Before he ever plays an NBA game, Ben Simmons might be one of the richest players in the league. Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv reported Thursday the LSU Tigers star could potentially earn over $100 million when he signs his first shoe deal.
LeBron James set the gold standard for rookie endorsement deals when he earned a roughly $90 million deal from Nike.
"The number doesn't astonish me, the number's been stagnant since LeBron," said former sports marketing executive Sonny Vaccaro of Simmons' possible contract, per Zagoria. "It would be the new precedent because LeBron was the last and [Simmons] has the makings in the mind of the NBA that he could be a great, great player. So that's basically what they're saying, he's going to get a $100 million deal. I would understand that."
Simmons is widely expected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA draft. He's averaging 19.7 points and 11.9 rebounds a game in his freshman season with the Tigers. Fox Sports' Colin Cowherd is high on the talented forward:
Zagoria noted Simmons has a connection with Nike. Kevin Boyle, who coached Simmons in high school, works with the company during summer basketball camps. Simmons himself has also played in Nike-sponsored tournaments as well.
For what it's worth, he recently tweeted out a pair of customized LSU-branded LeBron XIIIs:
Nike is bound to get some competition from Adidas and Under Armour, though. The latter will want to capitalize on its success with Stephen Curry, while the former laid down a marker when it signed James Harden to a $200 million deal last summer.
The likely bidding war is only bound to push up Simmons' price tag even further.