Former UConn men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie has been named head coach and director of player development for Overtime Elite, a fledgling professional basketball league that will launch in September and will offer high school basketball players $100,000 salaries to skip college.
The location, schedule and rosters for the league have not been announced.
“In basketball circles, there has been a lot of talk over the years about revamping a broken system,” Ollie wrote in an Op Ed in The Athletic. “Today, high school prospects bounce from school to school. Parents pay big money so their kids are able to travel and participate in high-level competition. Education is often not a priority. Prospects enter the pros without the necessary professional skills-training needed for successful careers at the next level. And they lack the business literacy to know how to maintain and deal with the things that come with money.”
Ollie, 48, went 97-79 in six seasons at UConn from 2012-18, winning the 2014 NCAA title. He is one of four African-American head coaches to win an NCAA title. Ollie also mentored LeBron James, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Kemba Walker during his NBA playing career.
He was fired with just cause on March 10, 2018 after an investigation by the NCAA led to a three-year show cause order for violations that took place over a four-year period ending in 2017. Ollie was charged with “failure to monitor” his program and not promoting an atmosphere of compliance. UConn also lost one scholarship for the 2019-2020 class, was put on two years’ probation, was fined $5,000 and recived various minor recruiting restrictions. The team also had to vacate victories in which an ineligible player participated during the 2016-17 and 2017–18 seasons.
“There is no better fit as coach for what we’re trying to accomplish than Kevin Ollie,” said Overtime Elite Commissioner and President Aaron Ryan. “Kevin’s resume speaks for itself, highlighted by a 13-year NBA playing career and winning NCAA championships as both a head and assistant coach. But the respect and admiration he has earned from teammates, players he’s coached, and his coaching peers speak to the impact he will have on the next generation of athletes in preparing them for the pros.”
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Overtime Elite will also be competing with the NBA G-League, which has been a popular route for elite high school basketball talent in recent years, including projected 2021 top-five picks Jonathan Kuminga and Jalen Green.
Player salaries are guaranteed $100,000 (as a floor) per year for the top 30 players. Players will also be able to garner revenue from use of their name, image and likeness, including through sales of custom jerseys, trading cards, video games and NFTs.
Since 2006, high school players have not been able to go directly to the NBA out of high school, instead being required to turn 19 or be at least one NBA season removed from their high school graduation year.
Since high school athletes are currently in their high school seasons, Overtime has not begun to recruit them yet. League investors include former NBA stars Carmelo Anthony and Baron Davis, current NBA stars Kevin Durant and Baron Davis, and venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
“I’m ready to get back to what I was born to do: empowering and encouraging and supporting young people, and helping them grow,” Ollie said in a statement. “There’s no better place for me to do that than OTE, an extraordinary league for extraordinary young men. I consider it my mission to help these elite athletes realize their dreams.”