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La Jolla’s Jada Williams, NIL pioneer, featured in new Overtime series

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(David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

Jada Williams has helped shift the high school basketball landscape.

The junior made headlines when she moved from her home state of Missouri to San Diego, Calif. to enroll at La Jolla Country Day School and pursue NIL opportunities. California is one of six states that permit high school athletes to profit off of their name, image and likeness, along with New York, New Jersey, Nebraska, Alaska and Kansas.

Committed to UCLA as the No. 20 prospect in the class of 2023, per ESPN, Williams is the first known high school athlete to take advantage of NIL, and her portfolio includes partnerships with Spalding and Dick’s Sporting Goods. The responsibility of managing a personal brand for profit while balancing basketball and teenage life is somewhat uncharted territory for a 17-year-old.

Now, fans will get a chance to see that dynamic for themselves in the Overtime video series “All Eyes on Us” set to launch on Youtube in late March, which follows Williams and her La Jolla teammates through the 2021-22 season. Behind Breya Cunningham’s double-double average and Williams’ team-leading 4.1 assists per game, the Torreys went 25-3, losing by one point to Sierra Canyon in the CIF State Open Division semifinals on Saturday to bring their season to an end.

In the production, Williams takes center stage.

“She is a trailblazer. When you actually think about really what she’s done, it’s amazing,” La Jolla coach Terri Bamford coach told Just Women’s Sports. “She’s going to go to UCLA, she’s going to get a great education, but to have those financial opportunities is amazing for female athletes.”

Williams, who also led the USA women’s under-16 national team to the gold medal at the 2021 FIBA Americas, is set to become the latest in a long line of La Jolla stars to shine on the college basketball stage. Bamford has sent 45 players to Division I schools, including WNBA stars Candice Wiggins and Kelsey Plum. What makes Williams different, however, is that she’s already profiting from the game at the high school level.

“This whole media presence gives girls more opportunities to showcase them and what they can actually do and what they’re about,” Bamford said. “So I think it’s pretty exciting. It is different, there is a change, but I think all for the good.”

Bamford said Williams and her teammates remain focused on basketball despite their growing personal brands. Williams not only has over 500,000 followers on Instagram, she’s also captured attention of basketball icons like LeBron James, who came to watch her at EYBL Nike Nationals last year.

Williams is not the only rising star on the Torreys’ roster. Cunningham, a five-star recruit and the No. 4 player in the class of 2023, led the team in the post this season with 18.4 points, 11.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. (As a freshman in 2019-20, Cunningham recorded 25 double-doubles in 32 games.) Point guard Tajianna Avant-Roberts is a four-star recruit and the No. 14 player in the class of 2024.

“Breya, I feel she is the best post player in the country,” Bamford said. “She’s about the team, truly about the team. Nothing’s ever about her stats. She just wants to win.”

Bamford added that Roberts “knows how to score, she knows how to compete, and she is a true team player.”

Williams, Cunningham, Roberts and the rest of the Torreys are doing things coaches like Bamford scarcely thought were possible years ago.

“The game has grown so much over the past decade,” Bamford said. “I think the skill level has gone through the roof. … We have girls dunking now. The game is fast. The game is fun to watch.”

Clare Brennan is an associate editor at Just Women’s Sports.