UConn star Paige Bueckers' new NIL deal takes aim at food insecurity for students

MINNEAPOLIS -- UConn women's basketball sophomore Paige Bueckers has a new name, image and likeness deal that takes aim at addressing food insecurity for students.

Bueckers, the 2021 national player of the year, will be the first student-athlete brand ambassador for the education platform Chegg. Bueckers and Chegg.org, the nonprofit branch of Chegg, have partnered with hunger relief company Goodr to host a pop-up grocery market on Saturday in Minneapolis, near Bueckers' hometown, that'll give out 6,000 free meals.

Bueckers and the Huskies are here for the Final Four, where they will take on Stanford on Friday (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) in the national semifinals.

After exploding onto the national scene last year, Bueckers missed 19 games this season with a knee injury before returning in late February to help the Huskies advance to a 14th consecutive Final Four.

"It means a lot," Bueckers, an Edina, Minnesota, native, told ESPN in an email about being able to do this in her hometown. "To be in a position to give back to a community that gave me so much, especially not knowing for so long if I could be here on the court with my team, it's really fulfilling. But it's also only just the start."

The sophomore guard hopes to open permanent free Goodr grocery stores on school and college campuses. According to Chegg, 32% of college students in the U.S. have suffered food insecurity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I am really lucky to have grown up with food on the table," Bueckers said. "Today I want to make sure I am sharing the opportunities I get and the resources I have with others who might need a hand. I have a lot of privilege and it's my responsibility to share."

As one of the top beneficiaries from new NIL legislation and policies enacted over the summer, Bueckers previously announced deals with StockX, Gatorade and Cash App, while also filing a trademark application for the phrase "Paige Buckets" to use on athletic apparel.

According to Opendorse data featured in Axios, Bueckers -- who is nearing 1 million followers on Instagram -- had the highest estimated social media post value ($62,900) across both men's and women's Sweet 16 athletes, while a different estimate from Opendorse cited in the Wall Street Journal estimated Bueckers could make $1 million per year off NIL opportunities.

Bueckers had previously said she would "strictly focus on basketball" and not sign any NIL deals during the tournament. Lindsay Colas, Bueckers' agent at Wasserman, recently told Business Insider that "anything you see now was pre-banked."

The star has looked to incorporate social justice and equity components to her deals and recently launched the Paige Bueckers Foundation.

"My goal has always been to use my platform to lift and shine my light on others," Bueckers said. "For me, the opportunity to build a business while playing in college has always been about the change I can make and this partnership is a great example of that."