SpartanMag - Jaxon Kohler signs with Helium Sports to assist with NIL opportunities
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Jaxon Kohler signs with Helium Sports to assist with NIL opportunities

East Lansing, Mich. - The era of name, image and likeness hit a new level at Michigan State on Tuesday with the family of incoming freshman basketball player Jaxon Kohler confirming that he has signed with Helium Sports & Entertainment, a marketing and consulting firm based in Detroit.

Forbes.com reported on Tuesday morning that the deal is potentially worth six figures. That’s based on the expectations and valuation of Kohler’s marketability at Michigan State, according to Helium Sports & Entertainment founder and president Justin Brantley.

Kohler is a 6-foot-10 power forward and center who played his senior year of high school at Santa Clarita (Calif.) Southern California Academy. He committed to Michigan State on Sept. 9 as the No. 111 player in the country. His ranking has risen to No. 77, with his stock continuing to rise after a standout performance at the Allen Iverson Classic in late April.

Kohler will enroll at Michigan State this summer and be a freshman for the Spartans during the 2022-23 season. Kohler is expected to have a major, immediate role with the Spartans as a big man who can score with his back to the basket, and provide offense with face-up shooting skill.

Brantley - a native of Detroit who attended St. Martin DePorres High School, and was a member of the University of Illinois football team before transferring to Howard University - became familiar with Kohler while broadcasting Kohler’s games for thesuvtv.com. Brantley had previous experience in the recruiting world as Midwest Recruiting Coordinator for NIKE/EYBL, and served as athletic director at Spire Academy in Geneva, Ohio, prior to launching his marketing and consulting firm.

Brantley and Kohler’s father, Jeff, confirmed that Kohler reached a deal with Helium which paid an undisclosed figure as a signing bonus. Helium will help Kohler find marketing opportunities in Lansing, the Detroit area, state-wide, and nationally via social media while Helium will keep a percentage of the earnings.

“I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that his value is in the six figure range,” Brantley said. “On3.com is a company that examines a lot of these valuations and they had (his NIL potential) at $24,000. That was their valuation of him without really understanding the market and the fanbase of Michigan State, without understanding the local market that we have, the corporations that exist within not just Metro Detroit but Michigan as a whole, and then without factoring in the personality and the type of person and the type of player Jaxon Kohler is. So I don’t think it’s unfathomable that he will hit the six figure mark.

“My job and my goal, in the conversations that I’ve had with Jaxon, Jeff and Amber (Kohler) are that it’s not about the money. I’m going to under-promise and over-deliver in that regard, but we are going to exceed the number of what people are saying he is potentially worth.”

Jeff Kohler said Jaxon has had agencies approaching him throughout the spring.

“Right after the Iverson game, Jaxon was getting blown up from NIL agents and NBA agents as well,” Mr. Kohler said. “These are all guys that are all there for the transactional opportunity. But Justin is such a down-to-Earth guy, and I trust him to really educate Jax. Justin is more like a guy that can help him understand the landscape and the business side of things and can also help filter because I can’t imagine what a distraction this could be for some kids when people are saying he needs to do this appearance or do this or that, and he really just wants to play basketball. Jaxon doesn’t really care about money, which is awesome.

“We didn’t come into this high school situation too concerned about NIL and looking for money, but the thing that resonated to me is that they (Helium) want to help him build a social media presence and help him in that regard.”

Brantley said he planned to speak with Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo later today, but said he had not had much or any contact with Izzo about Kohler’s contract situation previously.

Mr. Kohler said he had conversations with Izzo about Kohler’s sudden popularity with sports agencies.

“I talked to Coach Izzo about it and I said I think it’s best if I get somebody else involved with Jaxon because Jaxon doesn’t want to sacrifice any attention from what he is doing on the court,” Mr. Kohler said. “He doesn’t want to get distracted by this, and that’s why I thought Justin was such a great fit. I said that I wanted to make sure that they (Michigan State basketball) didn’t have any problem with this. I know NIL is probably more of a distraction to some of these college coaches than anything and the last thing that we wanted to do was any sort of distraction for Jaxon or the coaches. But they loved the idea of Jaxon having someone else that can handle it for him and someone that’s local, and they seemed totally fine with it.”

More to come via SpartanMag.com.