On Christmas day, the internet was blessed with a heartwarming video of Indiana men’s basketball junior guard Anthony Leal and his older sister, Lauren, who graduated from Indiana less than three weeks ago.
Anthony gifted Lauren a card, which in part read, “Someone like you deserves no burdens or restrictions in life, and I feel like the best way to help you with that is by paying off your student loan debt.” He retweeted the video, which almost instantly got attention from national media outlets, with the following caption:
“Some folks have negative opinions about NIL. But without it, things like this wouldn’t be possible.”
It was an incredible gift, but Leal is right. Any grand and generous gesture was a complete pipe dream before July 2021 when the name, image and likeness policy was implemented. But now, NIL is a gold mine for creativity, and athletes have found new ways to profit from their names, images and likenesses and support worthy causes while enthralling and entertaining their followers every day.
Many members of the men’s basketball team have partaken in NIL opportunities since its inception. From partnering with different nonprofit organizations through Hoosiers For Good, to graduate forward Miller Kopp building his own clothing brand — Primals Only — and Leal recently announcing his jump into the real estate business, the Hoosiers are taking advantage of every chance they get.
But a new year is upon us, so it’s time for new ideas — either completely crazy or borderline genius. Without further ado, three hypothetical deals with Indiana men’s basketball players that could make NIL even more interesting, extravagant and fun than it already is:
Trayce Jackson-Davis: Nick’s English Hut
Strangely enough, none of the Indiana men’s basketball players have NIL deals with restaurants or well-known food retail companies. In my opinion, there’s almost no better way to connect with the community and leave a long-lasting legacy than by inventing a food item with otherwise little culinary appeal and slapping a celebrity’s name on it.
Sure, senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis is likely going to finish his Indiana career top-five in points, rebounds and blocks on the all-time leaderboards. Don’t forget he just recorded merely the third triple-double that the men’s program has ever seen and holds the single-game scoring record at Assembly Hall.
But what better way to etch his name in Hoosier history than by etching his name in a pub menu?
I can ever-so-clearly envision alumni gushing over the “TJD Tenderloin,” some “All-American Appetizers” or the ”Block Party Burger.” And make sure to steer clear of the “Dunk the Biz Fries” if you’re not game for a rowdy night out on Kirkwood Avenue.
It’s hard to talk about Bloomington without mentioning Nick’s, just like it’s impossible to not bring up Jackson-Davis in a conversation about Indiana men’s basketball. A collaboration between two beloved fundamentals of Indiana University? Sign me up.
Trey Galloway and Anthony Leal: BENT Barber Shop
Let’s just get this out of the way — Leal and junior guard Trey Galloway have the best hair on the team, objectively speaking. There’s no denying that the former’s mullet of curls and the ladder’s jet-black flow make a statement every time they’re seen on the court
But I digress.
Many Hoosier athletes have been known to patronize BENT, a local barber shop housed right off of Kirkwood Avenue in downtown Bloomington. Jackson-Davis, Kopp and even Galloway himself have raved about the shop on social media, so it’s about time an official partnership gets put into the works.
If you’ve ever seen the “Be Like Mike” Gatorade commercial from the ‘90s, you can likely understand what I’m talking about here. Picture this: a montage of Galloway’s and Leal’s basketball highlights mixed in with ultra-hyped footage of the two of them getting a haircut.
Steal. Shampoo and conditioner. Dunk. Comb and scissors come out. Three-pointer. A small patch of Leal’s curls falls on the floor. Half-court buzzer beater. Galloway shakes out his fresh cut in slow motion.
Then, in comes a group of new customers: the frat bros of Eagleson Avenue. What do they tell the barber?
“I wanna be like Trey and Anthony.”
Call me crazy, but image is one of the three founding pillars of NIL. It would be a crime for Galloway and Leal not to capitalize on one of the biggest assets thereto — their hair.
Miller Kopp: Bloomington Country Club
As poetic as it would be to see the 24-year-old graduate student’s face on one of the “It’s Miller Time, Indiana” billboards located on the outskirts of Bloomington, Kopp isn’t allowed to sponsor any alcoholic products under NIL legislation.
Bloomington Country Club makes for a great second option, though. Imagine Kopp on flyers for a golf scramble or a pool party, promoting the country club on social media and telling you to become a member in order to — get better at basketball?
That’s right. The 3-point specialist attributed a spike in his shooting numbers to time spent playing golf and tanning in the offseason.
“I did a lot of work on my golf swing this summer and tried to get outside and get tan a lot,” Kopp said after Indiana’s Nov. 10 win over Bethune-Cookman University. “Mentally I think that helped. If you look at the best basketball players — Michael Jordan, Steph Curry — they all are great golfers too.”
What better organization for Kopp to partner with than BCC, an outdoor wonderland filled with everything he needs to refine his hoops craft? He’s my pick for most likely on the team to become a golf pro as a side hustle and spend his free time basking in the sun by the pool with his dog, Ivy.
It might not be long before Kopp rounds out his time with the Indiana men’s basketball program, but don’t be surprised if you find him at your local pool or golf course this spring.