Nike signs five basketball players with NIL contracts
Nike made their biggest statement yet in the NIL game.
The sportswear and sneaker giant has announced the signing of five basketball players, ranging from high school to college level. This is the company’s first major decision. Nike slowly built up a roster in NIL’s first year, inking athletes such as the Stanford golfer Rachel Heck and UCLA footballer Reilyn Turner.
Now the company is making its way into basketball. Bronny James, Caitlin Clark, haley jones, DJ Wagner and Judea Watkins have all signed with the sneaker magnet. The athletes’ signature aligns with Nike’s mission statement, which is “to inspire young athletes who are leading the way now – both on the court and in their communities.”
It also puts the company in a strong position to strike long-term deals with the next generation of basketball stars.
James is the eldest son of james lebron and is a senior at Sierra Canyon High School in Los Angeles. As part of his deal with Nike, he will continue to promote and positively impact communities with the LeBron James Family Foundation.
“As long as I can remember, Nike has been part of my family,” Bronny James said in a statement. “To have the chance to team up with them and carry on my family’s legacy both on the pitch and in the community is crazy – it really means a lot to me.”
A higher guard Stanford, Haley Jones helped clinch a national title in 2021 and was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player. The senior averaged 13.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game last season.
“Basketball has given me so much over the years. I’m excited about the opportunity this partnership presents – to give back to my community in more ways than I ever imagined possible,” Jones said in a statement.
Iowa Guard Caitlin Clark is one of the most accomplished players in women’s soccer. A consensus first-team all-American in 2022, she was also the Big Ten player of the year. She is the first player to win the Dawn Staley Guard of the Year award in consecutive years.
“I grew up watching Nike athletes from all sports play their game,” Clark said. “They inspired me to work hard and make a difference. I’m honored to be a part of this first Nike basketball course and excited to inspire the next.
Nike also signed DJ Wagner and Judea Watkins – two high school stars. This is not Wagner’s first step with Nike. He was previously signed to Drake’s Nike sub-label NOCTA. Watkins is also a senior at Sierra Canyon and was the 2021-22 California Gatorade Player of the Year.
As part of her agreement with Nike, Watkins will work with the company for With Nike, help revitalize basketball spaces in Los Angeles and “redefine the future of women’s basketball.”
Nike signs top-flight NIL talent
With over 12.2 million social media followers, Bronny James holds an On3 NIL valuation of $7.3 million. The rating is highest in the NIL 100 and among college basketball rookies. Associated with his father’s NBA success, James made a name for himself. He also has his own contract with PSD Underwear. Monday’s announcement is just further evidence of what he will be able to order from the NIL market.
Clark and Jones also have two of the highest ratings in women’s basketball. The Iowa guard holds a valuation of $137,000, while Jones’s sits at $74,000. Each has social media followings dwarfing 100,000 and have large trading portfolios.
Although he has yet to announce his engagement, Wagner’s NIL valuation of $662,000 ranks 52nd on the NIL 100. With 115,000 social media followers, he holds a per-post value of 2,200,000. $. It’s hard to think the combo guard won’t end up at a Nike school after Monday’s news.
The On3 NIL Rating is the industry’s leading index that establishes the market standard NIL value for high school and college athletes. A proprietary algorithm, the On3 NIL Valuation calculates an athlete’s NIL value using dynamic data points targeting three main categories: performance, influence and exposure.
While the algorithm includes trade data, it does not act as a tracker of the value of NIL trades athletes have entered into to date, nor does it define an athlete’s NIL valuation for the entire his career. The On3 NIL Assessment calculates the optimized NIL opportunity for athletes against the overall NIL market and projects up to 12 months into the future.