CHAMPAIGN – Trent Frazier was ready for July 1 and the opportunities it could come when a name, image, and similitude law was signed in the state of Illinois with statewide approval soon to be followed by the NCAA.
The Super-Senior Illinois Guard has local agreements with companies such as Health Alliance, Jarling’s Custard Cup, and IMPACT Physical Therapy. With Gameday Spirit, Frazier has also launched a signature t-shirt, used the opportunities to get to know each other and autograph sessions, and opened up more national options with a cameo profile and a GoPuff deal.
“It kind of exploded,” Frazier said just over three months after NIL became a reality in college track and field. “I didn’t expect it to happen like this. It’s really fast and I’m very excited. It’s a great opportunity to put money in my pocket, maybe book a few flights for my family to bring them here. It is exciting. I will continue to make full use of it and make the best possible use of this opportunity. “
Frazier said the opportunity to benefit from his name, image, and likeness wasn’t an overwhelmingly life-changing experience.
He appreciates that he was able to benefit from it, but it hasn’t changed anything about his actions.
There are still courses to attend. Not to mention exercises and individual workouts ahead of the upcoming 2021-22 basketball season.
It is important to keep doing these things at a high level, said Andre Curbelo, in order to make the most of every NIL opportunity. The sophomore Guard announced a partnership with the University of Illinois Community Credit Union on July 1, and drops new merchandise on Wednesday, his 20th birthday.
The ability to continue to benefit from NIL opportunities is tied to everything Curbelo and his Illinois teammates do during their time at Champaign.
“I don’t know about my teammates, but in my opinion, I’m just worried about being out there and taking care of business,” said Curbelo. “I have a feeling that if we all do this and all have this mentality, we will be able to meet all of the expectations of NIL, the fans and everything else. If you keep working and working and working, everything else will take care of itself.
“I’m looking forward to myself and my teammates. I think it’s a great opportunity for you to show who you are and let your image speak for itself. If they come here and take care of the business in the square, NIL will always be great. That’s what people want. They want people to represent their brand because they play well. “
Frazier said he’s trying to properly build his brand with the NIL deals he’s accepted. The engagement these opportunities have generated over the past few months has been most noticeable, according to Curbelo.
“People let us make the money I think we make,” said Curbelo. “It’s pretty close to being a professional. We have to come here and do it every day and people expect a lot from us. … We put so much work into it and we still have to go to school. It takes a lot of us to be great.
“I think there is a lot of pressure. I’m not under pressure, but there can be a lot of pressure on other players. I think NIL is a plus – it’s a bonus. It makes us feel good about what we do. “
Frazier and Curbelo also used their platform to give something back. Curbelo attended a meet-and-greet last week where all proceeds were donated to the Don Moyer Boys & Girls Club – including a performance fee, at which Curbelo insisted on supporting the group as well. Frazier partnered with Champaign County’s Housing Authority last month to speak to children in the CU community.
“I don’t just want to make money,” said Frazier. “I want to do it right, so I’m working with the Health Alliance on vaccines and convincing people about it. Go to the youth club and talk to the younger kids in the ward. I try to do the little things – my part – and not do anything for the money. I try to inspire children to have the opportunity to continue to believe in their dreams.
“I’ve always wanted to do something like this, to know where I’m from. I know how hard it is to grow up in certain communities where you don’t have these kinds of opportunities. It is important to keep inspiring children to believe in their dreams. “
Scott Richey is a college basketball reporter for The News-Gazette. His email is [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).