Basketball

How KU commit Gradey Dick became a select high school basketball player with an NFT

How KU commit Gradey Dick became a select high school basketball player with an NFT

With Monday’s news from the NCAA’s Division I Council recommending the organization ceases its amateurism rules regarding name, image and likeness rights, high school and college athletes now have a chance to finally benefit financially from their fame.

Under the proposed NIL rules, athletes will now be allowed to profit through their fame through social media posts, appearances, sponsorships, autograph sales, endorsement deals, private training and camps.

Sunrise Christian Academy senior Gradey Dick, a Wichita native and University of Kansas commit, is one of a handful of high school basketball players who were among the first amateur players to receive their very own NFT, which is essentially a modern-day trading card that is a 30-second highlight video and sold in limited quantity.

BallerTV produced the NFTs from the June 8 “Cream of the Crop” all-star game at the Pangos All-American Camp, an elite, invite-only basketball camp reserved for the top prospects in the country. Dick, a top-50 recruit in the class of 2022, was chosen as one of 30 players to participate in the game — as well as receive a plaque that commemorates their NFT.

It was a pretty cool experience for Gradey,” said Bart Dick, his father. “We think the intention is good with this (NFT) stuff. BallerTV exists for the athletes, so whatever they put together is not something that would go against the athletes or put the kids in a position that isn’t good. They’re just trying to set something up where kids can make a little revenue from their name.”

Dick’s NFT, which is a 30-second clip of his best dunks, blocks and shots from the all-star camp, was one of the first to sell out on the BallerTV web site. There were only 10 editions of the NFT made with each being sold for $99 and half of the sales going directly to Dick at a later time.

Fans can buy, sell and trade NFTs with the appeal for collectors much like traditional trading cards in trying to identify the rising stars of a sport, said BallerTV co-founder Sandeep Hingorani.

“I think the NFT market is very speculative-driven and driven in scarcity, so if you can own a small piece of something that is limited in quantity and you have confidence it will appreciate in value, then there’s going to be an inherent interest in that,” Hingorani said. “It’s not dissimilar from future tradings or general stock market trading.

“These guys are some of the best high school players in the country who are going to be future NBA draft picks in one or two years. So you can imagine why there was so much interest in this.”

It’s unclear with the NCAA still finalizing its NIL rules when high school players will be able to receive the profits from these NFT sales, but Hingorani said the news is trending in the right direction for the players.

For now, all high school players are being advised to wait to collect the proceeds from the sales until they at least graduate high school. But that could change when the NCAA clarifies its stance on NFTs.

“When we got into this, it was because we didn’t understand why there was a governing body that was arbitrarily restricting financial opportunities for these players,” Hingorani said. “You look at kids that age and there’s content creators on YouTube or Twitch that amass these tremendous followings and profit off of it.

“These are the same kids who are sitting in the same classroom with these athletes and now the same opportunities are being made available to them, whether its NFTs or something else, to monetize off their name, image and likeness.”

Hingorani said it’s clear that the idea of selling NFTs for high school players is a hit and points to how Dick’s 10 cards sold out almost immediately with very little marketing.

With another season at Sunrise, which will play a national schedule with almost all of its games broadcast on ESPN, Dick could see his profile grow even larger within the next year. And when he heads off to Lawrence and plays for the Jayhawks, his status will grow even more.

That’s why Hingorani believes this was just the beginning for Dick and high school players like him to start cashing in through the NFT market.

“I think there’s going to be some eyebrows raised on what opportunities are available to players like Gradey who have this tremendous following already and then they’re going to be given these amazing platforms like the one Gradey will have at Kansas,” Hingorani said. “I think him selling out within one hour with very limited marketing behind it was an eye-opening moment for us and for Gradey and his dad. I think everyone is very excited by it and the plan is not to slow down.

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