The Blue Devils basketball commit and Tik-Tok sensation catches up with Boardroom to break down his Champs Sports partnership and life off the court.
Jared McCain is on the move in every sense of the term.
In January, he became a Burger Boy by being named to the 2023 McDonald’s All-American Team. Weeks later in February, he won this third straight high school hoops championship with Centennial High School in Southern California. March and April were spent shooting promotional content for Crocs, representing his country at the Nike Hoop Summit, and getting his course load set for early enrollment at Duke University.
If it all sounds like fun, that’s because it is.
Today, the Blue Devil with the blue check is checking in with Boardroom to discuss his NIL partnership with Champs Sports. Headlining the “Game, All Day Every Day” campaign, Jared’s all smiles when discussing one of his many brand deals.
Maybe it’s because he’s getting gear and building his bank at only 19 years of age. Maybe it’s because he just got back from a day trip to Disneyland.
From the heralded hooper’s thoughts on AI-generated Drake to how he stays positive despite an adult amount of responsibilities, hear what Jared had to tell Boardroom below.
IAN STONEBROOK: Last fall, you inked a major name, image, and likeness deal with Champs Sports. How has that partnership evolved during your senior season?
JARED McCAIN: It’s been crazy and it’s been super exciting working with Champs. When I first got the deal, I remember as a kid, you go into these stores and you see all the athletes on the wall.
When I walked into a store and I saw myself for the first time? It’s awesome. It’s an experience that you never really think you’ll get, but it was amazing to see it, and they’re amazing to work with. They always comply with everything I need, whether it’s the scheduling and stuff like that with all these tournaments. But yeah, it’s been amazing working with them.
IS: I spent many an afternoon as a high schooler shopping at Champs with my lawn mowing or grocery bagging money. What’s it like entering that store as an athlete ambassador?
JM: It’s funny when I walked in there the first time, no one noticed me — none of the workers or anything. But when one customer noticed, it kind of started spreading throughout the store. Then, the workers came up to me and were like, ‘Is that you?’ And then we started talking. So maybe customer service goes up a little bit when they see you on the wall.
IS: Do other shoppers ask you to put their sneakers on your tab?
JM: [Laughs] They tried. But I was like, ‘Uh, maybe next time.’
IS: Fair enough. I heard when you signed that the first order of business was getting your mom a pair of Air Max 97s. Did you cross that off your list?
JM: Yeah. For Christmas, I was able to get them all like a bunch of Champs stuff. My whole family was decked out in Champs. I ended up getting her a Tech Fleece suit that she’s rocking.
IS: Your senior year of high school is wrapping up. What’s the last school year been like navigating academics, hoops, and NIL?
JM: It’s pretty wild. I’m in high school and all this stuff is happening. In the beginning, it was a lot of brands coming after me and I didn’t even know how to handle it. Even my parents didn’t know. To have like all these deals come in and you have to manage it, see what’s right for you, what fits your personality, and what I want to be portrayed as online? That’s why Champs was so perfect for me. It was everything I wanted.
So, it’s been difficult in the beginning, but now I think we’ve got it under control and it’s way easier to navigate.
IS: Managing money as a student is one thing when it’s just chores and allowance. I have to imagine it’s a whole different deal with NIL and brand partnerships.
JM: It’s funny, because I used to take out the trash for $10 a week. When these deals started coming in, I kind of got a little busy and I kind of stopped that a little bit. So, I stopped taking out the trash for $10 a week [laughs].
IS: Have you been able to flip stuff at all where you’re the one paying your parents to do those chores? Are you treating them?
JM: For sure, we’re gonna go to Hawaii soon. It’s just exciting to be able to do certain stuff, whether it’s buying them a gift they’ve been wanting for a while or giving them any experience they haven’t been able to get.
JM: Yessir. That platform at Duke is unmatched. I’m just excited to get out there, compete, and see all the stuff off the court that they can help me out with to help me build my brand off the court. I’m super excited to get out to Duke. I can’t wait.
IS: When do you arrive in Durham for classes?
JM: I go out to take summer classes. I think it starts July 6, I wanna say, but I go out June 20 for the first part of it for a few weeks. Then, I come back and then I go back out, so I’ll get a taste of it in the summer.
IS: Coming from California and heading to North Carolina, the weather is a little different. Between the Champs NIL deal and Duke being a Nike school, are you packing a suitcase of clothes for school or just rolling the dice on getting a bunch of free gear?
JM: You know, I don’t know what to take. I feel like I’m gonna end up just taking just a big suitcase with nothing in it. Maybe I’ll take my prize possession, the Sean Wotherspoon Air Max 97/1s. Then, maybe some underwear and socks. But then, other than that? Whatever Champs comes out with and then whatever Duke comes with [laughs].
IS: Have you already found the closest Champs location to your dorm room?
JM: [Laughs] I haven’t looked at it. I gotta find it. It should be close, though. I’m hoping it’s close because I’ll be there a lot, so I’ll get used to the workers and we’ll be on a first-name basis.
IS: Switching gears, I see you just got back from a trip to Disneyland and I know you’re a self-proclaimed Disney Kid. Tell me about your trip and your attraction to Disney as a whole.
JM: Ever since I was a kid, it was Disney Channel or Nickelodeon for most kids in my class and I was always on the Disney side. Good Luck Charlie and Dog with a Blog were my favorites. I love that aspect of just still being a kid in Disneyland and they have the best rides for me.
My favorite ride? I’d have to go with Guardians of the Galaxy in California. That one’s crazy. I love Disneyland and Disney as a whole. It’s been something I’ve been a part of since I was a kid, so just being able to go there now, it’s very nice.
