R.J. Davis, Antonio Reeves, Laila Phelia, Jacy Sheldon have 'soft touch' in Hanes' NIL campaign

On3 imageby:Jeremy Crabtree04/01/24


Hanes is the latest major company to turn to college athletes to promote their brand during the NCAA Tournament. On Monday, Hanes is shooting its shot with NIL deals with seven athletes in its “Soft Touch” campaign ahead of the Final Four.

The NIL deals feature North Carolina’s R.J. Davis, Northwestern’s Boo Buie, Kentucky’s Antonio Reeves, USC’s Boogie Ellis, Michigan’s Laila Phelia, Ohio State’s Jacy Sheldon and Indiana’s Sara Scalia.

Each player promoted Hanes by hosting a shooting experience on their campuses where participants competed to win boxer briefs and T-shirts. The shooting experience also traveled to the Alabama, Purdue and Creighton campuses. Plus, Buie, Ellis, Reeves and Scalia are participating in the Hanes 3-point Championships, which take place during the lead-up to the Final Four.

“Whether I’m at practice or relaxing between games, I’m always in my Hanes,” Reeves said. “We’re keeping the Hanes love going through all of March Madness, on social media and at the 3-Point Shootout. I’m honored to be one of the faces of their Super Soft rollout, and I’m ready to give my all at the Hanes 3-Point Championship.”

Phelia said the creativity from Hanes – along with the product itself – made it easy for her to participate in the NIL campaign.

“It’s been a fun partnership to be a part of,” she said. “I’m grateful for the chance to work with a brand as legendary as Hanes and to be included alongside so many incredible athletes.”

Top players, NIL success stories involved in campaign

Hanes tapped players with success stories both on and off the court.

RJ Davis, who led UNC to the Sweet 16, started every game for the Tar Heels and finished as the team’s leading scorer at 21.2 points. He was also named the ACC’s Player of the Year and is a finalist for the John R. Wooden Award and the Jerry West Award, awarded to the top overall player and top shooting guard in the country.

Davis has a strong NIL resume – including sitting at No. 34 on the On3 NIL 100, the defacto ranking of the top 100 high school and college athletes ranked by market valuation. Since the start of the NCAA Tournament, Harry’s, crocs, Fortnite, Keurig, CVS Pharmacy, Wingstop, Intuit TurboTax and Athletic Brewing Company tapped him for NIL partnerships.

Antonio Reeves is another standout that brands wanted to partner with during tournament time. Along with the Hanes campaign, the future first-round NBA draft pick added NIL deals with Fifth Third Bank and HEYDUDE Shoes over the past few weeks. It’s a similar situation with Boogie Ellis. He’s another with NBA aspirations and a long list of recent NIL partnerships, such as Niagara Water, Morgan & Morgan, Raising Cane’s and GOAT Fuel.

Laila Phelia was a first-team All-Big Ten and all-tournament selection this season for the Wolverines. With a rapidly growing social presence – up to around 80,000 followers – Phelia has worked on NIL deals with Hanes, Fragrance.com, SoFi, JBL Audio, Peloton and Marathon this basketball season.

For Jacy Sheldon, an All-American candidate after another strong season for the Buckeyes, the Hanes deal is another impressive partnership to what was already a good resume. Since the start of the tournament, she’s also added deals with Express and Crossover Culture.