It's a slam dunk!
Mikey Williams just made history as the first high school basketball player to sign a sneaker deal with a global footwear brand, ESPN reports.
17-year-old Williams is one of the most sought-after basketball prospects in the nation right now. He is a 6-foot-2 junior at the new Vertical Academy in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is a couple of years away from eligibility for the 2024 NBA draft. The basketball star has more than 5 million social media followers combined and a ranking of 11th-best in his high school class by ESPN, Williams already has 10 scholarship offers from college programs. Now, he’s inked a multiyear footwear and apparel endorsement deal with Puma, making history as the first American high school basketball player ever to sign an agreement with a global footwear brand.
“I am excited to join the Puma family this early in my basketball journey. Puma really understands how to mix hoops and culture, two things I am passionate about,” Williams said.
The announcement was made via a mixtape-style video posted to social media entitled “Not Yet Rated.”
Williams benefits from the newly established NIL rule, allowing players to benefit from their name, image, and likeness. After the rule went into effect on July 1st, Williams signed a NIL representation agreement with Excel Sports VP and agent Matt Davis, known for representing top NBA draft picks like John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. Davis says he approached the talks with Puma as though Williams was already a current NBA draft lottery pick.
“This one is special because it’s the first of its kind, and no other high school basketball athlete has a shoe deal with a global footwear brand. When Mikey signed with Excel, we approached the marketplace just as we would for a professional athlete, and that has paved the way for Mikey and other NIL athletes,” Davis said.
The school Williams attends, Vertical Academy, was founded by his father, Mahlon Williams. The Academy is currently unaffiliated with any other high state athletic association instead of crafting a unique 25 game national schedule in 19 different markets. Williams joins a new generation of athletes taking charge of their careers early on and finding nontraditional pathways to the league outside of the NCAA, including the G League Ignite platform, upstart Overtime Elite program, and joining overseas professional teams. Puma officials say this sort of hybrid mass appeal, both as a basketball star and social influencer, made Williams a perfect partner.
“His talent on the court and his ability to connect with young athletes and fans alike will help drive hoops culture forward and inspire the next generation of athletes,” Adam Petrick, global director of brand and marketing at Puma, said.
Williams will begin rolling out products and brand campaigns soon, joining a roster of 25 other basketball athletes who work with Puma, including WNBA stars Breanna Stewart and Skylar Diggins-Smith and NBA players LaMelo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Deandre Ayton.
Photo Courtesy of Nick Koza