WSU basketball players meet fans at first NIL event

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – The Wichita State basketball team was at Riverfest on Sunday afternoon for fans to come meet many new faces joining the Shockers this season. Fans had the opportunity to take autographs, talk to the players and even shoot with the players in the street.

The event was the first name, image and likeness deal for Shocker basketball players under their new partnership with Armchair Strategies. When Eyewitness News last spoke with Armchair, they said the partnership would provide rewarding opportunities for players and incentivize them to give back to the community through events such as Sundays.

Some of the newer Shockers, like Southern Mississippi transfer Jaron Pierre Jr., got a taste of Wichita at the event.

“I liked that. Riverfest treats me well,” Pierre said. “A lot of autograph signings, it’s a bit new for me, but I like it. It’s kind of a new experience for me.

One of the new shockers who made his Wichita debut on Sunday was Andover Central product Xavier Bell. Bell transferred to WSU after a stint at Drexel University. He said being back near his hometown was a great feeling and the fans quickly welcomed him.

“You can see it’s a lot of love, especially when we got there,” Bell said. “A lot of children who look up to us [are out here and] people who have been following the program for a few years. Just kind of see their face and see them smile and meet them face to face.

Shocker Point Guard Craig Porter Junior announced his return to Wichita State explicitly because of this partnership with Armchair Strategies. He said athletes know they can take advantage of their abilities with the new rules in place, so why not take advantage?

“As college athletes, not everyone gets to the NBA, obviously,” he said. “So getting some extra cash for these guys while they’re young and helping them accumulate some cash is key.”

Craig says he was happy with the partnership because of the compensation opportunities and the fact that he and his teammates were more motivated to be in the community.

“The first two years I arrived we didn’t have much interaction with the city, other than the fans,” he said. “So to come to something like that is a great experience.”

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