Naasir Cunningham is the No. 1 recruit in ESPN’s Class of 2024, and he’s signing a groundbreaking deal with Overtime Elite. While Cunningham is joining up with OTE, he’s forgoing a salary and will maintain his college eligibility in case he wants to go play college basketball. The prized prospect can still make money off NIL deals.
Cunningham released this statement to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony on his Overtime Elite decision:
“This is best place for me to develop as a player, while getting the right education to fall back on at the same time,” Cunningham said. “Overtime built a relationship with my family and I, which was a big factor in trusting them with my future. I want to be the best basketball player I can, a NBA draft lottery pick and hopefully one of the best in the league. Overtime is going to put me in position to become the best player I can.”
Cunningham is the highest-ranked prospect to sign with Overtime Elite. At 6-foot-7 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan, he has dreams of playing in the NBA and will be on teams’ radars in the coming years.
The fact that Cunningham is forgoing that OTE salary is also notable, as he’s the first player to go this route:
“Being able to keep my eligibility for college was important as that gives me more options when I’m done with high school and ready to decide my next move,” Cunningham said. “At Overtime you still get the same academics as a regular high school, but not every school has the same equipment and facilities they do, which are top of the line, as well as the best trainers, coaching staff and other elite players. Competing against the best and working with the best there is, that’s what will help me reach my goals.”
Cunningham has already received a number of scholarship offers from the likes of Duke, Kansas, UCLA and many schools. This “scholarship” option for Overtime Elite could wind up being a game-changer, and there will surely be plenty of other top prospects who choose this path in high school.