NBA Draft Profile: Duke/NIL Superstar May Be Gone When Magic Pick 18th

Jared McCain is good at basketball and social media. The NBA Draft boards currently rank him from 7th to 15th — or just out of reach of the Orlando Magic, who pick 18th.
Mar 24, 2024; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Jared McCain (0) reacts after making a three point shot against the James Madison Dukes during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 24, 2024; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Jared McCain (0) reacts after making a three point shot against the James Madison Dukes during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

ORLANDO— It's a new era in Orlando, headlined by 21-year-old All-Star Paolo Banchero and his fellow up-and-coming stars Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs, who are both 22. 

So now, looking ahead to the June 26-27 NBA Draft, what better way to reinforce this young playoff team than to draft freshman Duke guard Jared McCain, 20, who represents a new era of college athletes?

On paper, Banchero and McCain share multiple similarities. Both were five-star prospects coming out of high school who committed to Duke and solidified their status as first-round picks. 

Banchero is a former No. 1 overall pick, Rookie of the Year, and NBA All-Star, but he lags behind McCain in social media star power.

Both Banchero and McCain played during the NIL era of college sports where student-athletes can profit from their name, image, and likeness.

According to, which describes itself as a networking company that delivers "news, analysis, data, and insights to fans, athletes, schools, and brands," when Banchero left Duke in Spring 2022, his NIL value was $241,000,

McCain's current NIL valuation is $1.2 million. He is one of the top individual brands in college athletics, with 2.8 million followers on TikTok and 137.4 million likes for his content, plus 1.1 million followers on Instagram.

Banchero, no slouch, has 1 million followers on Instagram and has 100,000 more followers than McCain on X, formerly known as Twitter.

High school and college athletes in 2024 are drastically different self-marketers than they were just a few years ago when Banchero was a prospect. He was the second-ranked high schooler in the country when he declared to Duke, according to 247, but he had fewer than 92,000 followers on Instagram when he made his announcement. McCain, on the other hand, began building his social media empire as a high school freshman.

McCain has deals with major companies such as SKIMS, and TikTok dances and attracted attention during the 2024 NCAA Tournament for his painted nails.

"Like I'm always just gonna be myself and as for the painted nails, I saw it during (the Covid-19) quarantine and I just started doing it," McCain told the Sporting News in March. "I never saw anything wrong with it. Like, I understand girls do it. I understand men have started to do it a little more recently, but it was just something I saw and I like to get manicures and pedicures. I take care of my body.

"So, I just like getting the color and it's always been myself. I've always been big on just being yourself in any situation possible. And never letting somebody tell you what, what you can and can't be. So doing the painted nails is kind of a part of me now."

Duke head coach Jon Scheyer told The Athletic: “He’s got this lively personality off the court — [but] when he gets on the court, it’s like a switch.”

In McCain’s one season at Duke, he averaged 14.3 points per game while shooting 46.2 percent from the field, 88.5 percent from the free throw line, and 41.1 percent from three on 5.8 attempts per game, as well as five rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.1 steals.

During the NCAA Tournament, he was the Blue Devils' most consistent scorer, averaging 21 points in the team’s four games while shooting 50 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc on eight attempts per game. 

The long-range accuracy would be welcome in Orlando. In 2023-24, the Magic ranked near the bottom of the NBA for 3-point field goal percentage and tied for last in 3-pointers made.

McCain’s large social media presence may strike some fans as odd, and some have criticized his TikTok videos as a distraction. The same player also wakes up at 5:30 every morning for yoga and meditation.

All things considered, the people who evaluate NBA Draft prospects see a possible star in the making. On the draft boards, McCain ranks from No. 7 (The Ringer) to No. 15 (CBS and ESPN). In the latest mock drafts, all three media project that McCain will go to the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 17, one turn ahead of the Magic.

Related stories on the Orlando Magic

  • MAGIC'S TOP 1ST-ROUND PICKS: Aaron Gordon, Nick Anderson, but who's No. 1 among the Orlando Magic's 10 greatest first-round picks in the NBA Draft? CLICK HERE
  • MAGIC'S BEST DRAFT: Twenty years ago this month, the Orlando Magic drafted a high school star named Dwight Howard with the No. 1 overall pick and then Jameer Nelson, the college player of the year, with the 20th pick. Five playoff seasons would follow. CLICK HERE
  • ORLANDO HOMECOMING FOR ANFERNEE SIMONS? In a series of NBA trade hypotheticals, Bleacher Report connects the dots and envisions a Portland-Orlando Magic swap that would bring Anfernee Simons home to Central Florida. CLICK HERE

Published |Modified
Isaiah Deanda