But before the small forward turns his attention to his lottery pick status, he’s playing out his freshman season at Kentucky. The former five-star recruit and the nation’s No. 2 prospect in the 2023 class is averaging 14 points and six rebounds through two games this season.
Now he’s become the first college athlete and basketball player to sign with Klutch Athletics by New Balance. The sportswear brand founded by Rich Paul is available at select New Balance retail locations throughout the country.
“It means so much to me to join Klutch Athletics and be the first college athlete and first basketball player on the roster,” Edwards said. “I love the way the brand is blending performance with style, giving me something equally effective for training or relaxing. Joining Klutch Athletics and New Balance is such a unique opportunity, I can’t wait to get started.”
While he will wear the Nike swoosh on the court for Kentucky, Edwards will be starring in marketing campaigns for Klutch Athletics by New Balance.
The Kentucky star is also repped by Klutch, which is the sports agency founded by LeBron James and Paul. The agency represents a wide swath of young talent, including Bronny James, Bryce James, Chris Livingston, Juju Watkins and Jerzy Robinson.
One of just two freshmen named to the Naismith Trophy Men’s Player of the Year Watch List, Edwards picked the Wildcats over Tennessee and UConn. A 2023 McDonald’s High School All-American, he averaged 17.9 points and 7.5 rebounds for Imhotep Charter in Philadelphia.
“We’re thrilled to welcome an incredible talent like Justin to the Klutch Athletics roster,” Paul said. “I can’t think of a better fit to be our first college athlete and first basketball player. Not only does he have outstanding skills on the court, he’s also a young man of great character who cares about his community and embodies what it means to Be Klutch.”
Edwards and Kentucky play the nation’s top-ranked team, Kansas, on Tuesday at the United Center in Chicago as part of the Champions Classic.
Justin Edwards building out NIL brand
The Kentucky freshman signed with the local Lexington car dealership Paul Miller Ford in August. As part of the agreement, Edwards received the keys to a black 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor pickup truck, which holds an MSRP value of roughly $77,000.
He holds a $553,000 On3 NIL Valuation, ranking 14th in college basketball. He also has nearly 60,000 social media followers, making him even more marketable for brands.
The On3 NIL Valuation is the industry’s leading index that sets the standard market NIL value for high school and college athletes. A proprietary algorithm, the On3 NIL Valuation calculates an athlete’s NIL value using dynamic data points targeting three primary categories: performance, influence and exposure.
While the algorithm includes deal data, it does not act as a tracker of the value of NIL deals athletes have completed to date, nor does it set an athlete’s NIL valuation for their entire career.