Bronx hoopers become 1st sponsored high school athletes in state

DSC00090
Top New York high school basketball recruits Boogie Fland (left) and Ian Jackson are sponsored in their first NIL deal by Spreadshop, an on-demand merchandise platform.
Photos courtesy Jaster Creative

Now that high school and collegiate athletes can cash in on their name, image and likeness (NIL), two Bronx high school basketball players are the first in the state to do so.

Top high school basketball phenoms, Ian Jackson “Captain Jack” of Cardinal Hayes and “Boogie” Johnuel Fland of Stepinac in White Plains, inked their first NIL deal in late last year with Spreadshop, an on-demand merchandise platform. Spreadshop, which has partnered with 15 college athletes so far, allows players to build their personal brand.

Following the landmark decision by the NCAA in July 2021 to allow college athletes to earn money based off their name, states are now passing similar laws for high school athletes. That means high school student athletes now have the opportunity to monetize their athletic abilities, potentially making more money than their coaches, teachers and parents before even graduating. This will impact not only the athletes, but their communities and families, in some cases making the student-athletes breadwinners of their families.

Close friends Jackson and Boogie, both sophomores, began receiving monthly four-figures salaries in December 2021, in exchange for one social media post per week. In these posts, they are required to identify themselves as Spreadshop athletes.

Boogie Fland, who stars at Stepinac High School in White Plains, is cashing in on playing high school basketball.

The teens hope the deal will serve as a catalyst for high school athletes everywhere taking advantage of NIL. Jackson and Boogie have Division 1 offers from just about every school in the country, including Kansas State, St. John’s, Oklahoma State, Seton Hall, Fordham, Illinois and Maryland.

“It feels good knowing that kids can start making money and doing things at an earlier age,” Jackson told the Bronx Times. “A lot of high school kids have a big image.”

Jackson, who plays shooting guard for Cardinal Hayes in the Bronx, is viewed as a possible first round pick in the 2025 NBA Draft and is ranked sixth by ESPN in its 2024 college recruiting list. The 6’5 Jackson, who lives in the Bronxwood section, was a gold medal winner with USA Basketball’s 16U team in 2021 and was offered a Division 1 scholarship offer from Nebraska before even beginning high school.

In October, his family received a call from Spreadshop. According to Jackson, it caught him off guard as he only knew NIL was approved for college athletes. However, much to his surprise, he quickly discovered New York passed NIL for high school athletes in October.

“I came into it not knowing they wanted to sponsor me,” he said. “I’m glad they reached out.”

Jackson is grateful for the opportunity that Spreadshop has provided him. Being able to make money and get his name out there while just in high school is important, he said. He hopes other high school athletes follow suit.

Going forward, his goal is to play hoops in college and hopefully, one day professionally.

“If you feel like it (NIL) could help you, then I think you should do it,” he said.

Boogie, of Grand Concourse, is a star point guard at Stepinac and is the No. 14 overall prospect in the class of 2024 by ESPN. He told the Bronx Times that he got the nickname Boogie because as a kid he used to dance a lot.

With everything that happened in the past year and a half with COVID-19, being contacted by Spreadshop was a blessing in disguise, he said. Like Jackson, he had no idea high school athletes could be part of the NIL policy.

“I didn’t even know the law passed for high schoolers,” he said.

Once he talked it over with his mom and dad and looked at the contract, he realized it was an opportunity he could not pass up. Getting paid to play basketball in high school is something he never would have imagined.

However, even with this newfound stardom and influx of cash, Boogie still plans to stay humble and take it one day at a time.

“I want people to know that I’m a good person inside,” he said.

Reach Jason Cohen at jcohen@schnepsmedia.com or (718) 260-4598. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.

More from Around NYC