The groundbreaking name, image and likeness (NIL) deals continue for the powerhouse Connecticut Huskies' No. 1 recruits.
Freshman Azzi Fudd added a brand relationship with three-time NBA champion and two-time MVP Stephen Curry and SC30 Inc., the athlete-run organization in charge of his off-court business, to her NIL portfolio on Wednesday. It's in addition to deals with Chipotle and sports drink BioSteel.
As part of the deal, Curry will personally mentor Fudd, and his SC30 brand will provide the 2021 No. 1 recruit with opportunities and support on and off the court, per the company's release.
Curry, who is in the midst of another MVP-caliber season with the Golden State Warriors, is the first NBA player to enter into a deal with a college player in the NIL landscape. He's known Fudd since he invited the 5-foot-11 guard from St. John's High School in Washington, D.C., to the Curry Camp in 2018, when she was one of only two women involved.
Curry: Fudd as next face of women's hoops
Curry said Fudd is "the best choice to start a brand relationship like this" because of their background and her status as "the next face of women's basketball."
"For me, this is the right time because I have identified the platforms that I have, aligning purpose over profit, and the ability to collaborate with the right partners for the right opportunities," Curry said in a release. "I want to be able to unlock that for Azzi, and for other talented athletes and influencers that see the world the same way I do. It is my hope that we can inspire the next generation of athletes and non-athletes who want to do amazing things.”
A core part of the deal is education and mentorship, particularly as Fudd balances school, basketball and the business aspect that comes with NIL deals. SC30 will give Fudd a platform to "share her story, personality, talents, passions and values with the world" while surrounding her with like-minded individuals. It will include content development opportunities, events, new brand partnerships and a focus on social impact.
“I am very excited to continue working with Stephen, and become a part of the SC30 family,” Fudd said in a release. “This is a dream come true for me. Since I first met Steph at his camp a few years ago, I've stayed connected to him and have always admired his incredible talent and accomplishments, but also his humility and the impact he has on people. As I continue to focus on becoming the best player and student I can be while in college, I also look forward to broadening my understanding of business and life beyond basketball. This partnership with Steph and his SC30 team will help me do that. I'm really excited about everything we'll do together in the future.”
Fudd is the second No. 1 recruit in as many years to play at UConn, a record 11-time NCAA champion that hasn't won a title since it's four-year run ended in 2016. Through four games, Fudd is averaging 7.5 points on 45.8% shooting and 2.3 rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game. She's 8-for-18 from 3-point range. UConn (3-1) opens its Big East schedule at Seton Hall on Friday.
What Curry-Fudd deal means
The NCAA rule change to allow NIL deals has wide-ranging implications. For many athletes, it means being able to pay basic bills that add up for any student. For big-time collegiate players, especially those on the women's side, it means setting up a portfolio early that could net them more money when they turn pro.
Leveraging these deals — the terms of which have not been disclosed — gives players a better cushion to fall back on so they can make their own choices. None other than two-time WNBA champion Candace Parker noted this in her conversation with Turner Sports' Taylor Rooks in regards to USA Basketball camps.
They won't have to go overseas to play in the WNBA offseason to make more money, an aspect that the WNBA is already trying to phase out. Players can instead stay home and work on specific aspects of their game while continuing to grow their brand collectively through their partners.
In the SC30 deal, the benefits go beyond money. Fudd will have one of the game's best players as a mentor and be able to hear directly from someone who has juggled the transition to the pros as well as balancing on-and-off-court responsibilities. That impact also trickles down to other women and girls Curry might mentor, bring into his camps or be around, such as his daughters.
Curry's growing impact
Curry's entrance into the NIL space with a female player can't be overlooked. Curry, who has two daughters and a son, has made moves into growing the women's game over the past few years. Fudd was the first girl he invited to his camp, and he later started an all-girls version.
When a 9-year-old wrote Curry a letter asking why Under Armour sold children's shoes only in boys sizes, Curry not only responded, he corrected the issue.
He brought his daughters, Riley and Ryan, to see Sabrina Ionescu's 25th collegiate triple-double in February 2020. And after Ionescu's quiet WNBA debut that summer, he broke down her game with her ahead of the New York Liberty point guard's 33-point outburst.
His deal with Fudd is the latest entry as he uses his status and power to shine a proper spotlight on female players.