Puma SE signed an endorsement deal with high school basketball star Mikey Williams, making the 17-year-old one of the youngest players ever to sign with a global sneaker brand.
The multiyear deal with Williams gives Puma a top prospect with a sizable following on social media. As part of the arrangement, he’ll be featured in Puma ads and events while creating content for social channels. The parties declined to share the financial terms.
“His reach with the young consumer is incredible,” said Adam Petrick, Puma’s global director of brand and marketing. “He’s obviously a basketball player first, but we also see him as a basketball influencer.”
Puma expects to work with Williams on branded products at some point, but Petrick said it’s too early to consider a signature shoe. The high schooler is years away from going pro and still developing his skills on the court.
Brands are rushing to sign student athletes to promotional deals, looking to capitalize on younger talent to attract valuable Gen Z consumers and establish ties with potential global stars early on in their careers.
Major labels like Puma, Adidas AG and Under Armour Inc. aim high for their basketball celebrities, targeting expected top picks in the NBA's annual drafts. This year, top selection Cade Cunningham signed a long-term deal with Nike Inc.
Puma returned to the basketball business in 2018 and considers it a potential growth category. Williams joins several young NBA stars who’ve been added to Puma’s roster in recent years, such as 20-year-old Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball, 21-year-old RJ Barrett and 23-year-old Deandre Ayton.