While a majority of NBA players make quite a good living through their contracts, college and high school basketball stars playing for free has been a hot button issue for years. Multimedia sports brand Overtime is trying to change that.
They will be starting a professional basketball league that will offer high school basketball players an alternative to college in preparation for the NBA. Overtime Elite will begin in September 2021 and will feature 30 of the nation's top prospects from ages 16-18. The athletes will be given a guaranteed minimum salary of $100,000 in addition to bonuses and equity in the league.
The league's athletes will also have access to healthcare and disability benefits. If an Overtime Elite athlete chooses not to pursue an NBA career, the league will pay them up to $100,000 to go towards college tuition.
Players that participate in Overtime Elite will forfeit their eligibility to play high school or college basketball if they join the league. The site for Overtime Elite games has yet to be determined, but the league has some big names backing it.
Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony is a member of Overtime Elite's board of directors along with former Chicago Bulls guard Jay Williams, Dan Porter, Aaron Ryan and Zach Weiner. Anthony believes that the league can be a huge benefit to young players.
"Many athletes aren't properly prepared for what it really means to go pro," Anthony said in a statement. "Having this type of guidance for high school players is critical in setting them up for a successful career."
In addition, Weiner, who is the president of co-founder of Overtime Elite, believes that players have "long deserved" to be paid for their efforts.
"OTE offers the next generation of basketball talent what they have long deserved: a path that respects their value and honors their potential, as players and as people," Weiner said. "Paying basketball players isn't radical. What's radical is telling people who put in thousands of hours of work that they have to do it for free."
In recent years, some of the top high school players have elected to play in the G League and overseas as they prepared for an NBA career -- rather than attend college. Jalen Green, who is expected to be a lottery pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, signed with the G League for $500,000. Current Hornets star LaMelo Ball played with Prienai in the Lithuanian Basketball League and the Illawarra Hawks in Australia's National Basketball League before being selected with the No. 3 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets.