The idea of amateurism in basketball has seen a shift in thought this past decade as the lucrative business of grassroots basketball has grown. As the popularity of student athletes increased , the pressure on the NCAA to allow players to profit off of their name grew as well. Lavar Ball created the JBL league, which was the first significant American league to pay high school athletes. This created a ripple effect of other opportunities for high school players to make money such as the creation of the G-League Ignite team and also the NCAA allowing student athletes to make money off their likeness. None however might be as game-changing as the Overtime Elite team
The new professional league is sponsored by OVERTIME, one of the biggest players in the sports media landscape. The league features three teams, Team Overtime, Team Ote, and Team Elite. These teams play prep schools and each other to determine the standings and winner for each season, however the league can be seen more as a training program getting ready for the professional level. With the backing of big names such as Drake and Kevin Durant, it was easy for these teams to gather top high school talent to play in its circuit. It is only fitting however that 3 of the biggest names that change this culture changing movement are from an area known to lead culture changes, the Bay Area. Brothers Ausar and Amen Thompson, alongside 16 year old Jalen Lewis are three of the best young players that OTE features, who also happen to all be from Oakland
Jalen Lewis is a name that made a lot of noise nationally as the formerly ranked #2 player in the country signed a $1 million dollar contract. That contract made him the youngest player ever to sign a seven figure deal. Before signing, Jalen spent his high school years at one of the best basketball programs in NorCal, Bishop O'dowd. The 6’9 skilled forward flashed special potential that caught the attention of some of the biggest NCAA division 1 schools. Jalen was flooded with offers and also an invite to represent Team USA. During the U16 Championships he averaged 12.3 ppg and 7.2 rpg to help secure a gold medal for his country. There was never a doubt that Jalen would become a pro in the future, however the only thing holding him back from reaching his dream was time. So when the opportunity with OTE appeared, it was a no-brainer because his dream became a step closer, while his future also became secured.
5-star twins, Ausar and Amen are also two big names that made a lot of noise in the recent year. Originally from Oakland, the pair moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to pursue their basketball dreams and focus on improving their game. Unlike their counterparts, the two were not as heavily recruited in their early years, not for lack of talent but a lack of media exposure. That all changed in the summer of 2020 as during the pandemic, one of the only states allowing competitive sports at the time was Florida. This gave way to national media being able to see the two very skilled players dominate their competition. With titles such as “The Best Twins in Basketball”, their highlights spread like wildfire which quickly turned into 5 Star rankings and Division one offers. The two have made it clear in their playing career that they are not interested in going the conventional route, but doing what's best for their basketball career. Their track record of believing in their game and not fame make this decision to join OTE a no-brainer as well.
For as many people who support this movement, there are a lot of skeptics with it as well. The forfeiting of high school and college eligibility is a big sacrifice that you need to take when embarking in this route. This is a path that is not suited for most players, however these young men aren’t any regular players. These three are special talents that are representing the Bay Area amazingly and revolutionizing the game of basketball in the process.
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