Former SA Wagner standout, Texas Tech star Kevin McCullar Jr. using new NIL laws to build brand, give back to community

College student athletes now allowed to endorse products, make deals with companies using name, image, likeness

Texas Tech's Kevin McCullar (15) controls the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor in Lubbock, Texas, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Justin Rex)
Texas Tech's Kevin McCullar (15) controls the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor in Lubbock, Texas, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Justin Rex) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

SAN ANTONIO – Former San Antonio Wagner basketball standout and Texas Tech guard Kevin McCullar Jr. has quickly made a name for himself on the court for the Red Raider basketball team, and now for the first time, he’s using his name to open up endorsement opportunities and give back to the community.

McCullar is one of thousands of college student athletes from across the country who can now endorse products or profit from using their name, image and likeness (NIL). The NCAA approved the new interim policy and NIL laws went into effect in July in a number of states, including Texas.

It’s a day many college athletes did not think would ever come and McCullar and his family have taken the new laws in stride.

“I never thought I would be able make my own brand or deal with companies,” said McCullar. “I’m very excited that I’m still in school and this is going on to be a part of the change.”

It’s already been a busy few weeks for McCullar. He started with the launch of his new logo and website, which features a line of apparel.

“Me and my family are making the designs. Each T-shirt and hoodie has a background story. Pwrfwd.com helped me showcase who I am as a person with my clothing brand,” said McCullar.

Prior to the passing of NIL laws, McCullar was already getting attention on social media for his digital online series called “Kev’s Corner,” where he would sit down with teammates to introduce them to Red Raider fans and have fun conversations about life and hobbies.

“We’ve been getting a lot of support and it’s good to be able to get my teammates some recognition, get to know who they are outside of basketball,” said McCullar. “I definitely can see myself in the future maybe doing some sports broadcasting. It’s fun just to talk to those guys and show our personalities off the court.”

The series got the attention of Raising Cane’s. The popular chicken restaurant chain announced it was teaming up with McCullar to film two new episodes of “Kev’s Corner” to be named “Kev’s Caniac with Cane’s.”

The upcoming episodes are not affiliated with Texas Tech, but will have a similar format and be recorded at different locations. The episodes will then be posted on McCullar’s and Raising Cane’s social media accounts.

“They contacted me once NIL rules passed, and I love Raising Canes’s ever since I was a kid. They also want to help me give back to charities, and that’s what I’m looking for,” said McCullar. “It’s not all about me making profit, I’m trying to do things with companies and brands that are going to let me give back. It’s the perfect fit.”

As part of the deal with the restaurant, McCullar will also take part in a one-hour basketball signing event at a Raising Cane’s restaurant and coordinate a check-signing event, and deliver funds to a supported charity following a “giveback day” at all four Lubbock Raising Cane’s restaurants.

“The proceeds for that day at all four locations, I’m going to give it to a charity of my choice,” said McCullar. “It’s going to be a big day.”

McCullar said in the future he wants to continue to not only try and build his own brand, but also be a leader in the community. One of his shirts reads perseverance, passion and power. “That’s just pretty much what defines me,” said McCullar.

“I know everybody’s going through something,” said McCullar. “The brands I’m trying to sign with are companies where I can give back to people for all they’ve done for me and all the support they give me.”

The junior guard is entering his third season in Lubbock after redshirting his freshman year. He was an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention last season after averaging 10.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game last season.

He was also named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team in 2020 and 2021. His decision to stay at Texas Tech after Chris Beard’s departure was an offseason victory for the Red Raiders program.

“Lubbock and Texas Tech University is home for me and I have everything here that I need to reach the next level and reach my goals. Once coach (Mark) Adams ended up getting the job, I was all in and I was committed. There’s not going to be any drop off,” said McCullar.

As he improves his game on the court, he also calls these recent endorsement opportunities off-the-court a learning experience.

“You kind of learn the business aspect of the world, it’s like being like a miniature pro athlete in a way. You have to manage different things, talk to different people and have people in your life to help guide you,” said McCullar. “I’m learning a lot about the business and hopefully this translates when I’m playing pro ball somewhere.”


About the Author:

RJ Marquez has been at KSAT since 2010. He's covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area, and is the lead reporter for KSAT Explains. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms. You can see RJ regularly on KSAT Explains and Good Morning San Antonio. He also writes a weekly Spurs newsletter.