Mikey Williams, 17, signs historic footwear and apparel deal with Puma

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4:07 AM ET

  • Nick DePaulaESPN

As the amateur basketball landscape proceeds to evolve in a new NIL era, 17-year-old prep phenom Mikey Williams has landed a multi-yr footwear and apparel endorsement offer with Puma, generating him the first American significant university basketball participant to signal a sneaker offer with a world wide footwear enterprise.

“I am energized to join the Puma loved ones this early in my basketball journey,” Williams explained. “Puma really understands how to blend hoops and culture, two things I am passionate about.”

A 6-foot-2 junior at the newly fashioned Vertical Academy in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Class of 2023 combo guard is nevertheless a handful of several years absent from staying eligible for the 2024 NBA draft. He is ranked as the 11th-best prospect in his superior school course by ESPN and has 10 scholarship delivers from university plans.

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Williams has far more than 5 million combined Instagram, TikTok and Twitter followers, and Puma appears at his one of a kind and early signing as unlocking his hybrid attractiveness of getting each an up-and-coming basketball star and social media influencer.

“His talent on the court docket and his potential to join with young athletes and admirers alike will assistance drive hoops culture ahead and encourage the following technology of athletes,” Adam Petrick, global director of brand name and promoting at Puma, claimed in a statement.

Founded by his father, Mahlon Williams, Vertical Academy is unaffiliated with any sanctioned large school condition athletic association and is alternatively slated to participate in a 25-game nationwide agenda in 19 states vs . a variety of prep educational facilities and very similar academies.

Williams’ designs for the subsequent stage of his profession have still to be established, as prep stars now have a handful of lanes to decide on from between the classic NCAA route, G League Ignite system, upstart Additional time Elite program and specialist teams abroad.

To announce the offer, Williams was featured in a mixtape-model online video across social media dubbed “Not Nevertheless Rated.” The offer was finalized in progress of Williams and Vertical Academy struggling with off in opposition to Extra time Elite in the GA Prep Series on Oct. 29.

As new Name, Graphic and Likeness recommendations and guidelines arrived into impact nationwide on July 1, allowing for newbie athletes to land paying out endorsement specials for the 1st time, Williams entered into a NIL illustration arrangement with Excel Sports and agent Matt Davis.

Now Excel’s VP of Corporate Partnerships, Davis has put in the past decade negotiating marketing and advertising promotions for prime NBA draft picks these kinds of as John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins and basketball society influencer and designer Don C. Talks with Puma accelerated over the summertime, with Williams valued and seen as if he have been a present NBA draft lottery decide on.

“This a person is particular because it is really the first of its kind, and no other significant faculty basketball athlete has a shoe deal with a international footwear brand,” explained Davis. “When Mikey signed with Excel, we approached the market just as we would for a specialist athlete, and that has paved the way for Mikey and other NIL athletes.”

As Williams starts to be integrated into manufacturer strategies and merchandise roll-outs, he will sign up for a existing Puma basketball roster of 25 athletes that incorporates WNBA headliners in Breanna Stewart and Skylar Diggins-Smith, together with NBA gamers these as LaMelo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and DeAndre Ayton.

Puma lately built Ball its initial signature basketball athlete because 1999 with its the latest unveiling and impending start of his MB.01 shoe. Williams has been spotted wearing the vivid red sneaker in modern games, alongside with added Puma shoes this kind of as the Courtroom Rider and Fusion Nitro Spectra as he carries on his junior year of high school basketball.