“We want to really connect to and develop the whole person,” the NCAA champion coach tells Boardroom.
On Monday, former NBA veteran and Connecticut Huskies coach Kevin Ollie announced his return to the basketball court. He’s now the first-ever head coach and Director of Player Development for new basketball venture Overtime Elite.
After three years away from the sideline, Ollie sees OTE as the ideal opportunity to return to what he loves: helping young men realize their potential both on and off the court.
“The past couple of years have given me a chance to press the reset button. It has fueled my soul and filled up my tank. But what I’ve really missed is development – building the culture and helping players develop not just into elite athletes, but elite men,” Ollie told Boardroom. “This is an unbelievable opportunity to help athletes be elite in every facet of their lives – academically, athletically, professionally. That’s what’s so exciting for me about OTE.”
Over the course of a 13-year NBA career, Ollie made waves for his mentorship of some of the game’s most exciting up-and-comers, including LeBron James in Cleveland and Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City. He went on to spend nearly a decade with the UConn basketball program as an assistant coach and head coach – a tenure that included the 2014 NCAA championship.
“Kevin Ollie is a great motivator who knows what it takes to build up a culture,” Durant said in response to the news. “I’ve seen the example that he sets for young players. His mindset is second to none.”
And now comes a one-of-a-kind chance to share what he’s learned across 30 years in the game with a whole new generation.
“I believe that true greatness comes from what you do for others. And this is an unbelievable opportunity to help athletes be elite in every facet of their lives: academically, athletically, professionally,” Ollie said.
“Over the past 30 years, he’s seen the game at every level,” Overtime Elite Commissioner and President Aaron Ryan told Boardroom. “That legacy will be a major asset as we seek to recruit and attract the world’s top young athletes.”
Overtime Elite was announced last month by top executives including Ryan, Zack Weiner, Dan Porter, and Brandon Williams. It will include 30 players between the ages of 16 and 18 recruited both domestically and internationally, and will consist of teams co-located in a single city that has yet to be announced. The goal is to build a competitive schedule that allows players to square off against some of the best talent from around the world.
“We want to ensure we are giving these athletes the best opportunities to develop and to simulate what their pro experience will be,” Ryan said.
However, unlike other alternative NBA pathways such as the G League and international teams, OTE is committed to holistically developing its players in addition to compensating them.
“We are putting together an incredibly talented 40-plus-person coaching staff with experience at all levels, which will be important to my approach to teaching and taking care of our athletes off the court,” Ollie said. “We will provide professional training, like business and financial literacy and social media training, so that the athletes are fully prepared for the next level.”
Each player will receive a salary of at least $100,000 and, unlike their NCAA counterparts, will also be able to profit off their labor. Additionally, players will have access to high-caliber coaching, world-class facilities, a robust academic curriculum, and $100,000 scholarships for those who opt to attend college.
“Our basketball players are not just elite players – they’re also businessmen. I’m proud to offer them a fresh option that allows them to develop their skills on and off the basketball court and gives them an opportunity to be paid, and monetize off their name, likeness and image. It’s a great option and a great model,” Ollie said.
“Coach Ollie is the prototype – he brings a contagious energy and connectivity to the game, having both played and coached at the highest levels. He brings the tactical coaching side as well as a youthful approach to teaching; he can get on the floor and work with players,” Aaron Ryan said. “Coach Ollie is driven to help young men find their path and pursue their dreams. He understands that helping them to actually get there by ensuring they gain the emotional, physical and practical knowledge required to succeed at that next level. He has it all.”
Ollie sees OTE as a unique opportunity for young talent to foster all the skills they will need to be successful at the next level. As he told The Undefeated, “The system will never teach you your value and your worth… Sometimes, they allow you to get a piece, but they won’t give you the whole meal.”
Ollie and Overtime Elite are committed to making sure that their players stay fed for years to come.