Off the court, Hailey Van Lith is the premier celebrity endorser in college sports. With over 700,000 Instagram followers, Van Lith is estimated to be the most valuable athlete in the NCAA’s new Name, Image, Likeness era; according to Opendorse, Van Lith’s social media clout is worth approximately $1 million. Since NIL restrictions were lifted last summer, she has inked deals with Icy Hot, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Billionaire Girls Club and Twitch. Her Instagrams and TikToks are standard influencer fare: dancing videos, paeans to the grind and sponsored content.
On the court, Van Lith is a fucking maniac. A prominent character in the extended Ball Is Life/SLAM/Overtime cinematic universe, Van Lith is all unrelenting swagger—or, as the titles of her high school mixtapes would say: she is DANGEROUSLY SAUCY, so you should watch your ANKLES, SHEESH [fire emoji]. During Louisville’s run to the Final Four, she became the first player in school history to score more than 20 points in four straight NCAA Tournament games. Although she’s often been compared to James Harden on account of her left-handedness, Van Lith plays with a more direct tempo, eschewing Harden’s winding solos for decisive bursts to the rim.