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The Rise of Overtime Elite: A New Pathway for Elite High School Basketball Players

A new professional league has emerged in recent years as an alternative option for elite high school basketball players looking to take the next step in their careers. Overtime Elite (OTE) is a developmental league created by the media company Overtime aimed at providing top young basketball talent a different route to the NBA outside of the traditional NCAA pathway.

Based out of a state-of-the-art 103,000 square foot complex in Atlanta, Overtime Elite launched in 2021 as a new developmental program focused on recruiting and preparing the most elite high school players for the pros. OTE provides top young prospects with pro-level coaching, training, and development opportunities to accelerate their path to the NBA Draft.

Instead of earning scholarships, OTE players sign contracts and earn minimum six-figure salaries while chasing their professional dreams. The league focuses on honing skills and utilizing data analytics to improve players' games, with the goal of preparing them for the NBA within 1-2 years. This accelerated training regime aims to ready players for the pros in a shorter timeframe compared to the typical one-and-done NCAA season.

For its inaugural 2021-2022 season, OTE recruited 24 of the top high school players in the nation. They landed five-star twins Amen and Ausar Thompson, who decommitted from their college offers, along with several other highly ranked recruits who chose Overtime Elite and salaries over offers from Division I NCAA programs.

The league expanded its impressive roster for the 2022-2023 season, signing even more five-star and top-100 ranked players. OTE attracted guard Naasir Cunningham, ranked 3rd overall in the 2024 high school class, who turned down offers from Duke, Kansas, UCLA and more elite colleges to join the league. Other recent signings include Tyler Smith, Bryson Tiller, and Jazian Gortman, all top high school players who opted for OTE as their next step.

OTE also managed to recruit Kentucky commit and 5-star guard Robert Dillingham, who transferred from Donda Academy to maintain his NCAA eligibility while developing his game against elite competition. Several other Overtime players have also committed to play NCAA basketball at top colleges after their year or two in the league.

The program is led by Commissioner Aaron Ryan, a former NBA and NCAA executive, and Kevin Ollie serves as head of coaching. Ollie won NCAA titles with UConn as both a player and coach, bringing invaluable experience mentoring young players. The league also hired former NCAA investigator Tim Nevis to ensure compliance and eligibility standards are met for players eyeing college after OTE.

While initially met with criticism as a threat, OTE has won over many in college basketball as a viable alternative developmental path. Established NCAA coaches like John Calipari have visited Overtime Elite to observe practices and workouts, often coming away impressed by the league’s potential to groom young talent.

In its first season, OTE players faced some growing pains adapting to the professional environment. But after an exploratory inaugural year, expectations are even higher for OTE squads heading into 2022-23.

Amen and Ausar Thompson displayed their elite potential last season, and were both top picks in the 2023 NBA Draft after just one year at OTE prepared them for the pros. Several players have also successfully used OTE as a stepping stone to commit to top college programs.

With expanded rosters and continued elite recruiting, Overtime Elite has established itself as an intriguing pathway for top high school prospects compared to the NCAA, G-League or other alternatives. By focusing on accelerating player development and preparation for the pros, OTE aims to provide the next generation of basketball stars a professional experience to maximize their potential.

If Overtime Elite continues successfully grooming NBA prospects, the league could become the go-to destination for elite high school talent seeking to get a head start on their professional basketball dreams.

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