on Instagram last week that received almost 65,000 likes and a remark from LeBron James: “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes Let’s get this party started!” Bates, who has been a highly regarded NBA prospect since he was a high school freshman, is being watched by even the biggest star in basketball. The 6-foot-9 forward is smooth and inventive, capable of playing numerous positions and handling all aspects of the game. He initially committed to Michigan State, but he just chose to reclassify and open his recruitment to the 2021 class, where he is currently the No. 3 prospect (he was No. 1 in the 2022 class). In only 24 hours, the statement, which was his first on Instagram, garnered him 385,000 followers and 74,000 likes. Bates’ NIL agreements may set the standard for future high-profile prospects in men’s college basketball if he chooses to play college basketball (Oregon, Memphis, and Michigan State are his finalists, but he’s also contemplating the G League).
3. Hanna & Haley Cavinder
Fresno State’s guards TikTok has 3.4 million users while Instagram has 550,000.
The glamorous reveal of their Boost Mobile contract is only the beginning for the two, who have amassed a sizable TikTok following since their first post on July 29, 2019. Since then, Hanna and Haley have inked new agreements (with Gopuff and Six Star Pro Nutrition, according to the Fresno Bee), and their popularity continues to grow, as shown by their combined Instagram following of over 140,000 in the past three months. While the twins’ popularity is mostly based on their social media presence, it’s worth noting how good they are on the court. Last season, Haley was awarded Mountain West Player of the Year after averaging 19.9 points per game and 7.7 rebounds per game. Hanna, who averaged 17.0 points per game last season, was named to the all-Mountain West team with her twin. The Cavinders are unquestionably the trend-setters in the new NIL age.
LSU has 2.7 million Instagram followers, 1.5 million TikTok followers, and 334,000 Twitter followers.
Shaquille O’Neal, his father, is said to be worth $400 million following a Hall of Fame NBA career and a huge sponsorship portfolio that includes Icy Hot, Gold Bond, Pepsi, Reebok, and Papa John’s. Shaunie, his mother, is a businesswoman and executive producer of many VH1 programs, including “Basketball Wives.” Shareef, who now attends the same high school where his father was a star in the early 1990s, obviously has two mentors who can help him turn his 4.5 million social media followers into endorsements. Add in a long history of comfort in front of the camera and an inspiring story — two years ago, a heart defect nearly ended his basketball career, but he underwent surgery, recovered, and returned — and Shareef appears to embody everything a company would want in an investment, more than anyone else on this list.
Hailey Van Lith is number five on the list.
Louisville’s guard Instagram has 711,000 followers, TikTok has 54,400, and Twitter has 21,500.
Van Lith posted a video of herself conversing with Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gigi, during a basketball game in the days after his death. On Instagram, the video received over 585,000 likes. Last season, the dynamic guard averaged 11.2 points per game as a rookie for Louisville. Kevin Durant and Bronny James are among her fans, and she often shares pictures with Kyrie Irving. She is also said to be dating Orlando Magic youngster Jalen Suggs. Suggs has roughly 200,000 less social media followers than Van Lith, yet the two may wind up in the same tax bracket this year: Van Lith may earn almost $1 million in NIL transactions each year, according to Opendorse, via Axios.
6. Prince of Sedona
Oregon, keep moving forward. TikTok has 2.6 million users, 246,500 on Instagram, and 43,500 on Twitter.
On Twitter, the Oregon star’s video showing the disparities between the men’s and women’s weight rooms during the 2021 NCAA championships has over 18 million views. Not only did it elicit reactions from celebrities like Steph Curry, but it also prompted an inquiry into the discrepancies between the two championships.
The 6-foot-7 guard, who averaged 10.4 points per game last season, has been an advocate for athletes for years, and her popularity increased throughout the NCAA tournament. She was on the verge of declaring bankruptcy two years ago after getting a bill for $28,000 in unpaid medical bills stemming from a series of ailments. As a result, she was named as one of two plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit alleging that the NCAA prevented players from earning money. Prince is also outspoken about her sexuality and has pushed for more LGBTQ representation in collegiate sports. Prince ticks all the boxes for businesses looking for someone strong and brave.
a seven footer Steph Curry was smacked with the SAUCE by Chet Holmgren, who then dunked it! @ChetHolmgren @StephenCurry30 #SC30Select pic.twitter.com/xjHZxb4bus
August 6, 2019 — Ballislife.com (@Ballislife)
Chet Holmgren is number seven on the list.
