Naasir Cunningham, a five-star basketball recruit for the class of 2024, underwent a significant change last year. The West Orange, New Jersey native made the transition from Gill St. Bernard’s School to the Overtime Elite Academy (OTE). Looking ahead, he is anticipated to be a top recruit for a lucky NCAA men’s basketball program. Here we will discuss the five best NCAA schools for the OTE prospect.
Prior to this year, OTE was regarded as a professional league. They paid players at least $100,000 in wages. However, it also lost the players their eligibility for college. This time around, though, players can retain their eligibility by joining OTE with a new secondary option of a scholarship. Additionally, the scholarship possibilities provide individuals the chance to make money off of their likeness.
That action was taken initially by Cunningham, who is now soaking in the NCAA recruitment process.
“I’m really just still enjoying it,” Cunningham said of the process. “I have a lot of time before I make a decision, so really I’m just valuing the time and being appreciative of every coach that reaches out to me and my parents.”
Cunningham, who was on the Team USA U17 pool in 2022, has visited several schools. These include programs such as Rutgers, St. John’s, UConn, UCLA, Duke, and Missouri for unofficial visits. He plans to take his first official visit to Florida State, but the date is not set yet. He also plans to visit Duke and UCLA again, as well as Kansas and Texas.
Cunningham is known for his tall, athletic build and ability to shoot from long range. However, he needs to work on gaining weight and strength. He is an explosive athlete, particularly in transition. The 6’7 forward has the potential to become a good defender with his length, size, and quick reflexes. However, it would be beneficial for him to drive to the basket more instead of relying on jump shots. Despite this, his ability to create space and make shots has made him a highly-regarded prospect in the 2024 class.
Now let us look at the five best NCAA Men’s Basketball programs for Overtime Elite prospect Naasir Cunningham.
Naasir Cunningham with a catch and shoot three from the corner. Smooth shot mechanics and is wired to score. First points of his OTE career. pic.twitter.com/8jZemMV8wS
— Global Scouting (@GlobalScouting_) October 20, 2022
5. Texas Longhorns
Cunningham could be an interesting addition to the Longhorns. They currently have a 13-2 win-loss record, which is good enough for 4th in the Big 12. Texas also has six seniors it expects to move on after this season. That includes 6’7 Christian Bishop, whose spot Cunningham can potentially take next season. The Longhorns would surely benefit from Cunningham’s length and versatility at the forward spot.
4. Kansas Jayhawks
Who would not want to be part of one of the most storied programs in college basketball, right? Coach Bill Self would be an amazing mentor to someone like Cunningham. Conversely, the current OTE prospect can bring his trademark athleticism to the Kansas program. If current junior Jalen Wilson also declares for the 2023 NBA Draft, then Cunningham could easily slide into the void for the Jayhawks. Cunningham could also pair up with KJ Adams Jr. to form a really potent forward comb.
3. UCLA Bruins
The Bruins will lose senior Jaime Jaquez Jr. after this season, and Cunningham could be a perfect replacement. Jaquez currently leads UCLA in scoring, though he shoots just under 30 percent from beyond the arc. That’s something Cunningham can bring to the table on top of more length and athleticism. He would fit in really well for coach Mick Cronin’s system and roster.
2. Florida State Seminoles
Cunningham’s first official visit will be to Florida State. He already stated that he likes coach Leonard Hamilton. This would be an interesting destination for someone like Cunningham. His size, ball handling, and mobility can really fill out the holes of this squad. Cunningham would be a great partner for the current Seminoles’ leading scorer Matthew Cleveland. He could also fill the void that injured senior Jaylan Gainey will leave behind.
1. Duke Blue Devils
Remember that Cunningham has stated that Duke is his dream school. On January 22, Duke even made an offer to him already. This marked a significant turning point in his short career.
“Growing up, my dream school was Duke. I was a big Duke fan,” Cunningham told Tipton.
Mackenzie Mgbacko, a star in the Class of 2023 who played alongside Naas Cunningham at Gil St. Bernard’s last year, also made his commitment to Duke. That’s huge as Cunningham would be comfortable in this program even more.
Of course, we can also talk about how his size and skill set would be such a great addition to the firepower that head coach Jon Scheyer already has.