Suppose there is a college basketball player who is good enough to be one of the top three chosen in the lottery, if not the first. He reads http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/mor...e50/index.html and sees all the endorsement earnings of the superstar athletes but concludes that while he’ll be a solid player in the NBA he probably will not become a superstar there. However, he thinks that he might be able to achieve superstar status (and therefore hefty endorsement contracts) a different way.
He decides that if he stays in college he will be able to rise to the superstar level as a big fish in a little pond: everyone else good enough to go pro has gone pro, putting him head and shoulders above the remaining college players. By staying in college and putting on dazzling performances for a team that is a national champion contender he figures that he will get much more national attention than he would have gotten in three years in the NBA, especially if he leads his team to one or more national championships. His presence on the team also will help recruiting, increasing the championship possibilities as well as the attention focused on the team. He will try to maximize his national media exposure by speaking and doing work on behalf of popular causes.
Also suppose that he is the kind of person whom companies want as a representative: articulate, squeaky clean personal life, likable, engaging. How likely is it that this approach would generate additional endorsement income over the course of his life at least equal to the three years of player salary that he gave up to stay in college? How important should it be to his decision that this form of income is more stable in that it tends to continue even if he stops playing because of injury?
Should a player with significant talent think of this as a legitimate alternative route – building up star power in college which probably would not have been available to him had he started from scratch in the NBA (especially if (a) he might sit idle a large part of his first year in the NBA because of a labor dispute, and (b) he wanted a college degree for other reasons)?
If this is about Kyrie -- it seems like it is? -- he has as good a chance as any to be a star in the NBA.
But to address the rest of it, what a player does in college doesn't affect their national profile most of the time after they leave, except for very special cases -- such as Laettner perpetually making commercials alluding to his shot against Kentucky. Jay Williams mostly has his college career to hang his hat on, and his congenial nature and college greatness almost certainly has propelled his broadcasting career, but that probably still would have been true had he left a year (or two) early.
Other than that, players who are figureheads on the college level but aren't necessarily good enough to be stars in the NBA don't really achieve a high national profile. This has been proven many times over.
Battier and Hansbrough come to mind as players who were college superstars and were basically forgotten about. Battier, in particular, has had a very solid NBA career, and true fans of the game know about his value. (Especially if they read the Michael Lewis piece on him). But he's generally not thought about by the casual fan. Redick is sort of in the same boat.
Last edited by Starter; 02-20-2011 at 01:06 PM.
I think a better analogy would be guys like JJ and Hansbrough. Both could have been certain first round picks, and possible lottery picks after their junior years, but came back for an extra year as the face of college basketball on a championship favorite. For these guys, I don't think their decision mattered all that much in terms of dollars, especially for endorsements. On a national level, I can only come up with one guy, Laettner, who can still earn money based off of what he did in college, and even that is only because he created arguably the all-time greatest college basketball moment in history (an unreasonable expectation for anyone with this decision). Both JJ and Hansbrough built up about as much star power as can be expected in their extra year, but I doubt that it has done too much to add to their endorsement deals. Look at some other recent examples of guys who have come out. John Wall immediately got a national endorsement deal from Reebok because he is expected to be a big deal in the NBA. Evan Turner, who was just as big of a deal on the college level, but had lesser NBA expectations, did not. Look at Blake Griffin. He was a big time star on the college level, but hasn't gotten the national exposure from endorsements until he became a nightly fixture on Sportscenter for his exploits at the NBA level. Jimmer Fredette could probably get a few endorsement deals right now, but come this time next year, everyone will have moved on to the next thing, unless he can somehow (not likely) keep this up at the NBA level.
The reality is that, outside of local car dealership commercials, and a contract to finally put your name on the back of a college jersey, there is little money to be made on being a former college star. Unless the NCAA for some reason accepts the "Jay Bilas model" in which current college players can earn endorsement money, it doesn't make sense from a starpower point of view to return to college. That isn't to say that there aren't possible financial benefits to staying. You can improve your draft stock (if possible) and earn a bigger rookie deal, or polish your game to get off the bench sooner in your career, but I don't think that extra college star power will do too much for your wallet in the long run.
