Take a look at some of Duke basketball's NIL partnerships, plus those from across the country

by 24USATVMarch 30, 2024, 4 p.m. 20

The Blue Devils are on to the Elite Eight, and March Madness brings everything to the big stage, including some of the quirky, punny and sometimes surprising NIL deals that athletes have. Here, the Blue Zone will be ranking some of the worst, best and punniest NIL deals.

The sophomore center has had two notable partnerships that began in March, including one with Great Clips and another with Dicks Sporting Goods. His partnership with Dick’s Sporting Goods was related to the promotion of the new “Hey Dude Duke” style shoe that was only on sale at Dick's. While neither of these are incredibly funny, they are certainly entertaining as Filipowski tosses around a basketball and chooses between things such as, “slam dunk” or “3-pointer.” On Tuesday, Flip even posted a new advertisement in which he himself gets a new haircut at Great Clips. As Filipowski wrote, “the only slam dunk this March Madness is a fresh haircut from Great Clips.”

The Blue Devil captain also has quite a few partnerships, but the best one is by far his partnership with Raid — the insecticide spray. This campaign includes advertisements alongside Baylor point guard Darianna Littlepage-Buggs. It’s a match made in marketing heaven – Buggs and Roach tackling the pest together! Roach and Buggs are making sure that the insects stand no chance – leaving them no choice but to bug out! Of all the Duke players, Jared McCain has by far the most partnerships, most likely bolstered by his social media presence on TikTok. It is estimated that the freshman guard has made $1 million in endorsements. This includes partnerships with Champ Sports, RECOVER 180, Crocs and Celcius. Most notably in the past few weeks, McCain has announced partnerships with not only Kim Kardashian’s brand Skims, but also American Eagle. The photoshoot and deal with Skims came as a surprise to many, but may have been effective because the sweatsuits did look extremely comfortable.

Sophomore guard Tyrese Proctor does not have nearly as many deals as his fellow guard McCain, but his current most prominent deal is with Express, the clothing brand. Proctor does look very put together and dashing in the current advertisements. However, the reasoning behind this exact partnership is not exactly clear. Maybe in the future the Australian will partner with more punny brands — ahem Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups?

Ryan Young only has one partnership that is visible from social media. That partnership is a floral shop in Allentown Pennsylvania – far outside the realm of Young’s popularity at Duke and formerly at Northwestern. Rich Mar Floral, a family owned company since 1955, is an interesting partnership for a Duke athlete to have, especially due to the small realm of the business. But hey, the marketing worked because the name of the floral company was a question on the ordering test for tenters in K-Ville this past season. If you ever need flowers when in Allentown, you now know where to go.

Duke athletes are not the only ones with entertaining partnerships, with plenty of athletes capitalizing on their name, image and likeness.

North Carolina forward Armando Bacot also cashes in on his image as he has a partnership with Frosted Flakes. But nothing is as frosty as the relationship between Duke and North Carolina. He joins a plethora of Tar Heel players who got in on the advertisement action before the NCAA tournament. Bacot is the second-highest valued NIL player for March Madness participants, trailing just McCain.

Filmed in the hallway of the hotel, Jack Gohlke posted his first NIL deal just hours after Oakland defeated No. 3-seed Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The partnership with TurboTax is pretty mild but shows just how quickly the partnerships come together in the wake of a player taking center stage.

Here are some past gems as well.

In 2021, then Texas running back, Bijan Robinson, announced a partnership that resulted in the creation of his own dijon mustard – Bijan Mustardson Dijon Mustard. Not only is the mustard reportedly very tasty, it’s a flavorful pun to boot. Here’s its own website!

Michigan State punter Matthew Coghlin went viral in 2021 for his partnership with the Locked On Spartans podcast. Unfortunately, not for the right seasons. In one of the best promotional tweets ever, Coghlin said “This is a paid tweet to tell you to listen to the Locked On Spartans podcast. I’ve never listened to it, but I’m sure it’s not terrible.”

Thanks for the referrable, Matt.

Turning back to better referrals, Louisiana Tech wide receiver DeColdest Crawford used his name to the max as he signed a deal with SOS Heating & Cooling in Omaha, Neb., while playing for the Cornhuskers. Isn’t that just the COOLEST partnership ever?

Now it’s time for the rankings

When it comes to smart partnerships that are both punny and make sense, Jeremy Roach and his partnership with the insecticide brand take the cake.

Coughlin wins this handily as not only was the partnership not based on a relationship, but the aspects of promotion were… lacking.

This is the coolest pun that could be made and a match made in advertising heaven.


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