It feels like the NIL laws got changed forever ago, but we are just now getting used to how the game is changing. College athletes can now profit off of NIL (Name, Image & Likeness) after July of 2021.
Our college basketball picks today may look a lot different than they do in 2023 when the craziness of March Madness happens. It is impossible to predict the cinderella stories like what the Saint Peter’s Peacocks did this past season.
A lot goes into accounting for the marketability of a college basketball player. A player with the personality of Kawhi Leonard may be the type of kid a coach wants on their program, but that will not make you the big bucks of NIL. It is no longer just about basketball, and that is changing the game.
Being a social media influencer or standing out off the court with a big personality boosts your marketability. Putting the ball in the basket is not everything anymore. Just look at Doug Edert, who recently transferred from Saint Peter’s. Nothing against Edert, but having a big personality and a big mustache gained him a lot of NIL money through sponsorships with businesses such as Buffalo Wild Wings.
Let’s take a peek at some of the most marketable men’s college basketball players coming into the 2022-23 season, courtesy of ESPN.
Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky
NCAA basketball players are now basing their future career decisions based on NIL potential. Oscar Tshiebwe was one of the best players in the nation last year but opted to earn NIL money for one more year instead of pursuing the NBA.
This idea will take some time to get used to, but many athletes would rather stay in college longer than potentially pursuing an NBA career. When Illinois star Kofi Cockburn entered the draft, he lost out on millions he could have earned if he stayed in school. It is weird to think about, but being a one-and-done may not be the smartest decision anymore.
Tshiebwe won the Wooden Award last season after being a monster big man for one of the best teams in college basketball predictions. He was a projected 2nd round pick, but instead, he has reportedly made around $3 million from staying in Lexington. That is more money than he would have made as a 2nd round selection.
Shaqir O’Neal, Texas Southern
You may not have heard of this player, but you can use context clues as to why he is on this list. Shaqir O’Neal is the son of Shaquille O’Neal, one of the most dominant players in NBA history.
We have our first example of a player who could have an average career on an average career but make an entire living just off of college basketball. He is a partner with Fortnite and signed a deal with the British clothing company, boohoooMAN.
O’Neal has 4.5 million followers, and every athlete is chasing these types of numbers. Who do you think would have been the most marketable players before the new NIL rules?
Drew Timme, Gonzaga
Drew Timme is in a very similar boat as Oscar Tshiebwe. He chose to return to his school for another year because he would simply make more money in college. Timme is one of the best players in the game and has an electric personality. That is the perfect combination to make millions.
The do-it-all Gonzaga player was in contention for the Wooden Award on the best team in college basketball picks. Timme has dealt with many brands, such as the card company, Topps, and a local casino. That sure sounds like a lot of money to me.
Emoni Bates, Eastern Michigan
In one of the craziest moves of the offseason, the former No. 1 recruit decided to transfer from Memphis to Eastern Michigan. Certainly, that could hurt his NIL potential, but his marketability is still incredibly high.
Bates has received flack in the past for his love of money. He apparently charges over $1,000 per autograph, so he is going to find a way to get a big paycheck. With being a future NBA star and having over 500,000 followers on Instagram, the sky is the limit for Bates.
There are many other players who will make some bank thanks to NIL this season. Armando Bacot of North Carolina, Dereck Lively and Dariq Whitehead of Duke, Jahvon “Jelly” Quinerly of Alabama, and Hunter Dickinson of Michigan all have the potential to make a lot of money.