The following article is a guest contribution by Benjamin Haynes, Esq. Haynes is a former Division 1 Basketball Player at Oral Roberts University and currently practices law in the State of Florida.
Last week, the Champions Classic featured four of the premier college basketball programs in the country, specifically the teams were Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, and Michigan State. While Michigan State topped Kentucky and Kansas beat Duke, the true entertainment of the evening was watching three freshmen in Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, and Jabari Parker. Not only are these three players the top three freshman players in the country, but they are arguably the top three players in college basketball. Anyone who is an avid follower of basketball will have noticed this. With players like these, making your predictions as to who will win on your tournament brackets may never have been so easy.
There were 68 NBA scouts in attendance to watch both games last week. This has never occurred for a November regular season college basketball game. Specifically, these scouts, and former players, were in attendance to watch the talented freshmen, and the three superstars did not disappoint. Julius Randle scored 27 points and tallied 13 rebounds, Jabari Parker scored 27 points and grabbed 9 rebounds, and Andrew Wiggins scored 22 points with 8 rebounds. Twitter was buzzing all night about the magnificence of these three freshmen. In fact, LeBron James tweeted, “GM’s wish draft was tomorrow.”
It is safe to say that these three stellar freshmen will all be entering the NBA draft this summer. That renders the question, which of the three players is the most marketable?
Andrew Wiggins (estimated tweet value per Opendorse: $548;)
Yahoo Sports indicated that Adidas could potentially offer Mr. Wiggins a $180 million shoe contract. Of course, this offer could not be offered or accepted before Andrew declares for the NBA draft. However, this is extremely intriguing considering the fact that Andrew has only played two official college basketball games. To put this in perspective, LeBron James only received a $90 million shoe deal when he entered the NBA.
Holly McKenzie, an NBA guru who is a reporter for the Toronto Raptors at Sportnet, has been following Wiggins for quite a while. She tweeted during the game last Tuesday night, “a basketball player on the front page, in Canada. Wiggins is a game changer.” Included in that tweet was a picture of Andrew Wiggins on the cover of the Toronto Star. There is not any doubt that Wiggins has Canada excited about basketball, as well as the bottom feeder teams in the NBA.
Julius Randle (estimated tweet value per Opendorse: $211)
Randle is the most physically dominating player of the three, according to the college basketball analysis king, Jay Bilas. This is evident from Randle’s 6’9 250lbs frame. What makes Randle so marketable is not just the fact that he is smooth and quick, and often has been referred to move like LeBron James, but the charisma he carries for only being 18 years old. Further, playing basketball at the University of Kentucky has most assuredly given him a religious like following from a dedicated fan base. Kentucky’s coach, John Calipari, has brought in the likes of Drake, Jay Z, and LeBron James in the past few years to be associated with the program. This type of collegiate environment puts players, like Julius Randle, on the entertainment map early. Julius is extremely marketable and is projected my many to be the number 1 pick in the 2013-2014 NBA draft.
Jabari Parker (estimated tweet value per Opendorse: $236)
Jabari Parker was compared to a Carmelo Anthony/ Paul Pierce last week when he dominated the first half of the Duke vs. Kansas game. Parker has been an extremely sought after recruit ever since he was a young player in high school. In fact, Jabari was required to wear Nike apparel during his high school career. This requirement was not because Jabari signed an individual deal to sport Nike, but because Parker’s high school team was contracted to do just that. Jay Bilas has called Jabari the most complete player of the three phenomenal freshmen, which is hard to argue after seeing last night’s performance. In fact, Parker was once on the cover of Sports Illustrated with a text stating, “The best high school basketball player since LeBron James is Jabari Parker.”
As of now Julius Randle has 54,668 twitter followers, Jabari Parker 67,495, and Andrew Wiggins 122,189. Based upon the above assessments of each player, it seems as if Andrew Wiggins is currently the most marketable of the three players. However, there is still a lot of time between now and the next NBA draft. Thus, all three players will have a chance to improve their marketability to an even higher level.