basketball Edit

I've Got Five On It: The most marketable prospects

Mikey Williams
Mikey Williams (Nick Lucero/

A new era in college basketball has arrived, as NCAA name, image and likeness restrictions have officially been relaxed. College athletes will now be able to use their brands to make money. This, of course, means endorsement deals both small and large for players capable of moving the needle. Today in "I've Got Five On It," Rivals recruiting director Rob Cassidy celebrates the dawn of a new day by taking a look at five of the most marketable recruits in the country.


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2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2022 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2023 Rankings: Top 30




WHY HE’S MARKETABLE: Williams has an established brand and has long been a familiar name with young basketball fans, who get their news through TikTok and YouTube. He boasts 3.1 million Instagram followers and another 55,000 on Twitter. There’s also the fact that he’s already appeared alongside Drake to promote the susperstar rapper’s clothing line collaboration with BAPE. Williams has been in front of a camera since he was in middle school, and he seems to be extremely comfortable with thousands of eyes on him.

IDEAL PRODUCT: Some kind of clothing line seems to make sense. The kid already has experience in the genre after all. The 17-year-old’s sneaker collection is that of a dude interested in fashion, to some extent.



Emoni Bates
Emoni Bates (

WHY HE’S MARKETABLE: People in basketball circles have been hearing Bates’ name for years already. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a 15-year-old and Slam Magazine once called him “the best prospect since LeBron James.” He’s also projected as a top 3 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, with some publications having him slotted at No. 1 overall. That’s all to say that Bates has a large enough following and is close enough to the pros to make a splash with any number of major brands right now.

IDEAL PRODUCT: Bates is close enough to the NBA and has a high enough floor as a player to attract the attention of a sneaker company. When he’s going well, he’s absolutely electrifying to watch and will almost certainly be a pro. Regardless of how the star prospect’s NBA career pans out there are going to be a ton of eyes on him.



Bronny James
Bronny James (AP Images)

WHY HE’S MARKETABLE: James isn’t quite as developed as a player as some of the other names on this list, but his value to a brand is just as high. The son of the greatest player to ever pick up a basketball, James emerged from the womb with some level of name recognition. The fact that he developed into a high-level basketball prospect only made interest in his path more widespread. People care about James, and they will continue to do so until he hangs up his basketball shoes.

IDEAL PRODUCT: Blaze Pizza? AT&T? Anything his dad sells, really. I’m extremely here for a father-son advertisement or two. Hell, give the kid a bit part in the "Space Jam" reboot.



Jalen Duren
Jalen Duren (Nick Lucero/

WHY HE’S MARKETABLE: The No.1 prospect in the class of 2022, Duren comes with an incredibly high floor and is almost certainly going to be a lottery pick. He’s comfortable in front of a camera and is great with the media. He has both the talent and the personality to move products for any number of brands. Like Bates, Duren is likely to forgo college, but it seems like there’d be plenty of money in it for him if he instead elected to attend a major school.

IDEAL PRODUCT: The 6-foot-10, 235-pound Duren looks to be constructed from steel and spends the better part of games bullying people under the basket. Some kind of supplement store or a chain of gyms seems like a solid fit.



DuJuan Wagner
DuJuan Wagner (Matthew Hatfield,

WHY HE’S MARKETABLE: The No. 1 player in the class of 2023, Wagner is absolutely electric on the basketball court and also comes with a certain brand of name recognition that could move the needle via nostalgia. His father, Dajuan Wagner Sr., was a McDonald’s All-American and is still considered to be the greatest high school basketball player in New Jersey history. Still, the five-star point guard’s long-term NBA upside is the main thing that makes him marketable.

IDEAL PRODUCT: A sports drink? Who knows? Wagner is young enough that his personality hasn’t quite started to show, which kind of limits him a bit. That said, the junior-to-be already has nearly 68K Instagram followers, so his brand is strong as things stand. If he continues to develop before he leaves high school he could be a marketing juggernaut.