Disrupting Basketball

Written by
Ben Burns '23
Oct. 25, 2021

Dan Porter has done it all. Since graduating from Princeton in 1988, he’s been the president of Teach for America, led and sold multi-million dollar companies and been hired by others to build them up. In 2016, Porter, along with his co-founder Zack Weiner, started his current company, Overtime. Overtime is a sports media company and brand that creates and distributes content across social media platforms. It covers a number of sports, including basketball, soccer, football, and e-sports. However, Overtime’s newest endeavor could end up being its most defining. 

In March of this year, Overtime announced that it would be starting its own basketball league called Overtime Elite, for players ages 16-18. “This is the most disruptive thing that has ever happened to basketball,” says Porter. “It is not like any academy that has ever existed.” Based in Atlanta, the league boasts state-of-the-art facilities, including a 1222-seat arena. With the NCAA allowing players to profit off of their name, image, and likeness, and the NBA’s G League emerging as a collegiate alternative, the pathway to the NBA has been reshaped dramatically over the past year. Overtime Elite, however, will function as an option in between those two leagues and high school basketball. 

Players sign contracts with Overtime Elite that will allow them to earn at least $100,000 annually. Playing in the league will allow players to hone their skills to prepare for the pros, all the while providing education to replace the high school basketball experience. Porter is using his eight years in education to help construct individualized educational experiences for each player that speaks to their interests. He believes that in both high school and college, there is not a good balance between athletics and academics. Part of their education will be preparing players for their time in the spotlight, and their responsibilities as role models. This includes education on social justice and business. Porter believes that this education is more relevant to the students’ future roles as professional athletes, and will thus be more beneficial than a traditional high school or college education.

 

 

Dan Porter (right) speaks at conference next to Rachel DeCecco

Overtime co-founder Dan Porter '88 speaks at the 2019 Tiger Entrepreneurs Conference in New York City. Looking on is Rachel DeCecco '03. 

Porter feels that players’ willingness to deviate from the NCAA route has helped put Overtime Elite in a good position to succeed. “With so many players taking non-traditional options, the league has an opportunity,” he says. Overtime Elite has already disrupted basketball recruitment in a dramatic way. The league currently has 24 players under contract, including 5-star recruits Amen Thompson, Ausar Thompson, Ryan Bewley, Matthew Bewley and Jalen Lewis. They have also signed a few international standouts, including guard Jean Montero (Dominican Republic, projected top-20 pick in 2022), guard Tudor Somacescu (Romania, Sierra Canyon Highschool), and wing Francis “LeBron” Lopez (Philippines). Signed players will be split up into three teams and compete amongst themselves, as well as prep school teams across the country.

Overtime will look to use their already-large viewership on social media to get interest in the league. Overtime’s main Instagram account boasts 5.2 million followers, and their TikTok account has 17.6 million, neither of which account for their breakoff accounts. Even before Overtime Elite’s opening weekend of October 29th, the league will have a dedicated target audience. Porter talked about how this is a huge advantage, and breaks the mold of what we traditionally consider a league. “No one has ever built a vertically integrated company that is part media company and part sports league,” says Porter. Using its steady media prowess, Overtime Elite will look to connect with younger fans, who, according to Porter, “have more alternatives to watching sports than ever before.”

Another side will be the athletes continuing their social media presence to promote the league. Amen and Ausar Thompson, for example, have combined over 25,000 followers on Instagram. The other promotional aspect for Overtime is how involved the NBA has been in growing the league. NBA stars such as Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony have invested in Overtime. Overall, six percent of NBA players are invested in the league.

When asked about the future of Overtime with regards to Overtime Elite, Porter was decisively optimistic. He felt that the NCAA’s new NIL (name, image, likeness) rule would not be to the detriment of the league, but to its great advantage, as it means Overtime can continue to work with athletes once they reach college. He was also favoring the idea that Overtime could create a similar league for women, and potentially even leagues for other sports. However, he did mention that they did not want to get too far ahead of themselves. “We are trying to do it in a disciplined way before we cookie-cutter it and apply it to other sports,” says Porter. 

With Porter at the helm, Overtime has over 30 years of experience with which to work. His diverse background has allowed him to contribute to all aspects of Overtime Elite to ensure it's off to a strong start. With an already devoted following and an impressive collection of talent, the entertainment value will be immense from the start. Now, let the high-flying begin.  

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