Under Armour

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Nigel Hayes’ comment on basketball brands hits on greater point

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Much is made about the ball when it comes to how the sport of basketball is played and rightfully so, as the ball is the most important piece of equipment. Different brands have different characteristics, and with college basketball programs being able to pick the ball they use for home games there are adjustments to be made during the season.

Wisconsin will play at No. 2 Maryland Saturday, meaning that in the days leading up to the game the Badgers needed to get used to the Under Armour basketball. The brand became a conversation point in the aftermath of Maryland’s win over No. 4 Iowa last month, with the Hawkeyes (while not blaming the ball for their loss) made note of the differences between the Under Armour ball and the Nike ball they use for their home games.

Thursday Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes offered up his observations on the basketball while also pointing out (albeit sarcastically) the goal of intercollegiate athletics.

“It’s definitely different,” Hayes said. “Personally, we don’t like it too much. I don’t like the Under Armour ball whatsoever. But that’s the way this amateur sports league is set up. We’re supposed to be having fun, but all the money is in these basketballs that colleges play with. But it’s an amateur sport, we’re just here for fun. It’s not really that serious. So I guess any ball should be OK.

“Maybe we should have a universal ball like the NBA. You don’t go to the Clippers’ stadium and play with a Nike and then go to Golden State and play with a Rawlings. But in this amateur sport of college, where money isn’t the goal — it’s the student education and experience that you get — we play with a million different basketballs.”

Hayes makes a good point here, and in regards to the NBA all hell would break loose under similar circumstances (remember the leather vs. microfiber composite controversy in 2006?). If these games are solely about fun and the college experience, wouldn’t having one ball used by all schools better fit that mission? This isn’t the biggest of deals when it comes to “amateur” athletics, as different basketball brands have been used for years.

But Hayes was able to take this situation and work it into the discussion of the goals of intercollegiate athletics. Is it about the experience? Or does the ability to profit, be it through a minor move such as using a particular ball or the more impactful step of moving from one conference to another, take precedence? Given the shifts that have occurred in college sports in recent years, it’s quite apparent that the search for additional revenue streams has won out.

Hayes did note that neither he nor his teammates would make excuses, saying that the team would simple “have to get used to” the unfamiliar basketball according to the Wisconsin State Journal. In the end, this was a good use of sarcasm by Hayes to make a greater point about the collegiate athletics machine he and his teammates are but minor parts of.

Wisconsin, Under Armour agree to ten-year deal

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A move many expected to take place finally became official Friday, as the University of Wisconsin announced that they’ve agreed to a ten-year partnership with footwear and apparel provider Under Armour. The deal will go into effect July 1, 2016, ending what had been a partnership of more than a decade between the school and adidas.

Wisconsin joins Maryland, the alma mater of Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, and Northwestern as Big Ten schools with agreements with the apparel provider. And they’re also the second conference member to announce a move away from adidas this year, with Michigan agreeing to terms with Jordan Brand in July.

According to the release Wisconsin’s deal with Under Armour is valued at $96 million over the ten-year period, and there’s also $4.5 million to be made in royalties as well.

“I am absolutely thrilled about our new partnership with Under Armour,” Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said in the release. “Kevin Plank and his team have established a brand that fits perfectly with the Wisconsin athletics story and culture. Our primary focus at Wisconsin is, of course, our student-athletes, and Under Armour’s passion and commitment to high quality and innovation will benefit our student-athletes for years to come.

“Our entire department is looking forward to a long and mutually productive relationship with the Under Armour team.”

Nike and Under Armour host showcase events as the Shoe Wars continue to heat up

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Nike and Under Armour each held August showcase events on Saturday night. Under Armour held its nationally-televised Elite 24 in Brooklyn in the 10th year of an annual event while Nike created a team of the EYBL’s best to compete for the weekend in the Bahamas to keep their players in-house.

The Nike EYBL Select team won in front of five NBA scouts as 2017 guard Gary Trent Jr. had 18 points and 2016 five-star forwards Jonathan Isaac, Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum all had 16 points.

Here’s some of the highlights, including 2016 forward Miles Bridges throwing down some powerful dunks.

Under Armour’s Elite 24 was a good national showcase for 2016 guard Frank Jackson, who finished with 20 points. Big man Dewan Huell, a 2016 native of Florida, added 18 points. Frank Jackson, 2016 wing Josh Jackson, 2016 forward Edrice Adebayo and 2017 forward Billy Preston were named MVPs of the game.

