Iowa star Caitlin Clark, Stanford standout Haley Jones and 2023 recruit JuJu Watkins signed with Nike on Monday in a rare set of NIL deals for the brand.
For Clark, the Nike deal adds a big name to her portfolio, which already includes NIL contracts with Hy-Vee and H&R Block. At a Big Ten media session Tuesday in Minneapolis, Clark noted that while Nike is selective about its players, she’s been particular about who she signs with as well.
“I’m pretty selective about who I work with,” Clark said. “I think that’s probably a no-brainer for just about anybody in the world. They’re one of the best brands, and obviously a brand that’s so prevalent in basketball and has a lot of athletes that I look up to, especially in the basketball world.
“I was kind of shocked at first like, ’Oh my gosh, Nike.’ But it’s super cool and I’m super-blessed to have that opportunity.”
The deal has been in the works for awhile, with the brand reaching out following the conclusion of last season. Clark credited her uncle, Mike Nizzi, as well as her parents for helping her achieve her successes.
“If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know where I would be,” she said. “Those two have really, really helped me.”
Clark enters the season as one of the top players to watch, leading an Iowa team that was ranked fifth in ESPN’s “way too early” top 25. The Hawkeyes are fresh off winning the Big Ten tournament title last season.
“She’s made such a difference, obviously at Iowa and in the country,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “She’s a game-changer and just a special player to watch. Not fun to have to scout and coach against, but she’s truly one of those you have to appreciate as a once-in-a-lifetime player.”
Frese also called Clark “electric.”
“Obviously can score the basketball as soon as she steps on the court from anywhere, that kind of range. It’s not by accident,” she said. “You see a player like Caitlin Clark. When you watch those all-Americans and those players comes through, it’s so rare. So you’ve got to appreciate them in the time they get in their college careers.”