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Eldorado High hoops star Bella Hines now has an agent and is embarking on a new chapter in her life

Feb. 23—Bella Hines of Eldorado is the most prominent girls basketball player in New Mexico and one of the most elite players in the country.

And now, in a probable first for any New Mexico prep athlete, she has an agent while still in high school.

The Eagles' standout junior guard has signed with a sports agency and is expected to land multiple marketing deals, with the first one expected to be announced within a couple of weeks.

Hines recently signed with Dallas-based Young Money APAA Sports, said Josh Hines, her father.

With Bella's profile among the highest of any basketball player in the U.S., Josh Hines said this has been in the works for many months, with Bella, a prominent player on the club circuit who has rapidly become well known outside New Mexico's borders.

She has 40 Division I offers, including one from defending women's national champion LSU. And Bella Hines has parlayed her basketball celebrity into something much bigger.

"It means a lot," said Hines, a 5-foot-9 combo guard for the Eagles, "just to know all my hard work has paid off and I'm being recognized. It also helps New Mexico in general."

YMAPAA represents athletes both professional (NBA, NFL, WNBA) and amateur (Division I and a few from high school). Their roster now includes Hines, who is arguably New Mexico's most recognizable athlete, regardless of gender.

This agency will negotiate NIL-brand marketing deals on Hines' behalf, according to her father. NIL is shorthand for athletes profiting off their own name, image and likeness.

Hines cannot be paid for any advertisements that feature her in Eldorado gear. That would include something like her Eagles uniform, for example, or anything that has the Eldorado name, logo or school colors. But once the family moved forward, they had to shop for an advocate.

"Then," Josh Hines said, "it was more of researching companies working with high school athletes and finding someone interested in working with Bella."

They found that partner in YMAPAA. Hines' agent, Daveed Cohen, is a 2006 St. Michael's graduate.

The YMAPAA has about 50 clients, Cohen said. Over the last couple of years, since the inception of NIL, the agency has added both high school and college athletes, the majority of them basketball or football players.

Bella Hines is the agency's first female high school client, Cohen said.

"She's one of the top female high school athletes in the country. Her name is nationally recognized," Cohen said.

The essence of the arrangement, Josh Hines said, is that Bella will be involved in "a lot of brand deals, is what she's gonna be able to do. Companies that have merchandise or apparel, those are the type of brand deals she'll get."

On that note, it is expected that YMAPAA and Hines will within weeks announce a major brand deal. Neither Cohen nor Josh Hines would reveal any specifics just yet, but Hines said there are "multiple companies that are interested in working with Bella."

Getting out front and being a trailblazer was part of the allure, Josh Hines said.

"That was the driving force behind it," he said. "(This is) leading us to something nobody has ever seen (in New Mexico). That was something we wanted Bella to accomplish."

Hines said she did not anticipate her marketing of products interfering with her basketball.

"Basketball is the reason I'm getting an opportunity like this," she said.

Josh Hines said there could no agreement with marketing any brand names until Bella had representation, adding that the family needed someone to negotiate on their behalf.

"(YMAPAA) sees a market for Bella," he said.

Cohen said Hines fit into a profile that appeals to YMAPAA.

"We try to be at the forefront of doing things different. And to be groundbreaking," Cohen said. "That's what we did here with Bella."

Josh Hines said his daughter's situation was thoroughly researched, adding that she is not, and will not be, in violation of New Mexico Activities Association bylaws.

"We made sure everything was done correctly," he said.

NMAA Executive Director Sally Marquez declined to comment for this story, referring questions to the organization's attorney, Elizabeth German, who also declined to comment.

Hines will be paid for her marketing time and efforts, and said "I can help out my family."

Hines said everything his daughter has accomplished on the court opened this particular door.

"Now we have an athlete who is established nationally, who has the star power to be able to go after some of those things. I think it's become easy because of what she's done athletically," Josh Hines said.

Hines is in the process of trying to help Eldorado get to the Pit next month for the second week of the Class 5A playoffs. She averages nearly 35 points a game, and has been particularly white-hot of late, averaging 46 points over her last three outings. The Eagles' next game is Friday night against rival La Cueva.

Asked what specifically impressed him about Hines, Cohen said: "She handles herself with a calm, collected manner, and that impressed me right away. ... We want to work with good kids and good families."

And now Hines is embarking on this new chapter outside of basketball, where she apparently checks off the proper intangible marketing boxes in the same way she checks off boxes on the floor.

"I'm just super excited to see where all this leads," she said.