Cavinder twins set to make mark on Miami women's hoops (2024)

Haley and Hanna Cavinder began their Miami careers November 7 as the Hurricanes routed Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks, 83-51. Haley scored nine points and had four rebounds. Hanna had eight points, two rebounds, and two assists. This is their story.

The million-dollar enterprise of Miami Hurricanes women’s basketball players Haley Cavinder and Hanna Cavinder – universally now known as the Cavinder twins -was born just two years ago with two bored Fresno State athletes sitting at home in California like everybody else on Covid-19 quarantine simply looking for something to do.

Hanna says to Haley, “Let’s make a Tik-Tok video.”

Haley didn’t even know what Tik Tok was.

They started with goofy dancing stuff, and their list of followers began to grow like the wildfires out there on the scorched California landscape. People were naturally drawn to two pretty girls who were twins and played sports. Soon the girls added basketball to their video portfolio, dancing while they dribbled to pop songs. One dribbling routine to the song, Chicken Wing, exploded and has gotten 29 million views. It lasts about 15 seconds.

The combination of fun, beauty and sports meshed together perfectly and before Haley and Hanna knew it they had four million followers and were paving the path to an enormous amount of money that had never even crossed their minds.

By the time NIL became active on July 1, 2021, the Cavinder twins were lawyered up and ready to explode. First came a Boost Mobile deal which landed them on a billboard in Times Square. Then came more deals with companies like Champs, Eastbay, WWE, Six Star Pro Nutrition and the fantasy sports app Sleeper.

They co-founded a streetwear clothing company called Baseline Team with Fresno State alums David Vartanian and Mehdi Brahim. They signed deals with more than 30 brands including Crocs, Venmo and Go Puffs and they are now believed to be approaching $2 million in NIL endorsem*nts. That puts them among the top five of woman athletes. They are living examples that women can find equality in college sports even beyond the mandates of Title IX.

When they needed a bigger stage and a chance to make the NCAA Tournament, they took their talents to South Beach – transferring to Miami – and inked individual $100,000 deals with John Ruiz’ LifeWallet and Cigarette Racing.

And now they have arrived in Coral Gables.

Miami women sports may never be the same.

Monday they officially take to the court for the first time to prove they are more than just a gimmick in the season opener against Maryland Eastern Shore.

These girls really can hoop, are deadly knock down shooters. Haley was the 2020-21 Mountain West player of the year, and Hanna made two all-conference teams.

“The No. 1 thing that they bring is they never get outworked. I really want people to understand, they are determined workers,” Miami Head Coach Katie Meier said. “Basketball is a very serious thing in their lives. They don’t back down from any challenge and they are bold in the sense that they are trying to mix in with the team that is very talented.

“They are wonderful young women, but they’ll do what it takes. They are going to find a way to win. That has elevated our entire team. That’s my highest compliment for them, and I texted them that the other night. It’s just raised the level, it really has. They are tremendous. They are so serious about basketball It is something that drives them . They want to win on the big stage.”

They have arrived there, are in the ACC now, but that’s just the middle of the story of these two young girls who were born in the shadows of Notre Dame in Indiana, continued to Arizona and California, and now are pushing the envelope as student athletes at The U.

Yes, the bigger market, the Miami vibe, the larger stage of the ACC is turning into dollar signs and decimal points in rapid fashion.

But who ever thought they would see women’s athletes producing videos in their locker room bathroom stalls.

When nobody else is around, of course.

Except maybe a teammate who wants to make a cameo appearance.

You can also get daily glimpses into their lives and the lives of their teammates on their growing You Tube channel through their regular videos chronicling days in their lives, what they eat, how they train, what they do in the rare moments they have spare time.

They are their own Executive Producers. They post their own videos and manage their own feeds, only occasionally getting additional help from their marketing reps. The channel has grown to 79,000 subscribers and millions of views. Their Instagram accounts together total almost 1 million followers.

“It definitely has been a journey, for sure,” Hanna Cavinder said. “Starting out we didn’t really know much about NIL. We were just learning as we go. Creating a team around us with our agency and attorney has been very impactful. It’s been awesome.”

Watch them on Tik Tok and your jaw might drop. You have never seen stuff like this within the walls of a University and credit to Miami people for not being sticks in the mud, behind the times, and stifling the girls’ creativity.

You will be struck by their wardrobes. They are always decked out in the coolest of outfits with accessories maxed out. If you are a young girl, you will swipe up and up and up and emerge wanting to be a Cavinder twin yourself. Life just looks so damn good.

But long before they became social media phenoms by accident, they became quality basketball players by force.

“I think that we were basketball players before (we got big on) TikTok,” Haley said.

They began playing when they were in preschool. Their dad played college ball at Nova Southeastern University, so putting a basketball in their hands happened organically. Growing up, the girls would go on You Tube to look up dribbling drills and when you watch them in action it is pretty clear that their playmaking ability will be an asset to the Hurricanes women’s team this season in a tough ACC Conference.