Gonzaga University’s Center Instagram has 322,000 followers, TikTok has 82,500, and Twitter has 25,600.
It’s not every day in college basketball that a 7-foot white kid from Minnesota rushes the court like a guard and likes to create SportsCenter highlights with his aggressiveness in the paint. But, according to ESPN, that’s who the predicted No. 1 selection in the 2022 NBA draft will be. In ESPN’s Way Too Early Top 25 rankings, Holmgren, who also played with Jalen Suggs and rapper Master P’s kids, begins the season as a standout on the No. 1 team.
Holmgren is a nationally known name even before he has played his first collegiate game, having been in several televised games and being featured on local TV for a clothes drive he coordinated in the Twin Cities. It’s no wonder, therefore, that he’s already thinking about a slew of big sponsorship agreements.
Keep moving ahead, Gonzaga has 73,600 Instagram followers and 7,200 Twitter followers.
After scoring 19.0 points per game, 7.0 rebounds per game, and 2.0 blocks per game in 2020-21, the Gonzaga standout renowned for his headband (which has its own Twitter account) and trademark mustache will undoubtedly begin the season as the preseason national player of the year on most respectable lists. He and Holmgren will form America’s best frontcourt, which will compete for its first national championship a year after falling to Baylor in the national final.
Timme recently told the Spokesman-Review that he intends to become more active on social media to develop his brand, even if his skill and connection with a prestigious school, like Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, are more than enough to pique the interest of prospective sponsors. He’ll be aided by: Gonzaga’s “Next Level” NIL educational collaboration with INFLCR was recently formed to assist its players realize their potential and possibilities.
Michigan’s guard and Shawnee State’s forward (NAIA)
TikTok has 4.7 million followers, whereas Instagram has 464,000.
The first step was to download TikTok to kill time at the pandemic’s peak in 2020. Then there was getting to know each other and creating a brand together. Today, the Shawnee State star and Wolverines reserve are genuine social media giants. Roney, on the other hand, is the most well-known athlete in this viral power duo (She has 500,000 more TikTok followers than Nunez). Despite the fact that she attends a non-Division I school and he only scored six points in ten games last season, their hilarious skits and dance pieces (they also produce solo material) routinely get over a million views.
The pair also runs a YouTube channel, “Carson and Adrien,” with 114,000 followers, where they often highlight other YouTube influencers while still achieving the huge numbers advertisers want: A video showing the two shopping for Nunez’s new Ann Arbor apartment, for example, has over 175,000 views. Nunez even makes and sells his own merchandise. They obviously know what they’re doing.
Casey Ferguson is number ten.
South Alabama’s Guard TikTok has 2.4 million users while Instagram has 28,000 users.
Yes, she attends South Alabama, a Sun Belt Conference institution with a relatively little national profile. However, in a sport where the wealthy schools have traditionally had a considerable edge over the poor, Ferguson’s popularity demonstrates that the rules don’t always apply in the NIL world. Ferguson, a self-proclaimed social media gourmet and personality, has amassed a following of people who just want to know what she’s eating or preparing on any given day: More than 140,000 people watched a morning smoothie video. She also recorded herself ordering and eating a meal from fast food restaurant Zaxby’s on a recent road trip. On TikTok, the video has over 800,000 views. Now, South Alabama is allegedly working with a number of businesses to assist Ferguson and other athletes in taking advantage of these new revenue opportunities.
Paolo Banchero (No. 11)
Duke, go ahead. 82,000 Instagram followers, 14,500 Twitter followers, and 3,400 TikTok followers
In Mike Krzyzewski’s last season, the unprecedented attention Duke basketball will get may help the team’s best players. Being a star on a team with the strongest brand in the sport comes with additional benefits — it’s a desirable position in the NIL world. Banchero, who is expected to be the No. 2 selection in the NBA draft in 2022, is that player. At O’Dea High School in Seattle, Washington, the 6-foot-10 five-star forward averaged 22.7 points per game and showed he can influence the game as a shot-blocker, outside shooter, or dominating post player.
