It started with a direct message on Instagram.
The message was from Jasmine Jordan, daughter of NBA legend Michael Jordan. The receiver was Kiyomi McMiller, the sixth-ranked women’s basketball recruit in the class of 2024.
Ecstatic, yet confused all at once, McMiller gave the phone to her father. She thought the message was fake.
“[Jasmine] reached out on Instagram and told me she’d been watching me for three years,” McMiller told The NIL Deal in an interview. “She asked if I wanted to be a part of the brand, and at first, I didn’t know if it was really her, so I had her talk to my dad.”
The rest was history, and McMiller became the first high school athlete, man or woman, to sign a shoe deal with Jordan Brand. Thanks to the opportunity to capitalize on her name, image and likeness (NIL), McMiller’s milestone is more than just a shoe deal. It’s an opportunity to capitalize on a platform that is still yet to be built, especially for female athletes.
“It’s definitely a big deal [for both high school athletes and female athletes]. It’s funny, because I don’t remember who I was talking to, but they’re like, ‘You know, you’re the first,’ and it was wild to me how this is history and I had never really thought about it,” McMiller said. “I really want people to be more creative and just be different and I hope this brings more attention to the women’s game as well.”
Nahhh shorty got the KPJ handle package oh my god— Niko (@nikotaughtyou) January 14, 2023
Kiyomi McMiller, #6 in her class, gotta tap in sheeeesh. pic.twitter.com/5RIo2XIdjc
“People that have kids in middle school or in high school, it’s very appealing to see somebody that is not too much older than you get on a deal. So they know if they work hard and if they do the right things then it is possible for them,” Michael De Sane, CEO of Divine Sports & Entertainment, told The NIL Deal. “It also showed the power of putting in work, and being creative and staying true to yourself. So her message of creativity is being shown, as well as the hard work and dedication that she is behind her craft and that you’re not too young to do anything.”
“This is monumental for women’s sports, not just in basketball but all sports,” Ryan Williams-Jenkins, McMiller’s agent and President of Divine Sports & Entertainment, added. “Because of this, when you see someone like Kiyomi, in high school, getting a deal of this size with a brand like Jordan being the first to do this, I see that a lot of the other major companies looking to do the same, because we know it is a copycat league when it comes to brands and when it comes to sports.
“Now, when [Kiyomi] goes to college and plays at the higher levels, people are gonna pay more attention and want to see who these women are that are associated with certain brands, which will increase viewership of women’s sports. There’s gonna be a lot of great things that come from this.”
2024 PG Kiyomi McMiller of Life Center is the BEST player in the country! She got BUSY against Westtown! pic.twitter.com/W3noJKRVp4— RareFootage (@RareFootageNews) December 14, 2022
McMiller’s partnership with Jordan is a multi-year agreement that will allow her to attend Jordan-branded events, of course wear Jordan-branded merchandise and shoes, and hopefully, a chance at a signature shoe and the opportunity to be side-by-side with the greatest.
“I haven’t talked to [Michael] yet, but I was told that he has to sign off on every player,” McMiller said. “Before someone joins the brand, he has to know who they are and he has to watch and like their game to sign off on them.”
“When I spoke with Jasmine, she kept saying I was one-of-one,” McMiller added. “So I’m just trying to be the best.”
In some regards, McMiller is just another high schooler. She likes spicy sweet chili Doritos, and cares about the environment and recycling. But she also possesses skills very few her age have. She’s charismatic in the interview room and carries elite skills on the court that carry comparisons to Kyrie Irving.
But most importantly, she’s a fiery 5-foot-8 guard who will be the face of one of the world’s most recognizable brands, and despite not having a firm commitment to a collegiate program yet, wherever McMiller’s journey takes her, expect plenty of highlights.