Under Armour made sure to mention how the Elite 24 has turned into a major high school all-star game on Twitter and also took a subtle jab at Nike for organizing the event in the Bahamas.

Things are continuing to get interesting in the shoe wars between companies to keep high-end talent.

Maryland to wear shoes honoring program’s storied past Thursday night

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With apparel deals being what they are in college athletics it doesn’t come as much of a surprise when team receive special gear throughout the course of a season. That’s especially the case for programs that are more prominent within college basketball and/or have a good relationship with the company that outfits them.

Maryland, thanks to its deal with Under Armour (which was founded by Maryland alum Kevin Plank), has gone with different looks to both their sneakers and uniforms in recent years. Thursday night, Mark Turgeon’s team will wear new shoes meant to pay homage to the program’s past when they take on Ohio State in Columbus.

Maryland tweeted out a photo of the Clutchfit Drive sneaker Wednesday afternoon.

Prominently featured within the graphics on the shoe is the year 2002, which is when Maryland won its lone national title, and there are also references to the school nickname (Terrapins) and the program’s former home (Cole Field House). More images of the shoe can be viewed on Maryland Athletics’ official Facebook page.

H/T Washington Post

Top prospect in Class of 2014 signs endorsement deal with Under Armour

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Under Armour

Emmanuel Mudiay has officially signed an endorsement deal with Under Armour, the sports apparel company announced on Tuesday.

The terms of the deal were not immediately available. Under Armour also signed Brandon Jennings, a former No. 1 recruit that decided to head to Italy instead of play one season for Arizona.

Mudiay is one of the elite prospects in the Class of 2014, but the big, athletic point guard signed a contract with the Guangdong Southern Dragons in China instead of enrolling at SMU this season. The reason that the Mudiay family gave for his decision was that the player was “tired of seeing my mom struggle“, although there have been multiple reports that the decision was at least partly influenced by the fact that Mudiay was staring down the barrel of eligibility issues with the NCAA.

The 6-foot-5 Mudiay is going to be an interesting case-study moving forward, as he is just the third elite high schooler to turn pro overseas for his one season in NBA purgatory. The previous two were Jennings, who became a lottery pick and has had a successful NBA career since returning stateside, and Jeremy Tyler, who was drafted but is much more famous for his decision to leave high school as a junior than he is for anything he’s done on the court since then.

Ending up in China only makes Mudiay’s path more interesting. The league pays well and the country loves basketball, but it’s a league that is notoriously fickle about paying salaries and expects massive numbers out of the Americans on their rosters.

The biggest question that will be asked? Can Mudiay be a trailblazer for elite high school prospects, or is the overseas route one that doesn’t have much future for teenagers that just want a seven-figure salary for one season?

Maryland to sport “White Ops” uniforms Wednesday vs. UNC

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Under Armour continually supplies Maryland with newly designed alternate uniforms and Wednesday, the Terrapins will unveil new “White Ops” jerseys for their matchup with North Carolina at the Comcast Center in College Park, Md.

We’ve seen the Maryland football team sport this white jersey arrangement but this basketball arrangement is pretty sharp, too. We see the typical Maryland yellow and black checkered pattern around the arm cut-outs and the high-top shoes add a nice touch. But the Terrapins will be focusing less on what they’re wearing and more on what they need to do Wednesday against UNC.

Maryland comes into the game having split the last six games and reaching peaks like a win over No. 2 Duke, then an immediate valley with a loss to Boston College. The Terrapins are still holding on to NCAA tournament hopes and are helped along by losses by other bubble teams, including Ole Miss’ loss to Mississippi State and Boise State’s inability to capitalize in a loss to UNLV.

They meet a surging North Carolina team Wednesday that has won five straight games and has all but cemented a spot in the NCAA tournament. Much of that success has been attributed to the smaller lineup put in place by Tar Heels’ coach Roy Williams.

From CSNWashington.com:

Carolina’s smaller lineup should contrast with Maryland, who typically plays a traditional front court with Alex Len at center and either Padgett, Shaquille Cleare or Charles MItchell at power forward. When Maryland faced a similar small lineup against Virginia, the Terps seemed out of sync for much of the game and suffered a deflating 80-69 home loss.

Tip off is at 7 p.m. ET.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_