Kevin Ollie was a nemesis of Syracuse when he played at UConn, battling against the Orange(men) from ’91-’95 in Big East classics. He stood on the sideline against Jim Boeheim as head coach of the Huskies and both teams were still in the Big East, upsetting #6 SU in Hartford that season. In ’14 he even led Connecticut to the national championship, a fourth title which distanced the Huskies’ March success even more from SU.
Now, Ollie could be back to becoming a thorn in the side of the Orange and others. He is heading up a team named Overtime Elite, and it’ll give high school players another alternative to college basketball. It’s for top prospects between 16-18 years old, and will match them up against top tier prep school and international teams. It will be for high school-aged players who want a year-round basketball environment. Who needs school!?
OTE will pay six-figure “financial packages” for players to share in revenue from name, image and likeness, jersey sales, trading cards and NFTs like Top Shot. Get your OTE Dior Johnson jerseys at Fanatics now! The rub is that being paid, the players will forfeit their college eligibility. So players in the OTE will spend their junior and senior high school years there, then jump directly to the G League or NBA.
Options are a plus for premier athletes these days. There’s programs, athletic departments, television and radio networks, and arenas that make money off them. Coaches sign multi-million dollar deals because of them. Those same coaches can jump at the better opportunity on a dime. Players should have choices. They have more than ever before.
A teenager could go directly to the G League and make money, then enter the NBA Draft. He could head across seas and try to make some money before entering the pros stateside (like LaMelo Ball). He could go to college, make some cash with NIL opportunities, net more experience while building some exposure. He can enter a transfer portal and jump programs immediately. He can also now enter the OTE and grab a paycheck at 16 years old. But the explosion of these avenues also pushes kids further from the education component as well. And the road to the NBA is littered with kids who won’t ever sniff MSG or Staples Center.
OTE will offer tutoring services. Obviously few elite college players have been earning degrees for decades anyway. They’d jump to the NBA well before the final semester as a senior. However, what will happen to all these players who have dreams on the NBA and don’t make it?
Syracuse is a prime example. You’ll earn $100 in Carrier Dome gift cards if you find a two-round NBA mock draft with either Quincy Guerrier or Alan Griffin on them. Both are prepared to leave school early. We’ve seen many players chase the NBA dollars quickly and them flame out. Tyler Ennis plays in Turkey. Tyler Lydon played two seasons in the NBA and is now out of basketball. Malachi Richardson is in the G League. All were first-round picks who left SU early.
These are the “success stories” who at least made first-round money. How about the second-round picks who are guaranteed nothing, then realize they’ve spent their entire adolescence avoiding school and chasing hoops. Syracuse and other programs will likely be recruiting sophomore or junior high school players who may just join OTE for a paycheck instead. College coaches may have to convince teenagers and their families to forgo the money now, and come play for free or minimal NIL deals. Players that play for OTE will be immediately ineligible for college, lessening the pool of recruits. Observers believe Roy Williams retirement was a harbinger of things to come for the old-school coaches. Will they want to navigate this new landscape? Another headache just appeared with OTE.