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Alexis Ewing, with a big game and notable name, capitalizes on NIL

Alexis Ewing, shown during club volleyball practice in Herndon, is set to capitalize on her notoriety. (Craig Hudson for The Washington Post)
7 min

When Alexis Ewing takes the court with her club volleyball team, her dark blue and teal jersey features her last name, which carries a bit of extra weight, in big white letters.

The daughter of Hall of Fame basketball player Patrick Ewing and former professional volleyball player Cheryl Weaver, Alexis faces constant pressure from outsiders who see her name and expect greatness. A sophomore at Bullis and one of the top-ranked players in her class, Ewing doesn’t hide from her parents’ shadows. The 15-year-old welcomes the attention and is poised to be one of the first high school athletes in Maryland to sign a name, image and likeness deal.

That became a possibility in December, when the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association changed course by issuing guidance saying students can profit off their NIL and retain their athletic eligibility.

Ewing then moved to sign a deal with College Hunks Hauling Junk & Moving.

“I wasn’t really thinking about the money,” Alexis said. “I just thought it would be cool to be an inspiration to other volleyball players. Like: ‘Wow, if Lexi can do it, I can do it, too. I just need to work hard enough.’ ”

Ewing is in a unique position — not only because of her volleyball talents but because of the fame of her father.

During his four-year playing career at Georgetown, Patrick Ewing led the Hoyas to the NCAA tournament final three times (winning in 1984) before becoming an 11-time NBA all-star at center for the New York Knicks. His No. 33 hangs in the rafters of Madison Square Garden.

“The fact that she’s my daughter, she’s her mom’s daughter, I don’t think that should add pressure to her. I just think she has great genes,” said Patrick Ewing, now the Georgetown men’s basketball coach.

Patrick Ewing said he never pressured any of his five children to play basketball.

Alexis tried different sports growing up and started with tennis before deciding she wanted a sport with more of a team dynamic. Her mother thought she would be good at basketball, considering her DNA, but dribbling a ball felt more like a chore than a pleasure.

Alexis picked up a volleyball for the first time at 12 years old, and it was “love at first sight,” she said. Three years later, she stands 6-foot-3 and dominates as an outside hitter both for her high school team and her club, VA Juniors. ranks her just inside the top 100 for the Class 0f 2025, and she has been invited to Team USA’s national training development program twice.

“I’m very happy she’s fallen in love with something,” Patrick Ewing said. “She’s just hit the tip of the iceberg in terms of her potential, and I’m just looking forward to seeing the finished product.”

Ewing attends as many games as he can, squeezing his 7-foot frame into bleachers at high school gymnasiums.

Weaver doesn’t sit in the stands. She’s the coach at Bullis and can be found pacing the sideline during the season. She started the program in 2016, and the Bulldogs moved into the Independent School League’s more competitive AA division this past fall, when they went 11-3.

Things came “full circle” for Weaver last year when Alexis joined the team; it reminded her of her own high school experience, when her mother, Sheila, coached her for four years at Sidwell Friends. Weaver was a 6-2 middle blocker who became the All-Met Player of the Year in 1998 before playing at Long Beach State and then professionally in Azerbaijan with 2-year-old Alexis by her side.

“I never want to feel like it’s a relationship because of volleyball; I always want her to look at me as her mother first and then her coach,” Weaver said.

Despite their high-profile athletic accomplishments, Alexis Ewing’s parents never had the opportunity to profit from endorsements while they were students. Now, Alexis is trying to navigate a shifting landscape.

She was already exploring an NIL deal before the MPSSAA approved its measure.

The first person Weaver thought of when looking for opportunities was her old Sidwell Friends classmate Nick Friedman, co-founder of College Hunks Hauling Junk. The moving company became somewhat of a pioneer in the NIL space when it signed then-University of Miami quarterback D’Eriq King minutes after the Supreme Court overturned long-standing NCAA regulations in 2021. It also signed an endorsement with the entire Howard University men’s basketball team, the first full-time endorsement of a squad at an HBCU.

​​“When I reached out to Nick, I knew there weren’t very many women getting these kind of deals. I knew for sure there was no female volleyball athletes getting it in high school, period,” Weaver said. “I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for Alexis to get some exposure, be kind of the trailblazer, the first female athlete to get a deal like this.”

Patrick Ewing’s longtime agent, David Falk, reviewed the deal in the fall. He noticed the MPSSAA rules (which govern Bullis even though it’s a private school) barred her from signing an NIL deal, so she would risk losing her eligibility.

“I was really let down, wondering why these other states allow it but not Maryland,” Alexis said. “I was a little confused. It didn’t really feel fair that other places could get it but I couldn’t.”

On Dec. 7, the MPSSAA became the 24th state organization to pass a measure that allows athletes to financially gain from commercial endorsements, promotional activities, social media presence, product or service advertisements and NFTs.

“It’s not easy to step out of the legacy of your parents and create your own path,” Friedman said. “This deal wasn’t going to make Alexis rich or change her life financially, but we all viewed it as a steppingstone to build her résumé, get her name out there as something that could lead to bigger and better opportunities, start thinking in a business mind-set as she moves through high school and starts thinking of entrepreneurial ways of curating her image as she moves into college and beyond and the next level.”

The moving company plans to spotlight Ewing with a promotional video of her spiking a volleyball into one of the company’s orange trucks, Friedman said. It also will look for opportunities for Ewing to make appearances at local events.

Ewing hopes her presence in ads can serve as an inspiration to girls who have hopes of playing volleyball at a high level. She wants to make other girls feel the way she does when she watches her idol, Asjia O’Neal, a middle blocker at the University of Texas who also happens to be the daughter of former NBA all-star Jermaine O’Neal.

The people she aspires to impress the most, however, are her parents. She hopes to live up to the Ewing name by leaving her mark on volleyball.

“Sometimes there is pressure to live up to my parents and all they have accomplished,” Ewing said. “That’s the biggest struggle — to make them proud.”

Rick Maese contributed to this report.