BlackRock’s new program helps NBA draft picks secure their financial future, build generational wealth

The iShares Future Baller$ program is working with five players expected to go in the first round, including Purdue's Jaden Ivey.

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A global investment management firm has announced a program to help five projected NBA draft picks learn more about securing their financial future and building generational wealth.

BlackRock, the global asset manager and technology company, launched the iShares Future Baller$ program with five players projected to go in the first round of the NBA draft next Thursday, June 23 — Jalen Duren (Memphis), Jaden Ivey (Purdue), Jaden Hardy (NBA G League Ignite), E.J. Liddell (Ohio State) and Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona).

This March photo shows Jaden Ivey of the Purdue Boilermakers in the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

As the largest exchange-traded funds (EFTs) provider, iShares gives investors access to asset classes like stocks, bonds, and more.

“To be able to have players invest and empower them on how they want to invest is rewarding for them in so many different ways,” Lauren Simmons, a groundbreaking stock trader, told theGrio. “That’s the conversation that we want to continue to keep having around financial literacy [and] investing.”

Simmons was the youngest-ever female and just the second Black female stock trader in New York Stock Exchange history.

Lauren Simmons (Submitted photo)

“We are excited to launch the iShares Future Baller$ program, which reflects our purpose to help more and more people experience financial well-being,” Armando Senra, head of Americas ETF and Index Business at BlackRock, said in a press release. “Through this program, the players are demonstrating a commitment to playing the financial long game and taking steps to inspire all investors to take control of their financial futures.”

NBA first-round draft picks sign four-year contracts, with the first two fully guaranteed. The 2021-2022 season contracts were worth a maximum of anywhere from about $10.2 million for the last pick in the first round (No. 30) to about $45.6 million for the first overall pick.

That’s a lot of income for college athletes not used to having that kind of spending power. Getting the money is one thing. Keeping it is another. CNBC reported an estimated 60% of NBA players go broke within five years of leaving the league. 

The soft-spoken, reserved Ivey is as determined to secure his future as he is to burst toward the basket.

“I’m not going to play basketball forever,” Ivey told theGrio. “Every athlete knows you’ve got to invest your money in the right ways to set up your financial future. I think that’s the most important thing.”

The 6-foot-4 20-year-old star athlete played basketball for the Purdue Boilermakers for two years before he opted to go into the NBA draft. As a sophomore, he averaged 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. Most mock drafts have him going to the Sacramento Kings with the fourth pick, assuming the team doesn’t trade. Ivey said he believes he can play either guard position in the NBA due to his athleticism.

“I can create like a point guard, but if you want me to score like a two, I can do that, too,” he said. “So I can play both positions. Whatever team picks me, [I’ll do] what they need me to do.”

Simmons will serve as “coach” for the iShares Future Baller$ participants and conduct one financial coaching session with each player. iShares will give each player $100,000 as part of what it calls “sponsorship compensation” to invest any way they like.

This is the program’s first year, and Simmons said she looks forward to serving as a financial mentor for the players. Additionally, she wants this process to be the first step in building generational wealth, a goal that eludes many Black families. According to The Brookings Institute, in 2016, white families had a net worth of $171,000, nearly 10 times that of the $17,150 of Black families. 

Simmons hopes those associated with the program “use me as like a sounding board on what they’re thinking about when it comes to their long-term futures.”

Simmons also noted that she didn’t have money growing up, and when she did, she wished “I had a mentor that was relatable, that looked like me, that went through my everyday situations.”  

Simmons has yet to do one-on-one coaching sessions with the players but looks forward to the opportunity.

“I am really excited and grateful to just pull back the layers and see what their concerns are,” she said. “What is the mindset of a young 20-year-old that’s about to get a big contract, and what are they thinking? I can’t wait to sit down with Jaden and the rest of the players.”  

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