NIL’s Top 10 Most Valuable Athletes for 2023

7 min read

Since the introduction of NIL into the high school and college sports world, a lot has changed when it comes to the recruitment, promotion, and progression of student-athletes – with over $900 million spent in the first year according to FirstPoint USA’s NIL partners at Opendorse.

In 2023, that figure is widely expected to double, far surpassing the previous year’s financial commitment to investing in collegiate athletes, and harnessing the power and influence they possess within their respective fields.

According to industry insight experts, On3 NIL – the 10 most valuable athletes in 2023 are as follows:

Bronny James – Sierra Canyon High School

A talented young basketball player that shares the name with one of the three greatest players the sport has ever seen is always likely to draw plenty of interest.

With LeBron James as his father, and NBA legend Chris Paul as his godfather, Bronny James has huge shoes to fill and although has yet to commit to the next stage of his career, the 18 year-old has already reportedly received offers from the most illustrious schools in the Nation, including the University of Kentucky, University of Michigan, and Ohio State University – where most predict he’ll eventually play after his graduation from high school.

On3 NIL has placed a $7.6 million valuation on Bronny James, given his superstar name, emerging talent, and already massive social media influence.

Arch Manning – University of Texas

Another star athlete with a surname synonymous with football, Arch Manning is the grandson of former New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning and nephew of multi-time Super Bowl brothers, Eli and Peyton Manning – which means he’s got all the pedigree for a long and successful college and professional career.

The No.1 recruit in the 2023 class, Arch Manning has an NIL valuation of $3.7 million, having committed to one of the most powerful and proactive colleges for helping to promote and foster the student-athletes NIL potential in the University of Texas.

Mikey Williams – University of Memphis

Having already secured a life-changing endorsement deal with sportswear brand Puma, Mikey Williams has wasted no time in leveraging his status, becoming the first American high school basketball player to ink a deal of that nature.

Williams, a four-star recruit in the 2023 class, has committed to play under NBA legend Penny Hardaway at the University of Memphis and has been given a $3.6 million valuation by On3 NIL.

Caleb Williams – University of Southern California

Already a Maxwell award and Heisman Trophy winner, Caleb Williams is on an upward trajectory within college football and already looks like he’s destined for the NFL Draft in the not-so-distant future.

On3 NIL has valued Williams at $3.2 million for 2023, with the quarterback having already secured deals with the likes of AT&T, Athletic Brewing Company and Fanatics.

Olivia Dunne – Louisiana State University

Arguably the most famous name in college sports since the inception of the NIL policy, Livvy Dunne has established deals with the likes of ESPN, Grubhub, Forever 21 and a host of other international organisations, making her one of the most marketable college athletes in the country.

Dunne reportedly earned upwards of $1 million in the first year of activity, On3 NIL estimates that her deal-making power will more than triple this year, with a $3.2 million valuation vaulting her into the top 5.

Shedeur Sanders – University of Colorado

After a successful first season in college football with Jackson State University, Sanders officially transferred to the University of Colorado following the appointment of his father and NFL legend Deion Sanders as the Buffaloes’ new head football coach.

Already a winner of the illustrious Jerry Rice Award and equipped with a famous footballing surname, Shedeur has already secured deals with the likes of Mercedes Benz, Gatorade and Tom Brady’s clothing brand “BRADY” – earning him a respectable $1.6 million valuation according to On3’s top 10 ranking.

Marvin Harrison Jr. – Ohio State University

Another talented young athlete following in his father’s footsteps, son of Super Bowl champion Marvin Harrison, Junior became a starter in his sophomore year with the Buckeyes, recording 14 touchdowns and running for 1,263 yards, earning him a unanimous sport on the All-American team and being named Richter-Howard receiver of the year – earning him a $1.6 million valuation and a spot on On3’s top 10 rankings list.

Hansel Emmanuel – Northwestern State University

A player that’s no stranger to the spotlight after becoming a viral sensation for his basketball ability and athleticism, despite having only one arm – Emmanuel has already signed deals with Adidas, T-Mobile, and Gatorade as one of the most marketable college athletes in the sport.

With a $1.5 million valuation on On3’s list, and already has amassed over 4 million followers on social media, Emmanuel is one of the most watched college athletes on the internet and that’s caught the eye of several global brands.

Sunisa Lee – Auburn University

One of the most decorated college athletes in the Nation, Lee is already a multi-time Olympic medallist having won gold at the Tokyo games, as well as the 2019 World Championships and a 2022 NCAA Champion in Fort Worth.

Having already secured deals with CLIF Bar & Company, Amazon, Invisalign, Gatorade, and Target – second only to LSU’s Livvy Dunne, Lee has become a force to be reckoned with in the NIL space, with On3 allocating a $1.5 million valuation to her.

Drake Maye – University of North Carolina

UNC quarterback, Drake Maye is the final name on On3’s top 10 valuations with deals already in place with TABLE, Bose, Campus Mogul, and Corcoran HM Properties – earning him a $1.3 million valuation on the list.

A debut season for the history books, Maye was named First-Team All-ACC, ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year, ACC Rookie of the Year, ACC Offensive Player of the Year, and ACC Player of the Year, finishing 10th place in the Heisman Trophy race and breaking UNC’s school record for single-season passing yards.

There's no doubt that NIL is here to stay, and as interest continues to grow around the industry in working alongside student-athletes, businesses will continue to reinforce the value of utilising the star power within high school and college sports. 

Interested in discovering how you can better leverage your own NIL value? Check out our recent feature on maximising your NIL potential on social media.

FirstPoint USA has a dedicated team of specialist talent management consultants who have assisted thousands of young athletes to propel their athletic and academic careers through successful partnerships with top U.S. institutions. In addition to this, we also have robust processes and support tools in place to help you understand the intricacies of your scholarship options, so we’re with you every step of the way.

For more information on the life-changing opportunities for young men and women that an athletic scholarship in the USA can provide, why not get in touch with one of our specialist sports consultants today: Sports Scholarships | FirstPoint USA | FirstPoint USA

FirstPoint USA is an international scouting service, providing recruitment services to hundreds of NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA member institutions seeking to identify the very best in overseas talent, both male and female.

The company was founded in 2001 by former University of Cincinnati All-American and Hall of Fame inductee, Andrew Kean, and evaluates over 100,000 prospective student-athletes, competing in over 20 different sports, across 187 countries each year.

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