The partnership marks another breakthrough for the 5-star Duke Blue Devils freshman and projected 2022 No. 1 NBA Draft pick.
Paolo Banchero hasn’t yet played his first college basketball game, but he’s already off to a busy start to his freshman year at Duke University.
The 5-star all-world phenom out of Seattle, Washington arrived in Durham as the No. 1 power forward and No. 2 overall player in the nation according to 247Sports, and he quickly took things one step further by becoming not just the first college athlete with a name, image, and likeness deal with NBA 2K — Banchero’s actually getting scanned into 2K22. As the first college athlete officially included in a licensed pro sports game, the deal signals a path toward the hopeful return of many of the fan-favorite collegiate video games of the past.
And on Monday, the hits kept coming.
Ahead of Mike Krzyzewski’s final season in charge of the Blue Devils program, Paolo Banchero is now the first basketball player to secure an exclusive multi-year NIL trading card deal with Panini.
Creative Artists Agency, which represents Banchero as an NIL client, negotiated the deal with the cards and collectibles giant.
A projected No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft who notably turned down college offers from juggernauts like Kentucky, North Carolina, and Gonzaga, the 6-foot-10 O’Dea High School product is embarking on the kind of presumptive one-and-done campaign the game has never seen before.
The Blue Devils open their 2021-22 campaign on Nov. 9 against Kentucky at Madison Square Garden.
In addition to being the exclusive trading card partner in the collegiate space, Panini also holds exclusives with the NBA/NBPA and NFL/NFLPA, among others.
“As we continue to enter into the NIL market, we are focused on working with the top-level athletes and there is no one that is more anticipated as we approach the college basketball season than Paolo Banchero we are excited to make him Panini’s first NIL college basketball athlete,” Panini America Vice President of Acquisitions Brian Bayne told Boardroom.