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Athlete Advice: Robbie Avila tells players 'stay true to you' while navigating NIL space

NS_headshot_clearbackgroundby:Nick Schultz06/10/24

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CHICAGO – A year ago, Robbie Avila was coming off his freshman season at Indiana State, earning Missouri Valley Conference All-Freshman Team honors.

Now, he’s better known as “Cream Abdul-Jabbar” after a standout sophomore campaign which resulted in a first-team All-MVC selection and becoming a viral sensation on social media.

Avila is one of the most recognizable returning faces in college basketball. He is joining forces with coach Josh Schertz again after transferring to Saint Louis and the NIL opportunities continue to roll in.

Through it all, Avila said he wanted to make sure his ventures lined up with his values. That was also his advice to athletes entering the NIL space when speaking with On3.

“I would definitely just say, stay true to you,” Avila told On3 before throwing out the first pitch at a recent Chicago White Sox game. “I think that takes you a long way. To be able to take your values and keep that to yourself, don’t do anything that you don’t feel like is right.

“I think just that right there is going to elevate you as a person and your brand – get it out there. I think once you get that down, you’re gonna be able to do a lot of different things.”

The opportunity with the White Sox came about through an NIL deal. Avila is a CHISOX Athlete this year, meaning he got the chance to throw out the first pitch before the May 24 game against the Baltimore Orioles and watch with his family from a suite at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Last week, he announced a new partnership with Bommarito Automotive Group. As part of his promotion for the dealership, he gets to ride around The Lou in a new Cadillac Ct5 V-series Blackwing that’s valued at $93,000.

He also has a partnership with the Billiken Victory Fund, the Saint Louis-focused NIL collective, and told On3 more deals are coming as he tries to take “full advantage” of his NIL opportunities while preparing for his first season with the Billikens.

Robbie Avila hopes for ‘deep run’ at SLU

On the court this past season, Robbie Avila put together a strong performance to help Indiana State to a Missouri Valley Conference title. He averaged 17.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists while helping the Sycamores to the NIT title game.

Now, he’s moving on to Saint Louis. After the Billikens hired Schertz on April 6, Avila entered the transfer portal and announced his commitment on April 20. With the offseason in full swing, Avila has high hopes for this season and beyond.

“Obviously, my two years at ISU were amazing,” Avila said. “I couldn’t ask for anything better. It was a lot of fun. My decision to follow Coach Schertz was just as simple as that. I trust him, he trusts me.

“We’re looking to do a little bit more than we did at Indiana State and kind of repeat it and hopefully, make a deep run in the tournament.”