Gonzaga big man Chet Holmgren is a projected top-3 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. (Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NFT STUDENT ATHLETES

Chet Holmgren, Jalen Duren Highlight Candy Digital’s First College Hoops NFTs

The superstar big men are joined by JD Davison, Bryce McGowens, and Blake Wesley as part of the “Sweet Futures” NFT collection’s first foray into college basketball.

Candy Digital unveiled a group of five college basketball stars signing NIL deals and launched its “Candy Sweet Futures” college hoops NFT collection led by two superstar big men — Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Memphis’ Jalen Duren — the company announced Thursday.

The Sweet Futures series debuted last July at the dawn of the NCAA’s name, image, and likeness era with 22 college football stars, including Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder, Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, Georgia’s Nolan Smith and JT Daniels, North Carolina QB Sam Howellnew Oregon transfer QB Bo Nix, and Texas A&M running back Isaiah Spiller.

Now, it’s college basketball players that have their time to bask in the NIL glow, with Notre Dame shooting guard Blake Wesley, Alabama point guard JD Davison and Nebraska wing Bryce McGowens joining Holmgren and Duren. Their NFTs drop beginning in late February.

Star Memphis Tigers center Jalen Duren is taking his talents to Candy Digital. (Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

Candy Digital, the virtual collectibles company backed by Fanatics, Galaxy Digital, and Gary Vaynerchuk, launched the secondary marketplace for its officially licensed Major League Baseball NFTs earlier this month, boasting $100 million in pre-listings and more than 80,000 customers.

“Our newest series of ‘Candy Sweet Futures’ stars marks our first product release in basketball, and we’re excited to connect with fans of the sport who are some of the most passionate digital collectors,” said Scott Lawin, Candy Digital’s CEO. “Chet, Jalen, Blake, JD and Bryce are each extraordinary athletes with the potential to evolve into superstars at the next level.”

Each player will have NFTs on four different tiers of rarity, including a four-day open Core edition, Epic, Rare, and a 1-of-1 special non-fungible token that Candy Digital will auction. For reference, Uiagalelei’s 1-of-1 auction sold for $19,500. The collectibles will be made available for purchase over a period of several weeks leading up to March Madness.

Any holder of a Sweet Futures college football NFT will be given early access to the college basketball drop, which will eventually include additional details — and additional athletes.

Holmgren, the 19-year-old, seven-foot center, is averaging 13.6 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game for No. 2-ranked Gonzaga, is the projected No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA draft according to ESPN.

“I’m thrilled to be part of the inaugural Candy Sweet Futures hoops lineup alongside some of the top players in the  country,” Holmgren said. “Candy is reimagining the way fans can celebrate the sport and players they love, and I  look forward to sharing the new NFTs soon.”

Duren, a 6-foot-11 freshman, is ESPN’s projected No. 4 overall selection, while Davison is projected at 20th, Wesley at 21st, and McGowens at 31st.

“I’ve been very selective about the brands I partner with, including in the new and exciting world of NFTs,” Duren  said. “Candy Digital has quickly become a leader in the NFT marketplace and is the perfect fit for me to join their  Sweet Futures program.”

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