March Madness and the NBA All-Star Weekend are like a dream come true for basketball fans. The adrenaline-filled games, unexpected upsets, heated rivalries, and Cinderella stories ensure these tentpole events are incredibly entertaining. This year, brands have an exciting opportunity to tap into the buzz and engage basketball-loving audiences through influencer marketing campaigns with creators and influencers in the basketball vertical.
In this listicle, we spotlight 10 top digital talent brands should consider collaborating with, whether it’s for the NBA All-Star Weekend Feb. 16 – 18 or March Madness, which kicks off on Mar. 19.
10 basketball stars who are dunking with social-first content
Whether you’re looking to amplify your March Madness or NBA All-Star Weekend campaigns or simply want to align with basketball culture year-round, partnering with these digital hoop stars can be a slam-dunk for your marketing goals.
1. Chris Staples: The Content Dunker
Former Harlem Globetrotter Chris Staples has transitioned from mesmerizing audiences with his slick dunks to captivating them through his diverse content creation for his 2.46M combined followers on social media.
Staples began focusing on short-form videos on YouTube Shorts and TikTok, growing his following exponentially, marking his success as a dunker. In June last year, he repped the USA in the Dunk Contest at the 3×3 FIBA World Cup. He’s captured content with NBA players including Paul George and Luca Doncic, and he also went to March Madness last year as a brand ambassador for Playmaker for their #wynnxplaymaker campaign.
He takes a unique approach to his slam-dunking skills, turning it into creative games, challenges, and ideas that resonate with his audience. Brands can dunk their way into viral marketing wins by partnering with Staples to produce engaging videos aligned with major basketball events.
2. Anthony Hamilton Jr.: The Dunker Turned Brand Builder
Anthony Hamilton Jr. is renowned for his jaw-dropping basketball trick shots. After playing college ball, he turned to building his influencer presence over 1.1M followers on TikTok and 344K followers on Instagram. Hamilton co-founded The Dunk Collective in 2023 – a collective to promote professional dunking. He has also made his first foray into film with a role in White Men Can’t Jump 2 in 2023 starring Jack Harlow. He has secured significant brand partnerships, overcoming injuries and adversity earlier in his career.
Brands looking to appeal to the basketball community can tap into Hamilton’s robust following and work with him to co-create visually appealing trick shot content tied to March Madness or NBA All-Star Weekend.
Devin Williams, known for his moniker “In The Lab,” brings fans into the inner workings of basketball through video series like his popular “10,000 Hours” series analyzing players and games. His latest series “Lab Games” infuses basketball skills challenges with elements of the “Squid Game” Netflix series.
As brands are desperately seeking to showcase basketball IQ and skills and collaborate with Williams around March Madness or NBA All-Star Weekend to craft informative yet engaging videos for basketball nerds.
4. Larry “Bone Collector” Williams: The Streetball Icon
Larry “Bone Collector” Williams is an undisputed streetball legend renowned for his ankle-breaking moves. Ranked among the greatest streetball players ever, Williams has contributed tremendously to shaping basketball culture.
He now serves as a basketball trainer (and, he trained Drake too!) and mentor. He is also expanding his influence through innovative collaborations in digital and traditional media, as highlighted in his recent partnership featured on Viral Nation. Brands have an opportunity to partner with Williams to produce streetball content that nods to his iconic status in the community while engaging audiences during major basketball events.
Jesser (Jesse Riedel) is a prominent basketball influencer known for his diverse content spanning basketball, comedy, and gaming. He runs multiple YouTube channels with over 17.9M total subscribers and has a significant following on other platforms like Instagram and TikTok.
Given his broad range and love of basketball, Jesser is the perfect partner for brands seeking a multifaceted influencer who can create various types of content, prime for social-first, gen z audiences around major basketball events.
6. Kris London: The Comedic Hooper
Kris London, aka Kristopher Obaseki, entertains audiences with his blend of comedy, rants, and hoops content. He is a prominent member of the [2Hype group of creators and has a significant online following, and he’s found immense success as a YouTuber.
Kris is also an avid gamer so his audience is a great cross section for culture and an easy way for brands to zero in on their target audience based on overlapping interests. He brings comedy and personality to his basketball-focused content. Brands can tap into his lively, humorous approach by collaborating with London to produce engaging videos tailored to tentpole basketball events.
