Teenage twins from Florida are skipping college basketball to become the first to sign with a new basketball league created for standout high school players.
Brothers Matt and Ryan Bewley signed Friday with Overtime Elite, which markets itself to elite players between 16 and 18 years old with promises of an academic education and a six-figure salary. The Bewleys — Matt, 6-foot-9; Ryan, 6-8 — chose this potential route to professional basketball over college, the developmental G League or overseas leagues.
The 17-year-old forwards would have been juniors next season at West Oaks Academy in Orlando, Florida. By signing two-year deals, they forgo their college eligibility. They were top recruits for the Class of 2023, with interest from such colleges as Alabama, Auburn and Florida.
“Matt Bewley and Ryan Bewley are the first rising high school juniors to ever sign with a U.S. pro basketball league and the very first players to sign with Overtime Elite,” said Aaron Ryan, commissioner and president of OTE. “This has been a monumental week for basketball and we can’t wait to continue sharing our journey with the world.”
On social media, Ryan Bewley posted the news along with photos in an OTE jersey. He included a voiceover video featuring high-flying dunks: “No one can guard me. I feel like I’m always in the zone.”
In his voiceover video on social media, Matt Bewley showed a series of drives and dunks: “Nobody in the world can stop me. … I don’t have to prove anything to anybody. When I get on the court, it’s just tunnel vision.”
The league is expected to announce more player signings over the next few weeks. It will feature about 30 players and start in September.
The infrastructure for the league is being assembled: OTE recently hired former Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie to oversee the players. The league also announced plans to build a state-of-the-art complex in Atlanta.
“I’m looking forward to working with them to not only develop their basketball skills, but holistically so that they can reach their full potential as whole people,” Ollie said.
Each player is guaranteed a minimum salary of at least $100,000 a year, along with signing bonuses and shares in the company. Players will also generate revenue from use of their name, image and likeness, in addition to sales of custom jerseys, trading cards, video games and nonfungible tokens.
Overtime Elite was launched through the sports media company Overtime, which counts among its investors rapper/songwriter Drake, along with NBA players like Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant, Portland’s Carmelo Anthony and Atlanta’s Trae Young.