In the NIL era, business for college basketball returnees is good

Armando Bacot didn’t leave North Carolina early to pursue a career after a memorable NCAA title game. Neither did Gonzaga’s Drew Timme, an all-American star on one of the nation’s top shows.

No, business has been good for male and female college basketball players who can now profit from their fame.

Since the NCAA allowed college athletes to use their names, images and likenesses for profit in the summer of 2021, the option of staying in school is more attractive than ever.

“It’s definitely a factor, it definitely helps,” said Thiem, a two-time AP All-American who was a preseason rookie this year. “If you look at not just college basketball, but all college sports, that’s a big reason why a lot of people tend to come back.”

This is especially true on the women’s side, where NIL deals and charter travel are more attractive in the WNBA than rookie salaries and controversial commercial flights.

The women’s game has seen stars like Connecticut’s Paige Books — who is out this year with a knee injury but will return for the 2023-24 season — and Iowa’s Ashley Jones choose to stay.

Other big names like Louisville’s Hailey Van Lith and North Carolina’s Deja Kelly will soon face options. They’ll be draft-eligible when they turn 22 next year.

“If you’re an influencer, especially as a collegiate athlete, that’s your attraction to NIL, you’re going to want to stay in college because that’s how you make money,” Van Lis said. ” But I don’t think it’s going to make a big difference for people who are pursuing a professional[player]career.”

Businesses seeking the most marketable athletes quickly struck deals, many of whom hired agents to manage those opportunities. Businesses in college towns have been finding ways to partner with athletes to capitalize on local notoriety. National companies do this through social media promotions or advertising.

Athletes have a lot of latitude, as long as they provide some type of service in exchange for payment. While terms of the deal were not made public, estimates are in the six figures or more in some cases — with some of the best-known athletes even surpassing million-dollar projections.

“The difference in college sports, which we’ve seen time and time again, is: Do they follow individuals?” said Joe Favorito, a Columbia University lecturer and sports and entertainment marketing consultant. “Kids or. But they really follow the school.

“So someone invests in Duke or North Carolina or Notre Dame because that’s part of the school. So if you move from St. John’s and move to Villanova, does that mean all the brand equity is going to be with you? Come? Maybe not.”

Favorito added: “It’s the challenge of college sports. Sometimes, it’s more about the community and the collective than it is about the individual.”

However, it also explains why there is value in sticking to the academy brand, especially in the light of the annual March Madness spotlight.

On the women’s side, Bueckers partners include Gatorade. Van Lith struck deals with Adidas, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and JCPenney — sending Louisville-area kids on a back-to-school shopping spree this summer. Kelly’s partners include Dunkin’ Donuts and Beats By Dre — even showing her team the company’s custom headphones — and she’s designed a Sports Illustrated-themed swimwear line for retailer Forever 21.

“As far as I absolutely want to play professionally, it’s just taking that into account (NIL),” Kelly said. “But it’s just looking at what the best options are, and most successfully building my finances in that moment. So I think we’ll talk about it when the time comes.”

Preseason Associated Press All-American Jons did not enter the WNBA draft, but returned to Iowa. While change and a chartered flight were factors in her decision, the biggest motivation was for her to complete her graduation requirements this fall.

“It was a long process and I went back and forth,” she said. “I didn’t think much about it last year because you were so focused on the season. I talked more to my family and they said what’s more important to you right now? I know it’s a big thing to be able to graduate with a degree .”

The dynamic on the men’s side is different from that of a 19-year-old player eligible for the NBA draft. There’s also the fact that with the pro game there’s more floor space and 3-point shooting.

Neither Bacot nor Timme were considered first-round picks. Kentucky big man Oscar Chibway was also not last year’s AP Men’s Player of the Year. All three went back to college and made money from NIL partnerships, especially Timme who turned his handlebar beard into a deal with Dollar Shave Club.

And then there’s Bacott. The 6-foot-11 fourth-year center severely sprained his ankle in the Final Four and limped in the NCAA championship game loss to Kansas, so he wasn’t healthy enough for a pre-NBA draft tryout.

But NIL is also important.

Preseason The Associated Press All-American’s long-standing endorsement list includes local stores, such as the Town Hall Burger and Brasserie, which has a burger named after him, and helping the local Me Fine organization raise money for families with children with medical crises. .

Bacot has worked outside of North Carolina with Bad Boy Mowers in Arkansas and Town & Country Farms, a thoroughbred horse and breeding facility in Kentucky, which eventually landed him at this year’s Kentucky Derby.

“Because we and I were successful at the end of the year and just had a pretty big name in college, it allowed me to take that and take advantage of these great opportunities,” Bacott said. “It’s definitely a big factor in coming back.”

Bacott is not done yet. Over the summer, he landed a role in the upcoming season of Netflix’s “Outer Banks,” a teen adventure series set on the coast of the Carolinas.

The only question? His summer practice schedule interfered with filming dates, prompting him to joke that Netflix was “probably mad at me” and might kick him out of the show.

If he sticks around long enough, he might even get his own IMDB page.

It’s not a bad thing to stay for a preseason game. number one team.

“It lets me know that I have some security and that I have a little money, which is better than no money,” he quipped. “That’s great.”

Associated Press basketball writer John Marshall in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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