Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren both chose to play for Penny Hardaway at Memphis instead of pursuing professional opportunities in the NBA G League or elsewhere.
But both former high school stars stand to earn big bucks through the new Name, Image and Likeness rules while at Memphis. One source said that Hardaway and his team discussed with Bates and Duren the possibility of working with companies like FedEx
“Based on their national exposure, and rapidly growing local fame in the Memphis hoops-crazed market, I think it’s very realistic that both could earn near 7-figures in annual NIL compensation,” Sam Weber, the senior communications director for OpenDorse, which has partnered with Memphis on NIL opportunities, said by email. “In-season success (say a Zion-level performance) would only drive those opportunities up.”
One betting site now has Memphis as the second favorite —along with Michigan and behind Gonzaga — to win the NCAA championship, although as I wrote in this space Thursday, Memphis still faces several key obstacles.
The whole NIL landscape is virgin territory and Weber admits it’s hard to pin down a precise figure on how much the former Team Final teammates could bring in.
“Both Bates and Duren are relatively difficult to pin down NIL estimates for as both have relatively small social media audiences for recruits of their caliber and relative fame (compared to say, Mikey Williams),” Weber said. “Understanding that, I believe an estimate based on social influence would be well below their actual earning potential from local and national advertisers like FedEx.”
Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing pundit and the Creative Director at San Francisco’s Baker Street Advertising, estimated conservatively that Bates and Duren could earn at least six-figure incomes.
“Two likely future NBA lottery picks on a team with serious Final Four potential?” he said. “Bates and Duren could become NIL MVPs, and make mid-six-figures in income, possibly more.”
Duren is a projected top-5 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, and figures to be one-and-done before he earns NBA money, while Bates isn’t eligible for the NBA Draft until 2023 and could potentially earn NIL money at Memphis for the next two seasons.
“We are thrilled Emoni is a Tiger,” Hardaway said in a statement Friday. “He is one of the fiercest competitors I have ever recruited, and he instantly makes everyone around him better. His will to win makes us a better team.”