Working Overtime: How High Schoolers Can Now Get Paid to Play Basketball

Sierra Borkowski


As March Madness returns after a one-year hiatus, so does the conversation regarding the compensation of NCAA athletes. Meanwhile Overtime, the digital sports network aimed towards digital age sports fans, wants to take a younger approach. Starting in September 2021, Overtime Elite will be launched, changing the outlook of high school athletics.


What is Overtime Elite?

Overtime Elite is a high school professional basketball league intended to provide an alternative for high school basketball player looking to forego the NCAA. OE will feature about 30 top prospects from ages 16-18. The league also provides compensation for its players, contrary to the NCAA’s strict rules against such payment.

The OE board of directors has some recognizable names in basketball including Carmelo Anthony and Jay Williams. Anthony believes this league can largely benefit young up and coming basketball players. He sees the league as a guiding tool to prepare young talent to go pro and handle all of the responsibilities that come with that.


What money is involved?


Each player is guaranteed a minimum salary of $100,000. These players will also receive bonuses and equity from the league. The players will not only receive a salary but will also have access to healthcare and disability benefits. Even if an OE athlete does not choose to pursue the NBA, the league will provide up to $100,000 towards the athlete’s college tuition.


What’s the catch?


If an athlete chooses to play professionally with Overtime, they forfeit not only their college eligibility, but high school as well. These athletes must rely heavily on performance in OE to catapult them into the NBA at the age of 18.


In the best-case scenario, an athlete is compensated for playing basketball from 16 until the end of their career, and even beyond. On the other side of the coin, if an athlete does not perform favorably in OE, they have a more limited opportunities to prove themselves elsewhere.

On the upside, options for players who don’t make the NBA after playing for Overtime include the NBA G League developmental program (pictured) or playing internationally.  So, an athlete may not be able to use their college eligibility, but there are still some directions to go in if the NBA is not feasible.


Another thing to consider about Overtime Elite is the competition. The league will feature top prospects, but with limited numbers, these players may not get the variation in competition crucial for the development process. Overtime can seek expansion in the coming years, but for now they must live with the restraints of a minimalist league.


Sources: CBS Sports