Tyler Smith, the No. 8 basketball prospect in ESPN's Class of 2023, told the network Sunday that he signed with Overtime Elite.
Smith said that signing with Overtime Elite was different and new.
"I wanted to be a pro already, working on stuff that NBA players work on. In high school, you can't work out as much as they do at OTE," he told ESPN.
Smith is the league's seventh five-star recruit and he is considered one of the NBA's best long-term prospects in his class. Before signing with OTE, Smith attracted interest from schools such as Kansas, Baylor, Texas, Florida State, Oklahoma, Memphis, LSU and others.
Smith is the 16th player to sign with OTE. The startup league is two-thirds of the way to its goal of 24 players for the inaugural season.
But Smith's goal never was to play college basketball. He wanted to reach the NBA.
"This will get me there faster and make me more ready once I'm there," Smith said. "I've been talking to them for three months already. They've been telling me they have NBA facilities, trainers and nutritionists from NBA teams."
Unless he graduates high school a year early to enter the 2023 draft, Smith will not be eligible to the draft until 2024. Because of his age, he turns 17 in November, Smith could be eligible for the 2023 draft if he qualifies.
Smith is 6-foot-9 with a prototypical frame and explosiveness to play above the rim. He balances his athleticism with versatility on the perimeter.
Smith was identified as a top prospect in middle school after standing out at the John Lucas camp which earned him his first scholarship from the Houston Cougars when he was 14.
Overtime Elite set itself out to become a legitimate alternative pathway for high school and international prospects. Since its inception in March, the league has received significant financial backing, hired NCAA national championship-winning coach Kevin Ollie and several former NBA executives.
The league said it plans to continue recruiting more athletes before its teams gather in Atlanta in September to train and play against academies, prep schools in the United States and international teams abroad. OTE's 24 players will be split into three teams and also play competitive games against each other.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tyler Smith, top 2023 prospect, signing with Overtime Elite