With the Blue Devils, he’ll be watched by millions — more than 16 million people watched Duke’s Elite Eight game with Michigan State in 2019, which included Zion Williamson on the squad. He’ll also be surrounded by rich fans of the university, which Forbes placed ninth in the number of billionaires it created in 2017. Then there’s the international market: Banchero acquired his Italian citizenship via his father last year, and he’s been a hot subject in Italian media as well. The options are limitless.
Azzi Fudd, who is just 18 years old, is widely regarded as the greatest female basketball prospect in decades. This ESPN Cover Story depicts her journey and the difficulties that threatened to derail her aspirations and ambitions.
Azzi Fudd (Azzi Fudd) (Azzi Fudd)
UConn has 160,000 Instagram followers and 10,600 Twitter followers.
Geno Auriemma will be the No. 1 recruit in America for the second season in a row because to the talent pipeline in Storrs, Connecticut. Fudd, like Bueckers, may be a Wooden Award contender as a freshman, while playing with her buddy and classmate in the finest backcourt in the nation. Fudd, the first high school sophomore to be awarded Gatorade National Player of the Year, will be in the limelight after defeating Bueckers for the honor.
Steph Curry told ESPN’s Katie Barnes about Fudd’s presence at his SC30 Select Camp, “I had never truly seen people’s views opening right in front of their eyes” (Fudd was one of the few young women in the camp). “It was like, ‘This lady is out here doggin’ these men,’” says the narrator. Bueckers’ reputation and exposure for sponsors increased as a young star at UConn, when she won 11 national championships, the most in women’s collegiate basketball history. It should also work for Fudd.
UCLA’s small forward has 171,000 Instagram followers and 17,800 Twitter followers.
It’s not unusual for NBA talents to return to school after a break. However, the opportunity to earn money as a student-athlete may now impact many more choices. Juzang, the generation’s leader, has now put himself up to take advantage of all the City of Angels has to offer. He returns to the Bruins as an NCAA tournament hero, having scored 29 points in his team’s Final Four defeat to Gonzaga.
According to Business Insider, he’s also connected to a school that has generated almost 2,000 graduates with a net worth of at least $30 million apiece. That alumni network alone may help Juzang get big agreements, and he doesn’t have to go far to be noticed: TMZ caught him exiting a restaurant with his father in Los Angeles last month, and questioned him about the NIL deals he wants. “Cars, clothes, shoes, all that stuff… should be some great possibilities,” he responds. It may be any of these things, and more.
Haley Jones (#14)
Stanford, go ahead. 40,000 Instagram followers; 3,300 Twitter followers
Jones was the hero of Stanford’s run to the national title in April, and he is one of the most versatile players in the country. She averaged 20.5 points per game in victories against South Carolina and Arizona, and she will be a preseason All-American in 2021-22. Her off-the-court persona is also nothing to scoff at: Over the summer, she threw the first pitch at a Giants game, and her Instagram postings about it received over 25,000 likes. Her humorous material reflects her outgoing attitude and free energy on the court. She’s just a fantastic basketball player at a school that Forbes has dubbed “a startup incubator.” Stanford also produces more millionaires than any other university in the United States, with the exception of Harvard and Penn. Jones will be able to take advantage of some profitable possibilities.
Aliyah Boston (#15)
South Carolina, go ahead. 38,000 Instagram followers, 7,700 Twitter followers, and 2,300 TikTok followers
The missed putback by the South Carolina standout in the Gamecocks’ Final Four defeat to Stanford was perhaps the most painful moment of the tournament. Boston, on the other hand, will enter November as a preseason All-American and a national player of the year contender, with a potential to win an NCAA championship and sign lucrative contracts just based on her career trajectory. Last season, the 6-foot-5 guard averaged 13.7 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game. As a junior, she’ll want to improve on those numbers under Dawn Staley, who just led the USA women’s basketball team to a gold medal in Tokyo. Will brands pay attention? They’ve already done so. Boston debuted her first video commercial for fast food restaurant Bojangles’ earlier this month. Given the amount of attention it has gotten, additional transactions are almost certain to follow.
I’m excited to release my first merch with The Vinyl Studio, a locally owned and operated business. More limited editions are in the works 🙂
This shirt is really stunning! #LimitedRelease #BackInGold pic.twitter.com/5Ev4BI02WT https://t.co/iLBpQDcws6 pic.twitter.com/5Ev4BI02WT
August 18, 2021 — Caitlin Clark (@CaitlinClark22)
Caitlin Clark (nineteen)
Iowa’s Guard Instagram has 45,000 followers, while Twitter has 11,300.
