Duke's Zion Williamson could receive shoe deal worth $10 million per year

By Connor Grott

April 4 (UPI) -- Sports apparel companies are already preparing their best offers in the hopes of signing Duke Blue Devils star Zion Williamson.

During Thursday's edition of ESPN's The Jump, it was revealed that there is an unnamed company willing to offer Williamson over $10 million per year. There is also a brand based in China that is interested in signing Williamson, according to ESPN.


Officials in the sneaker industry believe Williamson's upcoming shoe deal could make him one of the three highest-paid sneaker endorsers ever, joining LeBron James and Kevin Durant, according to ESPN.

James' rookie shoe deal was for seven years and worth a fully guaranteed $87 million, according to NBC Sports. Durant's first deal was seven years for $60 million.

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With multiple companies expected to bid for Williamson, the star forward is likely to receive a signature shoe with his rookie contract in the NBA, putting him in rare company.

Only nine rookies in NBA history have ever had a signature shoe. Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball (2017-18) was the first rookie since James to debut with his own shoe. Hakeem Olajuwon (Etonic, 1984), Michael Jordan (Nike, 1984), Shaquille O'Neal (Reebok, 1992), Grant Hill (Fila, 1994), Jerry Stackhouse (Fila, 1995), Allen Iverson (Reebok, 1996), Stephon Marbury (AND1, 1996) and James (Nike, 2003) wore signature kicks in their first seasons.


Williamson wore Nike's in his freshman season at Duke. He famously blew out a pair of Paul George's signature shoe against North Carolina, forcing him to miss six games with a sprained knee. When he returned, he wore a pair of Nike Kyrie Irving 4s.

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Williamson averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists this season and guided the Blue Devils to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament. He must officially declare for the 2019 NBA Draft before signing an apparel deal.

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