The Overtime Elite basketball league, which is offering six-figure salaries to high school basketball players and plans to get going this fall, has begun to build its roster.
Matt and Ryan Bewley, twin power forwards from Florida who are both ranked among the top 20 high school juniors in the country, inked two-year deals with Overtime on Friday, marking a significant milestone for a league that plans to compete with the NCAA as a developmental pathway for top talent to reach the NBA.
Overtime confirmed the signings but did not release financial terms. ESPN reported that the deals are expected to reach seven figures for the two years. Brandon Williams, the league’s head of basketball operations, told USA TODAY Sports that the league would sign a minimum of 24 players with up to 30 slots available offering salaries, performance bonuses, an equity stake in the company and full rights for players to market their name, image and likeness.
Earlier this week, Overtime announced that it would be based in Atlanta and was in the process of constructing a 103,000 square foot facility to house the operation. It has hired Kevin Ollie, who won the 2014 NCAA title as UConn’s head coach, as the program’s head of player development.
The concept is similar to a European soccer academy, which signs teenagers to professional contracts while putting them in an all-encompassing program that focuses on training and athletic development while also attending school and providing them with food and medical care and exposing them to what life as a professional athlete is like.
“We’re not focused on the competition, we’re focused on a holistic offering and we think we’r e the only one really in the space that is doing that,” Overtime Elite commissioner and president Aaron Ryan told USA TODAY Sports.
Overtime Elite represents a growing menu of options for basketball players who want to bypass the NCAA and get paid before entering the NBA. Last year, the G League Ignite program began targeting prospects who might have otherwise been headed to college with salaries up to $500,000. Two of them, Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga, are expected to be among the top 10 players picked in the upcoming NBA Draft.
While there’s some skepticism across college basketball that the Overtime Elite model will be able to gain a foothold with a significant number of high school players, convincing the Bewley twins to abandon their college eligibility is a notable development as the new league begins its recruitment effort.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Overtime Elite signs high school juniors Matt and Ryan Bewley