When it comes to her career as a college student, basketball student-athlete and future medical doctor, Arizona standout Maya Nnaji wants to be an agent of change. She wants to impact lives. She wants to be a role model for future generations.
Representation matters in everything she does.
That also includes name, image and likeness.
“People who look like me probably don’t get as many marketing or sponsorship opportunities, but it’s a blessing for me to help empower this change,” Nnaji says. “Women’s basketball is a sport full of diversity, and I think it’s on all of us student-athletes to keep pushing things forward and empowering younger generations.”
A McDonald’s All-American in high school in Minnesota, Nnaji came to the University of Arizona because she could be a difference maker on and off the court. The Tucson community became an extension of home, and her foray into NIL was immediate after she set foot on campus.
“One thing I learned immediately at Arizona is about the power of marketing,” she says. “You don’t have to be the best player in the world to have value to an advertiser. You can have a growing brand and still be a very visible figure in ads or commercials.”
Being a key contributor on a team ranked in the top 20 nationally in front of thousands and thousands of fans every game in McKale helped grow Nnaji’s brand. Her first endorsement deal as a Wildcat was a reflection of the national audience she commands: Dunkin’ Donuts.
“It was surreal when Dunkin’ Donuts reached out to me," she says. “I couldn’t believe this national brand wanted to work with me. The opportunities presented to me through this deal will set me up for future success, growth of my brand and more networking possibilities.”