Kevin Durant is just behind her. After Iowa’s Sweet 16 loss to UConn, Travis Scott tagged her in an Instagram post with the caption “Gonna come back gangsta.” Clark is well-known, and not only among celebrities; she is also a strong supporter of NIL rights. “As a female collegiate athlete, significant possibilities may arise in our college career that may not be available at a professional level,” Clark said earlier this year in a letter of support for a bipartisan NIL law in Iowa.
According to hawkcentral.com, she has gotten a lot of attention from prospective sponsors, who have flooded her inbox with offers, but Clark says she will be “picky” about who she contracts with since she wants to concentrate on basketball. Clark is ranked fourth on ESPN.com’s list of the top women’s college basketball players for the 2021-22 season after leading the United States Under-19 to a gold medal at the FIBA World Cup in Hungary last week — Clark was named MVP of the tournament — and averaging 26.7 points per game last year at Iowa. Clark, expect more offers.
Jaden Owens (#17)
Baylor has 285,000 Instagram followers, 99,000 TikTok followers, and 6,591 Twitter followers.
Owens only averaged 2.4 points per game last season, but she’s a smart social media user who knows how to make the most of each platform. On Instagram, she’s struck the right mix of athletic and stylish, with tens of thousands of likes on each post. She often enlists the help of her Baylor colleagues to recreate popular dance movements on TikTok. Owens may earn $310,000 only from her social media postings, according to Front Office Sports. She’ll also be able to tap into the local sponsorship market as an All-American from Plano, Texas, playing at a prominent Texas institution (according to the NCAA, Baylor placed sixth in total attendance for the 2019-2020 season). Everything is larger in Texas, they say. That may be the case with Owens’ NIL agreements as well.
Villanova’s guard 46,000 Instagram followers; 8,000 Twitter followers
Villanova’s chances of capturing their third national championship under Jay Wright have only improved as a result of Gillespie’s decision to return for a fifth season following a season-ending knee injury last year. The outstanding guard is one of the most experienced players on our list, and he wants to improve on his excellent numbers from previous season: 14.0 points per game and 4.6 assists per game. Gillespie just signed with Barstool Athletes, giving him access to the 2.6 million Twitter followers of company creator Dave Portnoy. Portnoy has acknowledged that he isn’t well-versed in many aspects of athlete representation. He is aware, though, that he has a massive brand that will greatly expand Gillespie’s and other outstanding student-athletes’ possibilities.
Alabama’s Guard On Instagram, she has 448,000 followers; on Twitter, she has 39,000.
Quinerly took some time to calm down. The former McDonald’s All-American initially pledged to Arizona, but decommitted four years ago when the school got embroiled in an FBI investigation into sports misconduct. He subsequently chose Villanova, but struggled to find his stride. He’s finally arrived at Alabama, where he scored 12.2 points per game last season and made 43 percent of his 3-point tries.
Quinerly has a large social following because to his affiliation with the Crimson Tide, but he came in Tuscaloosa with a sizable social following. He and Isaiah Washington (Long Beach State) formed the “Jelly Fam” basketball crew in high school. The group has acquired a cult-like Internet following because to its spectacular finger roll layups. Simply Google it and you’ll discover videos with over a million views. Quinerly is said to have already struck a contract with a local apparel shop and is also using Cameo to send customized video greetings. He’s a compelling case for the NIL period with “Jelly Fam.”
Jalen Duren (no. 20)
Memphis now has 56,000 Instagram followers.
Duren, who was ranked No. 2 on ESPN.com’s top-100 prospects list for the 2022 class, reclassified to the 2021 class and committed to Memphis last month. Penny Hardaway’s Tigers, as well as college basketball, will benefit greatly from his choice. If his friend Emoni Bates chooses Memphis as well, the pair will undoubtedly be the most interesting narrative in college basketball this season. This will just add to the excitement around the exceptional 6-foot-10 forward, who is now predicted to be the No. 4 selection in the NBA draft in 2022. Memphis is also home to three Fortune 500 companies: FedEx, AutoZone, and International Paper, all of which might be interested in acquiring him for a large sum of money.
Kennedy Chandler is number twenty-one.
