Early on in the semester, I did a mini-series on the craziness that is college football recruiting. For this piece, I’m shifting to the social media stardom of elite college basketball recruits.
One of the biggest fundamental differences in player development between college basketball and college football is the ability for the basketball players to leave after one year. The “one-and-done” era of college basketball has led to generational talents using the college game as a required pit stop before moving on to the NBA.
Many times, the obvious “one-and-done” players have a massive social media following long before they ever step foot (albeit briefly) on a college campus. The YouTube channel “BallIsLife” specializes in highlight videos for top prospects, and they indirectly help build these players personal brands. This channel has 1.7 million subscribers, and they have a large Twitter presence as well.
“BallIsLife” is just one of several highlight video channels, but it is generally the most well-known example. Through this channel and other videos, high school prospects can quickly become Internet sensations. For me, the most obvious example is Zion Williamson.
Though he is currently a freshman at Duke, I’ve seen his highlight videos for a couple years now. For context on his personal following, Williamson has 1.9 followers on Instagram. For those of you who have never seen his highlights, please sit back, grab some popcorn, and enjoy. I would make the argument that he is the most entertaining college player that I have ever seen.
He has gotten off to a torrid start in Durham and looks to be a sure-fire top five pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. The draft is in late June, so until then, I’ll be crossing my fingers hoping Williamson becomes an Atlanta Hawk. In terms of marketability, his long standing notoriety and popularity will only benefit him going forward.