Since opening in October, Overtime Elite’s 103,000-square-foot facility in Atlanta that trains, educates and prepares elite high school basketball players for the next level on and off the court has happily welcomed current and former NBA stars including Devin Booker, Julius Irving and Tony Parker who visit to share skills and words of wisdom for the next generation.
Two-time NBA champion Pau Gasol visited OTE Arena in April to meet the players, work with the forwards and centers, and share the importance of community, giving back and helping others. One to always support others, especially the next generation, as evident through his philanthropic and charitable efforts with the Gasol Foundation and work as a UNICEF ambassador, Gasol hardly hesitated when 17-year-old Spanish power forward Izan Almansa asked his nation’s greatest player for his contact information so he could reach out for advice.
Two months later, Gasol and Almansa met again as Gasol handed the MVP trophy to Almansa after the Under-17 World Cup in Malaga, Spain, where the host nation reached the tournament final—losing 79-67 to the United States—for the first time to earn its first medal in event history.
“Usually the MVP is given to a player from the winning team,” Gasol says. “There’s very few occasions in basketball that the MVP has been given to a player on a losing team. I thought I was giving the trophy to one of the American guys.”
While Spain’s recently retired star handing the MVP trophy to its future one, who finished the tournament averaging 12.1 points and 11.9 rebounds, holds its own significance with European basketball, the action also represents Gasol’s increased involvement with OTE. The six-time NBA all-star, three-time Olympic medalist and EuroBasket’s all-time leading scorer joins the company’s board of directors which also includes former basketball stars Carmelo Anthony and Jay Williams.
Founded in March 2021 by Overtime co-founders Dan Porter and Zack Weiner, Overtime Elite offers elite teenage basketball players an alternative pathway to the pros outside of NCAA, NBA G League or overseas. Players are paid six-figure salaries plus bonuses, equity in Overtime, an education including topics like financial literacy and social media, and the ability to profit off their name, image and likeness (NIL).
Overtime raised $80 million the following month in a Series C round backed by Jeff Bezos, Drake, Alexis Ohanian and basketball stars Devin Booker, Klay Thompson, Trae Young, Chiney Ogwumike and Gasol. OTE investors include Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
“Every field, every industry has to evolve,” Gasol says. “I like to see Overtime as a little bit of a disruptor, but a disruptor in a good way that’s presenting a new avenue and new opportunity for players to get to their dream in a different way.
“Thanks to the tools we have today like social media, Overtime has done a great job creating this platform and promoting these players’ brands and providing an opportunity for them to train and to get better with some of the best players in their age category while at the same time getting a high-level education.”
Gasol’s involvement provides OTE and its student-athletes with an important international perspective as the company sets its sights on continued global growth and opportunities on and off the court. In September, OTE is sending their post-grads to Spain to play exhibitions against top-level competition.
Gasol’s personal experience coming up as a teenage pro in Europe before being drafted third overall by the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2001 NBA Draft will also benefit OTE players as they build their careers and brands on and off the court.
“For these kids obviously that path is different but you have top-quality professionals—coaches, physical therapists, strength coaches—and you have a facility that’s NBA level, so you have all the tools to train at a high level that I don’t think any other high schoolers or teenagers in the world have that type of access to and that high level of professionals,” he says. “At the same time, the education part is very important because there’s no guarantee all those players become professionals. To expose them to great education, experience and so forth to prepare them for life is just as important as their high-level training.
“When you put them together, that’s where you have the winning combination.”