Portland Trail Blazers star Carmelo Anthony is investing in a startup basketball league that will pay high school players to skip the traditional route of playing in college.
Overtime Elite is a new basketball league created by Overtime, a sports media company producing content focused on high school athletes. The league is “a transformative new sports league that offers the world’s most talented young basketball players a better pathway to becoming professional athletes, while engaging and inspiring a new community of digitally native fans.”
According to a report from The New York Times, the league will offer high school basketball players $100,000 salaries to skip college. Overtime will offer each athlete, as young as 16, a minimum of $100,000 annually, in addition to a signing bonus and a small number of shares in Overtime’s business. The company will also provide health and disability insurance and set aside $100,000 in college scholarship money for each player in case they decide to not pursue basketball professionally.
No players have been signed to the league yet.
The program competes with the NCAA’s rule on amateurism, which doesn’t allow college players to be compensated beyond a scholarship.
Dan Porter, chief executive of Overtime; Zach Weiner, Overtime’s president; and Anthony made it clear they’re not against the NCAA, high school coaches and others with this program.
“We are not against the NCAA,” Anthony said. “We are not against the NBA. We are not trying to hurt those guys or come at them. We want the support of the NBA and NCAA. Eventually we are going to need those guys anyway.”
Anthony’s high school career led him to Oak Hill High School in Virginia before he headed to the NCAA and played for Syracuse University, where he took the school to a national championship in 2003.
“Going to college and playing college basketball is what it is,” Anthony added. “It never will change. The concept of Overtime Elite is not to disrupt that, but to give these kids opportunities because they are taking control of their own brands and what they do, and social media becoming so powerful. Why not embrace that?”
Anthony is a member of Overtime’s board of directors. He joined the company as an investor in 2019, taking part in the $23 million funding through his venture capital firm Melo7 Tech Partners. Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets is another key investor.
Overtime Elite is another direct challenge to the traditional route through college for basketball players to make it to the NBA. The landscape for young athletes to the NBA is shifting, and Overtime Elite is one of the more serious options for them to consider.
— Aron Yohannes