Under Armour Signs Kemba Walker
CNBC Sports Business Reporter
Still looking for its can't miss star a year less than a year after debuting its first basketball shoe, Under Armour agreed to terms with Kemba Walker, sources told CNBC.
Walker, who was named the NCAA Tournament's Most Outstanding Player after leading the University of Connecticut to its first title in seven years, is the first player in this year's draft class to sign with a shoe company.
If Walker turns out to be the real deal, it might get a little bit awkward. He was selected ninth in the draft last month by the Charlotte Bobcats, which is of course owned by Michael Jordan, the greatest shoe endorser of all time.
The basketball shoe market might be the toughest challenge for Under Armour, which hit $1 billion in sales for the first time in 2010. Nike and the Jordan Brand, which is owned by Nike, make up 91.5 percent of all basketball shoes, according to SportsOneSource, a sports market retail tracking firm.
At 0.19 percent of the total basketball shoe market share, in dollars, Under Armour has less of a share than Fila (0.34), Converse (0.78), And 1 (0.98), Reebok (2.45) and Adidas (3.47), according to SportsOneSource.
"What is working right now is player endorsed shoes," said SportsOneSource analyst Matt Powell. "UA does not have a strong stable of players."
Walker was signed to a multi-year deal, but terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Picking up players in the draft like Walker could be a step in the right direction for Under Armour.
Things are looking up for the shoe and apparel brand. On Tuesday, shares of the company hit an all-time high, closing at $81.24 a share, up 2.5% on the day. The stock is up 46 percent over the last six months.
Other athletes signed to promote Under Armour include Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Jennings, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, former Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin and Mets shortstop Jose Reyes.
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