Paige Bueckers had a breakout year as a freshman, quickly earning the nickname ‘Paige Buckets’ for her propensity for putting the ball through the net. When on June 1, 2021 the Name, Image, Likeness rule changed college athletics b, many expected athletes with household names to take full advantage of this newfound opportunity. Perhaps this is why it was surprising that someone as famous as Bueckers would have held off. Upon signing a deal with Wasserman and filing for a trademark for her nickname, “Paige Buckets”, she kept her moves with the NIL deal relatively silent.
Interestingly, the athlete making the most of their NIL deals is another woman. LSU’s gymnast Olivia Dunne quickly signed a deal with athleisure brand Vuori, putting her above the basketball and football players everyone speculated would capitalize most on the new rules. But, thankfully, for other female college athletes, Dunne’s deal set an interesting precedent as it encouraged other companies to keep up with them. If they were going to sponsor and champion women’s athletics, their competitors would be pushed to do the same. Nevertheless, many athletes with household names have been selective with the deals they sign. Many, like Dunne and Bueckers have their pick of brands who wish to partner with them. Both, however, have expressed that they will only sign deals that emphasize who they are as individuals. Their support will go to companies they feel will support them and will continue to do so once they are an official member of the team.
Bueckers said her decision to sign with StockX came from a place of mutual interest. The online clothing and sneakers forum and distributor had goals that aligned with Bueckers own advocacy; Bueckers stated that it was her intention to help StockX center women’s sports. They will work together to create unprecedented inclusivity,championing female athletes. Another important point for Bueckers is supporting and uplifting the Black community. On the contrary, StockX choosing to champion Bueckers came from a place of untapped market potential. Those who follow the Huskies of UCONN likely those who appreciate much of the same things as Bueckers, meaning signing her creates the possibility for a new market; Bueckers is a representative for those previously ignored.
Another reason Bueckers’ deal is important is that it will likely follow her to the WNBA. Being one of the greatest college basketball players of all time, it is almost certain that Bueckers will eventually sign with a professional team upon completion of her college career. If she does so, she will be the first athlete to bring a brand like StockX into the league with her. This will create unprecedented opportunities for the women in the WNBA, her teammates, competitors and athletes she will never meet, nationwide.
Excitement for Bueckers comes from a place of love. She stated that it was her love and interest in fashion that fueled her excitement to work with StockX. In their part, StockX will incorporate her into promotions, seek her opinions on various marketing ideas, and expand their sizing options to promote inclusivity for women. It is telling that StockX sought out Bueckers for their deal when they could have easily signed a male athlete. Since they are not a gender-exclusive brand, their signing with Paige makes a statement, which will hopefully promote more deals for more female athletes. A large and well-known brand such as this creates historic precedent. While this is good news for all athletes across the NCAA, it is especially exciting for female athletes who can look to the future with hope for their own deals. After all, once you move the bracket, the only place left to go is up.