Startup sports league Overtime Elite (OTE) has made good on its promise to have a state-of-the-art facility ready in Atlanta, Georgia, for prep basketball stars looking for a better pathway to becoming pros.
The Atlantic Station Facility is 103,000 square feet and houses three NBA regulation-sized courts, including a neon-bedecked “show court arena” that can seat up to 1,300 spectators. It also boasts a 7,000-square-foot fitness center, a hydrotherapy room, classroom spaces, a dining hall, and locker rooms.
Once Atlanta was selected as the city the facility was delivered from design to execution in six months, and it was built with recycled and reused components.
OTE currently has three teams and 27 players aged 16-18 signed to professional contracts. Each player will earn a minimum $100,000 annual salary, plus performance bonuses and company stock, while completing his high school diploma — or beginning college course work — at a top-notch academy housed in a first-class basketball facility.
With more than $100 million in funding raised from a group of investors that includes Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, superstar Drake, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and more than 25 NBA players (Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Trae Young, and Klay Thompson, among others), OTE is looking to disrupt the prep-to-pro hoops pipeline.
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Among the next moves for OTE is hiring a staff of 100 additional employees, ranging from food service employees to basketball staff and educators. The new basketball staff will join former UConn head coach Kevin Ollie, who serves as head coach and director of player development. Brandon Williams, a former NBA executive, is now OTE’s head of basketball operations.
A shift in the prep-to-pro pipeline has been rumbling for more than a few years now. The traditional path of four years of traditional high school followed by one to four years of college and zero dollars of compensation, has been upended. The G League and NBL are viable options to fill the gap for high school graduates who want to skip college and get paid to play for a year before they’re eligible for the NBA draft.
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OTE is now pushing the boundaries even further. Allowing prep players to sign pro contracts, earn money and begin preparing to become a pro while in high school could change the game. The top end talents wouldn’t have to wait for college and the new NIL endorsement opportunities. This could impact the talent level in NCAA basketball.
“This is really an accelerator to being a pro,” Ollie says. “These guys are in high school doing pro things, on and off the court, thinking about pro things. If you really care about kids, you’ll give them options. This is another option. There’s always just been one road: Do it this way or you can’t do it at all. Well, this is something else. Did we get it right or wrong? Who knows? We’re painting on a blank canvas, which comes with great freedom, but we also feel a great sense of responsibility too. Everyone here just wants to do right by these kids.”