Story by Blake Sandlin
When members of Murray State’s men’s basketball team aren’t turning heads on the basketball court, they’re turning heads with their off-court style.
Whether they’re on campus, at practice or checking out a football game, it’s easy to recognize a Murray State basketball player through one defining trait: their taste in sneakers. It could be junior forward Mike Davis donning a pair of colorful Air Jordan 1’s or maybe sophomore guard Ja Morant showcasing a coveted pair of Air Jordan 4’s – whatever the case, one thing is certain: the Racers are packing heat.
However, Murray State’s basketball team wouldn’t be parading this level of off-court swagger without the services of one 18-year-old Mississippian. Cordarious Dorsey has changed the way the Racers purchase their sneakers, and it all started with a bond with one Murray State guard.
Dorsey is a freshman at Mississippi State University, and the childhood friend of a current Racer, senior guard Shaq Buchanan. Buchanan attended Madison Central High School in Madison, Mississippi, about 50 miles away from Dorsey in Lexington. Moreover, Dorsey even saw freshman guard DaQuan Smith, from Holly Springs, Mississippi, play in high school.
What started as a friendship between Buchanan and Dorsey would signal the genesis of a unique business opportunity between Dorsey and the Murray State basketball team.
Dorsey has family who work at North America Logistics Campus-Memphis, Nike’s largest distribution center worldwide. He said employees at the facility receive massive discounts on Nike and Jordan footwear, sometimes more than half off retail price.
From that luxury Dorsey hatched an idea: to resell Nike’s exclusive shoes to avid “sneakerheads” for a fraction of the cost.
According to SportsOneSource, the international sneaker market is a more than $55 billion industry. Thanks to the success of the shoe industry, its secondary marketplace, or resale market, has ballooned in recent years. Shoe companies like Nike intentionally limit the volume of sneakers in releases in order to fuel the craze surrounding the industry.
That gives resellers the opportunity to capitalize, buying the exclusive shoes and inflating the prices. It’s worked, too, as the Financial Times estimated the sneaker resale market has reached over $1 billion in sales.
“Other resellers, they charge so much,” Dorsey said. “I don’t believe in over-charging anybody, so I keep it reasonable.”
For most shoes, Dorsey charges around $60 more than the shoe retails for, but he allowed Buchanan to purchase limited-release sneakers at retail price. Dorsey’s generosity soon led to the acquisition of new high-profile clients as Buchanan introduced the men’s basketball team to him.
“He can get, like, any shoe,” Buchanan said. “[His uncle] gets the shoes, then we just pay him for it and he sends them to us.”
Wanting to show his support for Division I athletes, Dorsey extended the same gesture of retail pricing to the entire team.
“I show love to them, so I just charge them regular retail,” Dorsey said. “I just do that out of the goodness [of my heart] because I know how it is for a student-athlete.”
Among his clientele is sophomore guard Ja Morant who describes himself as a lifelong sneakerhead. Although he currently only owns about 13 pairs of shoes, Morant has had around 25 pairs of shoes in his collection.
“I’ve always been a sneakerhead,” Morant said. “There was times when I felt like I had too much and I wasn’t wearing them, so I would just give them to my friends or somebody else.”
Morant said Buchanan told the team Dorsey had access to any exclusive release for a fraction of the cost that other resellers would charge.
“Shaq basically told us that he could get us any shoe,” Morant said. “It’s basically like buying shoes online, but just going through one person. I’m a different type of person; I don’t want shoes everybody got, so I try to get some classics that don’t come out no more.”
Some of Morant’s collection includes shoes like the Jordan 12 “Michigan,” Jordan 11 “Cool Grey,” Jordan 6 “Gatorade” and even a pair of Jordan 5’s customized with a Murray State design. His most coveted shoe, though, is his pair of Jordan 4 “Cactus Jack,” which have sold for as much as $2,200 on the secondary market, according to Stock X.
Buchanan’s collection is made up of about 20 pairs. His most recent pickup from Dorsey was the Jordan 1 High “Off-White University Blue,” a shoe that retails for $190 but sold for a whopping $3,680 in one sale, according to Stock X.
So far, Dorsey’s services have been utilized by freshman forward KJ Williams, Morant, Buchanan, Smith and Davis. Since he’s been helping the basketball team, Dorsey has even noticed a spike in customers.
“A lot of people have been following me; a lot of people have been buying,” Dorsey said. “It’s just been crazy.”
It’s been so crazy that Dorsey has been able to use the venture as his primary income as a student at Mississippi State, as he pockets anywhere from $500 to $1,000 a month in profits.
However, Dorsey does have bigger goals. Pursuing a degree in business, Dorsey hopes he can parlay his sneaker expertise into a professional career.
“It’s a side hustle right now, but I think once I really get into it I can open a store up and do stuff like that,” Dorsey said. “I’m majoring in business, so like, I’d like to have my own store and then have, like, celebrities and basketball players come through and shop.”
No matter where Dorsey’s life takes him, the 18-year-old sneaker savant will always count himself lucky for the opportunity to play just a small role in the lives of the reigning OVC champions.
“When I first started I didn’t think it was going to be very big, but man, it’s crazy,” Dorsey said. “To watch them play, and they went to ‘The Big Dance,’ and for them to be buying shoes from me, that’s crazy.”
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