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First High School Mega-Deal: Basketball Phenom Signs Three Years Before He Can Join NBA

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at July 22, 2021


Following the Supreme Court ruling against the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s restrictions on payments to student athletes—and the NCAA’s subsequent new policy allowing athletes to monetize their fame—Mikey Williams, a standout shooting guard who has yet to begin his junior year of high school and won’t be eligible for the NBA draft until 2024, ushered in a new era of economic opportunities for prep stars Thursday by inking a contract with Excel Sports Management to handle his name, image and likeness (NIL) rights.

Key Facts

Williams, who just celebrated his 17th birthday last month, is the first prep basketball player to sign an NIL deal with a major sports representation agency, according to ESPN.

Excel vice president Matt Davis told ESPN that Williams is a “rare, one-of-a-kind athlete” and believes Williams’ deal “will generate millions of dollars” via various endorsements and sponsorships.

Details of the contract have not been made public.

Williams, born and raised in San Diego, will play for Vertical Academy in North Carolina next season while attending Lake Norman Christian High School in Huntersville, North Carolina.

A 6-foot-2 combo guard, he is the No. 1 ranked player in the state and widely considered one of the top five prospects nationally in the Class of 2023.

Crucial Quote: 

“The NIL rules provide a new opportunity for someone like me, who has put in so much energy and effort into building a community,” Williams said in a statement. “I am excited to be the first high school athlete to make this move.”

Big Number:

5 million. That’s the number of followers Williams has accumulated across multiple social media platforms, including 3.2 million followers on Instagram alone.

Key Background:

Late last month, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the NCAA in a dispute over what compensation schools can offer students who play for their sports teams. Later that same week, the NCAA approved an interim policy enabling athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness without jeopardizing their college eligibility. Williams rose to national prominence as an eighth grader while playing alongside fellow Class of 2023 prospect Bronny James, son of NBA superstar LeBron James, on the North Coast Blue Chips Amateur Athletic Union team. As a freshman in high school, Williams played for San Ysidro High School in San Diego, where he averaged a whopping 29.9 points per game to go along with 6.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists. He was named the 2019-20 national freshman boys’ basketball Player of the Year by MaxPreps. Last September, Williams moved from California to North Carolina with his father, Mahlon, and brother. Vertical Academy is owned and founded by Mahlon Williams and Landon Eckles, whose family founded Clean Juice smoothies six years ago in Huntersville. “We’re not going to be sanctioned by any high school association,” Mahlon Williams said of the academy, “and we’ll play showcase games against prep schools. We’ll be an all-around club team. We’re adopting the European (basketball) model.” Vertical will reportedly be sponsored by a major shoe company next season. 

What To Watch For:

Despite having the opportunity to sign a lucrative contract with the NBA’s G League Ignite team or the high school Overtime Elite League, Mahlon Williams has said his son plans to attend college for at least a year and is “leaning toward” committing to a historically Black university.

Further Reading:

​​These NCAA Athletes Have Already Inked Endorsement Deals (Forbes) 

NCAA Council Recommends Interim Policy Allowing Athletes To Monetize Their Name, Image And Likenesses (Forbes)


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