Signed rookie cards of the NBA’s number one draft pick won’t be inside the packs of its lone trading card licensee. Upper Deck announced early Friday that it had signed LSU’s Ben Simmons to a multi-year deal for autographed memorabilia and trading cards.
His first signed cards will arrive in Goodwin Champions, due out in July.
Simmons is represented by Klutch Sports, the same company that handles LeBron James’ business affairs. James, too, has an autograph deal with Upper Deck. Sources tell us Klutch was looking to have the same company handle both trading card autographs and signed memorabilia for Simmons and Upper Deck was willing to meet their price.
“We are pleased to welcome Ben Simmons to Upper Deck’s world-renowned roster of NBA greats and look forward to providing his fans around the world with the most innovative and authentic collectibles available on the market,” stated Upper Deck President Jason Masherah in a news release.
Panini America, which owns the NBA trading card license, will be able to produce cards of Simmons—but his autographs won’t appear in the company’s products. Upper Deck has produced basketball card sets since losing its NBA license several years ago, but Panini gobbled up nearly every college trading card license last year. Upper Deck says one of the first items it’ll make available is an autographed draft day photo and they also plan to offer signed jerseys, basketballs and a signed “Renaissance Man” print that captures his career at LSU. The company has created a special page for Simmons signed items on its website.
Simmons joined LSU after a noteworthy high school career at Monteverde Academy in Florida where he was named Naismith National Boys Player of the Year as well as the Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year. In college, Simmons was recognized as SEC’s Preseason Player of the Year, making him the second freshman in history to earn the award.
He led his Australian high school team to three national championships before making his college basketball debut.
He’s also signed endorsement deals with Nike and Beats By Dre.
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