Report: Trae Young Targeted by Puma to Be Face of Basketball Sneaker Brand

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistMay 15, 2018

FILE - In this Feb. 17, 2018, file photo, Oklahoma guard Trae Young (11) brings the ball upcourt during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas in Norman, Okla. Young leads the country in both scoring and assists entering the final weekend of the regular season.  (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Trae Young may not have much control over where he will play at the next level, but there is one major decision he does have a say in. 

An endorsement deal.

According to ESPN's Nick DePaula, major sneaker brands consider the former Oklahoma Sooners star to be the most marketable player in this year's NBA draft class. So much so that Puma is looking to make a major splash in the basketball world by making Young the face of the brand.

"This is their first real foray back into basketball since 1998 with Vince Carter," Omar Wilkes, one of Young's Octagon agents, told DePaula. "The possibility to be the seminal piece to re-establish that category for Puma is what's enticing."

Per DePaula, Carter was the last NBA player to sign with Puma. The former Toronto Raptors star initially signed a 10-year contract with the brand before abandoning the deal because the footwear hurt his feet and the company did not create a signature shoe line for him.

Puma sued Carter for breach of contract and was awarded $13.5 million.

Now, with Young a shoe free agent, Puma appears to want back in. According to DePaula, the company plans to show the prospect its latest basketball sneaker design, plans for future marketing, growth strategy and more.

Young played just one season at Oklahoma, but that was more than enough time for him to leave his mark. The 6'2", 180-pound guard became the first player in NCAA Division I history to lead the nation in scoring (27.4) and assists (8.7) since assists became an official stat ahead of the 1983-84 season. Not only that, but he also had nine 30-point performances, including four 40-point outbursts.

"There's a magic to certain players. There's an 'it factor' that's hard to quantify, and I believe he has that," Wilkes told DePaula "He's able to have that with his combination of passing, shooting, ball-handling and charisma. There's an effortless ease about him when he's on the court."

His game reminds many of former Davidson star Stephen Curry, whom Nike infamously let leave for Under Armour.

Shoe companies are lining up for a dynamic player of Young's caliber. The likes of Nike, Adidas and Under Armour are better known in the basketball world, but if the Oklahoma product wants to be the face of a company, Puma could have the edge. Nike (LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, to name a few), Adidas (James Harden, Damian Lillard and John Wall) and Under Armour (Curry) all have stars leading the way already.

Young's agent, though, made it clear that his client only cares about finding "the best basketball fit."


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