Tyler Smith, the No. 8 basketball prospect in ESPN’s Class of 2023, has signed with Overtime Elite, he told ESPN on Sunday.
“This is different and new,” Smith said. “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.”
Smith is the seventh five-star recruit to sign with the upstart league. He is considered one of the best long-term prospects in the class, spurning scholarship offers from schools such as Kansas, Baylor, Texas, Florida State, Oklahoma, Memphis, LSU and others.
“My goal wasn’t to play college,” Smith said. “It’s to play in the NBA. This will get me there faster and make me more ready once I’m there. 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.”
Smith, who will turn 17 in November, is not eligible for the NBA draft until 2024 under current rules, unless he is able to graduate high school a year early and enter the 2023 draft, which he would be eligible for due to his age. He said he signed a two-year, “seven figure” contract with OTE and “will see from there.” Smith said he’ll be represented by agent Chris Gaston of Family First Sports.
Born in New Orleans, Smith’s family was forced to relocate to the Houston area due to Hurricane Katrina. He was identified as a top prospect upon finishing middle school after a standout showing at the John Lucas camp that earned him his first scholarship offer from the Houston Cougars at the age of 14. He spent his first two years of high school at Fort Bend Bush in Richmond, Texas.
Standing 6-foot-9 with a prototypical frame, the explosiveness to play above the rim fluidly and intriguing versatility and skill operating on the perimeter, Smith had a coming-out party on the national level during the grassroots circuit this summer with Adidas outfit Southern Assault, playing alongside fellow five-star prospects Keyonte George and Yohan Traore. Smith is the 16th player to sign with Overtime Elite, bringing it two-thirds of the way to its stated goal of 24 players for the inaugural season.
OTE has made significant headway since its inception in March, with its goal of becoming a legitimate alternative pathway for elite high school and international prospects to use as a training program and exposure platform. Thanks to significant financial backing and the hires of NCAA national championship-winning coach Kevin Ollie and several former NBA executives, OTE has signed fellow five-star recruits Jalen Lewis, Amen Thompson, Ausar Thompson, Matt Bewley, Ryan Bewley and Jazian Gortman, while also landing a projected top-20 pick in 2022 in Dominican guard Jean Montero.
Several heralded European 16-year-olds also have been signed in Izan Almansa from Spain, Alexandre Sarr from France, Nathan Missia-Dio from Belgium and Tudor Somacescu from Romania.
OTE said it will continue recruiting another half-dozen signings before its teams assemble in Atlanta in September to begin training and playing games 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.