Brandon Jennings bucked tradition when he decided to skip a season of indentured servitude in the NCAA in favor of Europe, and he did it again when it came time to sign a shoe contract. Instead of going the traditional route and choosing between Nike, adidas or Reebok, Jennings went with Under Armour, which plans to make him the centerpiece of their emerging basketball division. From CNBC's Darren Rovell:
Jennings is the first basketball shoe endorser for the brand, which has signed him to a multi-year contract that is incentive based. Although Jennings has a three-year deal with the Italian team, it is well known that he has an out after each year.
"The endgame is for Brandon to make it the NBA and be the impact player that everyone is predicting that he'll be," said Steve Battista, Under Armour's senior vice president of brand.
Under Armour has been making basketball apparel for two years, but Jennings' signature kicks will be the first shoe they've actually released. I don't know any more details about the incentives, but I imagine a chunk of change hinges on which pick he ends up being selected with once he enters the NBA draft, which will presumably happen next spring.
I also wouldn't be surprised if another incentive is based on total sales, which is potentially huge -- if his Italian team gives him the chance to play significant minutes next year, he could have unprecedented crossover appeal in the European and U.S. markets by the time he's an NBA rookie.
No matter what happens, he's already carved out a legacy as a preps-to-passport pioneer -- whether Jennings is a high lottery pick or ends up being exposed by savvy Euro veterans, other players will almost certainly follow in his footsteps. Players run the risk of getting hurt or flaming out their first year out of high school no matter where they play, so they may as well get paid in the process.