These Are the Biggest and Coolest NIL Deals in College Basketball
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- College athletes have been able to profit off their name, image, and likeness since July 2021.
- The 2022-23 college basketball season was the second full season in which players have been able to make NIL deals.
- This year saw big bucks, unique partnerships, and the extension of NIL deals into private philanthropy.
March Madness is here, ushering in the season of office pools, bracket-busting buzzer beaters, Cinderella stories, and “One Shining Moment” is finally upon us.
The First Four — play-in games that kick off March Madness — tip off on March 14 for the men's tournament while the women's side starts on March 15.
As college basketball fans across the country fill out their brackets, check out these slam dunk name, image, and likeness (NIL) deals from the college basketball season.
Flau'jae Johnson Flows on “America's Got Talent: All-Stars”
Back when she was only 14 years old, Louisiana State University (LSU) first-year guard Flau'jae Johnson appeared on “America's Got Talent.” Five years later, Johnson returned to the show — this time as a hip-hop artist who is signed with Roc Nation.
Johnson appeared on “America's Got Talent: All-Stars” in February, which is a show that features contestants who previously appeared on “America's Got Talent.” She rapped her way to the quarterfinals of the show before she was eliminated, but multiple judges applauded her performance.
Since the NCAA introduced its NIL policy, other college athletes have appeared on TV shows or series, including North Carolina forward Armando Bacot who made an appearance on “Outer Banks.”
.@flaujae is an all-star. 🤩 #AGTAllStars pic.twitter.com/wNkUrLds1l— America’s Got Talent (@AGT) February 7, 2023
Cavinder Twins Team Up With Raising Cane's
The University of Miami's Haley and Hanna Cavinder have capitalized on NIL opportunities by signing deals with big brands such as Under Armour and Intuit TurboTax.
Now, the twins have their eyes set on a fast-food chain location in Miami Beach.
The Cavinder sisters partnered with Raising Cane's earlier this year, TikToking as they grabbed grub from Miami's newest outpost. The video was shared on TikTok and generated more than 300,000 views.
Investing in these twins is good for business: They have more than 4.6 million followers on social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.
Indiana Forward Pays Homage to High School
Before he was a high-flying forward for the University of Indiana, Trayce Jackson-Davis was a star at Center Grove High School in Greenwood, Indiana. In fact, he earned the Gatorade Indiana Boys Basketball Player of the Year honors thanks to a senior-season stat line that included an average of 22 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks per game.
To remember his time at Center Grove High School (and make a few bucks), Jackson-Davis released a high school throwback shirsey through The Indiana NIL Store.
The shirsey reads
Center Grove on the front and has Jackson-Davis' name on the back, along with his number 23. Jackson-Davis donated $5 from each shirsey purchase to Center Grove High School and earned between $8 and $15 per item sold.
Other companies Jackson-Davis is partnered with include Adidas, Merchants Bank of Indiana, and Pennzoil.
Jordan Brand Enters NIL Landscape
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) first-year player Kiki Rice made history in October by becoming the first college athlete to sign an NIL deal with Jordan Brand.
Since UCLA is already one of six universities playing in Jordan Brand shoes and apparel, Rice is getting paid to wear Jordan gear on and off the court. She's also the reigning Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year and was ranked the second best player in her class by ESPN.
The partnership between the Jordan Brand and Rice will center around gender equity — one of Rice's biggest passions, particularly in sports. Other women athletes who have signed with Jordan include Maya Moore, Crystal Dangerfield and Dearica Hamby, all who represented the WNBA.
Virginia Tech Center Gets Cooking
When Virginia Tech center Liz Kitley isn't cooking the competition in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), she enjoys cooking fine cuisine. And thanks to a partnership with Triumph NIL, Kitley can showcase her cooking skills for a demonstration with the Gourmet Pantry & Cooking School.
The cooking class was held in January and hosted by Kitley and Gourmet Pantry owner Roya Gharavi. Fans could purchase tickets to go to the class where they learned to cook some of Kitley and Gharavi's favorite dishes.
Other NIL deals Kitley is involved with include promoting CMG Leasing properties through public appearances and social media posts, promoting custom merchandise at The Hokies NIL Store, and offering personalized videos through her Cameo profile.
PUMA Celebrates Women Ballers — On and Off the Court
This season, PUMA struck a deal with various athletes to celebrate women and International Day of the Girl, including University of Southern California's Dominique Onu and UCLA's Camryn Brown.
PUMA hosted its first clinic celebrating International Day of the Girl at the Boys & Girls Club of William Mead in Los Angeles, where athletes acted as coaches and taught soccer, basketball, and golf skills to around 100 young girls. Athletes were paid to work the clinic and received PUMA apparel.
PUMA has been heavily involved in the NIL industry recently. The company signed LSU first-year women's basketball player Flau'Jae Johnson to a sneaker deal and high schoolers Mia and Mya Pauldo to NIL footwear and apparel deals.
After On-Court Collapse, Kansas State's Keyontae Johnson Signs NIL Deal With Heartfelt
Two years after he collapsed from a cardiac event while playing for the University of Florida, Keyontae Johnson returned to the court this season for Kansas State University.
Johnson hasn't just fully recovered — he's revitalizing his career at Kansas State, where he is the second-leading scorer in the Big 12. And now he has a Heartfelt NIL deal.
Heartfelt provides cardiac screening that can help save lives from often-preventable cardiac events. As part of the deal, Johnson appeared in a commercial announcing his partnership with the nonprofit and asking for donations to the organization.
I’m excited to announce that I have partnered with Heartfelt.— Keyontae (@Keyontae) February 7, 2023
As a nonprofit, Heartfelt needs your financial help to offer these services.
To donate go to the link https://t.co/XCIgYv13f8 pic.twitter.com/YL5VPi82u7
After Scary Injury, Clemson Guard Goes Nuts
Back in January, Clemson guard Brevin Galloway shared details of a gruesome injury: His testicles and scrotum exploded after lifting weights.
What's a college hooper to do with that injury in the NIL era? Profit from it. The sixth-year player is now selling merch highlighting the injury.
One of the shirts is a play on the Eddie Murphy film “The Nutty Professor,” while the other shirt shows Galloway wearing a jersey that reads
Express Brings Style to College Basketball
Ballers looking to be a little more stylish should check out fashion retailer Express, which made a splash this year in men's college basketball by signing big names across the country:
- Jahvon Quinerly, The University of Alabama
- Justice Sueing, The Ohio State University
- Keyonte George, Baylor University
- Nick Smith, University of Arkansas
The players will be featured on Express' social media pages through paid partnerships where they will discuss their style tips. Each player will also post Express-related content to their Instagram and TikTok accounts throughout the rest of the month.
Express has mainly been focused on signing football and men's basketball players to NIL deals. But Express Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Sara Tervo told Forbes that the company is considering adding women athletes as ambassadors.
Great Clips Becomes
Official Hair Salon of March Madness
Great hair is important on campus and on the court, so Great Clips just signed NIL deals with University of Illinois men's basketball player Matthew Mayer and University of Connecticut women's guard Caroline Ducharme.
Part of the deal includes a YouTube video in which Mayer and Ducharme showed off their
own unique and creative hat flips with social media content creators after getting haircuts.
The video promotes Great Clips' “Hats Off Sweepstakes” where fans can post a photo or video of their own hat flip on social media using #HatsOffSweepstakes. Those who enter the contest have a chance to win a trip and tickets to see the men's or women's Final Four games.
Ducharme already has NIL deals with companies like Moolah Kicks, Bumble, and TIAA. Mayer, who won a national championship with Baylor last season, has NIL deals with NextName and Cameo.