As usual, March Madness proves to be one of the most exciting times of the year.

One of the biggest shocks of the men’s tournament happened to be when the number 15 seed Saint Peter’s University managed to knock out the number two seed Kentucky in the first round. The team then continued to win its games against Murray State and Purdue before losing to UNC in the Elite Eight.

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Their Cinderella story was reminiscent of when number 16 seed UMBC Retrievers beat out the number one seed Virginia Cavaliers during the 2018 men’s tournament.

Meanwhile, one of the biggest stars to come out of the women’s tournament is Paige Bueckers from the University of Connecticut. She has signed multiple NIL deals since the NCAA has allowed student-athletes to be compensated.

In July 2021, the NCAA changed its policy to allow athletes to be compensated for their name, image and likeness, or NIL. The move is monumental considering the revenue colleges and universities earn on their athletics programs through television rights and brand sponsorships.

With its usual contenders in Kansas, Villanova, Duke and UNC going into the men’s and South Carolina, UConn, Stanford and Louisville into the women’s Final Four, another successful and wild March Madness is coming to its close this weekend.

Here, WWD breaks down some of the biggest fashion-related NIL deals that March Madness players have signed so far. Scroll on for more.

Paige Bueckers, University of Connecticut

Paige Bueckers during the second quarter against NC State during the East Regional final college basketball game of the NCAA women’s tournament. - Credit: AP

Paige Bueckers during the second quarter against NC State during the East Regional final college basketball game of the NCAA women’s tournament. – Credit: AP

AP

One of the biggest stars in women’s NCAA division I basketball is Bueckers, a sophomore guard playing for UConn. In her freshman year with the Huskies, she helped lead the team to the Final Four in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

Despite her youth, Bueckers has accrued numerous accolades in her basketball career so far, including USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year in 2019, Gatorade National Player of the Year in 2020, the Naismith College Player of the Year in 2021 and AP Player of the Year in 2021, among many others.

This year, Bueckers is helping lead the Huskies into the Final Four once more, playing against number one seed Stanford on Friday.

In November, the 20-year-old signed two major endorsement deals, one with Gatorade, making her the sports drink brand’s first college-athlete ambassador, as well as with StockX, an online marketplace to buy and sell items such as sneakers, streetwear and other collectibles.

According to the Boardroom, Bueckers tops the list for the Final Four athletes with the highest earning potential, with about $62,900 for her highest earning potential per social media post, which has become the most lucrative channel for NIL deals.

In July 2021, Bueckers filed a trademark for her nickname “Paige Buckets” to use on athletic apparel. The name derives from her consistent scoring success.

Doug Edert, Saint Peter’s University

Saint Peter’s Doug Edert against Purdue’s Eric Hunter Jr. during the second half of a college basketball game in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament. - Credit: AP

Saint Peter’s Doug Edert against Purdue’s Eric Hunter Jr. during the second half of a college basketball game in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament. – Credit: AP

AP

One of the big and unexpected stars to come out of this year’s tournament is Doug Edert, who helped the Saint Peter’s Peacocks to their historic underdog run against the likes of big basketball schools such as Kentucky, Murray State and Purdue.

During the tournament, the 22-year-old became popular for not only his performances but also his mustache, given nicknames such as Dirty Doug and Dougie Buckets. Saint Peter’s winning streak ended when they lost against the North Carolina Tar Heels in the Elite Eight.

Following his success, Edert scored deals with Buffalo Wild Wings as well as Barstool Sports for his own clothing line.

The collection includes shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies in white, navy or black featuring a cartoon version of the face he made after upsetting the Kentucky Wildcats, which is him smiling with his tongue out. His nickname Dougie Buckets is also emblazoned on the merchandise.

Paolo Banchero, Duke

Duke forward Paolo Banchero celebrates during the first half of a college basketball game against Arkansas in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA men’s tournament. - Credit: AP

Duke forward Paolo Banchero celebrates during the first half of a college basketball game against Arkansas in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA men’s tournament. – Credit: AP

AP

The Italian American forward for Duke is among the players to emerge as one of the biggest stars, both in March Madness as well as in the NIL deals.

As the team’s leading scorer, the Blue Devils have made it into this year’s Final Four, where they will face off against the North Carolina Tar Heels. Banchero is also projected to be one of the top three NBA draft picks for this year, according to ESPN.

Banchero has sponsorship deals with NBA2K and JD Sports, a British sportswear company.

According to the Boardroom, Banchero comes in third for the Final Four athletes with the highest earning potential, with about $9,900 for his highest earning potential per social media post.

Aliyah Boston, University of South Carolina

Aliyah Boston of the South Carolina Gamecocks drives to the basket during the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship Elite Eight round game between the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Creighton Bluejays. - Credit: AP

Aliyah Boston of the South Carolina Gamecocks drives to the basket during the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship Elite Eight round game between the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Creighton Bluejays. – Credit: AP

AP

The junior forward and center for the South Carolina Gamecocks, who was recently named AP Player of the Year for 2022, has helped her team to the Final Four this tournament, averaging 16.8 points, 12.2 rebounds and a field goal percentage of 54.2 per game.

Like Bueckers, Boston has also played for and represented the U.S. in various international competitions such as FIBA and the Summer Youth Olympics, helping her team win the gold medals in all the events she participated in.

On top of deals with Bose and Bojangles, a popular fast-food chain in the Carolinas, Boston also has a partnership with Crocs.

Hailey Van Lith, University of Louisville

Louisville’s Hailey Van Lith drives past Tennessee’s Brooklynn Miles during the first half of a college basketball game in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA women’s tournament. - Credit: AP

Louisville’s Hailey Van Lith drives past Tennessee’s Brooklynn Miles during the first half of a college basketball game in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA women’s tournament. – Credit: AP

AP

Behind Bueckers in NIL deals and performance so far is Hailey Van Lith, the sophomore guard from the Louisville Cardinals.

As the leading scorer for her team, Van Lith has helped the Cardinals on their run to the Final Four, with 14.5 points a game and an average field goal percentage of 43.4.

Van Lith, known to be a big fan of the late Kobe Bryant, was also teammates with Boston and Bueckers when they competed in the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics in the basketball 3×3 event, where they nabbed the gold medal.

Among her partnerships, Van Lith has signed endorsement deals with Adidas and Dick’s Sporting Goods. According to Boardroom, Van Lith comes in second place after Bueckers in her highest earning potential, with $37,600 per social media post.

READ MORE HERE:

Adidas Creates NIL Network for 50,000-plus College Athletes

What to Watch: How the New NIL Rules Can Benefit Fashion Brands

Fanatics to Help Student-Athletes Capitalize on Their NIL

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