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5-Star CBB Recruit Mikey Williams Reportedly Close to Puma Endorsement Contract

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 28, 2021

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Mikey Williams, a 5-star prospect in the 2023 college basketball recruiting class, is reportedly "close" to an endorsement contract with Puma.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Tuesday that Williams, who's the 10th-ranked recruit in 247Sports' composite rankings for 2023, is using the NCAA's new name, image and likeness (NIL) rules to secure the deal while still in high school.

Williams built strong name recognition before the NIL standards began changing over the summer—a process jump-started by the Supreme Court's ruling in June that barred the NCAA from limiting education-related benefits to student-athletes—by growing a massive following on social media, including 3.2 million followers on Instagram.

Although most of the focus has been on NIL deals signed by current college players, the rules have also benefited high school athletes, who no longer face to prospect of being declared ineligible for college sports because of previous NIL earnings.

Williams plays for Virtual Academy in North Carolina, while continuing to attend Lake Norman Christian School, where he previously played, for select classes.

No clear leader has emerged among the colleges that have offered him a scholarship. It's a group that includes Kansas, LSU, Memphis, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas Tech and USC, per 247Sports.

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Williams is also a candidate to opt to take the professional route for the gap year between high school and the NBA. He can play a season either overseas or in the new Overtime Elite league, or take part in the G League's development program ahead of the 2024 NBA draft.

Mahlon Williams, Mikey's father, told ESPN's T.J. Quinn in June they planned to take a "wait and see" approach to see how OTE grew as an alternative to college basketball.

"This time next year, we might be talking differently," he said. "It might have the type of credibility and coaching and development where you have to think about it."

As a top-tier prospect with a major online following, Williams should generate enough off-court earnings to take the route he feels most comfortable with before his likely NBA arrival in 2024.

Terms of the reported Puma deal weren't immediately released.

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