Haley and Hanna always played up against older kids in youth leagues and eventually against boys for better competition.

In high school, both started as freshmen for Gilbert High School in Gilbert, Arizona. Over the four years at Gilbert, the duo posted a record of 96-24. Both players surpassed 2,000 career high school points. Haley was named the Player of the Year for Arizona 5A as a senior and Hanna was named the Offensive Player of the Year for Arizona 5A.

They were heavily recruited by colleges all across the country, but nobody worked harder at it than Fresno State. The effort paid off. Haley, the No. 27 ranked player in the country coming out of high school, was named the Mountain West Freshman of the Year in 2019-20 and the Mountain West Player of the Year in 2020-21 after leading the league in scoring at 19.8 points per game. Last year, she was named to the All-Conference team again, setting an NCAA record for free-throw percentage at 97.3 after making an amazing 109 of 112.

Hanna was also named All Mountain West in her freshman and sophom*ore seasons and last year ranked 10th in the conference with 14.6 points per game.

“We chose to leave Fresno, it was a really hard decision,” Haley said. “We wanted to be at a more competitive level, (be part of) March Madness. Last season Miami had a great season, we were watching it at home, so I wanted to be in it. Since we’ve been here, being able to be part of the team, they’re so welcoming. I love it so far.”

“The competitive side of basketball, we love it,” Hanna said. “We’re very competitive people. Sharing that together is special. Sharing the journey together from transferring to playing DI basketball, it’s something we’re very passionate about . We are bringing our work ethic, doing whatever we can to help the team win and add to the competitive chip on the shoulder.”

People say that timing is everything. The Cavinder twins could write a book on that subject.

They got to college at Fresno in 2019 just at the time legislation allowing college athletes in California to sign sponsorships and remain eligible was being passed in California. Two years into their college careers as the Covid 19 pandemic took hold, a landmark Supreme Court ruling in NCAA v. Alston challenged NCAA restrictions on athlete compensation and inspired the NCAA to establish a interim NIL policy allowing endorsem*nt deals beginning on July 1, 2021.

The Cavinders and their reps drew up big plans for Day 1. The girls would start inking deals after midnight and would do a media tour in New York in between marketing shoots, appearing on Good Morning America and ESPN. A storm grounded their connecting flight in Pennsylvania, so they jumped in an Uber and raced to New York by car in just enough time to see themselves gracing a billboard in Times Square that had been rented out by Icon Source to showcase its first group of NIL athletes.

All of this has been a lot to handle but there are no competitive jealousies with the twins. They are a true team in every way.

“I think that it’s inevitable that people compare us because we are sisters, do the same things, have the same passions,’ Haley said. “But me and Hanna are each other’s biggest supporters. It’s never against each other, it’s more for each other.”

“Obviously being a twin, people are going to point at that,” Hanna said. “But at the end of the day, holding each other accountable and being competitive is what got us here in the first place. That is always driving us.”

Cavinder twins set to make mark on Miami women's hoops (1)

The difference they have found between the West Coast game and East Coast ACC basketball is the toughness of the ladies engaged in the competition. California cool is long gone. Meier brings male coaches and students into the gym as practice competition to help get her girls ready. They spend regular time building strength in the weight room.

“The biggest adjustment is I’d say the physicality, you have to definitely be physical,” Hanna said. “For me, that’s definitely something I learned more, but I think I got more the hang of it now.

“The pace of practices, we always would go long there too. But every drill you’re going hard, competing. Once you get hit a little bit, you’re like `okay you’re not going to get a foul called here so you might as well challenge yourself, be more physical too.’”

Oh yeah, the other adjustment has been the culture shock of moving from Fresno to the vibrant International city of Miami.

“That’s definitely been a different adjustment for a second,” Hanna said. “Very homey, chill vibes at Fresno and Miami’s like `go go go’ 24-7. Oh, yeah, it’s awesome going out and seeing what Miami has to offer. I ‘ve been meeting a lot of cool people since I’ve been here. And I think it’s great to experience it with Haley.”

The likelihood of playing in the WNBA is uncertain. The twins are 5-6. That’s not real tall. They are not exceptionally fast. But as college basketball players, they are very good, worth going to see for yourself if you can.

“We’re just trying to do whatever we can to help the team,” Haley said. “I think that we’ve always been very driven and determined for basketball and were super excited to see what we can do here.

“That’s why we transferred. To win, to be part of something special. That’s why we’re here.”

And the education they are receiving along the way in business and marketing is priceless. When they graduate from Miami , they will each have seven-figure bank accounts to show for it as opposed to the opposite.

“I think it was just luck,” Haley said. “People like the idea of twins.

“But we weren’t like, `oh my gosh., let’s chase social media.’ I think it just happened. And yeah, we’re definitely taking advantage of it now.”

Cavinder twins set to make mark on Miami women's hoops (2024)


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