Jenna Bandy has made waves as a basketball coach, influencer, and she even holds a Guinness World Record for the furthest thrown football into a target by a woman. She boasts impressive followings on YouTube and Instagram, where she provides basketball and softball training.
Brands and a diverse range of sports leagues love working with Jenna Bandy because she has unique way of blending her skills into jaw-dropping, viral trick shots. She also engages female sports fans in a space that is limited in female representation.
Grace Hunter entertains her TikTok followers with an array of comedy sketches and pranks. She has amassed significant popularity on the platform, earning over 259 million likes. Hunter also has a history with basketball, having played for North Carolina State University, makes her a great candidate for March Madness activations.
Brands can tap into her basketball background and comedic skills by collaborating with Hunter around major basketball events to create funny, engaging content.
Caitlin Clark has been a standout basketball player even before she started high school. She’s an active player as a point guard for the University of Iowa, and she broke records in her first collegiate season – including making NCAA history as the first-ever player to log a 40-point triple-double. She has represented the US in international youth basketball, winning MVP honors.
She’s one of the highest paid NIL athletes bypassing a lot of her male counterparts. She’s setting the tone for an active NCAA athlete also having a lucrative career as an athlete-influencer.As the NIL allows NCAA athletes to earn compensation, brands have an opportunity to partner with rising stars like Clark around March Madness to amplify their campaigns.
10. Briana “Bree” Green: The Globe-Trotting Baller
Former Harlem Globetrotter Bree Green has become a prominent figure in basketball through her skills and social media presence. She provides basketball training sessions and has partnered with major brands in sports and entertainment such as Nike, Adidas, Gatorade, AT&T, and ESPN+. She’s also on the 2028 LA Summer Olympics committee.
For brands seeking a dynamic female basketball influencer, Green is an ideal collaborator to tap into her extensive experience and following during basketball tentpole events.
This unlocks an unprecedented layup for brands to connect with NCAA hoop stars and their massive fanbases around March Madness. Brands can now collaborate on sick branded content and activations. But the NIL laws can be a bit of a challenge for brands because the rules can differ depending on the state, so brands should be aware of the respective state rules for any athletes they’re interested in working with.
The NIL policy lets college ballers finally monetize their well-earned fame and influence. It’s a win-win for everyone that also gives brands the opportunity to foster early relationships with student-athletes.
Getting in on the ground floor with rising college stars can pay off big-time in the future. If these players later go pro in the NBA or WNBA, having that pre-existing connection could be a huge advantage for brands eyeing long-term partnerships.
Savvy brands that identify and team up with the right NCAA influencer talent early on can build strong, lasting relationships. When these college stars eventually turn pro, brands will be ready for those big-budget sponsorship collaborations.
The NIL change has been a straight-up alley-oop allowing brands to develop early bonds with student-athletes – a true relationship slam dunk!
Make your March Madness and NBA All-Star Weekend hoop dreams come true
March Madness and the NBA All-Star Weekend provide phenomenal opportunities for brands to engage basketball enthusiasts through influencer marketing. As college players can now profit from NIL deals, the options are greater than ever.
Brands should look to partner with basketball influencers like these top talents to develop creative social-first content that resonates with audiences during these tentpole events. From sponsored videos to basketball trick shots, the possibilities are endless.
At Viral Nation, we help identify and broker partnerships with basketball influencers that align with your brand objectives. Whether it’s March Madness or NBA All-Star Weekend, or you want to embed in basketball culture year-round, we can assist with influencer marketing strategy and execution.
Let’s connect to discuss how we can make your marketing campaigns a slam dunk through partnerships with popular basketball influencers.
As Content Manager, Mike brings over 10+ years of content marketing experience to the Corporate Marketing team. He is a veteran writer who specializes in engaging, well-written, and accessible content, and he’s covered a range of verticals including SaaS, marketing, entertainment, journalism, and cannabis. At Viral Nation, he’s handled technical writing and copywriting, in addition to owning the blog and creating numerous case studies that showcase some of Viral Nation’s best work. In his off-time, Mike dabbles in music, rap, and spoken word poetry, and he excels at making his friends and colleagues roll their eyes at his cringe-level puns.