Nike announced signing five student athletes to name, image and likeness (NIL) deals Oct. 10, including Camden High School superstar DJ Wagner.
Wagner, the son of Dajuan Wagner and grandson of Milt Wagner – who were both Camden legends themselves before starring in college basketball and making it to the NBA – is the No. 1 ranked recruit in the nation, according to ESPN.
Of the five players signed to the NIL deals by Nike, Wagner is one of just three high school players along with Bronny James, the son of NBA superstar Lebron James and also a member of the Class of 2023, and JuJu Watts, a senior guard from Watts in Los Angeles. Caitlin Clark, a junior point guard at the University of Iowa, and Haley Jones, a senior guard at Stanford University, were the lone college players signed to the NIL deals.
“At Nike, basketball is more than just a game. It’s a culture and an opportunity to break barriers, bring people together, build community and shape the future – helping people, including kids achieve their potential,” Nike said in a statement. “To serve the future of athletes and sport, Nike is teaming up with inspiring young athletes who are leading the way now – both on the court and in their communities. Just as we support them in pursuing their goals, they push us to think even bigger about the change we can create together.”
To that end, in addition to his prowess on the basketball court, Nike touted Wagner’s work off the court, such as establishing an annual community giveback program, providing bookbags filled with school supplies to thousands of kids in Camden.
“I’ve seen the impact this game – and the people who play it – can have on the community, and I’m looking forward to taking it to the next level with Nike in Camden and beyond,” said Wagner in a statement.
The announcement is the latest example of the evolution of NIL, which NJBIZ has extensively chronicled. Last year, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) passed an NIL rule that allows high school student-athletes to profit off their NIL, as long as the school and coaches are not involved with the process.
Last season, Wagner, a three-time, All-State selection, led Camden to the Group 2 state title — its first since his 2000, when his father, Dajuan, starred for the Panthers.=