Duke commits Jared McCain to signing with Excel Sports

First, Jared McCain had to choose a school.

With a fleet of Power 5 schedules chasing him, the #16 five-star recruit in the class of 2023, according to ESPN, picked Jon Scheyer and the Duke Blue Devils.

“I’ve been watching them since I knew basketball,” McCain told ESPN. “Just the story with coach K… it was a dream of mine to engage there.”

But then, the 6-foot-3 shooting guard decided he had to make another choice. McCain, who boasts a combined 2.3 million followers on TikTok and Instagram, figured he needed a name, likeness and likeness representation agent.

On Thursday, McCain announced that he has signed with Excel Sports, the same agency that represents Tiger Woods, Clayton Kershaw, Derek Jeter and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.

McCain said his focus is basketball: His team from Centennial High School (Corona, Calif.) will face Mikey Williams (another Excel Sports client) and San Ysidro High School (San Diego) on Friday, but he hired Excel Sports to help him navigate the fast-paced world of names, images and likenesses.

“When I first started on social media, I mean I was dancing on TikTok, so I didn’t think much of it,” McCain said. “Now that it’s here, you absolutely have to get it [NIL] into account. And being that Duke is probably the largest platform for the NIL space, that’s definitely a plus. … I’m obviously excited about the endorsements that I might get, the commercials that might happen, just all the opportunities that there are, I’m just excited.

A bygone generation might have laughed if a high school jock attempted to hire an agent to help them with their branding. But the rules of name, image and likeness have changed the sport in the last year.

Iowa women’s basketball star Caitlin Clark had reportedly made a seven-figure sum on NIL deals before recently signing with Nike. Oscar Tshiebwe, who won the Wooden Award last year, returned for Kentucky in part because he is expected to make millions. Amari Bailey, a five-star recruit for the UCLA Bruins this season, bought her mother a Porsche of hers while she was still in high school.

“I’m trying to balance school and basketball, so I just needed some help,” McCain said of signing with an agency.

While he picked Duke because he believed in Scheyer and his staff, he said the school’s all-in approach to NIL — Scheyer hired former Nike and NBA staffer Rachel Baker as his team’s general manager — made him helped make his decision.

McCain will be a significant piece of one of America’s top recruiting classes next season. But he will also continue to create content for the millions of people who follow him. McCain said his social media content is aimed at making people happy and putting a “smile on someone’s face.”

“Dancing before the game, those are the TikToks who usually perform well,” she said.

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