Paolo Banchero’s NIL rating skyrocketed after leading Duke to Final Four


While every edition of March Madness is full of stories, the Duke Blue Devils dominated this year’s tournament. Under normal circumstances, a blue-blooded program reaching the Final Four wouldn’t raise too many eyebrows. The 2022 NCAA Tournament, however, is different. It’s Coach K’s final season on the sidelines, and Paolo Banchero, Jeremy Roach and the rest of his players try to give the living legend a fairy tale send-off.

Even if this campaign has no title, Banchero will surely reap the rewards. Along with proving his NBA potential, the rookie has set himself up for plenty of profit by the day he signs that first big deal. During the month of March, the valuation of his Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) skyrocketed.

Paolo Banchero was one of Duke’s featured performers during March Madness

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Between a disappointing home final and a sweet loss in the ACC Tournament Championship Game, Duke seemed to be stepping into the big dance at the worst possible time. Thanks to shrewd training and the raw talent of the squad, the Blue Devils are within touching distance of a title.

While it’s not groundbreaking to say that Coach K’s roster is filled with top-notch players, it’s become incredibly evident over the past few games. Mark Williams deserves a special mention – the underrated big man did a great job patrolling the paint at both ends of the floor – but Banchero and Roach really stepped up the in-game season.

With all due respect to Roach, Banchero’s performances are more meaningful in a larger basketball context. If you had any questions about his NBA credentials, they were asked during the NCAA Tournament.

The tall freshman apparently grew up during March Madness and put it all together. He frequently floats to the perimeter and uses his 6-foot-11 frame to create mismatches. From there, he is able to outrun slower defenders or outrun smaller opponents and head for the basket. He also has a solid shooting touch and has become a smart passer, quickly dropping pennies into the post. This keeps opposing defenses honest, meaning he can’t afford to crumble on him in an attempt to stop the penetration. In the modern, positionless NBA, these skills are critical to success.

If you’re ready to get a little more intangible, Banchero has also shown his ability to be a star and shake things up. With the game on the line, the ball was in his hands and so far he hasn’t disappointed. He even impressed Coach K, who has seen an elite player or two over the years.

“Paolo, some of his moves, where you could see it in his face,” Krzyzewski explained in a moving on-court interview after Duke defeated Texas Tech. “I say, ‘Holy mackerel, that’s the guy. I coach this guy. Holy mackerel.’”

Impressive NCAA tournament bolstered freshman name, image and likeness

Paolo Banchero during Duke’s Elite 8 win over Arkansas. | Lance King/Getty Images

As he entered his freshman year as one of college basketball’s top prospects, Banchero’s solid march only improved his draft stock. Unsurprisingly, it also boosted his more immediate financial future.

Thanks to a 2021 update to the NCAA’s Name, Image and Likeness Policy, college athletes can now profit directly from their success. For someone like Banchero, who is already a nationally recognized name, this opens up a lot of possibilities.

Due to the free market, the value of each player’s endorsement may fluctuate over time. If a star player were to drop out of the lineup, for example, he wouldn’t be able to make that much money. On the other hand, a successful stretch or national award can change things for the better. Just take a look at Duke’s star first year.

According to On3 Sports’ NIL calculations, Banchero’s overall valuation has risen to $199,000, the tenth-highest in college basketball. While that may seem insignificant compared to NBA money, it’s still a hefty sum for a teenager. That number has also increased by around $31,000 since the start of March, showing the financial benefits of a strong postseason. More than half of that growth ($17,000) occurred between March 22 and March 31, tying it directly to Duke’s wins over Texas Tech and Arkansas to reach the Final Four.

Since On3 states that their NIL ratings are based on a variety of factors, including college prestige and game day performance, it’s easy to connect the dots. The Duke star has played big name games on national television in recent weeks. He’s gearing up for an iconic program and, with the weight of Coach K’s career on his shoulders, has played the best basketball of his college career. At this point, virtually every variable is in Banchero’s favor.

Again, $199,000 is small compared to the professional contract the forward will sign in a few months. There is something to be said, however, for the immediacy of NIL money. If Banchero can hop on his cell phone and pocket up to $2,500 (On3’s estimate for the value of one of his Instagram posts), it’s a great source of income until draft day. .

Paolo Banchero to score big deal once NBA draft kicks off

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Although Banchero’s NIL figures are an estimate, one thing is certain: he will add a lot of money to his bank account in the coming months.

Barring some incredible turn of events, the Seattle native will enter the NBA draft as soon as Duke’s campaign ends. While there’s room to debate where he will end up, it’s safe to assume that Banchero, at the absolute worst, will be selected as a top five pick. In light of his strong NCAA tournament, the forward could even mount a late charge to the top spot.

No matter where he ends up, being a lottery pick carries an obvious financial windfall. If the big man ranks fifth overall, he’ll earn just over $18.6 million in his first three pro seasons, assuming his team picks his third-year option. In the best-case scenario, he’ll be first overall and earn nearly $28.4 million over the same period.

In the professional ranks, there will also be plenty of sponsorship offers, at least in the local market. While Banchero likely won’t command any money at Zion Williamson’s level, the fact that he’s already signed a deal with the NBA 2K franchise bodes well for his future prospects.

At this point, however, the big freshman probably has something other than money in mind. Sending Coach K with a sixth championship will earn Banchero a place in Duke history. It is something that no amount of money can buy.

NBA salary figures courtesy of Real GM

RELATED: Coach K Turned Down Lakers ‘Generational Wealth’ in 2004 to Stay at Duke


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