Incoming Arkansas freshman basketball player Nick Smith Jr. will have his own trading card this fall as part of an agreement with Fanatics Collectibles and Topps.
The deal announced on Thursday is part of a plan to produce new sets of collegiate trading cards after securing partnerships with a list of universities across the country, and separate NIL deals with individual college athletes.
The agreements include both exclusive and non-exclusive co-branded trading card products, incorporating official university trademarks and featuring current student-athletes and former athletes now playing in the NFL, NBA, and MLB.
Smith was one of three basketball players mentioned by name in a news release from Topps, alongside South Carolina women’s basketball star Aliyah Boston and Duke men’s signee Dereck Lively II.
A signee from North Little Rock, Smith was recently named as the new No. 1 recruit in the nation by 247 Sports. He is the second Arkansan to be declared the No. 1 prospect. Former Arkansas star and NBA player Corliss Williamson was also ranked No. 1 as he transitioned from Russellville to Fayetteville in 1992.
Topps said it has secured multi-year, exclusive rights with more than 35 colleges, including most of the Power 5 conference schools. Beginning in 2023, the list will include Georgia, Kentucky, Miami, Oregon and Wisconsin. Schools signed on to enter in 2025 are Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Kansas, LSU, Penn State, Tennessee and Texas A&M. A scaled, non-exclusive program includes over 100 other colleges, including Oklahoma, Duke, North Carolina, Iowa and Syracuse.
It’s the largest collegiate trading card program ever launched, and the first to include current student-athlete NIL (Name, Image and Likeness) rights deals.
“Fanatics has been closely monitoring the ever-evolving NIL landscape, and we felt this was the perfect time to launch multiple, strategic college trading card programs that will allow schools and current student-athletes to create new levels of direct engagement with fans across hundreds of the top programs nationwide,” said Derek Eiler, executive vice president of Fanatics College. “There are tremendous opportunities for this untapped area of the hobby and to expand further across the collegiate sports landscape.”
Specifics deal amounts weren’t disclosed, but ESPN reported that a source familiar with some negotiations said players could be paid up to five figures for trading card rights.
Smith is one of 11 new players on the Razorbacks’ roster for the upcoming season, including signees Anthony Black, Barry Dunning, Derrian Ford, Joseph Pinion and Jordan Walsh. The newcomers also include transfers Trevon Brazile, Ricky Council IV, Jalen Graham, Makhel Mitchell and Makhi Mitchell.
Arkansas’ class is ranked No. 2 in the nation by all three major recruiting services.