LSU freshman phenom Ben Simmons is widely expected to forgo the rest of his college eligibility and enter the 2016 NBA Draft, where he’ll almost certainly be taken No. 1 overall. Simmons, who stands 6-foot-10 but possesses the handles and body movement of a guard, has already elicited comparisons to LeBron James, and his all-around game has scouts proclaiming him the next once-in-a-generation player to grace NBA courts.
That hype, whether exaggerated or not, has already stirred rumors that the major sneaker brands are loading up to get into a major bidding war to sign the Australian native. According to SNY.com, the number required to sign Simmons is already up over $100 million, as Nike, adidas and Under Armour all scramble to ink a pact with the next NBA superstar.
Nike is the front runner at this point. LSU is a Nike school, and Simmons has worn various colorways of the LeBron 13 throughout his freshman season. A few weeks ago, he shared a photo of a custom LSU-themed LeBron 13 on his Twitter account, as you can see above. Also, Simmons has frequently been spotted rocking a hat by TACKMA, a Cleveland brand worn consistently by LeBron James, and whose founder has close ties with Rich Paul, James’s agent.
“adidas and Under Armour may throw a number out there, maybe more to push it up,” Sonny Vaccaro, the man who brokered Michael Jordan’s first deal with Nike, told SNY. “I would say maybe [$100 million] is not enough, because times have changed. We’ve seen $20 million-a-year contracts now, but they’ve been for established players.”
Whoever ends up signing Simmons, it could be a historic contract in terms of its price tag.