Attention has turned to the 2022 WNBA Draft following the 2022 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. This year’s NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship game drew 4.85 million viewers on ESPN networks, 18% more than last year and 30% more viewers than 2019. The new era of WNBA stars headed into the draft have been able to capitalize on their marketability through NIL opportunities.
To understand the players’ marketing power, we analyzed the 2022 WNBA Draft prospects have the highest earning potential per social media post.
We leverage a decade of social media and payment data to establish a formula that offers a true market rate — an accurate assessment of what any given athlete could command in the market.
1. Destanni Henderson | South Carolina: $5,258
Coming off an NCAA Championship win, Henderson has been in the national spotlight all season and has cashed in on NIL opportunities such as selling her own merchandise and partnering with brands like Mountain Dew, Ruffles, Mad Dawgs Athletic Club, Bojangles, and more. Her future is bright, on and off the court.
2. Paisley Harding | BYU: $4,420
From Youtube to TikTok, Harding has documented her journey as a college athlete, including her personal interests. With 108 prospects in this year’s draft class and only 36 spots, Harding’s fans and followers will continue to support her either way. Partnering with brands like Xfinity, Rowdy Energy, and Deseret First Credit Union, Harding has set herself up for more opportunities in the future.
3. Olivia Nelson-Ododa | Connecticut: $3,982
Through a great tournament run, Nelson-Ododa has been keeping fans engaged on social all season long and has already jumped into NIL opportunities with national brands like Dunkin’ Donuts and Fabletics. She is primed to continue this throughout her pro career.
4. Anna Wilson | Stanford: $3,339
The Stanford standout has captured fans’ attention throughout her college career. While Wilson has laid low in the NIL era and kept her attention on the court, she’s grown her following through her game, Wilson has set herself up for opportunities after she turns pro.
5. Evina Westbrook | Connecticut: $3,199
Westbrook had a standout performance in the NCAA tournament and she is looking to have her career continue at the highest level. She’s been focused on her game and has emerged as a projected first-round pick.
6. Shakira Austin | Mississippi: $3,146
Predicted to be selected early in the first round, Austin has taken a fan-focused approach to her NIL opportunities this season, most monetizing through her own merchandise and personalized shoutouts. This young star figures to have significant opportunities at the professional level.
7. Christyn Williams | Connecticut: $2,168
As a standout on UCONN’s roster, Williams has also been a standout in the NIL era. Her resume of brand deals includes Sling, Goli Nutrition, Wings Over, Maruchan Ramen, TIAA, and her own clothing called Curate the Wave. Making the most of her collegiate career, Williams has set herself up well to continuing connecting with brands.
Emily Engstler | Louisville & Syracuse: $1,476
After helping Louisville get to an NCAA Final Four, Engstler is preparing to play on an even bigger stage. Predicted to be picked up in the first round, Engstler will have a lot of opportunities to continue to connect with fans and brands.
9. Rae Burrell | Tennessee: $1,251
As one of the best in the game, Burrell has been able to connect with fans throughout her college career. She has recently started capitalizing on her NIL through video shoutouts on Cameo and partnering with GrubHub. Her brand partnership portfolio will continue to grow in the WNBA.
10. Rhyne Howard | Kentucky: $1,228
Another top prospect, Howard has tapped into her marketability and talent on the court to partner with brands like Powerade and Wing Stop. Howard has tapped into opportunities to connect with fans through her own merchandise and jumping on Cameo.