Overtime Elite basketball program offers opportunities for North Carolina players

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As the NBA Playoff games continue, the next crop of future superstars is preparing for their shot. Every shot, every dribble, and every dunk gets these players one step closer to the next level.

There is a professional league of high school athletes who can make thousands of dollars each year. Channel 9′s Glenn Counts delved into the elite program that’s changing the landscape of basketball.

Overtime Elite is a professional high school league based in Atlanta. At OTE high school players can turn professional and get paid a minimum salary of $100,000 a year or choose the scholarship route where they can keep their college eligibility. The facility is located in downtown Atlanta. In addition to basketball courts, it also has a school.

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Trey Paker grew up in Fayetteville and as a freshman led Cape Fear High School to its first playoff win in 15 years.

“I started dunking when I was 13, my first dunk was in 5th grade. It’s really different because the work here you got to put in is like constant,” Parker told Channel 9.

Parker said he chose the scholarship route and is headed to North Carolina State.

“So I didn’t want the money. The money is not my problem. I just want a good education,” Parker said.

Damien Wilkins, Overtime Elite’s General Manager, is a familiar name in NBA circles. While Wilkins has had a long career of his own, his father also played and his uncle was a superstar with the Atlanta Hawks.

“Our goal here isn’t to play against the average,” Wilkins explained. “So yeah we want talented kids here who are hardworking.”

OTE is not a fly-by-night operation, it has investors such as Jeff Bezos and Morgan Stanly. It is also valued at half a billion dollars, according to reports from Forbes Magazine. Experts say around 6% of NBA players have also invested, including superstar Kevin Durant.

“There’s some schools and coaches who won’t bring their players here. They’re afraid to see our facility. They’re afraid their best players will say, I want a piece of that,” Wilkins said.

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OTE is a six-team league. The teams compete against themselves, as well as other top-ranked high school programs.

Several players outside of Parker also attend OTE, including Rob Dillingham, Eli Ellis from Hickory and Amen and Ausar Thompson. The Tompson twins are projected to be lottery picks and some mock drafts have one of them wearing Hornets teal.

Overtime Elite said its structure and coaches with professional backgrounds guide the young players around the pitfalls of fame and money.

“Let’s see how our guys come out of here looking 5 or 10 years down the road and see,” Wilkins said.

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