The NBA draft tips off tonight but five high profile players have already signed their first trading card contracts.
Panini America, Inc. has signed five of the NBA’s top draft prospects to exclusive trading card agreements, marking its first player endorsement deals since entering into an exclusive partnership with the NBA in January.
The announcement came at the NBA Store in New York City Wednesday.
Blake Griffin (Oklahoma), Tyler Hansbrough (UNC), Jordan Hill (Arizona), Brandon Jennings (Lottomatica Virtus Roma,Italy), and Hasheem Thabeet (UCONN) will be featured in all 2009-10 Panini NBA card products, and on select packaging and advertisements throughout the year. In addition, exclusive autograph cards from these five players will be prominently featured in Panini America’s first line of NBA products. Griffin is expected to be the LA Clippers’ top pick
Panini’s first basketball card release for 2009 will be called Prestige and will be the company’s first set of NBA rookie cards. Prestige will feature the five players in their respective NBA team uniforms* and will release in October 2009.
“Blake, Tyler, Jordan, Brandon, and Hasheem are all special players who we believe will have great careers in the NBA,” said Panini America CEO Mike Eisenstein. “Rookies are a key part of the trading card business and we’re excited that fans will have the opportunity to receive autographed cards of these great players exclusively in Panini packs. As we look forward to beginning our first year as the NBA’s exclusive trading card partner, it was important for us to build around great basketball players and great people. We feel strongly that these five will make a positive impact both on and off the court.”
The Panini Group purchased the industry’s second-oldest trading card company Donruss in March and formed the new subsidiary, Panini America, Inc.