IS: Speaking of feeling like a kid, I know your favorite artist is The Boy: Drake. As a Drake fan, tell me your feelings on both AI Drake and the upcoming tour.
JM: Drake’s always at the top tier for me. Anything he does is amazing. I don’t know if he likes the AI, though, because it’s not his real voice, of course, so I don’t know if he likes that. But I think Drake and The Weeknd should hop on the real version of that.
But anything Drake does, I’m with it whether it’s OVO or any music. I’ve never not liked a Drake song [laughs]. I love Drake and one day I gotta meet him.
IS: Heading to a Nike school, could we see some NOCTA gear working its way into your on-court rotation?
JM: Yeah, I hope so. I just saw him and I think he was wearing a Gonzaga sweatshirt. I was like, ‘Damn, I wish that was Duke’ [laughs].
IS: You may need to start hooking up Drake with some Duke gear.
JM: I’ll get him. Anytime Drake wants some seats, you know, I may have to scoot my family aside for that one.
IS: Moving to school this summer, are you going to be able to get out to the Drake tour in NC or CA?
JM: You’ll catch me there for sure. I’ll probably go to the one in Inglewood at The Forum. I’ll be there a hundred percent singing every word.
IS: Speaking of The Forum, what have been your takeaways on the NBA Playoffs thus far?
JM: I was able to go to the Kings game [against Golden State]. The Game 1 environment was insane. Watching that and seeing how that could eventually be me? It’s a blessing to see it in person. Seeing [Stephen] Curry is insane as well. The Western Conference in particular has been pretty wild, especially with the Draymond stuff. It’s been great to watch and I love tuning in whenever the Kings play.
IS: As a Steph Curry fan and a Kings supporter, what are you wearing to that game and who do you find your heart rooting for?
JM: It’s super tough because I went to the Curry Camp and I got to meet him and stuff like that, so I love when Curry does well. But I gotta go with where I’m from. I gotta go with the home team, the Kings. I guess I want Curry to drop, like, 60, but I want De’Aaron [Fox] and Malik [Monk] to go crazy and win.
IS: Being a point guard growing up in Sacramento, who are your top five Kings guards?
JM: I know [Mike] Bibby is up there. Jason Williams, obviously. I went to the McDonald’s game with Andrej Stojakovic, so Peja is always in that mix for the Kings.
I went to a game when I was younger and Isaiah Thomas hit a bank shot game-winner. Seeing that in person, he’s up there, too, and definitely De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk off the bench. I’m gonna go with De’Aaron right now just for the new era and the playoffs.
IS: During the pandemic, you picked up the TikTok bug. Since then, you’ve become an absolute star of the platform. I’m curious, what’s your phone look like when a video you make goes viral?
JM: It’s wild. I remember when I hit 10,000 followers. Me and my mom were in complete shock. To be where I’m at now with 1.9 million followers and seeing videos do millions of views? I never could have dreamed of it. It was so random that it happened, just dancing before games, and then all of a sudden the videos were blowing up.
It’s very cool to see all these supporters know about my story and tell me they appreciate me and I inspire them. That’s the craziest part that’s come with all this stuff: that I’m able to inspire the younger generation and people older than me. It’s funny that it all came from dancing, just showing off positive energy.
IS: Has doing TikTok dances improved your footwork on the court?
JM: Most definitely, I was gonna say that. Knowing how to do these moves, it translates to the footwork. I played soccer all my life, so I think that also comes with dancing, footwork, and finding the rhythm of certain things. In basketball, dribbling is also rhythm, so I think it definitely helped. I think it made me become a five-star.
IS: You’re big on positivity. What are some habits you’ve picked up that keep you in a good headspace?
JM: I feel like doing my routine every day is the main thing that’s helped me stay healthy-minded. For about a year and a half consistently, I’ve been doing floating in the sensory deprivation tank. That’s really cool, I think that it’s like an advanced version of meditation. That’s helped me in keeping a great mindset. Then reading has helped me a lot on the mental side. I’m reading Raise Your Game. One of my coaches, Dorrell Wright, gave it to me so I just started this one.
Then, I think just being self-aware. Knowing what’s wrong, knowing what you need to fix. I think social media can be a very toxic place sometimes. I try and get off of it a lot. When I’m at Duke, I think I’m gonna stay off my phone and stuff like that. So I’m definitely finding different ways to keep a healthy mind, because at the end of the day, if you’re not in a healthy mind space, then everything’s gonna seem off. I love keeping up with my mental health.
IS: In the era of NIL, you have a lot of opportunities and a lot of responsibilities. What have you learned about personal and family finances during this ride?
JM: I’ve had help with my agents and the agency in knowing how much I’m worth in certain areas, but in the beginning, it was hard because NIL was so new. You didn’t know how much to price certain things at or if someone’s taking advantage of you.
Once you finally find how much stuff is worth, it can help dictate how much you wanna charge. That’s probably my biggest thing. Having the agency probably helped the most, though. They handle all that, so I’m just over here. They give me whatever I need to do and it’s all good. I trust them.
IS: Closing out on the Champs partnership, what’s been your latest pickup through the deal?
JM: My favorite one from the shoot was the “Cool Grey” Jordan 6. Anything Jordan, I’m down for whatever, but my favorite one from the “Game, All Day Every Day” campaign was the Jordan 6.
IS: This fall in Durham, what should fans expect to see on your feet?
JM: We’re gonna see a little bit of everything. I’m excited though. I’m excited to wear some Nikes.
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