In today’s world of sports, everyone is determined to get paid. The latest example came Friday with the news that Jalen Lewis, a high school junior, is signing a contract with the Overtime Elite basketball league, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.
At 16 years old, that will make Lewis the youngest U.S. prospect ever to turn pro.
Lewis is a 6-foot-8 center/forward from Bishop O’Dowd High in Oakland. He isn’t considered the top prospect in his class, but he is undoubtedly in the top 10. And that’s good enough to receive a multiyear deal that will pay him more than $1 million, per Charania.
So, what exactly is the Overtime Elite league?
Well, it was formed in March and is set up by sports media company Overtime for players such as Lewis — heavily recruited high schoolers who don’t want to wait to collect cash.
As Cassandra Negley of Yahoo Sports wrote, Overtime Elite “promises high school athletes at least $100,000 annually to play in the league and wants to bring in about 30 of the country’s best talents.”
The basketball players will also receive health and disability insurance and will have up to $100,000 of their college tuition covered.
Of course, anyone who plays in the Overtime Elite league forfeits their right to play high school or college basketball. But for talents such as Lewis, this could be a new path to the NBA, should this new venture survive. Clearly, it’s a high-risk, high-reward type of deal.
Lewis had received offers from at least a dozen college programs, including biggies such as Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and Michigan.