High School Athletes Now Can Bank Big Endorsement Money

From an AP story by Bernie Wilson headlined “Changes let high school athletes bank big endorsement bucks”:

Jada Williams was a social media star and a talented point guard when she moved with her mother from a Kansas City suburb to San Diego, looking to play basketball for a high school powerhouse and parlay her online prowess into endorsement deals.

She found it all in California, which has become the trendsetter among the 19 states that allow high school athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness without affecting their eligibility to play in college.

The 17-year-old Williams is now pulling in six figures a year from six major endorsement deals. The senior at La Jolla Country Day School has signed to play at the University of Arizona.

“It’s definitely a big change for me, but it was good in every single direction,” Williams said during a break from her exhaustive practice routine, which she often documents with videos and photos posted online. It was the right decision for school and basketball, “and on top of that I was able to start capitalizing off NIL,” shorthand for name, image and likeness.

The effort that began when former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon took on the college sports establishment over NIL rules is quickly reshaping high school sports. Elite prep athletes are banking six and even seven figures before heading to college. The buzz extends to social media, where the top stars have millions of followers on Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, which in turn helps boost their NIL valuation.

“It’s getting bigger by the day,” said Michael Caspino, a Newport Beach attorney who became NIL savvy while reviewing deals for his son’s high school friends and pushing back against the ones that tried to take advantage of the athletes.

Three high school stars are at the top of On3.com’s NIL valuations, which include both college and high school players. They are Bronny James, the son of Lakers star LeBron James; Arch Manning, the third generation of the first family of quarterbacks; and Mikey Williams, a basketball star at San Ysidro High in San Diego.

James tops the list with a valuation of $7.5 million. He attends Sierra Canyon High in the Los Angeles area and recently signed a deal with Nike. Mikey Williams, who has committed to Memphis and has a multiyear deal with Puma, has a valuation of $3.6 million. Manning, who attends Isidore Newman High in New Orleans and has committed to Texas, is at $3.4 million.

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