A week after basketball phenom Darryn Peterson, ranked No. 3 in the 2025 ESPN 60, became the first high school athlete to sign a name, image and likeness deal with Adidas, he also became the youngest athlete to have a deal with a trading card company.

Peterson, a 16-year-old junior shooting guard at Huntington Prep School in West Virginia, signed a multiyear deal with Fanatics Trading Cards. His deal with Adidas is believed to be in the seven-figure range. 

“This is great, not only for me, but for my family,” Peterson said. “I’m excited that Fanatics believed in me enough to make me the first junior to sing. I’m even more excited to be a part of the Fanatics family.” 

Fanatics, which began as a sports apparel business that was sold in 2011, now sells sports collectibles, NFTs, sports merchandise and trading cards. Fanatics acquired trading card giant Topps for a reported $500 million in 2022. Also last year, Fanatics announced trading card deals with several colleges and athletes, including student-athletes Alabama quarterback Bryce Young and South Carolina women’s basketball player Aliyah Boston. 

Fanatics confirmed the agreement with Peterson but declined further comment. 

Tim Gallagher, a longtime memorabilia collector, compared Fanatics’ deal with Peterson to investing in the stock market. 

“My preference is to typically invest in more proven situations, but if the cards are relatively accessible and not overly expensive, it would be fun to collect and to speculate if this guy can be the next fill-in-the-blank,” said Gallagher, who is West Coast consignment director for Robert Edward Auctions, one of the world’s largest specialty auction houses devoted to sports trading cards and memorabilia. 

Darryn Peterson of Huntington Prep in West Virginia is ranked No. 3 in the ESPN 60 recruiting Class of 2025. 

Several college and high school athletes have benefited from the 2021 NCAA rule that allows student-athletes to monetize their brands. Last year, high school basketball seniors Bronny James and Mikey Williams made millions. Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell is glad to see Peterson’s deal. 

“First of all, I’m happy for the kid joining the [Adidas] family,” said Mitchell, who has the Adidas signature shoe D.O.N. “And for him to succeed [financially] at an earlier age, especially in our community, is huge. Allowing him to maximize his abilities off the floor — and to allow him  to help provide for his family — is something trending in the right direction.” 

The trend was on hold for Peterson until his family decided to relocate from Canton, Ohio, to Huntington, West Virginia, last summer. Thirty-one states allow high school student-athletes to monetize their name, image and likeness. 

 Ohio does not allow NIL. In a 2022 email, the OHSAA said 66% (538) of its member schools opposed NIL, only 31% (254) favored it and 3% (21) abstained from voting. In an emailed statement, the OHSAA said there was not a vote this past spring but will propose the question again soon. 

The OHSAA’s current position likely led to Peterson’s transfer from Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, a school located 30 miles south of Cleveland, to Huntington Prep, about 250 miles away. Huntington Prep’s alumni include Andrew Wiggins (Golden State Warriors), Thomas Bryant (Miami Heat) and Miles Bridges (Charlotte Hornets). Peterson scored 1,000 points in his two years at CVCA. 

Peterson’s father, Darryl Peterson Jr., said the family hoped Ohio would become an NIL state, and even had conversations with a marketing company, 727 Marketing, in anticipation of a state executive order, but the OHSAA’s decision not to change its rule inspired the move. 

“There’s a big chance we would’ve stayed, but Darren has aspirations to play in the NBA and he wanted the competition to help complete his journey,” Darryl Peterson said. “So it wasn’t so much the NIL, because stuff like that was coming.” 

Either way, states such as Ohio could lose even more marquee student-athletes. For example, Quinn Ewers graduated early from a high school in Texas so he could enroll early at Ohio State to sign a lucrative NIL deal because his home state doesn’t allow it.  

When it comes to critics of NIL for high schoolers, Chris Dennis, managing partner of Tribute Sports, said the belief is that endless money will get tossed around to make every kid rich. 

“That’s clearly not the case,” said Dennis, who has been an adviser to high school basketball players in Northeast Ohio including NBA star LeBron James. “Guys like Darryn Peterson are outliers, and there’s not a lot of outliers in Ohio. There are opportunities, but everyone’s not going to get a multimillion-dollar deal.                                                                                                                                                                                          PETERSON ‘S FAMILY

At 6-foot-5 and just under 200 pounds, Peterson has elite athleticism, range on his jumper, steady ballhandling skills and a keen basketball IQ. Ryan Isley, who has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio for the past 10 years, said Peterson is the best high school player he’s seen in the area since LeBron James. 

“I hate to go there, but he plays a lot like LeBron did in high school,” said Isley, regional editor and lead reporter for SBLive Sports. “Darryn can do everything. And if I could describe him in one word, that would be, ‘smooth.” 

Last summer, Peterson helped Team USA win a gold medal in the Under-16 FIBA Americas Championship in Mexico. Peterson averaged 16.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists during the tournament. Peterson averaged 31.7 points and nine rebounds last season at CVCA. 

“It wasn’t too difficult transferring because I wanted to go somewhere to fulfill my dream and get better,” Peterson said.  

Despite the transfer and attention associated with the NIL, the Petersons have tried to maintain some normalcy with the transition. For instance, the entire family (Darryl Peterson and his wife Natatia, daughter Dior, and son Daylon) have joined Peterson in Huntington, except for older son Darryl III, a sophomore linebacker at Wisconsin. 

“Darryn’s goal is to be the greatest player of all time, so I remind him not to forget the goal and to continue to work,” Darryl Peterson said. “And we keep him grounded. He still washes dishes and takes his little brother and sister to the store.” 


 SOURCE: andscape.com 

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