Tennessee’s point guard 71,500 Instagram followers; 25,000 TikTok followers; 12,500 Twitter followers
Chandler, a predicted top-15 selection in the 2022 NBA draft, was a steal for Tennessee. On the field, he’s a dazzling, top point guard renowned for his explosive plays and confident attitude. He’s obviously serious about his brand off of it: “Beginning of a Journey,” a two-part video chronicling his senior year of high school basketball, has received over 130,000 views on YouTube. His meticulous attention to detail has already landed him a five-figure contract with trading card manufacturer Wild Card, which will include autographed cards and memorabilia.
And the Vols, who have qualified for the NCAA tournament in each of the past three years, are just going to keep investing in him. The school is working with an outside company to educate its student-athletes about NIL, as well as providing academic courses on the subject. Chandler is the kind of person that is ready to take on new challenges, both at NIL and beyond.
Zia Cooke is number 22 on the list.
South Carolina’s Guard 195,000 Instagram followers, 14,000 Twitter followers, and 2,900 TikTok followers
Cooke wasted no time on July 1st, releasing a video across several channels to let prospective sponsors know she’s available to collaborate with them. She also trademarked “Mud Made,” a moniker that reflects the arduous journey she took to fame at South Carolina, where she averaged 15.9 points per game and helped the team reach the Final Four last season. Cooke may earn almost $200,000 this year through paid social media postings alone, according to Front Office Sports.
The junior, like Boston, has signed with Bojangles and is allegedly looking for other options. She also returned to her hometown of Toledo, Ohio, earlier this month to host the first-ever Zia Cooke’s Elite Basketball Camp, where participants paid just $50 to learn from her. Cooke is already ahead of the pack with a diverse NIL portfolio.
Hercy Miller (number 23)
Tennessee State’s point guard 130,000 Instagram followers, 21,000 TikTok followers, and 2,000 Twitter followers
Master P’s No Limit label sold millions of albums in the 1990s, and he utilized hip-hop to build a portfolio worth more than $200 million. Hercy, his son, is a 6-foot-2 three-star prospect who just committed to Tennessee State, an HBCU. Miller has already landed several high-profile NIL contracts as a result of his father’s success and his decision to attend an HBCU: Miller has signed a four-year, $2 million contract with Web Apps America, a digital firm that handles everything from business strategy to mobile app creation, according to Master P. With those kinds of statistics, he believes his contract will pave the way for other student-athletes to get comparable big-time chances.
Meechie Johnson (age 24)
Ohio State’s point guard On Instagram, she has 114,000 followers; on Twitter, she has 3,600.
Johnson stunned Ohio State fans in November when he announced his intention to graduate early from high school, enroll at the university in December, and join the team, taking advantage of an NCAA rule that allowed him and every other freshman to compete last season during the pandemic without losing a year of eligibility. Johnson, a native of Ohio, has connections to the local market as well as one of the most strong brands in college sports (Ohio State’s $210 million budget ranks third in Division I athletics, according to USA Today), which have helped him build a six-figure following. Hundreds of thousands of people have watched his Instagram videos. And he’s one of the 358 accounts on the site that fellow Ohioan LeBron James follows.
He hasn’t even completed a full season yet, yet he’s already one of Ohio State’s most popular players and most lucrative potential cash cows. Johnson got offers only hours after the NIL period started, according to reports. He told News 5 Cleveland, “It’s just going to get wilder.” “The fact that people are reaching out and attempting to do this and that on day one or two.”
Zion Harmon (#25)
Western Kentucky’s point guard On Instagram, she has 283,000 followers; on TikTok, she has 100,000; and on Twitter, she has 7,800.
A little kid delivers no-look passes, throws alley-oops off the backboard to his friends, and makes difficult shots in traffic in a YouTube video with 1.4 million views. Harmon, a seventh-grader at the time, was playing on the Nike EYBL summer tour against high schoolers. Since he was a child, Harmon has been a mixtape prodigy. In a post-LeBron James basketball culture that seeks to discover and promote the next future superstar, he was widely regarded as one of the best middle-school players in America. His early popularity helped him develop a fan base that demonstrates he’s ready for the big leagues. Harmon isn’t at a Power 5 school this season; instead, he’s at a school that’s in the process of rebuilding. But it’s possible that neither he nor the brands that come knocking will care.
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