NBA Champion JR Smith, Excel Sports Agree to Contract for NIL Representation

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 28, 2022

North Carolina A&T's J.R. Smith waits to putt on the 17th green during the first round of the Phoenix Invitational golf tournament in Burlington, N.C., Monday, Oct. 11, 2021. Smith, who spent 16 years in the NBA, made his college golfing debut in the tournament hosted by Elon. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
AP Photo/Gerry Broome

Former NBA guard JR Smith, who plays college golf for North Carolina A&T, has signed a contract with Excel Sports Management for representation on potential name, image and likeness (NIL) deals.

Lance Young, Smith's agent, told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday there's been "significant NIL interest" from brands that make golf equipment and clothing as well as video game companies, which could result in agreements worth "well into the six figures."

The PGA Tour also announced Smith signed with Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas' management to represent him in NIL deals.

NIL agreements are more limited in scope than full-scale endorsement contracts signed by professional athletes, led by restrictions on promotion of sponsors during NCAA events, per Wojnarowski. But they've provided an avenue for student-athletes to profit while still in college.

An avalanche of opportunities has emerged since the Supreme Court cleared the way for NIL contracts in a June ruling.

Erica Hunzinger of the Associated Press reported Thursday around 125,000 athletes have received NIL compensation based on information provided by INFLCR and Opendorse, third-party companies that track the deals.

Much of the focus has been on high-profile earners such as Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, who brought in nearly $1 million before the college football season started. However, most of the agreements have been far more modest.

The average agreement has been worth between $1,036 and $1,291, and athletes from men's sports have secured 59 percent of the deals and 67.4 percent of the compensation, per Hunzinger.

Smith's collegiate golf career got off to an eventful start when he was attacked by a group of yellow jackets during his first tournament in October:

Jared Bunder @jbunder12

Here's the higher quality video of <a href="https://twitter.com/TheRealJRSmith?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TheRealJRSmith</a> getting stung by Yellow Jackets at the Phoenix Invitational at Alamance Country Club. Glad he's doing better now. <a href="https://twitter.com/overtime?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@overtime</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/RiggsBarstool?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RiggsBarstool</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/GolfDigest?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@GolfDigest</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/GOLF_com?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@GOLF_com</a> <a href="https://t.co/PJBtC6Jwv7">pic.twitter.com/PJBtC6Jwv7</a>

The two-time NBA champion said after the event that his goal was to settle in as a normal member of the team despite his status as a 36-year-old freshman with a successful basketball career on his resume.

"More than anything, it's just being able to go out there and compete as one of the guys, just another name, and get my [butt] kicked," Smith said. "It was actually a very humbling feeling. Again, I'm ready to go to that range to work on it. I had fun, but I don't like losing."

The Aggies' 2021-22 season is scheduled to resume in March.