Small correction: Evan Turner signed a deal with Li-Ning back during the summer. Unless things have changed, I think they have a signature shoe planned for him at some point. Not quite Reebok, but they have Baron Davis too, so there's that.
It seems to me that endorsement deals are based on whether the buying public admires the guy right now and wants to be associated with him. You can have two people with equal basketball skills and one earns much more in endorsements purely because of PR reasons: more people know who he is and more people associate him with success. Furthermore, Wall's deal shows that good PR in college can have immediate results.
To get name recognition and positive public association in the NBA he has to compete with professional players. In college he only has to compete with college players. The latter seems to have a greater chance of getting him into John Wall's position immediately upon graduation. And somebody in advertising would be better to speak to this, but it seems to me that the acclaim and aura of success will get him the good endorsement deal despite the fact that he got it in college against "only college students."
Wait, I thought this was about Harrison Barnes? I was fooled by the big fish in a small pond argument. Kyrie will be a big fish in any pond or ocean he ever plays in. And because of that I wish him the best whenever he decides he wants to play in the NBA.
If college athletes were allowed to cash those endorsement checks without losing their eligibility, this thread would make a lot more sense. Alas, the NCAA is not exactly known for making sense.
I have always said that having an education is never a bad thing. My youngest son recently informed me he is going to go back to school for his 3rd degree.
If this thread is about a player who plays happens to play for Duke University, how could staying at DUKE & learning for one of the greatest basketball geniuses of all time. Studying under him would probably only elevate your game. An added bonus is a top notch education from an premier college.
If this is in any way about Kyrie, i think he is coming back. Those award banquets can be pretty inspiring & the video Mrs. K does for the seniors are motivating.
Okay so I can only hope. The Daytona 500 is boring & it is too early for the game.
Are you not aware that Kyrie is almost universally projected as a Top 3 pick this year and is most often compared to Chris Paul? Why would anybody conclude that Kyrie will NOT become a superstar there? While it's true that he MAY not, it's even MORE true of almost everybody else. My quarrel is with your highly questionable assertion that Kyrie (and others) are assuming that he WON'T become a superstar (relative to the chances of anybody else).
The best path to superstar income is superstar performance IN THE NBA. Most of the NBA players on the list are there because of large salaries, not large endorsement incomes (at least, not relative to golfers, etc.).
Sounds to me like a case of wishful thinking that Kyrie will stay at Duke rather than go pro after this season. Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE for him to stay. But your logic seems flawed.
All I'm saying is, if circumstances were different and college players were allowed to earn income above-board, the equation would change in favor of your argument. We don't know exactly what the economics of a semi-professional NCAA would look like, since it's never been tried (Reggie Bush et al aside), but it would at least give the "Kyrie makes more money by staying an extra year" hypothesis a fighting chance.
You appear to be saying that for basketball players endorsement income should not be thought of as a significant revenue source. I guess that is one of the questions I'm raising. Why should that be the case?
Of course, there are other factors that go into one's marketability. Among the important ones would be whether the person is articulate, whether he is likable, and whether the buying public can identify with him personally. Those who can't pass these barriers need not give much thought to the question.
Another problem would be the difficulty of enhancing one's image and name recognition given the level of competition that there is in the NBA. However, it is possible for a person to greatly enhance his marketability through his play as a college player, since that's what John Wall did. The question is whether players are too quickly overlooking that option.
Of course, there are many factors that go into something like this, and he might even have qualified as a "done deal." But why should we assume that, unlike golfers, basketball players are not eligible for the big time endorsement contracts? And wouldn't the right person be able to cultivate his image quite successfully playing for a high-profile championship caliber college team?