After waiting longer than most of his classmates, Dallas Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr. signed an endorsement deal with Under Armour.
According to ESPN’s Nick DePaula, Smith is going to ink a three-year worth up to $2 million annually with incentives. The ninth overall pick, who played in the summer league like he was irate he didn’t go first, is one of the last lottery picks to sign their endorsement deal.
“I am definitely excited to be a part of team Under Armour as I get ready to go into [training] camp for my rookie year,” said Smith. “Under Armour is an explosive brand in basketball right now, and I’m excited to join Stephen [Curry] and Seth [Curry] and the team at UA in making our mark together.”
In the ongoing battle against Nike and Adidas, UA has been searching for more superstar athletes to model their brand. As far as NBA sponsorship goes, Curry is the face. Emmanuel Mudiay and Brandon Jennings are also on the roster, but they don’t have the same marketability as someone like Smith Jr. He’s the kind of player who gets fans out of their seats; the athlete that UA has in other sports.
Guys like Cam Newton, Tom Brady, Clayton Kershaw and Michael Phelps are icons in their respective sports. Smith has that potential. Ever since his high school days, he’s been a premier player. At 6-3, he’s got the explosive that draws comparisons to a young Derrick Rose and even Steve Francis. Smith has a controlled volatility about him and plays with a noticeable edge.
After one year at N.C. State, Smith put up 18.1 points and 6.2 in 32 games. The ACL injury he suffered heading into his senior year of high school set him back on a lot of draft boards. At one point, Smith was the best player in his class and a projected first overall pick. He came back from his injury even more explosive.
Dallas threw him out for six summer league games, and he was one of the most dominant players. Everything came so naturally, and Smith blew past his contemporaries like a gust of wind breezes by a cinderblock. He put up 17.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.2 steals, and also caused New York Knicks fans a lot of anguish.
“He looked like a pro, and he carried himself with humility,” said Kris Stone, the pro basketball sports marketing director at Under Armour. “He played with an aggressiveness and a chip on his shoulder but wasn’t trying to embarrass somebody after he made a shot by pumping his chest. He just went about his business. For a young basketball player, he looked mature.”
Steph is the only UA hooper with a signature sneaker. He’s already on his fourth model, the Curry 4, but it’s tough for Under Armour to compete with Nike, who are dropping sneakers for LeBron James and Kevin Durant, among others. Dennis Smith brings them another potential star who could generate a signature, and also bring some momentum for other players to sign with them.
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