Andrew Wiggins

Andrew Wiggins’ shoe contract could be worth $140-180 million


One of the most interesting, and underreported, aspects of Andrew Wiggins’ decision to enroll at Kansas instead of Florida State, North Carolina and Kentucky had little to do with basketball and everything to do with shoes.

Wiggins came up as a Nike kid. He played for the CIA Bounce, which is affiliated with Nike. Huntington Prep, Wiggins’ high school, was sponsored by the swoosh as well. But Kansas is an Adidas school, which more or less goes against everything that we’ve ever been told about shoe companies and recruiting.

How could Nike let the most hyped prospect in years end up at an Adidas school?

Perhaps more interesting: Who will Wiggins sign with when he gets out of college, and how much will that contract guarantee him?

Well, according to this story from Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report, Wiggins could be looking at a 10-year deal worth somewhere between $140 million and $180 million. That’s a lot of money.

Zwerling’s story is a fascinating look at certain aspects of the shoe industry. For example, if Nike shelled out that kind of money for Wiggins and made a push to turn him into one of the bigger names in the company, would that anger their two biggest stars, Lebron and Kevin Durant? What about Kobe? Would he take kindly to the swoosh making a bid to bring his defacto replacement under the company’s wing? How would Kyrie Irving feel, seeing as he may be passed over as the next big thing?

Zwerling also points out that something that I never realized about the shoe business: the companies don’t profit off of these massive contracts. Lebron didn’t become profitable under his ninth season with Nike. That’s not exactly a great business model.

More than anything, however, here’s the takeaway you should have when reading those numbers: it’s a joke to say that college athletes are getting a fair deal with a scholarship when Nike would be willing to pay Wiggins somewhere around $15 million a year to wear their shoes. Granted, Wiggins is an exception, not a rule; his value is rooted in how unique he is as a prospect.

But what about a guy like Marcus Smart? He’s an all-american that returned to school and he has a future in the NBA. You don’t think there’s significant value there? Or what about a guy like Alex Len? He played at Maryland, where Under Armour founder Kevin Plank went to school. Under Armour is trying to break into the basketball shoe market. You don’t think they would have been willing to spend some money to get him under the UA umbrella once they realized he had a shot to make the league?

This is an argument that takes a lot more than just a 400 word blog post to make, but it is worth pointing out just how much value some of these “amateurs” and “student-athletes” actually have.

Louisville backcourt struggles in first scrimmage

Quentin Snider, Jerian Grant
Associated Press
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While a few teams did manage to hold special events for the official start of practice this weekend, most simply went about their business with drills and conditioning. One team that was the exception to all of this was Louisville, which held the first of its two intersquad scrimmages on Saturday. The Cardinals had a head start of sorts on the season, as they played six exhibition games in Puerto Rico this summer.

One hope heading into Saturday’s scrimmage was that guards Trey Lewis and Quentin Snider would have better chemistry than they did in Puerto Rico. But according to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, that remains a work in progress for the Cleveland State transfer (Lewis) and rising sophomore (Snider).

They struggled in Puerto Rico, and they struggled again in Saturday’s Red-White scrimmage, the first public intrasquad practice since August. They played one half of the game together, paired with the presumed starting lineup with Mangok Mathiang out with an eye injury, a group that also included Damion Lee, Jaylen Johnson and Chinanu Onuaku.

That team lost the first half by 13 points to a younger group of Louisville players, and Lewis and Snider combined for eight points on 3-of-12 shooting, five turnovers, five steals, four assists and three rebounds.

“I thought (Snider) and (Lewis) did not play well together,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said. “They’ve got to get used to that. Neither guy made other guys better. That’s what they need to learn to do.”

As Greer also noted in his story the Cardinals have in recent years employed backcourt tandems in which both guards are capable of making plays for themselves and others. On the 2013 national champion team Peyton Siva and Russ Smith led the way, with Smith being joined by Terry Rozier or Chris Jones the following season and Rozier/Jones being the grouping last season before the latter was dismissed from the team.

Once Jones was dismissed Snider saw more time on the court, and his development was one of the keys for a Louisville team that fell one win short of the Final Four. Louisville needs him to take another step forward heading into the 2015-16 season, because even with Lewis’ experience at the Division I level Snider has more experience playing in Pitino’s system.

But while Saturday’s scrimmage didn’t go as well as anyone involved hoped, there’s still plenty of time for Louisville to work out the kinks before they open the season November 13 against Samford.

Knee injury sidelines Memphis assistant

Toronto Raptors vs Charlotte Hornets
Associated Press
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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.