The two best-known amateur basketball players in the country are underclassmen Mikey Williams and LeBron James Jr. That’s high school underclassmen, to be specific. At 15, they’re not even old enough to drive a car, yet they’re projecting as bellwethers for a new generation of basketball marketing.

The mainstream basketball fan wouldn’t recognize Mikey Williams, as he’s just a rising sophomore at San Ysidro High School in San Diego. But any basketball-savvy teenager or pre-teen you know likely counts among his nearly 2 million Instagram followers. LeBron James Jr., obviously aided by his famous father, has more than 5 million followers and has become an influence to his Sierra Canyon teammates and beyond.

Neither Mikey Williams nor LeBron James Jr. are considered the best current player in high school basketball. (That would be generational phenom de jour Emoni Bates, the top player in the 2022 class.) But thanks to the power social media, Mikey and Bronny are poised to help forge the new amateur basketball marketplace.

The conversation about the future of the NCAA’s new Name, Image and Likeness legislation is diametrically different in college basketball than in college football. And part of that comes from the inevitability that stars like Mikey and Bronny – they’re already known by one name – have a lucrative path available to them that doesn’t include college basketball. “Mikey and Bronny will be the first two players to change amateurism the way we know it,” said Etop Udo-Ema, director of the Compton Magic grassroots program, which features Mikey.

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