- Chris Sprow, ESPN Insider
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We've always had something of a Brandon Jennings jones around here. The network called him the top high school talent in the country, his high fade is pure Cooley High Harmony, and the guy knows how to handle pushy journalists with a camera in his face—while backed into a Mag cubicle, no less—with grace.
And when he set some skeptics, including his would-be coach at 'Zona, on their ear with his decision to head overseas to take advantage of some paid development for a year or three, he caught a peculiar mix of flak and praise.
But a shoe deal better than the one and done's stateside? It might be a reality.
Perhaps the most peculiar result of all the recent chatter is on the socioeconomic front, ie, shoes. As CNBC noted this week, "Jennings' (has) taken on shoe guru Sonny Vaccaro as his advisor. When asked what the interest is from the shoe companies, Vaccaro—who worked for Nike, Adidas and Reebok— said the financial prospects from a shoe company are 'much better' than what they are for Rose or Beasley. 'There's great interest in this phenomenal kid from Compton,' Vaccaro told CNBC. 'He's a trendsetter.'" Sources also told CNBC that Jennings is more intriguing than Rose or Beasley because "he has a more dynamic personality."
Vaccaro isn't one to tone down the hyperbole—we can imagine him saying "Joe Wolf's game howls dynamism!"—but the guy isn't a fool. He didn't help orchestrate the Jennings-reverse-European-invasion deal to see it blow up in his face. "Dynamic personality" aside, if Jennings does draw sneaker coin—especially at or more than the level of Rose or Beasley, who had a full year of marinating in the NCAA waters—it will say a lot more about the marketability of the top five level kid who doesn't buy into the NCAA system.
It may also say a lot about the power of the Euro over the dollar in the current market, but Euro stars like Ricky Rubio aren't just learning about the world of Jordan's. They were born into it. The stars coming up in Europe aren't wearing Chuck Taylors.
No major shoe deal has gone down since LeBron James signed a massive Nike deal (probably too massive) two years ago. Like the A-Rod deal in 2001, it's hard to call anything "major" in comparison to LeBron's $90 million pact, but the money is still out there. With Jennings as a trendsetter, the message to future kids put in a similar position may cause the NCAA and NBA to re-assess their agreement.
Critics who say Jennings will be riding pine in Europe may have a point. Those who question his economic sense while doing so appear to have much less.
17hPat McManamon and Jeremy Fowler