How NIL influenced Duke guard Jeremy Roach’s decision between NBA, return to school

How NIL influenced Duke guard Jeremy Roach’s decision between NBA, return to school

In the changing college athletics landscape, Jeremy Roach had more than just a basketball decision this spring while mulling whether to start his professional basketball career.

With the NCAA allowing athletes to profit from marketing deals via its 2021 changes to name, image and likeness rules, the Duke guard is already drawing income as a brand spokesman for BOA nutrition and in a new McDonald’s campaign.

Having declared for the NBA Draft while maintaining the option of returning to Duke for his fourth season, Roach said he kept his basketball future and his off-court deals separate, though.

“NIL is a great thing that happened to college sports,” Roach said in an exclusive interview with the News & Observer. “I think athletes should make as much money as they can, but I don’t want my decision to be based on NIL. I want it to be the best decision for my long-term future.”

Last week, after not receiving an invite to the NBA Draft Combine nor its G League equivalent, Roach announced he’d play next season with the Blue Devils. He’ll continue to have income opportunities through NIL that way, but he said he would have returned to Duke even if NIL deals were still against NCAA rules.

“I think Duke is the best school in the country,” Roach said. “Chasing money right now is not smart, especially if you don’t know what to do with it, and especially if you’re not in the proper position.”

Duke head coach Jon Scheyer laughs with Jeremy Roach (3) after Duke’s 59-49 victory over Virginia to win the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Saturday, March 11, 2023.

Either way, the news is good for college basketball as a whole, and Duke in particular. The Blue Devils now return four starters from their ACC championship team and are already being projected as the nation’s No. 1 team entering next season.

As a junior guard, Roach captained Duke’s team last season that went 29-7 in Jon Scheyer’s first season as head coach following Mike Krzyzewski’s retirement. Playing with nagging toe and wrist injuries, Roach averaged 13.6 points while making 42.6% of his shots from the field.

Having started on Duke’s Final Four team as a sophomore in Krzyzewski’s final season in 2021-22, Roach became a marketable asset in the NIL world.

Last January, Raleigh-based BOA Nutrition launched a campaign featuring Roach and North Carolina center Armando Bacot to promote its sports-energy aerosol BOA Ignite. It was the first brand marketing campaign to involve players from Duke and UNC.

The BOA deal was also notable since Roach and Bacot received equity positions in the company as part of their compensation.

Florida-based Postgame, which connects athletes with companies for NIL deals, arranged for Roach to be part of a Steve Madden footwear campaign in March as well as including him in the McDonald’s campaign along with dozens of other NC-based college athletes.

Roach was also among more than 1,000 athletes Postgame signed up to promote Woody Harrelson’s Champions movie last month.

“Brands want to leverage college athletes to tell their brand’s story,” said Postgame CEO Danny Morrissey, a former Penn State basketball player. “To communicate about the products authentically, that they have a brand that aligns with the athlete, through social media and market appearances.”

Fitting NIL activities into an already busy schedule that includes classes and studying along with athletic requirements takes discipline.

“I try to use my days where I might not have much to do NIL opportunities,” Roach said, “and I try to take advantage of opportunities throughout my schedule to get some content for NIL. I don’t want to overdo it, but I also don’t want to do too little.”

He added, “Money is a factor in all NIL opportunities, but for me, it’s also important to see what the brand is about, and it’ll build my brand in a positive way.”

NIL opportunities remain available for Roach and they figure to only grow since he’s returning to a Duke team that looks to be among the nation’s best next season.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top