With more and more high school athletes opting to forgo college in favor of securing the bag, five-star recruit Jalen Lewis just became the youngest prospect in the history of ever to turn pro in the U.S., per ESPN and The Athletic.
The 6-foot-8, 215-pound phenom from Bishop O’Dowd High in Oakland, Calif., passed on offers from Kentucky, Duke, and UCLA in order to fulfill his dream of becoming a professional basketball player at a jaw-dropping 16 years old. Lewis will be joining Overtime Elite, a new pro league that describes itself as “the next generation of athletic empowerment,” with a multi-year deal worth more $1 million.
Did I mention that I was still haggling with my parents for gas money at his age?
“Jalen is one of the most exciting young talents in the country, and we are humbled that he has chosen Overtime Elite to elevate his professional development on the court and academically, while building his brand internationally,” Brandon Williams, OTE executive vice president and head of basketball operations, said in a statement. “This is a foundational signing for our league and another acknowledgment of the need and desire for our program.”
Clearly, Overtime Elite doesn’t have the resources to compete against the NBA or the G-League, so instead, it’s raised capital in order to position itself as a breeding ground for elite high school talent and international prospects. To that end, it previously snatched up other noteworthy talents like five-star prospects Amen and Ausar Thompson from the Class of 2022 and Matthew and Ryan Bewley from the Class of 2023. But could Lewis end up being the face of this new league? It sounds like he has all the tools to do exactly that despite his youth.
“I’d describe Jalen as an absolute difference-maker, a rare talent, with a combination of size, athleticism, good hands, and ball skills that impact plays on both ends of the court,” Kevin Ollie, OTE coach and director of player development, said in a statement. “There are no limitations to what he’ll be able to do in his career and through Overtime Elite, he’ll have the resources in place to help him reach his dreams.”
I think it’s safe to say that Jalen will never have to hound his parents for lunch money ever again. Congrats!