Adidas signs NBA prospect Josh Smith

Updated: May 17, 2004, 2:00 PM ET
By Darren Rovell | ESPN.com

Less than two weeks after signing New York City high school standout Sebastian Telfair, adidas has inked an endorsement deal with another high profile high school player, Josh Smith.

Adidas signed Smith to a six-year deal that guarantees him about $12 million, but could eventually be worth upwards of $20 million, sources told ESPN.com. Telfair signed an incentive-laden, six-year contract with the same shoe company that could equal Smith's guaranteed money.

"We think we now have the two gems in this year's NBA draft," adidas spokesman Travis Gonzolez said. "Josh is more of an unknown than Sebastian is, but it's our job to help get him out there."

Smith, a 6-foot-8 forward from Smyrna, Ga., is among the most athletic players in this year's draft class. Scouts have marveled at his vertical leap and rim-rocking dunks.

"The dunk is the most exciting play in basketball and it definitely helps sell shoes," Smith's agent, Wallace Prather, said.

In his senior season, Smith averaged 23 points, eight rebounds and five blocks for Oak Hill Academy, which finished the season with a 38-0 record. The school's alumni include the Denver Nuggets' Carmelo Anthony and the Washington Wizards' Jerry Stackhouse.

Smith wore adidas shoes on his AAU team, the Atlanta Celtics, which also featured potential No. 1 overall pick Dwight Howard. He had signed a letter of intent with Indiana, but instead decided to enter the draft and sign with Prather and his partner Brian Dyke.

Adidas has been the most aggressive in what some consider a potential draft class that's thin on dynamic personalities. Telfair is perhaps the most outspoken, while Smith is known to reserve his flash for when he's on the court.

After playing in three postseason high school all-star games, it appeared as though Smith's stock in the draft and the marketing world could drop. He only averaged 11.6 points a game in games known for the their lack of defense. But Smith was 12-for-18 from the field and scored 27 points in 33 minutes to lead Team USA past a World Select quad at the Nike Hoop Summit held in San Antonio.

Smith has been projected to be a mid-to-late lottery pick in the draft, depending on what team picks where. Some scouts are still wary of Smith's shot, which could cause his stock to slide a bit.

With Telfair and Smith now signed to shoe deals, the hottest prospect in the shoe wars who remains unsigned is Shaun Livingston.

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at Darren.rovell@espn3.com

Darren Rovell | email

ESPN.com Sports Business reporter

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