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Former Wichita State stars featured in new commercial

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It’s been a month since Ron Baker, Fred VanVleet and Evan Wessel finished their careers at Wichita State, but the trio of Shocker legends are already finding a way to profit off of their popularity.

This week, a commercial featuring those three promoting Carlos O’Kelly’s -- a chain of Mexican restaurants in the midwest -- popped up online. It’s about what you would expect from a commercial like this: It’s kind of corny and it’s pretty clear these guys aren’t actors (although this is as animated as I’ve ever seen Baker), but overall it’s harmless publicity for a restaurant chain that counts four of their 20 establishments in the city of Wichita:

Where does this tie-in to current college basketball players?

Earlier this month, Big East commissioner Val Ackerman made a comment about the NCAA considering the idea of allowing student-athletes to endorse products or companies without endangering their eligibility. The fear of those that are dumb enough to think amateurism is a good thing is that this will turn their favorite college players into primadonna, quasi-professional athletes before they’re “allowed” to be; that Nike or Gatorade or McDonalds will make them rich at a time when they should be learning how to be broke and focusing on getting that all-important education.

Or something like that.

To that point, there would be some athletes that major corporations would throw money at. I’m sure Nike would have invested pretty heavily in Ben Simmons -- who, as an amateur, was such a conscientious student -- prior to his freshman season.

But for the most part, the endorsement deals that these athletes would get would be something like the ad you see above. A local restaurant chain. A car dealership. Some injury lawyer whose commercials pop-up during daytime cable TV. Even with 20 different locations, four of which are in Wichita, Carlos O’Kelly’s isn’t making Baker, VanVleet or Wessel rich. Those guys probably got paid somewhere between a down payment on a car and a down payment on a house, enough to help their families travel to games and buy some nice new clothes but no where near enough to make them forget their dream of getting to the NBA or the NFL.

How is that such a bad thing?