Nike Basketball announced the signings of five well-recognized student athletes to NIL deals, including Bronny James — the son of NBA star, and longtime Nike athlete, LeBron James — on Monday. Also part of the roster are Caitlin Clark, Haley Jones, DJ Wagner and JuJu Watkins, the company announced Monday.
“Each athlete is recognized as a player who is paving the way for the next generation on and off the court,” read a statement by Nike. “These athletes push Nike to think about new ways the game can break barriers, bring people together, build community and shape the future.”
Bronny is a senior point guard from Sierra Canyon High School in Los Angeles. The James name has been associated with Nike for a long time, as LeBron signed his first deal with Nike in 2003 when he was 18. Bronny will use his deal with Nike to continue supporting the LeBron James Family Foundation, which aims to create generational change for kids and families in Akron, Ohio through education and co-curricular educational initiatives.
“For as long as I can remember, Nike’s been a part of my family,” Bronny said. “Getting a chance to team up with them and continue my family’s legacy both on the court and in the community is wild — it really means a lot to me.”
DJ Wagner, the top men’s basketball player in the 2023 recruiting class, also comes from an NBA family. His father, Dajuan Wagner, was the 6th overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft. His grandfather, Milt Wagner, had a successful college career at Louisville before joining the NBA as a second round pick in the 1986 NBA Draft. The point guard from New Jersey’s Camden High School is looking to become the first third-generation player in NBA history.
His contribution off the court includes establishing an annual community giveback program that provides book bags filled with school supplies to thousands of kids in Camden, N.J.
“I’ve seen the impact this game — and the people who play it — can have on the community, and I’m looking forward to taking it to the next level with Nike in Camden and beyond,” he said.
Clark and Jones are two of the top women’s college basketball players in the nation. Clark has established herself as a solid offensive weapon for the Iowa Hawkeyes. She led the nation in points and assists per game last season, averaging 27 points, eight assists and eight rebounds per game. She was named the Nancy Lieberman Point Guard of the Year and was also the Dawn Staley Guard of the Year Award recipient.
“I grew up watching Nike athletes across all sports play their game,” Clark said. “They have inspired me to work hard and make a difference. I’m humbled to be part of this first Nike basketball class and passionate about inspiring the next.”
Jones is a senior guard at Stanford University and a two-time USBWA All-America and AP All-America recipient. She was the 2021 Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament and last season’s Pac-12 Player of the Year. Jones is looking to help her community through youth engagement in underserved communities.
“Basketball has given me so much over the years,” she said. I’m excited about the opportunity this partnership presents — to give back to my community in more ways than I ever imagined possible.”
Watkins is a senior guard at Sierra Canyon High School, the same school as Bronny. She is a two-time USA Basketball U17 Gold Medalist and two-time Championship MVP. Watkins dominates on the court with her scoring and rebound abilities, but she also put in a lot of work off the court to help her community. She volunteers with Watts Labor Community Action Committee, youth basketball camps and youth programs.
“My family’s always given back to the community and now it’s my turn,” Watkins said. “With Nike’s support, I know I can make a difference. I can’t wait to share my love for the game with young athletes in Los Angeles — especially in the Watts community — and around the world.”