The name, image, likeness (NIL) world has changed the college basketball landscape. Top recruits and elite players have already earned significant sums — sometimes seven figures — in just the first year of this new era.
The rapid change has also prompted top leaders to push for more NIL opportunities on behalf of their athletes. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said this summer it would take $13 million a year to maintain the talent pipeline in Columbus. This is no longer about stadiums and arenas and fancy locker rooms in the race to be the best in college sports. The NIL opportunities available to athletes matter, too — particularly when it comes to attracting transfers.
While the transfer portal set records before NIL laws came into effect, it’s clear top athletes switching schools weighed moneymaking potential when making decisions about their futures this offseason. Everything is still relatively new and undefined, however, so it’s challenging to come up with a definitive metric for what that potential means.
There are athletes with giant followings who don’t have the NIL deals that others with smaller social media reach and more talent have been able to secure. There are athletes with strong brands who are millionaires. Meanwhile, Nebraska wide receiver Decoldest Crawford signed an NIL deal with a heating and cooling company in Lincoln, Nebraska, because of his name. A lot of this doesn’t make much sense yet.
The following is a list of the 15 college basketball transfers, men’s and women’s, who could have multiple NIL opportunities at their new schools. It is based on the partnerships athletes have already signed, their talent, their social media followings, their new school and market, and their potential to become a star — or a bigger star, at least — in the new season.
This is not a ranking — rather, a group of transfers who could be athletes, students and entrepreneurs this season.
5-foot-6, guard, 19.8 PPG at Fresno State (2021-22); 5-6, guard, 14.5 PPG at Fresno State (2021-22)
Per Forbes, the former Fresno State stars were already millionaires before moving to South Beach this summer, with 31 deals under their belt in the past year. Now, they’ll capitalize on more NIL opportunities — with the help of the 5 million social followers who boost their collective value — and flourish in a hotspot for celebrities and major brands.
6-10, forward, 9.7 PPG at Memphis (2021-22)
Bates is no longer the 15-year-old who was once compared to Kevin Durant and viewed as an NBA lottery pick after averaging 9.7 PPG at Memphis in his freshman year. But he’s signed to Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s sports agency, and has more than 400,000 Instagram followers entering what could be a comeback season for the Michigan local at Eastern Michigan — which is located in Bates’ hometown of Ypsilanti.
6-3, forward, 17.8 PPG at Maryland (2021-22)
The former Terrapins star had already attracted the attention of big brands (Outback Steakhouse, Wingstop, Xfinity and Amazon) before she transferred. Now, she’s the leader of a stacked roster at a school ranked as the ninth most valuable college sports brand by the Wall Street Journal in 2019.
6-3, guard, 2.0 PPG at Tennessee State (2021-22)
Before he enrolled at Tennessee State last year, the son of rapper and business mogul Master P — net worth $210 million, per Forbes — reportedly had a multimillion-dollar NIL deal with a tech company. Now, he’ll take his 137,000 Instagram followers to a school and a city that is home to a variety of major brands (including UPS, Papa John’s).
— LifeWallet powered by MSP Recovery (@LifeWallet) July 30, 2022
6-0, guard, 17.4 PPG at Kansas State (2021-22)
Despite reports of Pack signing an $800,000 NIL deal with a company called LifeWallet — owned by Hurricanes booster John H. Ruiz — after he transferred to Miami, the former Kansas State star told ESPN he didn’t switch programs because of the potential business opportunities. But he also admitted that the spotlight in the buzzing city could help him shine off, and on, the court.
6-2, guard, 9.5 PPG at Saint Peter’s (2021-22)
A move to a mid-major might not do a whole lot for Edert’s brand power, but he doesn’t need it because he’ll always be the mustachioed Saint Peter’s star who helped the Peacocks upset No. 2 Kentucky and make a run to the Elite Eight in 2022. The star of last year’s most magical NCAA tournament story has already cashed in on deals with the likes of Buffalo Wild Wings.
6-0, guard, 19.4 PPG at SMU (2021-22)
The No. 1 transfer of this offseason in men’s basketball per ESPN could be an All-American for Penny Hardaway’s squad, in a city obsessed with college basketball. Before leaving Memphis for the NBA, Jalen Duren signed with major brands such as audio giant Bose. A standout campaign for Davis should net him similar contracts.
6-10, forward, 14.6 PPG at Northwestern (2021-22)
Nance arrives at North Carolina — last season’s national runner-up and a force in college sports that is backed by Michael Jordan’s Jordan Brand — with the chance to change his career on and off the court. New teammate Armando Bacot reportedly made more than $500,000 in NIL money last season. Nance, the son of former NBA star Larry Nance, could find success in the open market with the Tar Heels, too.
6-2, forward, 20.3 PPG at Mississippi State (2021-22)
A customized Dodge Charger, through an NIL deal with a local dealership, is just one of the perks of being one of the top transfers in college basketball. Jackson will find more business opportunities — including takers for her clothing merch — in Knoxville.
6-2, guard, 8.5 PPG at Oregon (2021-22)
The former Ducks standout already has a partnership with Barstool Sports, and has added local deals with retailers in Bloomington since moving back to her home state. The former Miss Basketball in Indiana, Parrish’s regional and national business opportunities are guaranteed to increase, along with her 250,000 social media followers.
6-2, forward, 6.8 PPG at Notre Dame (2021-22)
With more than 150,000 followers on social media, Brunelle, who stayed in the ACC with her commitment to Virginia, has already racked up deals with Kroger and fast food chain Wings Over. She also has her own apparel store through Vintage Brand.
5-7, guard, 8.0 PPG at Mississippi State (2021-22)
Taylor donated the proceeds from her sold-out basketball camps and her NIL deals with groups such as backpack and luggage manufacturer Solepack to a local Boys & Girls Club in Starkville. She’ll take that charitable spirit and marketability with her across the state this season.
6-2, forward, 11.3 PPG at West Virginia (2021-22)
For a fee, Martinez will do everything from answering questions over email to making a TikTok video with you, from providing recruiting and transfer advice to promoting your business. She’ll even appear at your event. With a strong showing under coach Adia Barnes in Tucson, the price for access to her should rise.
6-1, guard, 7.5 PPG at Illinois (2021-22)
Injuries limited Curbelo to just 19 games last season. But the talented guard with more than 61,000 Instagram followers now moves to the country’s largest city for a star turn in the Big East — along with the opportunity for more NIL deals.
6-3, guard, 9.4 PPG at Texas (2021-22)
The former Texas standout join Tommy Lloyd’s squad with a chance to become a star in the backcourt. Arizona, otherwise known as Point Guard U, is also perhaps the perfect destination for his development on the court and off, businesswise.