Drew Timme decided it was time to do something special with some newfound income from his name, image and likeness (NIL) agreements.
His NIL checks routinely go to mom Megan and directly into a savings account. Timme made an exception a few months ago to treat himself, but what was the treat? A new car? State-of-the-art videogame system? New wardrobe?
“I ate some sushi, and I ate a lot of it,” Timme said. “That was a pretty expensive purchase for me. Dinner ended up being like $40, which is more than I ever spend, but that was a one-time thing.”
That story is relayed to Timme’s dad, Matt, who chuckles, “That’s Drew right there.”
And that’s definitely Drew hamming it up in a series of Northern Quest Resort & Casino television ads with Mark Robbins and Brooke Stocker. There’s one with Robbins nervously attempting to imitate the junior forward’s mustache celebration. “Don’t do it creepy,” Timme advises.
The commercial has spawned copycats. “The weird thing is I get a lot of random people in public come up to me and stroke their mustache, or pretend to touch it,” Timme laughed. “That’s probably the funniest thing that’s happened.”
There’s another commercial with Robbins in his seventh-grade P.E. shorts, boasting about bobbing and weaving in dodgeball back in the day, “especially the weaving.” Timme isn’t convinced: “You wove?”
“Like a human loom,” insists Robbins, who makes a quick move to his right as Timme passes a basketball that clanks off Robbins’ left arm.
“Most of the time, it’s just us on set joking around and having fun and I think it shows in the commercials,” Timme said. “It’s a full-day thing. It takes awhile. Honestly, I have so much more respect for the commercial and film industry because I didn’t realize how much actually goes into it.
“We film a bunch of stuff that doesn’t even make the commercial and you’re like, ‘Why did we spend an hour filming this if it didn’t even make it?’ But it’s fun and you get to try a bunch of different things.”
Timme was one of college basketball’s biggest stars and biggest personalities before NIL changed the landscape this season. Through NIL agreements, he’s been in regional ads for Northern Quest and Walker’s Furniture and worked with national brands Dollar Shave Club, Boost Mobile and Topps basketball cards.
The ability to earn significant NIL money adds an intriguing consideration for college athletes, particularly well-known ones like Timme who are facing a decision: Stay in school, test the professional waters or turn pro.
NIL could become an even bigger factor for players who aren’t projected as NBA lottery or first-round picks. Those who fall in the second-round or free-agent category face longer odds of making an NBA team without the luxury of guaranteed contracts.
“Like any other person making a life decision, you weigh pros and cons,” said Peter Schoenthal, a lawyer and CEO of Athliance, which helps schools and athletes navigate NIL. “People like Drew who could get drafted and not make a roster or go overseas and make $200,000, if I can go back to school, work toward my degree, work on skills and make something similar (to $200,000), it’s going to have a huge impact. For many student-athletes in college basketball, it’s going to be the tip of the scale that leads them to coming back.”
Timme is projected as a second-round pick in several mock drafts. He’s not in the latest two-round mock by The Athletic, which lists 28 forwards and centers, including Gonzaga freshman Chet Holmgren at No. 2, Memphis freshman Jalen Duren at No. 8 and Arkansas forward Jaylin Williams at No. 35.
Timme scored 25 points in the Zags’ win over Memphis and another 25 in a loss to Arkansas last week in the NCAA Tournament.
Holmgren, who had several NIL agreements this season, is expected to turn pro and he’s in the mix to be the No. 1 pick. The top pick is expected to make roughly $9 million next season with the fifth pick earning about $6 million.
Timme has made well into six figures from NIL this season, his agent Deddrick Faison told ESPN. Schoenthal, whose company doesn’t work with Gonzaga athletes, said six figures “would make sense.” Regarding estimates of $200,000-$250,000, Schoenthal said, “that’s realistic, too.”
The NBA minimum salary this season is about $925,000. Players who split time between the NBA and G League on two-way contracts earn roughly $462,500.
Timme’s earning potential likely will grow if he chooses to return to Gonzaga next season.
“Yes, a resounding yes,” Schoenthal said. “You have to understand this. First-year student-athletes didn’t know what they could do and more importantly a lot of brands, because of the lack of uniform (NIL) legislation, didn’t know if they wanted to get involved with NIL. If he were to come back with a full year to explore the space, it’s only going to make him more profitable.”
Schoenthal, by the way, follows college basketball closely and likes Timme’s chances of making a roster with the right NBA organization by “showing off those Kevin McHale moves he has.”
NIL has boosted Timme’s bank account and his knowledge of how the business world operates.
“People do make a lot of money off us in the sport,” Timme said. “I think it’s great to have the ability to build our brand for the future and to learn. I’ve learned more about real-world business and real-life situations, like, ‘Oh shoot, I have to pay taxes on this paycheck.’ ”
It’s been educational for Timme’s family, too. Matt said Drew turned down numerous NIL opportunities to maintain his focus on basketball and school.
“Megan actually does a lot of coordination through Drew’s agent and Drew to make sure everybody is on the same page and hold Drew accountable to do what he needs to get done,” Matt said. “It’s almost been like a real-life internship for him, signing contracts with agents and reading through contracts with sponsors. He’s definitely learned a lot, not only (with businesses) but with time management skills. It’s a pretty good juggling act.”
Timme said prior to March Madness money won’t impact his decision.
“I don’t feel any pressure to make a certain amount of money,” he said.
Likewise, the two-time All-American understands and appreciates the potential to achieve things in college basketball few have been able to do, but that’s not foremost in his mind. The mention of former North Carolina star Tyler Hansbrough and other four-year standouts draws a smile from Timme.
“Great players, I take that as a compliment,” Timme said. “That is super cool and special and something I don’t fully appreciate because I like to just focus on the now. Maybe when I’m done hooping it’ll be cooler, or whenever I do happen to leave here it’ll be cool to look at (his legacy).
“But I think when you get caught up in the sentimentals, you don’t always make the right choice. Whatever I feel like is best for me when the time comes is what I’ll do.”
Matt said that decision will likely be made similar to last year’s process when Drew announced last May he was coming back for his junior season.
“He talked through the pros and cons with us pretty extensively,” Matt said. “He has a tight and small circle and he definitely relies and trusts the (Gonzaga) coaches.”
Still, NIL is one major difference this time around compared to previous years.
“It could be potentially,” Matt said. “Drew is a kid first and foremost and he loves the experience he’s had at Gonzaga. All of that is going to be a big factor in his decision moving forward.”
Whatever Timme decides, he said the past three years have been a blast.
“I just try to have as much fun as I can doing what I love,” he said. “It’s easier to do that because I do love the game of basketball so much, and I do love what this community and this fan base has done for me in return. Me showing my fun and my personality a lot is just my appreciation for them just taking me in for who I am.
“That’s something I appreciate a lot.”
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