Nike is living up to its brand commitments by expanding its student-athlete endorsement roster, adding inspiring young athletes they perceive as setting the standard both on the court and in their communities — and that list includes Bronny James and Judea “JuJu” Watkins, both of Sierra Canyon School.
According to Forbes, James, the son of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, and Watkins, a standout in the class of 2023, are two of five student-athletes who have inked Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) contracts with Nike Basketball.
Also among the signees is D.J. Wagner, the grandson of Louisville legend and NBA player Milt Wagner and son of former NBA player Dejuan Wagner, who holds the record for most points scored in New Jersey high school basketball history. The teen and his father both played for Camden High School.
“To serve the future of athletes and sport, Nike is teaming up with inspiring young athletes who are leading the way now — both on the court and in their communities,” Nike said in a statement. “Just as we support them in pursuing their goals, they push us to think even bigger about the change we can create together.
James is a senior at Sierra Canyon School, described by SBNation in August as a “Los Angeles prep powerhouse. At the time, the star point guard was reportedly contemplating several college recruitment options, including Michigan State, Ohio State and the ultimate Nike school, Oregon State.
In a statement to Forbes, the young James said it means a lot that he’s getting to team up with Nike, a brand that has been a part of his family for quite some time.
“For as long as I can remember, Nike’s been a part of my family,” he said, according to Forbes. “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.”
He hopes to use his brand partnership to continue supporting the LeBron James Family Foundation and having a positive influence on the communities that are most important to him, according to Nike.
Forbes reported that Watkins, a senior guard for the Sierra Canyon School’s girls’ squad, is a two-time winner of the Los Angeles Times Player of the Year title. The Watts native, whose grandfather was noted area activist Ted Watkins, has also won two championship MVP awards and two gold medals for the USA Basketball U17 team.
According to Nike, she will use her collaboration to keep working with the community to restore basketball spaces across L.A. and change the course of women’s basketball.
“My family’s always given back to the community, and now it’s my turn,” Watkins said in a statement, Forbes reported. “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.”
The apple surely doesn’t fall too far from the tree in Wagner’s case. According to Nike, the gifted scorer aspires to become the first third-generation NBA player.
“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,” Wagner said in a statement, Forbes reported.
Wagner has already started a program in his community, providing school supplies-filled book bags to hundreds of children annually, according to Nike.
The Nike student-athlete roster also includes Haley Jones and Caitlin Clark.
“At Nike, basketball is more than just a game,” company officials said in a statement. “It’s a culture and an opportunity to break barriers, bring people together, build community and shape the future — helping people, including kids, achieve their potential.”
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