Panini America has reached exclusive trading card agreements with seven of the top projected first-round picks in advance of Thursday’s 2012 NBA Draft, including Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Thomas Robinson and Harrison Barnes.
The agreements grant Panini America exclusive rights to produce autographed trading cards of those players.
Because of the lockout that shortened the NBA season and delayed the release of basketball cards until late in the campaign, ‘official’ rookie cards of last season’s draftees are being issued with next season’s Panini products. The company is the NBA’s exclusive trading card partner.
In addition to Kidd-Gilchrist (NCAA champion at Kentucky), Robinson (the 2012 Big 12 Player of the Year at Kansas) and Barnes (a 2012 First Team All-ACC selection from North Carolina), Panini America also inked exclusive agreements with Andre Drummond, Austin Rivers, Jared Sullinger and John Henson.
Sullinger earned First Team All-America honors last season at Ohio State, averaging 17.5 points while leading the Buckeyes to the Final Four. Rivers, the son of Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, averaged 15.5 ppg as a Duke freshman during the 2011-12 season. Henson twice earned ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors at North Carolina. In his lone season at the University of Connecticut, Drummond averaged 10 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game.
“We’re genuinely excited to add these gentlemen – the next generation of NBA superstars – to the Panini America family, and we can’t wait to get their first trading cards into the hands of fans and collectors,” said Panini America CEO Mark Warsop. “The presence of these players in our complete line of 2012-13 products, in concert with the best rookies from the 2011-12 season, will create an unprecedented opportunity for fans and collectors to pursue a double rookie card class in Panini America’s official NBA products throughout the entire season.”