From the Cavinder twins to Kendric Davis, the transfers who should cash in big in college basketball
The world of Name, Image, Similarity (NIL) has changed the landscape of college basketball. Top recruits and elite players have already earned significant sums — sometimes seven figures — in just the first year of this new era.
The rapid turnaround has also prompted top leaders to push for more NIL opportunities from their players. State of Ohio Athletic director Gene Smith said this summer it will cost $13 million annually to maintain the talent pipeline in Columbus. It’s no longer about stadiums and arenas and fancy locker rooms in the race to be the best in college sports. The NIL opportunities available to players are also important — especially when it comes to attracting transfers.
While the transfer portal set the records before the NIL rules went into effect, it’s clear that top athletes switching schools weighed the potential to make money when making decisions about their futures this offseason. However, everything is still relatively new and undefined, so it’s hard to come up with a precise metric for this potential meaning.
There are athletes with huge followings who don’t have NIL deals that others with smaller social media reach and more talent have been able to secure. There are players with strong brands who are millionaires. Meanwhile, Nebraska wide receiver Decoldist Crawford signed a NIL contract with a heating and cooling company in Lincoln, Nebraska, because of his name. A lot of it still doesn’t make much sense.
Below is a list of 15 college basketball transfers, men’s and women’s, who may have multiple NIL opportunities at their new schools. It’s based on the partnerships the athletes have already signed, their talent, their social media following, their new school and market, and their ability to become a star in the new season, at least — or The potential to become a big star.
This isn’t a ranking — but a group of transfers who could become players, students and entrepreneurs this season.
5-foot-6, guard, 19.8 ppg at Fresno State (2021-22); 5-6, guard, 14.5 ppg at Fresno State (2021-22)
Per Forbes, ex Fresno State The star was already a millionaire before heading to South Beach this summer, with 31 deals under his belt last year. Now, they will take advantage of even more NIL opportunities — with the help of 5 million social followers that increase their collective value — and flourish into a hotspot for celebrities and big brands.
6-10, forward, 9.7 ppg at Memphis (2021-22)
Betts is no longer the 15-year-old who was once compared to Kevin Durant and was viewed as an NBA lottery pick after averaging 9.7 ppg his freshman year in Memphis. But he’s signed to Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s sports agency, and has more than 400,000 Instagram followers in what could be a comeback season for the Eastern Michigan native — Bates’ hometown. Located in Ypsilanti.
6-3, forward, 17.8 ppg at Maryland (2021-22)
The former Terrapins star had already attracted the attention of major brands (Outback Steakhouse, Wingstop, Xfinity and Amazon) before his transfer. Now, she leads a stacked roster at a school ranked as the ninth most valuable college sports brand by the Wall Street Journal in 2019.
6-3, guard, 2.0 ppg at Tennessee State (2021-22)
Before enrolling at Tennessee State last year, the son of rapper and business mogul Master P — net worth $210 million, per Forbes — reportedly signed a multimillion-dollar NIL deal with a tech company. Now, he’ll take his 137,000 Instagram followers to a school and a city that’s home to a variety of big brands (including UPS, Papa John’s).
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6-0, guard, 17.4 ppg at Kansas State (2021-22)
Despite reports of Peck signing an $800,000 NIL deal with a company called LifeVault — Hurricanes Booster is owned by John H. Ruiz. — After transferring to Miami, the former Kansas State star told ESPN he didn’t switch programs because of potential business opportunities. But he also admits that the spotlight in the buzzing city can help him shine, and on the court.
6-2, guard, 9.5 ppg at St. Peter’s (2021-22)
A move to the mid-majors might not do much for Adert’s brand power, but he doesn’t need to because he’ll always be the mustachioed St. Peters star who helped the Moors upset No. 2 Kentucky. Elite Eight in 2022. The star of last year’s most magical NCAA Tournament story has already inked deals with the likes of the Buffalo Wildwings.
6-0, guard, 19.4 PPG at SMU (2021-22)
This offseason’s No. 1 transfer in men’s basketball per ESPN could be an All-American for Penny Hardaway’s squad, in a city obsessed with college basketball. Before leaving Memphis for the NBA, Jalen Duren signed with major brands such as audio giant Bose. A standout campaign for Davis should land him similar contracts.
6-10, forward, 14.6 ppg at Northwestern (2021-22)
Nance arrived at North Carolina — last season’s national runner-up and a force in college sports backed by Michael Jordan’s Jordan brand — with a chance to transform his career on and off the court. New partner Armando Bacot Reportedly earned over $500,000 in NIL money last season. NBA, the son of former NBA star Larry Nance, could also find success on the open market with the Tar Heels.
6-2, forward, 20.3 ppg at Mississippi State (2021-22)
A customized Dodge Charger through a NIL deal with a local dealership is one of the top transfer perks in college basketball. Jackson would find more business opportunities — including takers for his clothing business — in Knoxville.
6-2, guard, 8.5 ppg at Oregon (2021-22)
The former Ducks standout already has a partnership with Barstool Sports, and has added local deals with retailers in Bloomington since moving back to his home state. A former Miss Basketball in Indiana, Parrish is guaranteed an increase in regional and national business opportunities, along with her 250,000 social media followers.
6-2, forward, 6.8 ppg at Notre Dame (2021-22)
With more than 150,000 followers on social media, Brunell, who remained in the ACC with his commitment to Virginia, already has deals with Kroger and fast food chain Wings Over. She also has her own clothing store through the vintage brand.
5-7, guard, 8.0 ppg at Mississippi State (2021-22)
Taylor donates proceeds from his sold-out basketball camps to a local Boys & Girls Club in Starkville, along with his NIL groups such as bag and equipment maker Solepack. She will take that charitable spirit and marketability with her across the state this season.
6-2, forward, 11.3 PPG at West Virginia (2021-22)
For a fee, Martinez will do everything from answering questions over email to making TikTok videos with you, from providing recruiting and transition advice to promoting your business. She will also appear at your event. With a strong showing in Tucson under coach Adia Barnes, that access price should increase.
6-1, guard, 7.5 PPG at Illinois (2021-22)
Injuries limited Curbelo to just 19 games last season. But the talented guard with more than 61,000 Instagram followers is now moving to the nation’s biggest city for a star turn in the Big East — along with the chance for more NIL deals.
6-3, guard, 9.4 ppg at Texas (2021-22)
The former Texas standout joins Tommy Lloyd’s squad with a chance to become a star in the backcourt. Arizona, otherwise known as Point Guard UK, is perhaps the best destination for his development both on and off the court in a business sense.