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Jaden Ivey: Once and Future Baller

Top NBA prospect Jaden Ivey discusses his new iShares partnership, lessons from his mother, growing up a LeBron James fan, and more.

In a mere nine days, the lifelong dreams of dozens of NBA Draft prospects will come to fruition when their names are called while the whole world watches. For those fortunate enough to be selected in the first round, millions in guaranteed money will be coming their way. Setting up a stable and sustainable financial plan will be nearly, if not just as, important as their performance on the court moving forward.

Asset management giant BlackRock announced Tuesday that it’s launching the iShares Future Baller$ Program, where projected first rounders Jaden Ivey, Bennedict Mathurin, Jalen Duren, E.J. Liddell, and Jaden Hardy will each set aside a portion of their iShares sponsorship deal to go into an investment portfolio. They will have a personal finance coach in Lauren Simmons, who will educate these millionaires-to-be on financial wellness principles.

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“I’m gonna be in the draft in less than two weeks, and really, I haven’t had any money my whole life,” Ivey told Boardroom. “I would say this is a big opportunity for me. I’m gonna be making money doing what I love to do. The most important thing is money comes quick, and I have to be able to invest my money in a certain way while also maintaining my future.”

The 20-year-old Purdue guard, who is a project top-five pick come June 23, is part of a sporting family that spans three generations. Both his father and grandfather played in the NFL. His mom, Niele Ivey, played for five years in the WNBA and is currently the head coach of Notre Dame’s women’s hoops team. All of them got to have the sports they loved as their full-time jobs for periods of time. A major lesson Ivey learned from his mom was how important it is to love what you do, as it requires nearly constant travel to provide for your family. Now, iShares will help him invest for the future in order to help provide for generations to come.

“We’re empowering each of the players that are part of this program to invest how they want, when they want and what they want. I’m here to be a soundboard, to give guidance into what they’re thinking about long term,” Simmons told Boardroom. “These up-and-coming players are entering a phase in their lives where familiarity with core investing concepts will be imperative. I hope our work together inspires others to take steps to improve their own financial wellness.”

Being new to the investing game, the six-foot-four Ivey said he’s trying to learn everything he can and seeing what he can put his money into. He’s looking toward the future, supporting a family he’ll have one day, and building the generational wealth we all strive to achieve. In the short term, though, Ivey said his first purchase will be a Jeep Trackhawk — to replace his 2020 model that was stolen several months back.

Growing up in the suburbs of South Bend, Ivey was more of a LeBron James fan than an Indiana Pacers fan, but would make sure to make the trip to Indianapolis when King James took his talents to the Hoosier State. With his mom at Notre Dame, young Jaden was able to interact with and learn from players she had recruited such as Arike Ogunbowale, Marina Mabrey, Kayla McBride, Jewell Lloyd, and especially Skylar Diggins-Smith.

“She’s like one of my big sisters,” Ivey said.

After 12 years as an assistant, and later associate, coach at Notre Dame, Niele spent the 2019-20 season as an assistant coach with the Memphis Grizzlies. That happened to have been superstar Ja Morant‘s rookie season, and Jaden was able to have an inside look at his evolution from Murray State to second-overall pick to NBA Rookie of the Year.

“Just coming into the league and having the attention he had, I had just seen everything and I kind of craved that,” Ivey said. “I wanted that for myself, and [I saw] what it was gonna take to be there. It was gonna take a lot of hard work. You know, a lot of late nights and early mornings. His work ethic is unmatched. He just put his head down and kept working. Just to see somebody who had nothing at first and now he’s big time, it’s an inspiration to me.”

Ivey’s been holding pre-draft workouts in Los Angeles, describing the entire pre-draft process as a rollercoaster of emotions — knowing that one of the teams he meets with could be his new home for the foreseeable future. He listed his strengths as athleticism and getting to the basket, while he’s trying to work on reading opposing defenses, making the right reads, and improving his mid-range game as well as his floater. He looks forward to reaching the NBA and going up against the likes of Morant, James, Steph Curry, Jayson Tatum, and Damian Lillard.

The best advice Ivey got on this pre-draft process came from his mom.

“Sometimes it can be stressful because it’s a new chapter about to come into your life,” he said. “The biggest thing she told me was to just have fun with it. And just stay calm.”

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