College Hoops

The $2 million deal that rocked basketball: NBA Draft Combine abuzz over Great Osobor’s NIL payday

The $2 million deal that rocked basketball: NBA Draft Combine abuzz over Great Osobor's NIL payday

CHICAGO — The biggest job interview of your life is stressful, and Dalton Knecht needed just a little splash of home to break the tension. Some prescient Big Sky news offered the levity Knecht didn’t know he needed. Somehow, some way, one of the smallest conferences in the country has finagled its way into the NBA Draft Combine.

Knecht is a former Big Sky star who is hurtling toward being a first-round pick. His rise from paying his way at Northeast Junior College to SEC Player of the Year was already quite a story. But Great Osobor, a former Big Sky bench mob member, has created quite a ruckus throughout college basketball after inking a $2 million, NIL-laced payday this week to transfer to Washington.

The NBA Draft has felt the ripple. Numerous stay-or-go decisions could be impacted by the largest NIL deal on record.

“That’s what he got?” Knecht asked with a wide grin. “My guy! Big Sky, represent. That’s so good for him. I’m excited for him and Coach (Danny) Sprinkle in Washington. He’s a great coach. Wow, that’s big-time.”

There’s a bit of shock and awe from some of the best college basketball players in the country.

“Can I go to Washington?” former Marquette star Tyler Kolek said jokingly. “Those top guys are getting one or two million plus? I’m happy for him, I wish I had been a part of that.”

“That’s a crazy number,” Washington State wing Jaylen Wells added. “Not going to say a specific number, but my NIL wasn’t close to that. But coming from Division II, not having a full scholarship, paying for college and two years later, you see guys with two million playing in college? It’s crazy to think about.”

Earned? Yes. Crazy? Maybe. Good? Depends on who you ask.

Jalen Bridges has lived both sides of it. Bridges was the top-ranked player in West Virginia all the way back in 2019, but he was ranked just outside the top 80 nationally. Life was different back then. Bridges redshirted his freshman season, and NIL hadn’t been introduced to the tinderbox yet.

“I had nothing,” Bridges says. “I don’t know how I was surviving, for real. I was getting a monthly stipend. It was like $1,500 and my rent was like $1,000. I was living off like $500 a month. I was working out every day. I gotta eat. I have to do a lot of things. I didn’t have to pay for my books, but stretching $500 a month is hard. I don’t know how I did it.”

Even after the Pandora’s box of NIL was opened in 2021,…

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