Darryn Peterson, the top-ranked guard in the 2025 boys basketball recruiting class, has inked an NIL deal with the Three Stripes at age 16.
Peterson, a 6’5 combo guard out of Canton, OH, is just 16 years old, but a consensus five-star recruit in the Class of 2025. The Huntington Prep prospect now embarks on his junior season with the backing of an international sportswear supplier and advances from over 30 Division I programs.
“The deal gives me the opportunity to take my brand to the next level,” Peterson told Boardroom. “And spread it around the world.”
Already a national name on the AAU circuit and in online mixtapes, Peterson is a newcomer to the NIL space due to his high school status.
Since the advent of NIL in 2021, tons of top athletes at colleges all over the country have benefitted from aligning with sponsors to earn off their name, image, and likeness rights. While college athletes have reaped the lion’s share of the benefits, high school hoopers have recently emerged as new names of interest.
In Oct. 2021, PUMA signed Mikey Williams to an endorsement deal when he was only 17-years-old. Last year, Nike inked contracts with JuJu Watkins, DJ Wagner, and Bronny James during their senior seasons of high school.
Not only are each of those Nike athletes playing college ball in 2023, they’re all attending a Swoosh-sponsored university. On top of that, each endorser has already been featured in online brand campaigns or retail activations.
With the early endorsement of Peterson — a player who averaged over 31 points and nine rebounds a night as a sophomore — the magnitude of him breaking the mold at Adidas isn’t lost on him.
“It means a lot,” Peterson said. “For Adidas to choose me out of all the high school basketball players in the world? For them to take a chance on me is a big deal. It’s an honor and a blessing.”
As the 16-year-old guard starts his junior season, Peterson will be ten toes down for the Three Stripes. Due to his deal, he’ll be able to publicly promote shoes tied to his new brand teammates like Anthony Edwards, Donovan Mitchell, and Trae Young.
He’ll also do it on a grander stage. Playing at the same prep school that produced the likes of Andrew Wiggins and Keldon Johnson, he’ll be competing with the Boozer brothers for the No. 1 ranking in his high school class. At the same time, he’ll blaze a trail for all the high school hopefuls looking to follow in his footsteps.
To any amateur athletes looking to become the next Adidas signee? The young man has some advice.
“Keep the main thing the main thing,” Peterson said. “Focus on whatever that dream is and the business part will come with it. Don’t let that drive you. Stay humble and be self-motivated.”
In some sense, the Peterson pairing at Adidas is the next chapter of a full-circle story. For any fan familiar with high school hoops and Adidas’ storied history in the space, Peterson provides a through-line of what once was and what still could be.
Over the course of the ’90s and ’00s, the Adidas ABCD Camp was the place where numerous high school hopefuls started their ascent to NBA stardom. Led long ago in the grassroots game by Sonny Vaccaro, the Three Stripes provided platforms at the amateur level for everyone from Kobe Bryant to LeBron James.
It was with this influence on the amateur game that Sonny was able to sign Kobe, Tracy McGrady, and Jermaine O’Neal before the world knew their names. Such early insight put Adidas on a path to compete in the basketball market for years to come.
“That’s why I went there,” Vaccaro told Boardroom in May. “To find those guys. Adidas had players, but you just can’t get anybody. You’ve gotta get kids that move the needle.”
With the signing of Darryn Peterson in 2023, Adidas has the chance to capitalize on the energy it has long possessed. It’s already an immediate win for the 16-year-old star that’s just beginning to blossom — even if now it means less time to think about outfits and more incentive to go all in on hoops.
“The biggest thing it changes is probably my wardrobe,” Peterson said. “Every day I’m Three Stripes head to toe.”
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